Eat A Real Lunch
During my college years at UH Manoa, I'd usually cash in my meal points at Campus Center or the dorm cafeterias. Breakfast, lunch and dinner wre mainly on campus, but eventually I started to venture out and discover other means of sustenance. When I would work at the school newspaper (Ka Leo) in advertising and marketing, part of my role was to go out to meet with clients and sell ad space in the newspaper. After one of my client meetings with my boss, he wanted to grab lunch in Kaimuki, since it was on the way back to the office. We parked in a parking lot surrounded by restaurants along Waialae Avenue, then walked over to a quaint sandwich shop.
I thought, "Sandwich? Shoots, I can just get one with my meal points at the dorms." But Rob (my old boss), was raving about a sandwich that this shop is known for that had bacon jam; alright, you had me at 'bacon'. So I ordered the Turkey Jam Sam and once I took my first bite, my world was flipped! With that homemade sweet and salty flavor and warm jam-like texture goodness, this sandwich will always be my go-to . But there are actually more sandwiches that makes E.A.R.L. one of the hottest spots in Kaimuki. One of my boyfriend's faves is the French dip, which is made with E.A.R.L.'s house made prime rib, and a friend of mine kept repeating how ono the melted fat in the bread of the Chorizo BLT. If you haven't been to this shop, you need to stop by.....at least 10x in your life in order to get the full experience!
E.A.R.L. actually stands for Eat A Real Lunch, which owner Justin came up with after noticing the lack of sandwich shops on the island. Ten years ago, he left Baltimore to study on Oahu and 6 years into the island life, he established his shop in Kaimuki. To this day a lot of locals claim this shop to be one of the best sandwich spots on the island; even tourists make the effort to bus it, drive, or Uber to try it out themselves!
Upon our arrival, Alex and I got my favorite Turkey Jam Sam and the Drew (highly recommended). You already know my take on the bacon jam, but the Drew is a whole different level of deliciousness! On top of mayo relish and other components, you got the warm and tender meat of pastrami that detaches as you take each bite (no strings attached if you know what I mean!) Then you have the tomato jam that goes perfectly with the creaminess of the Swiss cheese and semi crunch from the dill pickles.
Besides robust sandwiches, Justin surprised us with a side of the Spicy Caprese bites! Typically a caprese would be a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil - but minus the salad and add spicy and buttery slices of toasted ciabatta and you got the bougie version that tickles your tongue with crushed red pepper flakes!
What I love about E.A.R.L. is that the portions are sizeable to the point where my hunger is satisfied with one half of a sandwich, so I can then save the other half for lunch tomorrow. Also, everything is made in house; the sauces, the cooked meats and the teas! My favorite is the guava green tea and helped wash down the spiciness from the caprese bites.
So if you've got a big appetite and need something on the go I highly recommend coming here of you haven't yet. Parking is inexpensive and the wait doesn't take long as they prep majority of their ingredients before opening. Check them out online at earlhawaii.com to see their menu, catering options, and tutorials.
Thank your E.A.R.L. for having us and giving us an tasteful experience! Follow them on Instagram @earlkaimuki for daily specials, food porn, and updates for the opening of their new location in Kakaako (across from Bevy and Dry Bar).
And thank you Alex for joining me to capture the food; check out his Instagram @awongway to see more of his beautiful portrait work!
There’s window seating on one side of the shop
Are you a major foodie? Tell me in the comments or on Instagram about your favorite food places!