A New Wave of Hawaiian Barbecue Spots

Island-style barbecue spots are enjoying a surge.
Photograph by Wonho Frank Lee, Courtesy of Shootz

Four friends raised on L&L Hawaiian launched Shootz Hawaiian in 2020, offering “Hawaiian-inspired food from the soul” at Rodeo 39. Now in a larger space at the food hall, it serves 5,000 hot kimchi butter chicken katsu sandwiches a month and tiki drinks such as the Blue Hawaiian. Musubi gets all dolled up with Spam brûlée and honey-coconut shrimp versions. Plate options go beyond the winning katsu chicken and short ribs to jalapeno-garlic shrimp. The infectiously cheery logo is a pineapple in sunglasses with a surfboard. 12885 BEACH BLVD., STANTON, 714-379-7077 

“Uncle Mel” and “Aunty Riki” Liufau had a Polynesian dance studio in Anaheim when, in 1996, they opened a restaurant next door. Matiki Island Barbecue has grown to five locations including a no-frills new spot in Huntington Beach. The top-selling Sam’s Plate (No. 1 on the menu) has never changed—three gargantuan teriyaki beef ribs, deliciously charred and juicy, served with sides of rice and not-gooey macaroni salad. Families opt for the Big Kahuna combo. 16561 BOLSA CHICA ST., HUNTINGTON BEACH, 714-698-8225

Anytime Hawaiian offers “BBQ and local food” opposite Disneyland, the newest of half a dozen California locations. The interior combines Hawaiian and Mickey Mouse themes; seating is outside. The garlic chicken plate is the top draw. Combos—pairs, trios, and feasts featuring pork, beef, chicken, and shrimp—are a specialty; the seafood mix brings butterfly shrimp and mahi-mahi. Start with the Shanghai lumpia musubi; there are seven other versions on the menu. Call to confirm hours. 1650 S. HARBOR BLVD., ANAHEIM, 714-844-2789

Ono Hawaiian BBQ spreads aloha spirit via more than 100 locations. The spiffy new one in Santa Ana has yellow chairs and surfboards and turquoise-hibiscus-splashed fabrics. In addition to the expected barbecue chicken, kalbi ribs, and Spam & eggs are less-expected imitation-crab Rangoon, Island Fire chicken, and Island White Fish keiki meal. Now marking its 20th year, the Diamond Bar-based restaurant chain is one of the fastest growing in the U.S.—sales have doubled in recent years. 2130 S. BRISTOL ST., SANTA ANA, 714-432-8388

Facebook Comments