Chillin’ Out with a Belly Full of Chili

Columns Ono, You Know

July 9, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

I know it’s summer and all, but who said we can’t embrace the heat of the season and liven it up even more with dishes that are muy caliente?

So, this week, I decided to spice things up a bit with some zesty chili to awaken your senses and your taste buds. Chili is probably considered one of the most versatile of dishes and can be paired with practically anything — chips, bread, rice, salad, you name it — I love everything about it. Chili also is a hit at any gathering and better yet, you can personalize it with any spices and flavors to make it your own.

With that, gather up your appetites Ono readers and come along with me to experience some of the most chill-in’chilis on the island, because we all know that there’s nothing better than a bowl of this belly filling good stuff that is so “Ono, You Know” worthy!

1132 Cafe & Espresso Bar

  • The editor is ready to chow down on 1132 Cafe & Espresso Bar's luxurious Chili Combo ($6.98), featuring the Mediterranean salad.
  • 1132 Cafe & Espresso Bar's Chili Combo ($6.98)
Image of

Craving some delectable homemade chili, I headed on down to 1132 Cafe & Espresso Bar at the First Hawaiian Center (999 Bishop St.) where owner Stefan Kruger and wife Edna serve up the most tantalizingly fresh sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries and other local dishes all made-to-order.

Stefan says 1132 Cafe caters mainly to the office crowd, providing breakfast and lunch for those on the go. The Krugers opened 1132 Cafe & Espresso Bar five years ago at 1132 Bishop Street, prior to opening the doors to its most recent location at the First Hawaiian Center (999 Bishop St.).

The majority of items on the menu are derived from Edna’s personal recipes, including the appetizing Shoyu Chicken, Curry Fried Rice and mouth-watering Chili.

“Our homemade chili is very popular,” Edna says. “It features a zesty tomato-based sauce with spicy pieces of Portuguese sausage.

The Chili Combo ($6.98) is my personal favorite, as I think it pairs perfectly with the Mediterranean salad, complete with a medley of mixed nuts and spicy cucumber dressing. There also are other combination options as well.

As for the chili itself, I can’t help but savor each bite consisting of lean ground beef, fresh chunks of tomato, bell peppers, onions and beans. Talk about comfort food at its best! If you’re cutting carbs, don’t worry, no rice is needed — the chili is downright onolicious on its own!

For the lighter of appetites I suggest the small bowl of chili ($3), or large bowl ($4) if you’re in the mood for something a bit more filling (a slice of bread is included).

1132 Cafe & Espresso Bar also provides delicious office catering for meetings, seminars and other events. Visit 1132cafe.com for a listing of daily specials.

1132 Cafe & Espresso Bar
999 Bishop St.
1132 Bishop St.
(808) 526-1777
View the Map

Rainbow Drive-In

  • Rainbow Drive-In's famous Chili Dog Plate ($6.20)
  • Rainbow Drive-In's Henrieda Nerro with ono plate lunches.
Image of

You’ll be seeing double rainbows after devouring a heaping portion of Rainbow Drive-In’s original Chili Dog Plate ($6.20). Trust me, this painstakingly delicious plate lunch will leave you with a major kanak attack to say the least!

Rainbow Drive-In was founded in October 1961 by Sejiu and Ayako Ifuku, and today their son-in-law Jim Gusukuma takes the reins as vice president of this iconic Kapahulu landmark.

Plate lunches run the gamut here, from the Loco Moco Plate ($6.75) to the Mixed Plate ($7.25), featuring boneless chicken cutlet, mahi mahi filet and barbecue steak. And while all this is appealing to my eager appetite, the Chili Dog Plate wins me over every time. Made fresh everyday, Rainbow Drive-In’s famous chili is made from a Sejiu Ifuku personal recipe. It’s something you won’t be able to find anywhere else, and believe me, it’ll leave you coming back for more. The substantial hot dog, rice and mac salad also make it the ultimate choice for the hungriest of diners. Yum!

According to Gusukuma, Rainbow Drive-In prides itself in sticking with original recipes and its low prices.

“And in honor of our 50th anniversary this year, we’re also rolling back the prices to those that were seen in the 60’s and 70’s,” he says.

Anniversary specials include 25 cent Hot Dog and Drink, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 25-cent Hamburger, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 25-cent Saimin, Sept. 17 from 5 to 9 p.m.; and $1 Chili Plate, Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Anniversary specials will be sold only at the parking lot tent.

Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Ave.
(808) 737-0177
View the Map

Zippy’s Restaurants

  • Zippy's Chili with Rice ($4.45 large, fast food counter). Photo courtesy of Zippy's Restaurants.
  • Zippy's Chili Frank Plate ($7.60, fast food counter). Photo courtesy of Zippy's Restaurants.
  • Zippy's Chili Burrito ($5.10, fast food counter). Photo courtesy of Zippy's Restaurants.
Image of

What would a tribute to captivating chili be without paying homage to Zippy’s world-class chili? Zippy’s renown original recipe chili has been sold since Zippy’s first came into existence in 1966, with the opening of the first McCully location by its originators Francis and Charlie Higa.

“They thought their chili would become popular and it did,” says Zippy’s Restaurants’ creative specialist Jay Crisologo, adding, “Since then it has grown to become Zippy’s signature item. It’s served in many ways and it’s even a popular fundraising item for organizations and sports teams.

“What hasn’t changed much is the recipe — it’s basically the same one since 1966.”

And you know how the saying goes, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it!” Zippy’s chili is featured in many of the eatery’s top-notch items, including the Chili Frank Plate ($7.60 fast food counter), Chili Burrito ($5.10 fast food counter)

and the famous Chili with Rice ($4.45 large, fast food counter).

The Chili Frank Plate is a hearty combination of a hot dog and chili, served with rice and macaroni salad that will leave you satisfyingly stuffed for days. For the burrito lover, take advantage of the chili burrito, a fried bean burrito topped with Zippy’s chili. This ono dish also is available as a plate with rice and macaroni salad. And who can forget the one that started it all? The classic Chili with Rice is my No.1 pick, no doubt!

So, just how popular is Zippy’s chili you ask? Well, according to Crisologo, Zippy’s chili was originally cooked in 15 gallon pots — nowadays, it’s cooked in 300 gallon kettles! More than 110 tons of Zippy’s chili is produced each month. You do the math!

Zippy’s Restaurants
46-038 Kamehameha Hwy. (and other various locations)
(808) 233-2700
View the Map

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best