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Downtown Eats: BWS Cafeteria

Yes, the BWS Cafeteria, located at the Honolulu City & County Board of Water Supply. Board of Water Supply? Who would have thought? Fellow food blogger “HYN Pake in Okinawa” Nate did. So did The Honolulu Advertiser, as well as many others who work in the area that are “in the know”. Talk about hidden gem!

The BWS Cafeteria is located on the 4th floor of the Board of Water Supply administrative office building on the mauka side of Beretania Street, across from the state capitol…

The familiar BWS teal color and distinctive sun shade architectural treatment on the building’s exterior makes the place easy find.

There’s customer parking behind, as you see here. From here, you enter where that bench and lobby windows are. Then you must check in with the security guard, present a valid ID and sign in. Upon doing that (no big deal), the security guard will issue you a visitor’s badge…

As you see, I’m now “Diner C-010”; Diner E was “Diner C-011” and Diner A was “Diner C-012”. Hey, where’s C-3PO & R2-D2? Beep – beep. lol

The 4th floor is basically the roof the building. All that’s there is the Cafeteria…

Mr. Kaneshiro running the front

It’s a quiet, cool breeze, open-air place, with screen windows and a rather nice view of the State Capitol and the surrounding Punchbowl area…

As you might expect, the clientele are mostly folks working in the area, from administrative staff, to politicians and doctors…

In fact, at the time of our visit I saw my cousin there, Uncle Butchie. Small world.. err um, rock for that matter.

So what get fo’ grind at da’ BWS Cafeteria? Here’s the everyday menu…

The “meat” of the lunch menu is driven by daily specials, where as in the case of our visit on this Pauhana Friday, looked like this…

Oh, and by the way, no smoking. K? lol

Here’s the whole week’s list of Lunch Specials…

I was kinda’ bummed they didn’t have Oxtail Soup on this visit, as I really had high hopes of trying theirs. I missed it by a day, as that was the daily special for Thursday (the day before). Ack!

But das’ alright, get odda’ ono-sounding stuffs fo’ try.

Diner A, a.ka. “Diner C-012” got the highly-touted Hamburger Steak…

BWS Cafeteria – Hamburger Steak with Gravy, Rice and Salad, $5.50

Diner E went for the Kalua Pork with Beef Stew, Rice & Salad…

BWS Cafeteria – Kalua Pork with Beef Stew, Rice & Salad, $6.25

And yours truly, “Diner C-010” (I think I’m keeping that name from now on lol) went with the Grilled Peppered Steak…

BWS Cafeteria – Grilled Peppered Steak with Rice & Salad, $7.25

So how was it? Diner A/C-012 gave his Hamburger Steak plate a solid 3 SPAM Musubi rating, noting the delicious home-style beef patty…

…and rich brown gravy flavor.His only drawback was that the gravy wasn’t as thick as he’d like. I can agree with that. I like ’em “tick”.

Diner E/C-011 really, really liked the Beef Stew, noting it reminded him of the historical Kewalo Lunch Wagon. That my friends is major COMPS! In fact, we thought about making another new criteria for lunch wagon grinds called the “Kewalo’s factor”. The stew had great viscosity and overall flavor. The Kalua pig was moist, yet didn’t wasn’t smokey enough for his liking. Good, but just missing that a bit.

Diner P/C-010 (yours truly) enjoyed the steak, although I should have told them to cook it medium-rare. It took unusually long for my order to come out of the kitchen, and when I finally got to dig into it, the steak was medium-well. I think the cut was a top round. It was seasoned generously with black pepper and a sprinkle of what I think was Hawaiian Salt. Works for me. While I don’t think it was flame grilled (never peeked in the kitchen), it had nice sear markings on the outside. A bonus was that they provided A-1 steak sauce at the condiment station. Woo-hoo, my favorite!

The condiment station also had the typical local style Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water, Hawaiian Salt and sliced Onions. Gotta’ love that. Da’ icing on da’ cake!

We all unanimously were favorable of the spaghetti “mac” salad. The corn was a nice addition as well; especially with my steak.

Diner E/C-011 was actually a little bothered that Diner A/C-012 had dibs on the Hamburger Steak, Diner E’s usual “gauge plate”, but he let it slide this time. As you see, Diner A really enjoyed that Hamburger Steak, polishing the plate…


Wow, that’ must have been GOOD!

I’m certainly returning for that Oxtail Soup. Gotta’. The other specials listed from earlier in the week sounded ono as well.

So next time you’re in the area and wanna’ try some place many others might not have even thought of, check out BWS Cafeteria for local style comfort food at a good price in a comfortable, peaceful setting within the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu.


Board of Water Supply
630 S. Beretania St., fourth floor
Tel. 748-5977

Business hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays

Free parking in back. Show valid ID and sign-in for visitors badge at security desk.

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)


13 thoughts on “Downtown Eats: BWS Cafeteria

  • September 13, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Eh Pomai! Glad you finally went. Guess you weren’t disappointed. Hidden jewel right in the center of downtown with easy parking, huh?

  • September 13, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Wow! Their prices are pretty good! I never knew this place existed. I guess I learned something new today. :-)

  • September 13, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Hey, how did you get in there? I thought if you get business to take of with BWS is OK but it still it a worker place to eat not bad.

  • September 13, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Pomai – My initial comment disappeared. Good place, huh?

  • September 13, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Well pretty funny place to go for lunch or my guy to take me. If it just me good reason to go there to pay my water bill and have nice lunch.

  • September 13, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    BWS, not sure with the friends or with my hubby. Let me see about that water bill when it due mmm next week OK I will try it out . I will ask if my friends water bill is due soon so we go together.

  • September 14, 2008 at 12:02 am

    I notice on the breakfast menu they have a choice of meats including luncheon meat and spam. I thought spam WAS luncheon meat! Even if they do have two different kinds, I can’t imagine many people would choose a generic “luncheon meat” over real Spam.

  • September 14, 2008 at 1:58 am

    So, funny, I almost went there on Friday because I was at Queens POB II. I hear they have very ono Loco Moco…..

  • September 14, 2008 at 2:53 am

    Nate, indeed, thanks to you! We really enjoyed our visit at BWS Cafeteria. Still determined to try their Oxtail Soup.

    Sorry ’bout the technical difficulties. Looking into it.

  • September 14, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Board of Water Supply — Who would have guessed? The prices seemed really reasonable the portions in your photos seem generous. That hamburger gravy looked really ono, too.

  • September 14, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Too bad their time in fit in my work hours and not near enough too. I will tell my friends who work near by about still. I work for the goverment and got own cafe too.

  • September 16, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    How funny. Pay your water bill and dine. Wish I had places here in Calif. could do the same thing. It might a whole new tread in Honolulu now

  • September 18, 2008 at 3:52 am

    Oxtail soup is supah `ono…but they only have it on Thursdays. Call in your oxtail soup order or go early ’cause it runs out fast!


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