Judging from the weekend crowds that regularly gather outside Moke’s Bread & Breakfast, there must be something about Kailua town that whets the appetite—or, more likely, the coconut wireless has been busy spreading the word about the eatery’s home-style comfort food and friendly service.
Breakfast lovers, this is the place for you.
OK, wait. Gotta ask. Why Moke’s? Is it named for the Mokulua Islands? Or is the owner … well, a moke?
This charming mom-and-pop really is just that. Owned by Moses “Moke” Warren and wife Teri, with son Keala as the face of Moke’s and daughter Leilani helping out, it literally is a family restaurant, and employees and customers feel the vibe.
Manager Jenny Jones, whom Moke’s lured from Honolulu’s Salt restaurant, has been at the helm for more than a year. “I love it,” she says. “We have an amazing staff, front and back. Here at Moke’s, we work as a full team unit. No animosity, especially with all the business we’ve been getting. It’s busier and busier.”
Yes, the influx of Japanese tourists in Kailua has a role in that, but Moke’s regular customers are its true bread and butter.
“We see regular clientele multiple times a week,” says Jones, noting that the combination of word-of-mouth plus new management and Keala’s savvy social media outreach has been key. Business is so good, in fact, that in September, the family celebrated the grand opening of a Moke’s in Tokyo.
It all started about 13 years ago when Moke Warren decided to open a bakery at the site, selling bread to other restaurants. Local folks also could stop in to pick up fresh bread, and that evolved into serving breakfast. So, about 10 years ago, they expanded the space (and is expanding further into the closed Peppino’s space next door) and Moke’s Bread & Breakfast was born.
So what draws the crowds? Homemade bread and baked goods fresh from the oven every day, thanks to longtime baker Clint Pilla, who has been with Moke’s since day one? The fresh, never frozen food? Homestyle breakfasts including a broke da mout’ loco moco …?
Sure. But Moke’s best-seller, hands down, is Lilikoi Pancakes. A family recipe passed down for generations, the pancakes are huge (three in a full stack; two in a short) and generously topped with the eatery’s special lilikoi sauce and whipped cream. Fresh lilikoi from Hawai’i Island are used exclusively for the “secret” sauce, along with butter, cream and sugar (that’s all that was revealed). And although it’s not on the menu, you’re welcome to order a single pancake as a side dish if you’ve ordered something else and just can’t resist a taste.
“We make the batter constantly all day,” says Jones of the popular, plate-size pancakes.
Breakfast is served until 2 p.m. and the menu is chock-full of all the traditional faves. Chef Moke’s Specialties—which come with your choice of two eggs, rice or hash browns, and a choice of homemade dark rye, French baguette, white or wheat toast—include pork chop with gravy, homemade corned beef hash and a house-cut rib eye steak. Warren actually was head butcher at Halekulani back when renowned Chef Mavro also was in the house, and still practices his craft here at the eatery, carefully selecting the choicest meat and expertly cutting each rib eye.
Farm-fresh omelets also are a big hit here, with about 10 to choose from, including the Moke Nui—bacon, ham, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and cheese—and the Vegetable Frittata, an open-faced omelet packed with plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables. All are served with your choice of rice, hash browns or toast (fried rice also is available).
Lunch starts at 11 a.m. with sandwiches (on white, wheat or dark rye) served with your choice of a mixed green salad or chips. There’s also a soup du jour (made with fresh, local and organic ingredients whenever possible), and a mixed house salad. Sandwiches include an old-fashioned Reuben, grilled cheese, BLT, veggie and more—all served on Pilla’s fresh bread.
The roast turkey breast sandwich is a popular lunchtime choice. “We use real turkey breast, nothing processed,” assures Jones. “We slice our own turkey for the sandwiches.”
The restaurant’s signature dessert is a combination of two Moke’s highlights, bread and lilikoi: Lilikoi Bread Pudding—fresh raisin sweet bread topped with luscious lilikoi sauce, whipped cream and cinnamon. Sweet.
Moke’s Bread & Breakfast
27 HO’OLAI ST.
OPEN DAILY EXCEPT TUESDAY, 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.