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Cover Story

Hawaii’s Very Own Paradise City

By Ali Resich Photos By ANTHONY CONSILLIO
October 2, 2016

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Corporate executive chef Dennis Franks with Breakfast Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa special ($9.99) and Beast Burger ($17.99)

Corporate executive chef Dennis Franks with Breakfast Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa special ($9.99) and Beast Burger ($17.99)

The next time you want to take the whole family out for a satisfying meal, think big — as in, head to Big City Diner where you’ll find larger-than-life flavors and something for everyone.

The locally owned and operated dining chain first debuted in Kaimuki in 1998 and has since grown to include five additional locations across Oahu: Ward Entertainment Center, Waipio Shopping Center, Pearlridge East, Kailua and, most recently, Windward Mall.

In keeping with its diner identity, the establishment offers generous portions of comfort food and local-style favorites, but it goes a step further by emphasizing fresh, quality ingredients that are locally sourced when possible.

“We always try to exceed people’s expectations,” says corporate executive chef Dennis Franks. “That’s our goal, whether it’s the presentation or the flavors of the dishes, and we try our best to avoid raising prices.”

Big City Diner updated its menu about a month ago, and Dining Out recently caught up with Franks at the Windward Mall branch to hear all about the new menu items.

What could be more enticing than a meaty, juicy burger? Big City Diner has two new ones that are giving a whole new meaning to the term cheeseburger.

Blackened Ahi Salad ($12.99, rotating special)

Blackened Ahi Salad ($12.99, rotating special)

For starters, Franks collaborated with owner and president Lane Muraoka to create Mac & Cheese Burger ($15.99; pictured on cover), which, to the delight of many diners, is exactly how it sounds. An extra dose of comfort in the form of macaroni and cheese — oozing with melted white and yellow cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses — fills this burger, alongside the hamburger patty, honey-cured bacon and all the fixings.

“It’s like a cheeseburger, but heartier and with more bite,” explains the chef.

Those who embrace a go-big-or-go-home mentality will appreciate the new Beast Burger ($17.99) as well, offering a double dose of flame-broiled patties topped with cheddar and jack cheeses, respectively.

Big City Diner is home to the friendly service and fun environment most diners are known for, but it sets itself apart from the competition by offering a plethora of healthy yet delicious dining options. Blackened Ahi Salad ($12.99), for example, showcases a lean assortment of greens and veggies — such as avocado, Roma tomatoes and Mesclun spring mix — with fresh and seasoned ahi sliced sashimi-style. The salad is from the rotating weekly specials menu (served Monday-Friday) and will be available starting Oct. 10.

“That’s actually a dish that we brought back by special request. People kept asking for it,” says Frank, adding that ancho chili dressing is served on the side.

Proving its steadfast commitment to offering patrons health-conscious dishes, Big City Diner’s Windward Mall and Kailua locations are officially certified by the Blue Zones Project, a large-scale initiative aimed at helping communities across the U.S. lead healthier lifestyles. In accordance with Blue Zones, Big City Diner has added a plethora of healthier menu options to its menu, which may be ordered at all of the locations.

Breakfast Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa ($9.99, rotating special)

Breakfast Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa ($9.99, rotating special)

As a business rooted in the Islands, Big City Diner also supports various local charities and organizations, including Special Olympics Hawaii and Kapiolani Children’s Miracle Network, among many others. Muraoka adds that,”We’re fund-raising the entire month of October for the Salvation Army Hawaii branch by donating 100 percent of our profits from every Spicy-Garlic Soybean sold. All monies raised will stay in Hawaii to help the rehabilitation of our own people.”

Meanwhile, Big City Diner is standing by to cater to any and all dining needs. The Windward Mall eatery has a private room that accommodates 40-50 people, and the company offers customizable catering options as well. And don’t forget to ask about pau hana and late night happy hour specials.

Eat Up, All Week Long:

Monday Night Football

You could win a Vacations Hawaii trip to Las Vegas and/or UH sports tickets during Monday Night Football with $4 Miller Lite; The Big City Diner event will be hosted at Windward Mall Oct. 3, Pearlridge Oct. 10 and Waipio Oct. 17.

Twitter Tuesday

Follow Big City Diner on Twitter (@BigCityDiner) for the secret Twitter Tuesday password to receive 15 percent off your dine-in entree with beverage purchase.

Wine Wednesday

All bottles and glasses are 50 percent off from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Thank-A-Trooper Thursday

Big City Diner salutes active military with $4 Samuel Adams Oktoberfest pints.

Hawaiian Food Fridays

Celebrate Aloha Friday with authentic Island fare from 11 a.m. until sold out.

How to Start the Day

With its rotating weekly specials, Big City Diner knows how to keep things fresh. Starting Oct. 10, rise and shine with the Breakfast Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa ($9.99) special.

According to corporate executive chef Dennis Franks, the dish is eatery’s take on a Denver omelet — which typically consists of egg, ham, bell peppers and onions. Big City Diner’s version is beefed up with the addition of tomato, hashbrown and cheese, all tucked into a tortilla.

“It’s very filling,” he says.

Big City Diner

WINDWARD MALL (AND FIVE OTHER LOCATIONS)
46-056 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe
247-1888
Sunday-Thursday ,7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-midnight