These island-style takes on this Mexican favorite take tacos to a whole new level— ¡olé!
If a group of people were asked what their favorite foods are, chances are Mexican would pop up on many of those lists. The ingredients are simple, the flavors have flair and the recipes bring anticipation to the palate. As one of the favored meals in Mexican cuisine, tacos have seen a world’s worth of varieties and adaptations. Many popular eateries in Waikiki have jumped at the chance to fuse the fresh ingredients of Hawai‘i’s islands with the simple and tasteful taco make up.
With a chic diner approach, Mac 24/7 is known typically for their generous portions, including their colossal sized and Travel Channel-featured pancakes.
Since executive chef James Aptakin—winner of a Food Network Challenge show—has begun his tenure at Mac 24/7, he’s focused on adding a few lighter, healthier fare items, including the Wasabi Ahi Poke Tacos.
A brainchild of Aptakin’s poke tower, the Wasabi Ahi Poke Tacos deliver a quick crunchy taste that mixes fluently with the texture and taste of fresh ‘ahi.
An easy-to-share dish, the taco shells are made in house, filled with ‘ahi and dressed with an avocado and cilantro mousse, island salsa, micro greens from Nalo Farms and bits of bubu arare on top for an added crunch.
Hilton Waikiki Beach 2500 Kuhio Avenue [B:10 Waikiki Map] (808) 922-0811
You may not think Nobu’s Japanese style cuisine would be able to mix tacos into their menu, but their Nobu Style Sashimi Tacos have been a can’t-miss for years.
In mini bite-sized portions the sashimi tacos are offered with lobster, salmon, king crab or tuna. Filling a gluten-free crunchy tortilla each seafood choice is topped with a roasted tomatillo and salsa roja with white onion and micro cilantro.
“They are really light, the idea is to really taste the sashimi so the salsas are prepared not to overpower, but to add to the sashimi flavor,” says chef Matt Raso, who compares the mix between the crunchy tortilla and sashimi with a Mexican style ceviche served with corn tortilla chips.
Waikiki Parc Hotel 2233 Helumoa Avenue [D:7 Waikiki Map] (808) 237-6999
Each Yard House restaurant around the country infuses flavors of that region into their menu and in Waikiki they have done a phenomenal job featuring island-style ingredients in their Street Taco menu. A few choices that blend well with the culture and atmosphere of Waikiki are their Grilled Korean Beef Short Rib and Blackened Swordfish Tacos.
With a huge Asian influence in Hawai‘i’s food and culture, Yard House’s Korean Beef Short Rib Tacos are a hit with the local crowd. Filled with marinated slices of beef short rib each taco is topped with lemon sriracha aioli, carrots, daikon radish and threads of red chili.
Heading towards the spicy side, and the way blackened fish should taste, the Blackened Swordfish Tacos feature a cumin cream based cilantro cabbage, fresh guacamole, pico de gallo and a mango papaya chutney.
Yard House Waikiki Beach Walk 226 Lewers Street [C:7 Waikiki Map] (808) 923-9273
Now an international franchise, Maui Tacos got its start on founder Mark Ellman’s lanai, where he hatched the idea to blend Mexican fare of his California upbringing with the exotic flavors that are authentically Hawaiian.
With dozens of menu options Maui Tacos has their own island-style spin of the taco salad with the Rainbow Mango Salad. Using an organic, non-GMO corn tortilla bowl the salad is filled with romaine lettuce, tomato, mango salsa, black beans, rice and your choice of swordfish, chicken, shredded pork or beef.
Maui Tacos Royal Hawaiian Center 2233 Kalakaua Avenue [C:8 Waikiki Map] (808) 931-6111