12 Tasty Ways to Satisfy Your Taco Cravings in Honolulu
Taco ’bout a good deal for Taco Tuesday and beyond.
Here’s where to go if …
You Had a Rough Day Downtown:
With a diverse medley of meats, including barbacoa slow-braised beef, carnitas, chile verde stewed chicken, beer-battered fried fish, and “tree hugger” sautéed squash, mushrooms and zucchini, the selection is good at Encore Saloon, where you can order any of the above in tacos, burritos, bowls or plates for between $2.50 and $11.50. On Tuesdays, enjoy the beef, fish and veggie tacos for $2 (as well as two other special tacos that rotate weekly), and wash it all down with a light Tecate, on special for $2.50.
10 N. Hotel St., (808) 367-1656, encoresaloon.com
SEE ALSO: First Look: Encore Saloon in Chinatown
You Want Surprising Flavor Combos:
Prepare for a Taco Tuesday feast at Scratch, where you can bag three tacos, a bowl of chorizo rice, a bowl of black beans topped with Cotija cheese and cilantro, assorted veggies and salsa for $32. Flavors rotate weekly; past favorites have included cola-braised beef short rib with chicken liver mousse and pickled vegetables, and crispy pork belly with apple slaw and gorgonzola. Did we mention this combo includes drinks? You also get a 6-ounce Modelo, shot of tequila and a margarita.
1170 Auahi St., (808) 589-1669, scratch-hawaii.com
You Want Cheap Tacos AND Tequila:
O‘ahu Mexican Grill
Would you believe that right on Kalākaua Avenue, overlooking Waikīkī Beach, you can score street tacos and tequila shots for just $3 each? From 11 a.m. to closing every Tuesday, O‘ahu Mexican Grill offers 5-inch flour or corn tortilla tacos stuffed to the brim with either free-range, grass-fed spicy braised beef or slow-roasted kālua pork for $3 each (two-taco plates are usually $10). Add to that Sauza Gold tequila shots for $3 and you’ve got an incredible special in the heart of Waikīkī.
2520 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 927-3720, omg.menu
You Want Authentic Mexican Street Food:
Serg’s Mexican Grill may be tucked away in Mānoa Valley but don’t skip a visit to this outdoor eatery. Its Mexico City-style tacos are filled with your choice of chorizo, grilled chicken, chili verde, carne asada, al pastor (pork roasted on a spit), carnitas or fish on grilled 5-inch corn tortillas and topped with onions and cilantro. Normally $3.95 each, they’re $2 from 4 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday. (There are also $3 tacos for fans of beef tongue, cheek or tripe.) Grab a seat at the picnic tables set up on the asphalt. Don’t forget to pick up a few beers from Safeway in Mānoa Marketplace nearby because Serg’s is BYOB. Chances are you’ll be parking there anyway; the lot at Serg’s is tight.
2740 E. Mānoa Road, (808) 988-8118, facebook.com/sergsmexicankitchen
Your Favorite Part is the Salsa:
Burgers & Burritos Hawai‘i
From 4 to 8 p.m. at Burgers & Burritos Hawai‘i, right next to Yakitori Glad on Kapahulu Avenue, you can enjoy three tacos with your choice of shredded beef, pork or diced chicken for $7, three carne asada tacos for $9, or three tacos with fish or shrimp for $12. (Normally $9.95, $11.95 and $13.50, respectively.) As a bonus, there’s no extra charge to go wild at the salsa bar, where you can pile on the house-made red and green salsa, habanero hot sauce and pico de gallo, plus limes, radishes and onions. Just don’t forget to bring the beer; BBHI is also BYOB.
760 Kapahulu Ave., #129, (808) 732-9490, burgersburritoshawaii.com
You Want Fancy Tacos for Cheap:
Right near the front entrance of Michael Mina’s The Street Food Hall in the International Market Place, Mi Almita Cantina is serving up coastal-style Mexican tacos two blocks away from Waikīkī Beach. Mi Almita’s on the pricier side (three-taco plates for $12 to $15) but the ingredients are a notch above your usual street food-style fare, with chicken mole de tamarindo, guajillo chile-smoked beef brisket, shrimp charred with red hot chile de arbol, and line-caught catch of the day prepared al pastor with chiles and pineapple. On “Tiki” Taco Tuesdays, from noon to 10 p.m., pork tacos are $2 and frozen margaritas are $4. (And if it’s not Tuesday, enjoy the same deal every day from noon to 5 p.m.)
