Davies Pacific Center
841 Bishop St., Ste. 103
Phone number (808) 888-7476
Business website

Have you ever had a Stroganoff Pot Pie? Let alone heard of a shop on the island that sells fresh pot pies in the first place? I hadn’t either, but what if I told you there’s an eatery where you can have a mouth-watering one — made from scratch — and you can grab it on the go, while in the middle of your busy workday?

I know, it sounds too good to be true, but it’s emphatically possible at Bistro! Downtown. The family-owned restaurant has handcrafted an original way to combine quality with convenience.

“Fast gourmet is what we like to call it,” explains director of operations Robert Okimoto, who runs the spacious 2-year-old eatery tucked away on Bishop Street with his brother, general manager and chef Mike Correa.

For working professionals in the area, as well as Hawaii Pacific University students in the know, Bistro! has become the go-to lunch spot for paninis, sandwiches, salads, burgers and pizzas. Favorites like Chicken MacNut Pesto panini, oozing with Havarti cheese, or Spinach Mushroom Garlic pizza, fired up in a wood-stone oven with fresh veggies, present dressed-up yet hassle-free meals. Did I mention the restaurant bakes its own breads?

Plus, the staff is speedy. “We like to cook everything to order; that way the quality stays,” explains Okimoto.

Things really get interesting when it comes to the specials menu, which changes regularly and allows the culinary team’s creativity to run wild. As self-taught masters of their craft, Correa and his crew seem to be a testament to the saying “you can do anything you put your mind to” — especially when applied to trying new things in the kitchen.

“It’s a collective effort. None of us are actually formally trained in culinary arts, so we just like to eat, like to make good food. Everybody has their own contribution to the menu,” shares Correa.

This approach doesn’t stray from tough questions, such as: What would a garlic cream-based pizza topped with Sriracha, kim chee, Portuguese sausage and onions taste like? Instead, it finds the scrumptious answer — aka Portuguese Sausage Kim Chee Pizza.

If you haven’t forgotten about that Stroganoff Pot Pie, the dish is currently available as a special and combines ground beef and turkey, mushrooms and fresh dill and thyme — all folded within a flakey pie crust. Other imaginative pot pies, such as Patele Stew, Braised Short Rib and Pork Adobo varieties, have been known to grace the specials list.

“We love new ideas,” says Okimoto. “If any one of our employees has a suggestion, we try to take it into consideration.”

That’s how one previous special, Kim Chee Burger, took shape. When line cook Stanford Watanabe suggested putting his homemade kim chee on top of a burger, the brains behind Bistro! got to work, adding spicy aioli, egg and green onion.

“I think it’s delicious,” comments Okimoto, going on to note that Kim Chee Burger remains an off-the-menu best-seller.

Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the eatery starts each day with breakfast delectables (available until 10:30 a.m.) such as house-made scones and local-style fried rice (that usually sells out).

Bistro! Downtown’s currently has freshly prepared seasonal desserts, including Eggnog Brûlée and Mini Cream Puff holiday yummies.