Vintage Travel Kat
Leonard's Bakery, Honolulu

Loving Leonard's Bakery in Honolulu

In Honolulu, the legendary Leonard’s Bakery has been serving piping hot malasada pastry sweets with Aloha attitude since 1952.

When we arrived in Honolulu in early 2020, we got chatting to our cab driver who recommended some of his ‘must-do’ places to eat. He insisted that we simply must head to Leonard’s Bakery, famous for his hot malasadas (which are like Portuguese donuts).

Hot maslasadas from Leonard's Bakery, Honolulu
Out the front of Leonard's Bakery in Honolulu. Image: Katrina Holden

Within a few hours, we began to notice people carrying baby-pink pastry boxes carrying the name ‘Leonard’s Bakery’. I was pretty tempted by the ‘hot donuts’ description but now, with the added appeal of cute pink packaging, and I was soon googling and checking our map for the quickest route for us to drive to Leonard’s in our hire car.

We arrived one Sunday morning to the home of Leonard’s at 933 Kapahula Avenue. It’s mid- morning and there’s already a small queue forming. The bakery from the outside looks very much like a traditional 1950s diner ­– with a red and white striped awning and large lettering in a retro font script displayed on top of the store.

Clutching my hot malasadas from Leonard's Bakery

The bakery was founded in 1952 by ‘Leonard’ and his wife Margaret. Leonard’s grandparents came from Portugal to Maui, Hawaii in 1882 to work under contract on the sugar cane fields. Their grandson Leonard and his wife Margaret moved to Honolulu in 1946 with their daughter Diane, aged eight. Leondard worked for Snowflake Bakery before going out on his own to launch Leonard’s Bakery. The pair worked hard and the bakery developed a steady stream of loyal customers. It was Leonard’s mother who suggested making malasadas for Shrove Tuesday – a Portuguese tradition. The bakers thought the idea was ‘too ethnic’ but malasadas proved to be a huge hit! In the 1980s, the roving Malasadamobile food truck was born which is still used today.

The Leonard's Bakery mobile truck
The mobile Leonard's food truck, the 'malasadamobile'. Image: Katrina Holden

The bakery itself is small but full of life. On the day I queued, there were people of all ages and walks of life waiting patiently. We pay at one cash register and receive a retro-looking ‘ticket’ that we then take to the other end of the counter to collect our ordered food. The malasadas now come with flavours such as guava or macadamia in the centre, but we opted for a box of ‘originals’ – six piping hot, doughy and sugary treats that you can tear with ease with your fingers.

Leonard's Bakery in Honolulu
Image: Katrina Holden
Cookies inside Leonard's Bakery

We enjoyed malasadas at the beach; and took the remainder of our pink  box back to enjoy at our hotel room the Hilton Hawaiian Village, sipping on rose and watching the afternoon sun. A perfect puffy and pink holiday treat!

Leonard's Bakery treats at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Image: Katrina Holden
Leonard's Bakery treats at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Image: Katrina Holden