Talking Up Tacos

Columns Ono, You Know

July 30, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

What’s your ethnicity? I’m asked that on a regular basis, and I’ve found it quite entertaining to keep people guessing. You’ll be surprised to hear that more often than not, people follow the first question with “Are you Mexican?” The answer is no, but I can see why many would think that. First off, I love Mexican cuisine — no exaggeration here! You name it, I adore it, everything from burritos, to ceviche, enchiladas, guacamole and more. Tacos, however, are my ultimate weakness. I’ve been known to eat 10 tacos in one sitting — no lie! There’s just something about the varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices and ingredients of this dish that has me drooling.

Therefore, this week’s assignment was a breeze. Nothing beats being able to eat tacos to your heart’s content and getting paid to do it, right?! So, I gladly ventured around town, scoping out some of the best “Ono, You Know” taco spots. I welcome Mexican cuisine with open arms and will happily devour kalua pork, fish, beef and chicken tacos anytime of the day or night!

Edge of Waikiki

  • The editor shows her love for tacos while ready to indulge in the Edge of Waikiki's onolicious Fish Tacos — Pier 38.
  • Edge of Waikiki's Fish Tacos — Pier 38 ($17)
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This week, I ventured back to the Sheraton Waikiki, this time to its new signature pool bar, the Edge of Waikiki. Adjacent to the hotel’s Infinity edge pool, this bar pays homage to the old Hollywood days of Waikiki from the 1920s to 1960s. Now frequented by locals and visitors from around the globe, Edge of Waikiki offers a lively, adult-only atmosphere, delicious cocktails and unbeatable cuisine prepared by chef Colin Hazama.

The menu features a wide array of irresistible items, including artisan sandwiches, hot island favorites and pupus, salads, seafood appetizers, brick oven pizzas, and desserts to tempt every sweet tooth.

What is my food of choice, you ask? Well, for starters, the Brick Oven Pizza topped with Italian herb sausage, pepperoni, local ham and bacon ($15) is a sure bet, but I can’t pay a visit here without overly indulging in the Fish Tacos — Pier 38 ($17), of course!

These magnificent tacos are made to perfection, as soft flour tortillas are filled to the brim with freshly caught Pier 38 mahi mahi marinated in a zesty chimichuri sauce and grilled with sweet Kahuku corn relish on a bed of housemade guacamole and shredded head cabbage. A side of Hamakua tomato salsa and a refreshing lime wedge completes the dish.

The mahi mahi is so tender in itself, and every ingredient that follows plays an integral part in the overall result. As a tried and true lover of guacamole and salsa, I couldn’t think of anything I would rather satisfy my appetite with after a dip in the pool.

The Edge of Waikiki is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with happy hour set from 5 to 6 p.m. Also, take in the sweet sounds of some of Hawaii’s famed musicians from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. nightly.

The Edge of Waikiki
Sheraton Waikiki Hotel
2255 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 922-4422
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Wahoo’s Fish Taco

  • Wahoo's Kahala general manager Randall Transfiguracion presents a variety of taco options to hungry patrons.
  • Wahoo's Two Tacos Combo Platter ($8.99)
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When craving a good ole’ fish taco, expect nothing less from Wahoo’s Fish Taco at Ward Gateway Center and Kahala Korner. This California-based chain first came to the islands in 2006 when sisters Stephanie Gambetta and Noel Pietsch believed it would be the go-to choice for those yearning for the best in “California-Mex” cuisine.

The restaurant gives off a beachy vibe, welcoming to patrons just off the beach or those stopping by for an office meeting. Wahoo’s specializes in cuisine that is not only tasty, but healthy, and I’m probably not the first one to admit it, but the fish tacos are off the hook!

“In our fish tacos we use ono, cheese, fresh cut cabbage and homemade salsa wrapped in soft-shell corn tortillas,” says Wahoo’s Kahala general manager Randall Transfiguracion.

I, personally, can’t resist the Two Tacos Combo Platter ($8.99), filled with flame-broiled fish. This is one meal in particular that will leave you feeling stuffed, but guilt-free, and what can be better than that?

If fish is not your forte, however, have your taco with blackened or flame-broiled chicken, pork, steak, mushrooms, banzai veggies or tofu. Combo plates also come with ahee rice and black beans or spicy cajun white beans.

Wahoo’s Fish Taco
Ward Gateway Center
940 Auahi St.
Kahala Korner
4614 Kilauea Ave.
(808) 591-0642 (Ward), (808) 732-9229 (Kahala)
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El Charro Mexicano Aiea Restaurant

  • El Charro's Taco Plate ($9.50)
  • El Charro's Mexican Tacos ($10.50)
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Husband-and-wife team and owners of El Charro Mexicano Aiea Restaurant John and Sofia Ramirez sure know a thing or two about authentic Mexican cuisine. Upon setting foot in the eatery located on the third level of Aiea Shopping Center, it was as if I had been whisked away to a favorite hot spot in Mexico.

With a menu that crosses all borders, the taco dishes were tantalizing, to say the least. For example, for the reasonable price of $9.50, diners receive the renowned Taco Plate with two crispy or soft corn tortillas with their choice of ground beef, shredded chicken or beef, pork and kalua pork. And for an additional $2, choose from grilled chicken, steak or beef tongue.

And taco lovers listen up, I have more tasty news coming your way. A bestseller that’s not on the menu, but definitely worth trying is El Charro’s Mexican Tacos ($10.50). This entree features three corn tortillas (crispy or soft) filled with sizzling slices of grilled steak, onions, cilantro, lemon and lettuce. Better yet, all classic plates are served with rice and beans to satisfy any appetite.

“We make our tortillas and sauces fresh every day,” says El Charro’s manager and executive chef Bob Burns, noting that breakfast burritos also are quite popular here. “We start off by making everything mild, but we can always spice it up upon request,” he adds.

What I love most about El Charro is the fact that all cuisine is served throughout all hours of operation. Craving Mexican Tacos at 9 a.m.? You got it!

El Charro Mexicano Aiea Restaurant
Aiea Shopping Center
99-115 Aiea Heights Drive, Suite #304
(808) 488-9727
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