Hometown Hungers: Best Loco Moco Outside of Hawaii
No need to boat over to the Big Island to sample the Aloha State’s signature comfort food staple. These spots across the country are turning out hearty takes on the gravy-soaked, egg-topped dish.
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Loco moco might be the quintessential island-style comfort food. As the story goes, this hearty dish was invented at Lincoln Grill in Hilo in 1949 to satisfy some hungry teenagers. The classic version is a hamburger patty topped with a fried egg, smothered in brown gravy and served over a scoop or two of Asian short-grain rice. Variations include fried rice instead of steamed, different kinds of gravy and all kinds of meat. Similarly to other comfort food staples, such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes, this in-demand dish is both filling and soothing. It has proven to be a popular combination, as loco moco has found fans well beyond the 808 state. Read on to find out where to score the best riffs on the dish.
Photo courtesy of John Beck
Namu Gaji, San Francisco
Go to: Namu Gaji
Hula Girl Bar & Grill, Arlington, Va.
Go to: Hula Girl Bar and Grill
Super Six, Seattle
This spot is the latest culinary brainchild from the partners behind Marination, one of Seattle’s first food trucks to dish out Hawaiian delicacies. The restaurant’s name is a nod to the space’s former life as an auto body shop, as well as to an early 20th-century roadster called the Super Six, which was powerful and practical — not unlike the protein-packed loco moco dish itself. Super Six sticks close to the classic recipe, delivering a dish composed of a beef patty, gravy, rice and two eggs garnished with some pickled red onions. In addition to the loco moco, the menu features a slew of pan-Asian style Hawaiian favorites, including poke, katsu, kalbi, coconut cream pie and malasadas.
Photo courtesy of John Beck
Go to: Super Six
Ate-Oh-Ate, Portland, Ore.
Go to: Ate-Oh-Ate
Suburbia, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Go to: Suburbia
Starbelly, San Francisco
Go to: Starbelly
The Corner Office, Denver
Go to: The Corner Office
Aloha Cafe, Los Angeles
Go to: Aloha Cafe
Bamboo Grove Hawaiian Grille, Portland, Ore.
From the surfboards on the wall to the live ukelele music in the Tiki Room every Friday night, Bamboo Grove is steeped in the spirit of the Aloha State. The requisite loco moco comes in three sizes, all of which are made with seasoned hamburger meat that’s hand-formed into patties, then topped with fried egg and smothered in the house brown gravy. The dish is served bento or plate-lunch style, meaning rice and macaroni salad come on the side. Opt for the hamburger steak variation and the egg will be switched out for sauteed onions instead.
Photo courtesy of Heather Murray Photography
Go to: Bamboo Grove Hawaiian Grille
Island Flavor, Las Vegas
Go to: Island Flavor
Good Enough to Eat, New York City
Diners crowd into Good Enough to Eat to cozy up to the American comfort food dishes that the Upper West Side restaurant has been turning out for more than 35 years. Chef Michele Weber makes a mean loco moco, which is offered as a special in the classic style — white rice, hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy. Weber’s inspiration came from her Hawaiian friend Lester, who was also an artist and a waiter at the restaurant for 20 years. His parents made and sold the dish out of a beachside food truck back in the 1950s.
Photo courtesy of Chef Michele Weber & Good Enough to Eat
Go to: Good Enough to Eat
Peg’s Glorified Ham & Eggs, Reno, Nev.
Go to: Peg’s Glorified Ham & Eggs
Taste of Aloha, Arbutus, Md.
Go to: Taste of Aloha
Hukilau, San Jose, Calif.
Go to: Hukilau