Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop
1030 Smith St. Honolulu, HI
(808) 536-1669

Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop is kind of one of those places you roll out of bed for on a Sunday morning, still yawning and sleepy-eyed, maybe a little hungover. (This is, in fact, the exact scenario I always find myself in when I stop in at Scratch.)

It’s just one of those places, you know? Comfortable atmosphere, hearty food and cocktails — I mean, they do say the only way to get rid of a hangover is to keep on drinking. And, as the menu sassily declares: It’s 5 o’clock … somewhere.

The greatest thing about Scratch is that its menu almost feels like unexplored territory. Drawing on inspiration from southern and Latin cuisine, it fulfills a niche in Hawaii I sometimes feel is lacking.

Many of the flavors — especially if, like me, you’ve lived in Hawaii pretty much all your life and haven’t ventured through middle America — will be new and exciting.

It’s at Scratch, for instance, that I tried grits for the first time. A take on the southern staple, Creole Shrimp n’ Grits is warm, rich with garlic and butter, and a real treat to eat in the morning. Cuts of spicy smoked sausage, red-eye gravy, fried eggs and Kauai prawns incorporated into the dish make it … well, super easy to crawl back into bed after eating.

Another savory item worth sampling: Chilaquiles. It’s a flavor-packed dish, full of different textures — a combination of thinly shredded chicken, fresh tortilla chips, a roasted tomato-chipotle sauce, all topped with lime crema, queso fresco and sunny-side up eggs.

It’s certainly an eclectic mix of flavors, but more importantly, Scratch can be a very fun place to eat. Nothing is quite ordinary here, with twists on simple items like pancakes, which are instead transformed into “Milk & Cereal” Pancakes. It achieves that bottom-of-the-bowl sweet milk flavor you get after eating a bowl (or several) of cereal with “milk” syrup. Served with fruit and frosted flakes, it’s a sugary dish I think is best for sharing, unless you prefer to indulge in all your sweets before lunch.

Convinced you enough to stop in yet? The next time you do, ask about Scratch’s freshly baked scones. I’ve found they make the perfect snack for later, like, you know, on the drive home.