The journey over the Pali is worth it for dosas both savory and sweet.
Trying Out Griddled in Waikīkī: Here’s Why We Love Their Birria Tacos
It’s all about the balance of flavors—and sharing a space with a mochi doughnut shop doesn’t hurt, either.
By Thien Nguyen | Special to Frolic Hawai‘i
I love birria tacos. I’ve tried them at most places on Frolic’s birria taco roundup, and I’ve come to appreciate the different qualities at different places. I like it when the consommé has a richness that isn’t overly greasy. I love my cheese, but I don’t want so much that it masks the taste of the beef; or so much beef that it overwhelms the other flavors. I love a little spice—or a lot). And I am constantly looking for more birria to try. So when I was invited to try Griddled, formerly located at ‘Ohana Hale Marketplace, at its new location in Waikīkī, I accepted right away.
The new Griddled shares a space with Mochi Do Hawai‘i in the lobby of the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel. While Mochi Do sells its mochi donuts until noon, Griddled takes over from 12:30 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday to Sunday. I tried the signature Quesataco Dorado ($4.50)—which has birria beef and cheese in a crispy corn tortilla with sprinkles of onion, cilantro and radish—and the mini quesadilla ($5), which is the same thing in a crispy flour tortilla. Eight-ounce cups of consommé broth are a $4 side order.
SEE ALSO: Waikīkī Has a New Mochi Doughnut Shop
Right off, what sets these birria tacos apart is the balance of flavors. You taste each ingredient. The tacos’ crispy edges seal the deal for me—I don’t even need to dip them in consommé. Crispy, golden, with cheese oozing out, what’s not to love? If you prefer your tacos crispy, skip the broth and eat them immediately. As for the consommé, at most places I’ve tried it’s rather bland and there isn’t much complexity. Griddled’s consommé, produced after 16 hours of simmering beef, chiles, garlic, tomatoes and herbs and spices, is clean and not salty or acidic. The more you dip the tacos and sip the broth, the more the meat-forward, tangy-sweet flavors and beefy aroma present themselves. Afterward, a mild heat lingers on the tongue.
As a spicy food enthusiast, I had to try the spicy house salsa (75 cents). The heat comes from chile de arbol and it builds slowly, tolerably and without pain, just a tingling sensation on your palate. When combined with the dipped tacos, this creates a flavor explosion.
Though on the pricier side, the overall balance of flavors puts Griddled’s birria tacos in my Top 3. For the record, the others are La Birria (did I say I love spice? Try their Hellfire tacos) and Aloha Mamacita with its diverse offerings.
Aside from tacos, there are fun and festive lemonade and limeade refreshers and a Hibiscus Oceanade made with hibiscus tea, blue raspberry and strawberry syrups. The drinks, fruity and refreshing, have gradated colors. A pro tip: If you time your visit for around 11:30 a.m. and stay nearby until 12:30 p.m., you can get both mochi doughnuts and your birria taco fix. Even better, Griddled’s online ordering system lets you do curbside pickup. For foodies like me, life is about finding the right balance—like having tacos in one hand and doughnuts in the other.
And even bigger news is coming: Griddled is expanding to a second permanent location in Kaka‘ako. Stay tuned!
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 12:30 to 8 p.m. or until sold out, 444 Niu St., (808) 692-6832, @griddled