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“Great food - great music!”

Pono Hawaiian Grill
Ranked #35 of 369 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Bar, Polynesian, Hawaiian, Pub
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Kids, Bar scene, Dining on a budget
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Full Bar, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Television, Wheelchair Accessible
California
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Great food - great music!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 3, 2012

We had dinner, drinks & heard some great Hawaiian music at Pono.
All the food was wonderful.
It was our first visit & we loved it. We'll be back for sure!

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank CaliQzilla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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85 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    35
    38
    9
    2
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Santa Cruz, California
Level Contributor
64 reviews
45 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“a little bit of Hawaii in Santa Cruz”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 4, 2012

We love Hawaiian food, so we decided to give Pono a try. You place your order at the counter, then find a seat, either indoors (casual couches & tables), at the bar, or on the outdoor patio (which we chose). The sweet potato fries were EXCELLENT: nice & hot & crispy, with a nice spicy BBQ dipping sauce. The poke appetizer was good, but a bit skimpy (next time, I'll try the bowl). The Kahlua pork was tender, but could have used some sauce on it. The prawns plate was OK, although somewhat bland. The plates feature the traditional "two scoops rice, 1 scoop macaroni salad", plus slaw. They have Longboard lager on tap, plus a full bar. It was good enough to make me want to go back to try their rice bowls, and saimin. If those are good, then I'll up the rating. Hula Grill remains the top choice, but Pono's is a contender.

  • Visited June 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank beachfolks_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
14 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Fun atmosphere, OK food”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 30, 2011

This was the only place we ate in Santa Cruz after a day trip there, so I can't compare it to other restaurants in the neighborhood. The environment was very fun, relaxed and the decor, music and ambiance felt like being in Hawaii. We had the loco moco burritos, spring rolls and shortribs. The food was OK, not bad but not fantastic. They did have an extensive poi (raw fish) menu that we didn't try. We went on the earlier side (5-ish) on a weekday and it was pretty empty. But more people were arriving and the stage was being set up for live music, so it seems like it'd be a hoppin' place later on. You have to order and pay at the counter before sitting where you want, so there's not really proper waiter service and you may have to wait in line.

  • Visited December 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank kg3941
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Awesome new spot”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 30, 2011

Excellent food. I haven't had a bad dish yet. Wether you want a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch or something healthier like a brown rice poke bowl or a wrap, this place has it all. Great menu. Good atamosphere with frequent live Hawaiin music or local surf flicks on the big screen. Friendly staff. Full bar. Best value for Hawaiin in Santa Cruz.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank JbHens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis
Level Contributor
124 reviews
106 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Great food, pleasant atmosphere”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 19, 2011

We happened to try Pono when we were in town for a brief visit with relatives. Got lucky because we were there on a night with a top-notch Hawaiian band and hula performer. Food was delicious--pork was tasty and the Loco Moco burrito was outstanding. And we think we saw a genuine local celebrity there.... A fun night.

  • Visited October 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank kira_z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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