Joann’s Lounge Bar

Joann’s Lounge Bar – Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

This low-key locals bar is a great escape for those wishing to experience a no-frills experience featuring karaoke and free appetizers. With affordable drinks and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s easy to settle in here for an afternoon or evening and get a taste of what life might be like as a year-round islander.

- The Local Expert Team

Located on the East Coast of the Big Island, Joann’s Lounge Bar is situated just across the street from Hilo International Airport, making it a great place to begin or end your vacation. Although Hawaii is seemingly overflowing with bars, pubs, and lounges catering to the tourist clientele, Joann’s offers something a little different.

This is a bar geared to locals, and the fact that their guests are so loyal means they’re doing something right. What it lacks in glitz and glamour, it makes up for in comfort and hospitality. The nondescript brick front of the building directs guests inside. The dated furniture and décor feel like a blast from the past, but in a way that is inviting and cozy. Dark carpets and green tables are complemented by Hawaiian print booths. Yes, the place shows its age, but you’re not coming here for the décor.

What makes this place special is the “welcome home” atmosphere that permeates the whole room. Whether you’re a local or it’s your first visit, the friendly and attentive staff will make you feel like a member of the family. Drinks are affordable and you never have to wait long for a refill.

As for the food? You’re in for a unique treat! While Joann’s has no printed menu, they offer a rotating menu of pupus, or appetizers.

The best part? They’re all free! And we’re not talking a cup of mixed nuts or other typical bar snacks. On any given night you may be offered poke, chicken, meatballs, spam and vegetables, and other authentic Hawaiian treats. In fact, expect to be presented with about 8-10 dishes. As long as you’re drinking, the food is free.  That’s a deal you won’t see often.

Perhaps the biggest draw of Joann’s is their karaoke. Known for its daily karaoke offering, this place gets packed most nights with people ready to perform, listen, and sing along. Would-be crooners and rock stars are encouraged to choose selections from a huge binder full of song options. Guests can choose multiple songs if they’d like. Have stage fright? Don’t worry. You can even sing from the convenience – and anonymity – of your own table. Born for the spotlight? Don’t worry, you’re more than welcome to stand up and perform your heart out for the rest of the bar patrons.

All in all, Joann’s Lounge is a throwback to a simpler time. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a day as an honorary local, make friends, and chill out. If you’re looking for cold drinks, great food, and fun entertainment in a casual environment without a drop of pretentiousness, Joann’s should be atop your list.

Insider Tips:
-Joann’s can get packed at night for karaoke. If you’d like to sing, it’s best to get there early and plan on a long wait.
-It can get very warm inside, especially on the hottest summer days. To avoid peak heat, you might prefer to visit early in the day or late at night.
-Parking should be easy to find. There is a large parking lot adjacent to the bar that more than accommodates all patrons.