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Pioneer Saloon (Oahu)

Pioneer Saloon serves local plate lunch with a Japanese twist. There's something on the menu for everyone (chicken katsu! loco moco!) at this fun and affordable spot in Honolulu.

Mochiko Chicken plate lunch
Mochiko Chicken plate lunch at Pioneer Saloon

Pioneer Saloon

If you haven't been yet, you should definitely check out Pioneer Saloon soon. It's a popular local plate lunch spot, but with a distinct Japanese touch.

Pioneer Saloon is casual enough to stroll in straight from the beach (maybe put on a top and slippers first), but it's also nice enough to meet a lunch date or get together with a group of friends.

Friends and plate lunch ^_^
Friends and plate lunch ^_^

From mochiko chicken to shoyu chicken and misoyaki butterfish, there is something on the (very big) menu for everything.

They have two convenient locations, and I usually visit the original one on Monsarrat Avenue.

Pioneer Saloon Diamond Head / Monsarrat location
Pioneer Saloon Diamond Head / Monsarrat location

Where Is Pioneer Saloon?

There are two locations of Pioneer Saloon! Both of them are fun and casual. Order at the counter and they'll call your name when the order is ready.

Pioneer Saloon Diamond Head / Monsarrat
The Monsarrat Street location is the original location and the one I mostly visit. There's lots of seating and it has this quirky old town vibe with a touch of Hawaii mixed with Japan! Definitely unique in a good way.

It's located in Diamond Head on a street full of good eats (cafes, lunch spots like Diamond Head Bakery, and great smoothies at da Cove Health Bar) and shopping. Free street parking nearby. It's also a nice walk from Waikiki so visitors love this area.

Pioneer Saloon Kaka'ako
This Kakaako location is located in newer dining/shopping complex called SALT At Our Kakaako. It also attracts a mix of locals and visitors, and there's easy parking within the complex. (The whole Kakaako area used to be very industrial but is now being redeveloped as a hip live/work neighborhood.)

While you're at the SALT complex, also check out Lonohana Estate Chocolate, Moku Kitchen (mainly for dessert cream pies), Lanikai Juice, and J's BBQ for Korean Plate Lunch.

Menu at the Monsarrat location
Menu at the Monsarrat location

Pioneer Saloon Menu

The menu at Pioneer Saloon is fun and (literally) all over the place. At the original Monsarrat Street location, the menu is posted over the wall on different pieces of paper next to the cash register.

There are so many options and everything is pretty good. I've been here dozens of times and I'm still always overwhelmed by the menu! That's not a bad thing, it's fun to try something new.

Chicken katsu curry plate lunch
Chicken katsu curry plate lunch

What To Order At Pioneer Saloon

Unless noted otherwise, plate lunches here come with rice and pasta salad (or green salad). Our go-to orders include:

Chicken Katsu Curry
Deep fried pork katsu and a side of Japanese curry. Pour the hot curry all over the katsu and rice, and dig in good!! What's not to love ^_^

Mochiko Chicken
Mochiko Chicken is a popular local Hawaii dish. It's like Japanese karaage meets American fried chicken...but made even more delicious. The bite-size pieces of chicken are marinated in a mochiko flour batter. Mochiko flour is the same type of flour we use to make mochi, so there's the slightest bit of mochi-ness to the crisp skin part. So good! P.S. You can also learn how to make mochiko chicken at home in this post.

Croquette plate at the Kakaako location
Croquette plate lunch at the Kakaako location

If you haven't noticed by now, there many deep fried things on the menu at Pioneer Saloon. These puffy croquettes (made with regular potato and purple sweet potato) are simple and comforting. I like dipping them into katsu sauce and eating with rice.

Ginger Chicken
Poached chicken with a ton of ginger-scallion sauce poured all over the top. Portion is big on this one and it comes with a lot of the ginger-scallion.

Loco Moco
Lots of rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy all over. Instead of the usual local style gravy, they make a Japanese demi-glace which makes it a slightly "fancier" loco moco. Gotta try all these special Hawaii things while you can.

Spam Musubi
This isn't offered on the written menu, but they sometimes have spam musubi sitting next to the register. If so, pick one up! Perfect for afternoon snack.

Neba Neba Bowl
This is one of the healthier options and include a base of rice topped with natto, ahi poke, and mountain yam with a soft boiled egg. Comes with green salad and pasta salad.

Fried chicken with spicy mayo plate lunch
Fried chicken with spicy mayo plate lunch

Pioneer Saloon: Insider Tips

Where to park?

Diamond Head/Monsarrat Ave: There's free street parking on Monsarrat Ave but it's often crowded. Locals know to skip Monsarrat and go straight to Kaunaoa Street (the street directly behind Pioneer Saloon), it's much easier to find free street parking there.

Kakaako: There's parking within the SALT At Our Kakaako complex. First hour is free with validation.

What's for dessert?

Diamond Head/Monsarrat Ave: There's a tiny shave ice spot right next door (same owners) called Monsarrat Shave Ice. Walk a few blocks up to Ars Cafe (coffee, lemonade, and sorbet) or Diamond Head Bakery (for wonderful cakes, pumpkin crunch, and lemon crunch). Directly across the street is da Cove Health Bar for smoothies and acai bowls.

Kakaako: Options within the SALT At Our Kakaako complex include Lonohana Estate Chocolate for the refreshing and iced Koko-Colada. Butterfly Ice Cream for ice cream and sorbet. 9Bar HNL for coffee and neat drinks like li hing mui soda and sparkling POG.

Kids and groups?

Both locations are very family friendly. Also group friendly. We end up at Pioneer Saloon often because everyone finds a dish they like. It's comfortable and good. Everyone leaves happy. It's easy to get to, food is tasty, and there's plenty of space.

Pioneer Saloon: Info

  • Pioneer Saloon Diamond Head | 3046 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 | (808) 732-4001 |
  • Pioneer Saloon Kakaako | 675 Auahi St, Honolulu, HI 96813 (inside SALT At Our Kakaako) | (808) 600-5612
  • Price: Plate lunches are about $9-15.
  • Hours: Diamond Head: Monday-Sunday (11am-8pm) | Kakaako: Monday-Thursday (11am-8pm), Friday-Saturday (11am-9pm), Sunday (11am-3pm)

Mahalo for Reading!