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Unusual Food Finds in Hawaii

Unusual Food Finds in Hawaii
The fried-chicken-and-waffle cupcake at Let Them Eat Cupcake

Sure, we love island specialties liked pit-roasted pork and poke. But what do you do when you get a yen for something way off the beaten Hawaiian path, like, say, bagels and lox, tacos or even cupcakes? Here are some wonderful ways to satisfy those eclectic cravings.

Big Island of Hawaii: Bagels and Lox

Evolution Bakery and Café

75-5813 Ali'i Drive, Kailua-Kona, 808.331.1122

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Jonathan Sharfin, whose father grew up in New York, always wanted to bake a real New York bagel and spent years developing the technique. At Evolution, which Sharfin owns with his wife, Antoinette, he hand rolls, boils and bakes the bagels like a true New Yorker. They serve bagels and lox from wild Alaska salmon every morning until 11:30. After that, another eatery takes over — Get Sum Pizza. New York style, of course.

Oahu: Cupcakes

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

35 S. Beretania St., Honolulu, 808.531.2253

In the heart of Chinatown is a charming shop with one big round table and amazing cupcakes — fresh baked and buttercream iced, with a free sprinkles bar. Choose from nine flavors that change daily and range from classic red velvet to seriously decadent fried-chicken-and-waffle cupcakes.

Kauai: Tapas

Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill

2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Poipu, 808.742.7117

The tapas tradition has its roots in Spain, but at Josselin's the extensive tapas menu is an inventive mèlange of world cuisines prepared in their open kitchen. Two favorites are their signature 36-hour braised pork belly and the pumpkin ravioli. And what's a tapas experience without sangria? Choices range from classic Spanish red to exotic lychee or pomegranate.

Lanai: Smoothies

Anuenue Juice Bar

338 8th St., Lanai City, 808.283.0127, 808.250.0633

Anuenue is the Hawaiian word for rainbow, and that describes both the decor and the multicolored array of fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies you'll find here. They never use sugar or additives, just fresh fruit, locally sourced veggies and Lanai's famous apple bananas. Sip your smoothie on the patio, across from Dole Park with its beautiful Norfolk shade pines.

Molokai: Burgers

Molokai Burger

20 Kamehameha V Highway, Kaunakakai, 808.553.3533

On an island known for little grass shacks, this red-and-white tiled hamburger joint is wildly popular with both locals and tourists. The burgers are hand-formed daily with fresh Molokai grass-fed beef and then fried in butter for a crispy outside that sears in the juices. The cheeseburger is a crowd favorite, but there are plenty of variations, like the deep-fried, crunchy Paniolo Burger and the Mighty Mo, with caramelized onions and Dijon mustard for a bit of bite.

Maui: Tacos

Leilani's on the Beach

2435 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, 808.661.4495

Award-winning tacos and an oceanside view — what more can you ask for? How about a $5 menu. That's what you'll find here on Taco Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. The tacos are made with locally sourced Cajun-rubbed ono or Kalua pork and served with a totally addictive roasted tomatillo aioli. Also five bucks: ice-cold margaritas or chilled beers. And absolutely free — the aloha beach party vibe.

— Maxine Nunes

Brand Publishing Writer