Two-Minute Takeout in Downtown Honolulu/Chinatown: Tio’s Tamales

The rustic Miyamoto Building houses an eclectic mix of destination eateries. Up first: New Mexico-style tamales, carne asada fries and a unique take on chile relleno.


It’s a delicious landscape out there! Frolic’s Two-Minute Takeout video series has all-new episodes about dishes from new-to-us places and longtime faves.



Sure you’ve had Mexican food, but have you tried New Mexico-style Mexican food? The folks at Tio’s Tamales have been slanging it out in the Miyamoto Building on Nu‘uanu Avenue for the last five years—that’s the same little building at the edge of Downtown where you can also find Nu‘uanu Okazuya, Sala Thai and Omega Mandoo House. What really sets Tio’s apart from other Mexican restaurants on O‘ahu is the green chile sauce slathered on almost everything. New Mexican fare is known for its heavy incorporation of all types of chile, meaning most of their dishes have a bit of a kick, and I’m here for it.


Tio’s is all about takeout and the hours here are early. I decide to order a plate with one chicken and cheese tamale, one pork tamale, rice and beans and lots of green chile sauce ($14). Craving carne asada fries, I add on a small portion ($13.75). And I love Tio’s version of a chile relleno, wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried super crispy ($3.25 each). Everything comes in a hefty portion and has a lot of flavor. While I’m ordering, another customer comes in and orders bags of tamales to heat up at home with sides of chile sauce—a good reminder, especially in these times, that that’s a thing, too.


Open Tuesday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 1329 Nu‘uanu Ave., (808) 531-8467, @tiostamales5318467




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