Tacos are universal—from humble beginnings they can be found everywhere, from hole-in-the-wall taquerias, to roving food trucks, to haute cuisine. With almost endless options for filling and flavors, and crossover appeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s really no bad time to have a taco. Here are the seven best places to grab a taco in Hawaii.
This little food truck is a local favorite for tacos and burritos. Casual, simple fare, with various meat and seafood options, the crowd pleasers seem to be the al pastor and lengua tacos, along with the shrimp burrito. The fun with tacos is in the toppings, and Ono provides a topping bar with several different types of salsa, cilantro, limes, onions and more. Keep in mind that this truck is cash only, so make sure you have some on hand when you’re passing through.
The Paia Fish Market keeps things all about simple, fresh quality fish in their tacos. You can choose your fresh fish (or chicken) and the tacos are prepared with fresh corn tortillas, melted cheese, salsa, lettuce and tomatoes. The plates come with coleslaw and house made tartar sauce, plus your choice of Cajun rice, home fries and French fries. Quesadillas with said fish, chicken, shrimp or vegetables are also an option.
Now a franchise, this is still a good standby for anyone looking to grab some tasty Mexican grub in Hawaii. With platters, burritos, taco salads, nachos and, of course, lots of taco options, you can get any variety you choose. Famous for their Maui Tacos Salsa Bar, experiment with all the different flavors once you’ve decided on your tacos. Favorites include the “Hula Heat” Chile Arbol salsa and the “Pineapple Paradise,” both sweet and spicy.
Cary Peterson, chef and owner at Kohala Burger and Taco, wanted to fuse his years of Mexican and hamburger experience, utilizing fresh ingredients and grass beef Hawaiian beef. The result is Kohala Burger and Taco, where he uses fresh made tortillas for all of his tacos. The ultimate fusion of burger and taco is seen in the Taco Burger, with a quarter pound of Hawaii grass-fed beef, melted American cheese, taco sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo and Hapula dressing and shredded cheddar on corn tortillas. Other options include Kalua pork and al pastor, along with Taco Tuesday specials.
Frequently praised as the best burritos on the island, Surf N Salsa offers plenty of taco options and embraces Taco Tuesday as well. Another food truck on the North Shore, this authentic Mexican is prepared by hand, so be prepared to snack on some chips and salsa while you wait for your meal. They offer both crispy and soft shell tortillas, and the Ahi tacos are always a big hit (though so is almost every other menu item).
This joint off Likelike Highway pleases even those with regular to access to authentic Mexican cooking. You may think that you’re lost as the restaurant is in a residential neighborhood area, but keep searching. The wet carne asada burrito is definitely a favorite, and there are plenty of Mexican street style tacos to sample as well, with care and attention shown to the meat preparation. You’ll also find Jarritos Mexican sodas and horchatas here.
One of several food trucks to make our list, surfer Pat Grenz’s taco truck on Weke Road has a dedicated fan following. Written up in Travel and Leisure, and described by some as a “culinary masterpiece,” Pat has high quality fish and carne asada tacos with a great balance of heat. In addition to the incredible tacos, the quesadillas come with peppers, onions, jalapeño cream cheese and salsa and have such a nice kick, combined with the rich oozy cheese. Grab your meal to go and enjoy the lovely pier and ocean views!