Pau Hana Patrol: Cinnamon’s Waikiki
BY CHRISTIE WILSON / email@example.com
Townies rejoiced when Cinnamon’s opened at the Ilikai in Waikiki in November — no more trans-Koolau excursions to Kailua to be put on a waitlist for the restaurant’s acclaimed guava chiffon pancakes.
The Waikiki outpost does the mothership two better by serving dinner and providing an outdoor bar overlooking picturesque Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.
I’m a sucker for harbor views, so the prospect of sunset cocktails from a choice vantage point made a happy-hour visit to Cinnamon’s an easy sell.
1777 Ala Moana Blvd.
Pulling into the hotel’s driveway off Ala Moana Boulevard, we took advantage of valet parking — $1 per hour for three hours with validation — before strolling through the lobby to Cinnamon’s spacious garden lanai, where you can sit at the bar or any number of tables. We made a beeline for counter seating facing the harbor and the horizon beyond.
Icicle lights were strung over the covered bar, which had bamboo accents and a flat-screen TV. By the time we left, the place was full. We didn’t spot a local in the crowd, but the visitors all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Hawaiian music strikes up at 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
Cinnamon’s happy-hour menu is not particularly adventurous, comprising five items priced at a budget-friendly $6 each. We opted for the slider combo, a tasty trio of miniature sandwiches on soft rolls, each with a distinctive flavor profile: kalua pork with hoisin mayo, green onions and cilantro; Korean spicy chicken with kim chee mayo and cabbage; and meatloaf with fried onions and “special sauce.”
The other happy-hour options are a BBQ kalua pork quesadilla, Mexican pizza, chicken wings and Smothered Tots, which should be accompanied by a warning label from the American Heart Association.
A separate pupu menu, offered 4 p.m. to closing, had more local-style bites. The spinach artichoke dip ($6.50) with bacon and salmon had a nice smoky flavor and was served with enough pita points that we both had our fill. Other pupu menu options: raw or fried poke ($13.75), sizzling steak with mushrooms and onions ($13.95) and calamari strips served two ways ($10.95) — all reasonably priced for Waikiki.
I’m not going to lie: The two cocktails I ordered — a guava mai tai ($9.50 regular) and a harsh, bright-orange li hing mui Cinna Margarita ($8.50 regular) that left my throat burning — were pretty awful. My companion had better luck with a refreshing Moke’s Mule ($8.50 regular), served in the requisite copper cup. The menu didn’t provide descriptions of the cocktails, so it was hard to know how the Moke’s version differed from a Moscow Mule (vodka and ginger beer with lime).
Until Cinnamon’s refines its tropical concoctions, it might be best to stick with beer ($3 for Coors Light and Miller Lite on tap) or a regular mai tai ($6).
Happy hour at Cinnamon’s in the Ilikai is relaxed but nowhere near as hip as The Modern or Morimoto next door, if hip is what you’re looking for. There is that outstanding view, and if you like to beach it at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, you can bundle a cold beer here with validated parking.
But Cinnamon’s, a beloved breakfast institution, has more work to do to expand its brand beyond pancakes and live up to its prime Waikiki location.