After another busy morning at work a few coworkers and I decided to treat ourselves to a relaxing lunch away from the hustle and bustle of our desks. Hula’s Island Bar and Tiki Room is often our lunch spot of choice as it is close to work, has a laid back vibe and most of all has mouth watering food!
We approached the kickback eatery situated at Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey and immediately felt a release once we walked in. The cozy tiki lounge has Hawaiian souvenirs scattered throughout and bamboo can be found in almost every nook and cranny. Bob Marley jams in the background while daring surfers dance across graceful waves over the large flat screen TV’s above the bar; this was definitely the chill atmosphere we were looking for.
Once we were seated we salivated over the cocktail menu for a bit. Mai Tais, Painkillers and the ever deadly Scorpion Bowl sure sounded tempting; oh how we wished it was Happy Hour! We finally came back to reality and engulfed ourselves in the actual lunch menu. Burgers, sandwiches, bowls, tacos and other favorites decorated the pages of the menu.
My go-to meal is usually Trader Vic’s Fish sandwich; a flakey white fish, coated with their signature sundried tomato and pesto aioli and served between two pieces of delicious soft bread. I recommend pairing it with their sweet potato fries which are some of the best on the planet! Hula’s puts their own twist on these sweet taters by serving them with a side of their special creamy sauce, which is a scrumptious treat in itself.
Now back to what I actually ordered, I decided to switch things up this time and try my luck with the South Seas Fish Tacos. The clincher was that this too was served with their fabulous sundried tomato and pesto aioli.
After decompressing and transitioning to “island time” our food began to arrive; you could definitely smell hints of Asian, Caribbean and Latin cuisine infused into our dishes. Before diving head first into my fish tacos I could tell that this dish would not disappoint.
Blackened white fish sprinkled with cilantro was served atop coleslaw surrounded by two layers of corn tortillas. The hefty dollop of sour cream was a nice touch to the black beans and rice served on the side. I know what you’re thinking; enough of what it looked like, tell us how it tasted!
I slathered on the sundried tomato and pesto aioli and picked up the first taco. What a burst of flavor! The crunchy coleslaw really made the juicy fish pop. The aioli sauce gave the dish a distinguished flavor separating it from your standard Mexican tacos. Fortunately the two layers of grilled tortillas held in all of the delicious contents. I then dove into the black beans and rice which were mixed with a savory salsa that had a tangy jerk spice that made my taste buds melt. Luckily the sour cream gave it a nice cool finish.
It seemed that my worker pals were enjoying their grub just as much as me. The table was eerily quiet except for the sound of silverware clinging against plates as my co-workers devoured their delicious meals. My colleague to my left ordered the Spicy Thai Chicken Bowl served with fried plantains; the smell alone will certainly have me coming back!
Unfortunately after polishing off my meal my stomach had “no vacancy” and I had to opt out of dessert. This was a real bummer since the Hula Pie was really calling my name; I mean how can you resist coconut caramel macadamia ice cream, served on an Oreo cookie crust with a gluttonous amount of hot fudge? Hula’s is an ideal location for those looking for a casual eatery near Cannery Row. Kids especially appreciate the sights and sounds of this family friendly grill.
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