New: Surf 'n' Turf Tacos

Left: tacos at Surf 'n' Turf Tacos, right: torta and horchata

In the same way that Texans embrace their own brand of Mexican food, which includes the processed cheese goo known as queso, I'm coming to appreciate Honolulu's own twists on Mexican. Namely, the spicy ahi tempura taco at new-ish Surf 'n' Turf Tacos on Monsarrat. Panko-crusted shrimp topped with spicy ahi, wrapped up in corn tortillas topped with cabbage and sweet Thai chili sauce—it's sushi roll-style creativity in tortillas instead of nori.

There are some other fusion-y tacos with kalbi and seared ahi poke, but Surf 'n' Turf's main offerings and style are along the lines of Mainland chains Chipotle and Baja Fresh, with meat options including steak, carnitas and beer-battered fish, all topped with fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and shredded cabbage. I'd go back for the tortas (sandwiches on bread that's somewhere between a ciabatta and plain white bread), stuffed with guacamole and refried beans, which compensate for the slightly dried out carnitas. Make sure to hit the salsa bar, which includes a fiery, smoky sauce and a milder, tangy tomatillo one. No cotija cheese or Mexico-City style tacos in sight (and just passable tortillas), but most of the people here seem ok with that.

In the same strip mall as breakfast spot Bogart's and acai bowl haven Da Cove, Surf 'n' Turf joins these others in offering post-Diamond Head surf session food that's lighter and more veggie-friendly than the usual plate lunch.

Surf 'n' Turf Tacos, 3045 Monsarrat Ave., 456-5345