Review: E Komo Mai! L&L Hawaiian Barbecue welcomes students to the islands

By Lauren Combs | Reporter

“When you first move to Waco and ask people what they do for fun, they usually start listing off their favorite restaurants,” Zachary Sheldon, film & digital media lecturer, said at the beginning of my class. “Then when you stop them and say, ‘Okay, but what do you do?’ They kind of give you a funny look and then go back to listing places to eat.”

It’s true — I always suggest the usual Harvest on 25th, Milo All Day and Union Hall to out-of-towners. But what’s new to do, or rather to eat, in Waco? This is when I stumbled upon a Facebook post directing me to L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.

Located in Mary Avenue Market, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is nestled between well-known restaurants and venues like Hecho en Waco, Fox & Gray boutique and Magnolia Market, making it easy to miss. Although the chain has been around since 1952, this location opened amidst the pandemic when restrictions kept people home. However, it is time for L&L Hawaiian Barbecue to get the hype it deserves because of the new perspective it brings to the table.

Not only is it co-owned by local army veterans, but it’s also the only restaurant that introduces traditional Hawaiian plate lunches to a town overly inhabited by cute brunch places. When walking into L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, you are greeted by beautifully photographed pictures of nature and geography in Hawaii, as well as a vibrant, tropical color scheme.

The employees are excited to explain the menu items, which may be new to Waco natives. Their most popular dish, Loco Moco, is two hamburger patties topped with fried eggs and gravy over a bed of rice and, of course, a side of macaroni salad — a lunch plate specialty.

For people who are less adventurous, I recommend the Chicken Katsu: fried chicken with a mild katsu dipping sauce over a bed of rice. For everyone, I highly recommend my favorite, and classic Hawaiian snack, Spam Musubi, which is a slice of fried Spam over a bed of rice and wrapped in nori.

Every portion at L&L Hawaii is extremely large for the price, which allows it to become perfect leftovers. Although Waco seems like a weird place to enjoy Hawaiian food, I was pleasantly surprised by the authenticity of the dishes and flavors after my trip to Oahu last summer.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue truly deserves the highest praise and should become the new comfort food for Baylor students. I encourage everyone to branch out and experience Polynesian culture brought to you all the way from the Pacific.