Even though Kauai is nowhere close to Mexico, fish and seafood tacos seem to be growing in popularity, perhaps due to abundance of fresh seafood or the desire to have something simple to be eaten by hand close to the beach. We had seafood tacos at 4 different places this trip, and they are all quite different.
Island Taco (Waimea, Poipu)
In the past year, Island Taco opened up a second location in Poipu located in the same shopping mall as Puka Dog. Even though we were staying in Poipu, we went to the Waimea location as part of a day trip out west. After last year’s visit and chow research, we concluded we preferred the shrimp tacos over the fish tacos, so this year we only ordered shrimp tacos. They are large, so 1 taco for a standard appetite, 1.5-2 tacos for a larger appetite. They use large housemade flour tortilla that are delicious, rivaling any flour tortilla I’ve had. The filling is wholly Hawaiian, and have few of the usual Mexican ingredients. First, there is white rice, and then there is a green and purple cabbage stir-fry, and then the stir-fried papaya-seed marinated shrimp. I suspect the spices used are similar to Chinese satay paste, but am not certain. It’s a very unique fusion taco, only to be found in a place like Hawaii, and my favorite of the 4 this trip. As a side bonus, the smoothies at the fruit stand across the street (Waimea location only) are delicious.
We discovered this restaurant on a trip about 5 years ago and have returned every trip since, sometimes 2 or 3 times. Their menu is extensive, but over the years we’ve honed in on their seafood dishes since it’s much easier to find carnitas at home but not ahi tacos. Two fish or seafood tacos come on a plate with Mexican rice and a cup of perfectly cooked and seasoned beans. The fish and seafood at Monico’s has always been cooked perfectly every time - never overcooked. The tacos include finely shredded raw cabbage and a light crema, the star of the show is the fish and seafood. Personally, I prefer the variety of seafood tacos because they come with a piece of fish, a shrimp, and a scallop. This past trip we branched out and tried the seafood enchiladas, which are almost exactly like the tacos, only smothered in a red sauce and sprinkled with cheese. They are our new favorite of the seafood-based dishes. They have a limited dessert menu, but we always order a pina colada for dessert, theirs is made with a “secret” ingredient (ice cream mix) so it tastes like a milkshake as opposed to a cocktail.
Kauai Food Truck, Koloa
This food truck serves loco moco, kalua pork, and various tacos, and is located across the street from the ballpark in Koloa. They have Kalua pork, shrimp, and fish tacos, so we tried all three. Their tacos were the plainest of the four places we tried, with just finely shredded cabbage, half teaspoon of salsa, and two standard corn tortillas per taco (plus the protein). None were remarkable but they were all fine, protein portions were on the small side. I would order one of the loco mocos next time.
Fish taco truck, Koloa near Big Save
We ended up getting their fish tacos and shrimp tacos, both served with a side of beans. The seafood was fresh tasting and both types were enjoyable, but again not remarkable (although I have to admit that writing up this last paragraph three weeks after the trip is not easy for my memory, I should gave finished this post 2 weeks ago). The tacos were pretty big and two was plenty for me. I would return but for the Island Taco shop nearby in Poipu.