2311 Kūhiō Ave., (808) 377-6915, michaelmina.net
You Want a Sunset View:
Soak up sweet views of Diamond Head and the Waikīkī skyline at Búho, which sets up a special taco stand on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to closing, offering al pastor, chicken or veggie tacos for just $2. If Tuesday’s too far away, enjoy three-taco plates with al pastor pork ($15), grilled fish ($18), Jidori chicken ($13), smoked brisket ($18), wagyu beef ($13), tequila garlic shrimp ($24) or avocado ($14).
2250 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 922-2846, buhocantina.com
You Want Meat. A Lot of It:
When it comes to tacos, Alejandro’s Tacos founder Alejandro Alvarado is a purist: 5-inch corn tortillas filled with diced onions, cilantro, salsa verde and your choice of three kinds of meat: carnitas or ground beef for $2.75, and carne asada for $3.50. But what this Mexican hot spot may lack in protein diversity, it makes up for in quality and quantity. These tacos are packed to the brim with ingredients. So are the 10-inch quesadillas ($7.95 carnitas or ground beef, $8.50 carne asada), the rice-and-pinto-bean bowls ($7.95 carnitas or ground beef, $9.75 carne asada), and the footlong “macho” burritos ($14 ground beef, $14.50 carnitas, $15.50 carne asada). On Taco Tuesday, score all tacos for 50 cents off. (And on Saturday, save a buck on all macho burritos!)
2831 Kalihi St., (808) 777-0038; 87-728 Farrington Highway, Wai‘anae, (808) 781-0660; alejandrosmexicanfood.com
You Want the Chef to Choose for You:
Santacruz Taco Co.
Bright red and green walls featuring chef/owner Julio Gutierrez Santacruz’s artwork (anatomy of a taco, guide to eating a taco and a colorful map of Mexico) give you plenty to look at while you decide what to eat. Having a hard time choosing? Ask Santacruz for his recommendations and watch the one-man show whip up smoked brisket, chorizo, chicken, lengua (beef tongue), cachete (beef cheeks), fresh catch and pork tacos, each only $3 on Tuesdays. They come topped with cilantro and onions on a house-made corn tortilla. We recommend loading up on the creamy, slightly spicy avocado sauce, pico de gallo, pickled onion and lime.
50 S. Beretania St., Suite C-118B, (808) 304-7096, santacruztacoco.com
Can’t Wait Until Taco Tuesday?
Don’t worry, all these places offer great Mexican food available every day of the week. Here are three more spots where you can go if …
You Love Puns:
Every day is Taco Tuesday at the street taco shop Taco‘ako (in Kaka‘ako, where else?), where you can order a variety of tacos, including chicken tinga, grilled tako, lengua, pork and steak, as well as seafood, such as beer-battered camarones (shrimp) and pan-seared Baja fish in papaya vinaigrette, plus vegetarian, including tempura-battered avocado and roasted cauliflower, all for $4 and $5 each. If you’re really hungry, fully loaded burritos (rice, beans, avocado, salsa, pico de gallo, crema) are $11 and tostadas are $6. (Whatever you order, don’t pass up the elote—Mexican street corn sprinkled with Cotija, lime, cayenne and cilantro—for $5.)
675 Auahi St., Suite 129, (808) 824-2547, tacoako.com
SEE ALSO: First Look: Taco‘ako in Kaka‘ako
You Want Tacos Before 9 a.m.:
Right on Union Mall, Taco Kabana is in the perfect location if you’re stuck working downtown but need to get your L.A. street-style taco fix. The menu’s small—tacos ($2.55 each, $2.95 for steak), quesadillas ($12.57) and burritos ($10.95) with your choice of steak, chicken, pork or grilled fish—but it’s all reasonably priced and packed with ingredients. Taco Kabana’s open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., which means you can snag great Mexican food right after work or even for breakfast before going in.
1121 Union Mall, (808) 585-8186, instagram.com/taco_kabana
You Want Tacos with K-Pop:
Chef Chris Oh, of Food Network and Munchies fame, brings his Korean heritage and Los Angeles street food culture to Honolulu at Chingu on Kapi‘olani Boulevard, where popular dishes such as his bone marrow and corn cheese ($14) and ‘ahi tomahawk (market price) always bring a crowd. Try his innovative take on L.A.-style street tacos, with bulgogi, avocado, pickled onions, cilantro, scallions with kim chee aioli for $12.
1035 Kapi‘olani Blvd., (808) 592-1035, instagram.com/chinguhawaii