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Order of the Day

Home-Cooked Comfort Food for the People

By Nicole Kato Photos By Nathalie Walker
January 13, 2013

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There are so many times we drive past little hole-in-the-wall restaurants and don’t throw back a second look during the busyness of our lives. However, Dining Out is here to tell you about a great little place on Pali Highway.

People’s Cafe has been in Honolulu for 80 years, according to co-owner Conrad Valdriz, and the restaurant currently serves up great local Hawaiian and Filipino favorites.

Each dish, from the entrees to the a la carte items and desserts, acts as comfort food that leaves customers full, happy and satisfied.

The homey atmosphere of the restaurant is supplemented with the beautiful fresh-cut flowers on each table, and the service is always friendly and professional. A new paint job adorns the walls with earth-toned colors. It’s the perfect place to eat comfort food.

Crispy Pata ($14.60) is served with tomatoes, onions and chili pepper water on the side, and is the restaurant’s most-popular Filipino dish. And it’s no wonder. The pig leg is boiled until soft, dried overnight and fried the next day, which makes for a long process. But head chef Tomas Ventura understands that the hard work he puts in makes for some tasty dishes. The soft meat is enclosed in the crispy flavorful skin that pairs well for that juicy flavor one would expect.

Another Filipino favorite is Salt Meat with Watercress soup ($7.50), which is served with an onion and salt combination, as well as chili pepper water. Nestled in the house-made special broth are pieces of bone-in short rib, which are soaked for two nights in Hawaiian salt. This brings out the flavor of the meat, and when mixed with the “secret recipe” broth, it makes for a savory meal. While the appearance looks plain and simple, this is one soup that you have to try for yourself. The experience is almost life-changing as the taste of short ribs is usually found in yakiniku places or served with rice.

And if you’re fancying a “traditional” Hawaiian plate, then People’s Cafe is the place for you. Its Hawaiian Plate ($12.50) features homemade lau lau, kalua pig, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, poi and a helping of haupia. Ventura says the Hawaiian Plate is the most popular dish with the establishment’s local clientele. The homemade lau lau might be hard to imagine for some people, who choose to buy their Hawaiian specialty at the grocery store, but one taste will have you in Hawaiian Plate heaven.

Other Hawaiian combination plates include Kalua Plate ($10.50), Lau Lau Plate ($11.50), Tripe Stew Plate ($11.50), Kalua Pig with Cabbage Plate ($12.50), Teriyaki Shortrib Plate ($11.50), Beef Stew Plate ($11.50) and Raw Fish Plate (market price).

Smaller plates also are available: Lava Rock Plate ($8.50), Bento #1 ($6.90) and Bento #2 ($7.55).

A la carte items include favorites such as Steak and Shrimp ($10.50), Garlic Shrimp ($9.50), Corned Beef with Cabbage ($7.50), Loco Moco ($7.50), Squid Luau ($6.50) and Beef Stew ($8.50).

Each amazing Filipino dessert is made by Celi Urbina and costs only $5! You’ll fall in love with the Royal Bibinka, Ube Mochi Rice (Petche-Petche), Cassava Cake, Sinuman, Dudol, Tupig Cassava and Tupig Mochi.

These individually wrapped desserts are perfect when you’re on the go and need a sweet pick-meup, or just to share around the table after eating your fill of Hawaiian and Filipino goodness.

The prices at People’s Cafe are hard to beat, and with the quality of home-style cooking this will be one of your go-to spots to chow down in no time.

Quick and friendly service adds to the homey ambiance of the restaurant, and the flavors and big portions will leave every customer satisfied.

People’s Cafe

1310 Pali Hwy., Honolulu
521.5552
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.