Tiki’s Grill & Bar, located across the street from Waikiki Beach at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, is one of my favorite spots in Honolulu for happy hour drinks and food. Every time I return to Hawaii, I make a stop here, whether with friends, family, or even alone.
There’s just something special about this place for me. Maybe because my dad would bring me here when I was younger on my much-anticipated yearly trips to Hawaii.
Today, the food, drinks, views, and laid back atmosphere keep bringing me back, especially after a long day at the beach.
The restaurant was divided into three areas: a large outdoor patio, an open indoor dining room, and a bar. The bar can get a little raucous, especially during happy hour.
If you have the chance, try grabbing one of the outdoor tables that overlook Waikiki Beach. Just look at that view of Waikiki Beach, it really doesn’t get much better, especially with a cold drink in hand. I can only imagine the view at sunset.
Hawaii can be an expensive place. A $14 Mai Tai is not uncommon. At Tiki’s, you don’t need to spend a fortune for a great meal and cold drinks.
Every day between 2 PM and 5 PM, beers and cocktails are priced from $3 to $7. If you miss happy hour, there are also daily specials starting at 5 PM, perfect for that sunset drink.
I always try to stop by for happy hour on my visits to Oahu. Shorts, sandals, no problem. Though touristy, the atmosphere was laid back and relaxing. It doesn’t get much better, even with the tacky Hawaiian themed decor
Kalbi Beef Gyoza
I wasn’t planning on ordering the Kalbi Beef Gyoza ($12), but when I noticed they were free with a Yelp check-in, I couldn’t resist.
Each order came with five fried dumplings stuffed with a mixture of minced beef tenderloin, grilled onions, and choi sum (green leafy vegetable). Drizzled across the dumplings was a mix of an orange miso chili aioli and a brown kabayaki sauce.
These gyozas were fried to perfection. Each bite crunchy in texture without being oily or greasy.
The first thing that hit me was the intense smokiness of the minced beef tenderloin. The beef, charred on the grill before being stuffed in the gyoza, resulted in a robust smokey and salty flavor. The smokiness of the meat complemented the sweet onions and choi sum. While each gyoza was packed with a generous amount of beef, the meat was on the dry side.
The creamy miso chili aioli, sweet at first, transformed into a slow burn with a kick of heat. Complementing the aioli was a kabayaki sauce. The brown sauce, similar to teriyaki, was rich, salty, and sweet and tasted great with the sweet and spicy miso chili aioli.
Fresh Island Fish Tacos
Being from California, I’ve come to love fish tacos. It’s a part of life. With Hawaii having some of the freshest fish around, ordering the Fresh Island Fish Tacos ($15) was a no-brainer.
The catch of the day was packed inside two blue corn tortillas and topped with Maui grown Kula onions, guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes.
The catch of the day on my visit was actually three different types of fish: ahi (tuna), mahi mahi, and kajiki (blue marlin)
Each taco was packed with a generous amount of big chunks of fish seasoned to perfection. My only gripe was that some of the pieces of fish were dry, but not enough to be a deal-breaker.
While I do enjoy a good fried fish taco, with fish this fresh, a quick pan-fry was all that was needed. Lightly frying the fish in the pan gave each piece a light and crispy texture without masking the fresh flavors.
You can’t have a fish taco without a crunchy slaw on top. The slaw on these tacos was a combination of shredded lettuce and crunchy, sweet Kula onions. The slaw added a great contrast of texture to the otherwise soft fish.
Topping off the tacos was sour cream and a creamy guacamole. I know avocados can be expensive, but I was hoping to have a more guacamole in these tacos, especially for the price.
Served on the side were simple, and filling, fried wedges of potatoes and a basic freshly prepared salsa.
While the fish tacos had a few imperfections, I enjoyed the freshly caught fish, crunchy slaw, the mixture of the creamy guacamole and sour cream, and the soft blue corn tortilla.
At many restaurants in Hawaii, service seems to run on island time. Island time is usually slow and at a pace much different from those on the mainland. This was not the case at Tiki’s Grill & Bar.
The moment I walked in, I was seated at a table with a great view of the ocean and immediately handed a menu. My server was attentive and always made sure I had a cold drink in my hand. He knew when to come by and when to let me enjoy the ocean breeze. Those are the best kinds of servers.
Other than that, the food arrived promptly and correctly.
Though touristy with an over-the-top Hawaiian theme, Tiki’s Grill & Bar stands out in an area littered with tacky restaurants serving overpriced food and drinks. With a laid-back atmosphere, happy hour and daily deals, and fresh food, I would not hesitate to recommend a meal or at least a drink at Tiki’s Grill & Bar. I will return on my next visit.
- Free gyoza with Yelp check-in
- Attentice and friendly service
- Wonderful views of the ocean below
- Bold flavors and fresh seafood
- One of the best happy hours in Waikiki
- Meat and fish were slightly overcooked
- Loud bar
- Touristy and tacky decor