Best Hawaiian Luau - 2000
Punahele Island Grill
This place is so authentic that a big pile of macaroni salad comes with every order -- only true Hawaiians know that macaroni salad is the unifying food of their modern culture. And the mounds of shredded pork on every plate are so succulent they dissolve before you can begin to chew. The relatively atmosphere-free room is also what Hawaiian luaus really look like; in fact, you almost feel you're at, say, a wedding reception as you sit next to strangers at long folding tables. But no one remains a stranger, and not surprisingly, Punahele Island attracts a large number of customers who are actually from Hawaii. A live luau band plays the real stuff -- not old Don Ho hits -- treating the crowd to some fun music, and moving more than one middle-aged woman to get up and hula dance right next to her seat, remembering the steps she learned as a child. Everyone in the joint hoots and hollers, egging on the next dancer. Though situated in the Outer Sunset, the place is packed to the rafters every Friday and Saturday night. Reservations are a must for groups larger than two; expect to bump elbows with the diners next to you.