Our ID's were checked upon entering, and you got a pretty stamp if you're over 21. They were even sweet enough to ask for Momma's ID. Though it was already getting a bit chilly, we opted for seats on the patio. We were promptly greeted with menus and water. We had just missed happy hour, but that didn't stop me from partaking in their beer of the month, New Belgian Skinny Dip. It was a tasty seasonal beer that I would order again - In fact, I could have had SEVERAL more if I didn't have to get up in the morning.
We started with the Oahu Quesadillas. Remember how I said that Momma is a simple eater? Well, that's code for picky, so I had to find something she'd eat too. The Oahu Quesadillas fit the bill with pulled pork, cheddar and swiss cheeses, and avocado, grilled between two corn tortillas. No, Momma doesn't eat avocado, but it was easy for me to pull it out for her. The quesadilla was garnished with a lettuce mixture, diced tomatoes, and a spicy cilantro-habanero sauce. I pushed the garnish to the side for Momma, and that meant more for me! The flavors of this dish really come together well, and the ranchero dipping sauce is an added bonus. You don't really need the sauce, but I'm glad I had the option. All appetizer plates (except the drums and albacore plate) come with wonton chips and house made mango salsa. It's worth it to get an appetizer just for a few bites of their "chips and salsa."
Of course, Momma ordered the ribs. She also ordered the slaw on the side, "where it doesn't touch anything else." The Aloha Grill staff was smart and brought it on a separate plate. The half rack of ribs were served atop a bed of warm french fries. I don't believe the french fries are hand-cut on premises, but they are good nonetheless. The ribs were loaded with meat, and it was fork tender. I enjoy ribs more when they aren't "fallin' off the bone" tender, but also not so tough you have to gnaw on the bone just to pull some meat off. These ribs at Aloha Grill found that middle ground, and that's probably the reason Momma loves them so much.
I, on the other hand, had a hard time deciding what to order. When I come for happy hour, I always get at least one calamari taco and one fish taco a la carte. They are $1 each at happy hour! But since we were too late to take advantage of that great deal, I made a special request to have a mixed taco plate (you can't get the tacos a la carte outside of the 4-7pm happy hour window). I hated making the special request, but for the sake of my loyal readers, I felt it was my duty to educate you all on the taco tastes available at Aloha Grill. So, I had a calamari taco, a grilled fish taco, and a pork taco.
I started with the calamari taco. The calamari is a breaded, fried bar of calamari that spreads across the soft corn tortilla shell. I order it because I like to try different tastes, but if you're watching your calories, you'd probably be happier with their fish taco. Our sweet waitress informed me that Aloha Grill is known more for their fish tacos than the calamari tacos, and the grilled fish tacos are definitely much better. It's a classic fish taco with chopped cabbage and diced tomatoes. There was so kind of creamy sauce on top of the fish that worked really nicely. I wish they had put some kind of sauce on the pork taco though. It was dry pork and garnishings. Maybe some of that cilantro habanero sauce? Yum, now that would have made the pork the stand out winner between the three.
Do you know what I can't go without when visiting Aloha Grill? The sticky rice and teriyaki sauce. I dump the whole side of sauce right on top of the sticky rice scoop. That alone could serve as dessert for me.
Speaking of dessert, we ordered two. The house made pineapple upside down cake is the only dessert on the regular menu, but they had a chocolate cake on special. We had to get both! The homemade dessert was the hand down winner. The pineapple upside down cake was warm, with whole pineapple slices and cherries, surrounded by freshly whipped cream. The flavor was that of a classic pineapple upside down cake, and the perfect ending to this Hawaiin inspired dinner. The chocolate cake special was also good, but you've probably had something similar somewhere else. I guess Sandra Lee would be proud that they at least put some more of that freshly whipped cream to make it semi-homemade.
Overall, our time at Aloha Grill was good. I think it's one of the best spots for a casual meal in downtown Huntington Beach. The food has good flavors, is consistent, and is relatively inexpensive. Of course, it's also a terrific spot for happy hour where you can over look the interesting folk walking down Main Street.
...and those are my Notes from the Napkin!
221 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92648