BigIsland grab bag: Manago Hotel, Tako Taco
Hey, I am a newbie to the island so I'm sure I'll be talking about places everybody already knows and maybe loves, but I thought I'd lay down a couple more detailed reviews of places I've been eating the past month!
1. The Manago Hotel in Captain Cook has been mentioned on Chowhound, was founded in 1917 and the dining room is well-loved and famous for its porkchops. It has plain and simple ambience, with plastic chairs and not-matched, formica-topped tables, but it's clean, airy and familial, really pleasant. The menu is small, posted on the wall. They serve breakfast in the mornings, and for lunch/dinner the options are something like pork chops, butterfish, ahi, hamburger... I can't remember everything, possibly some shrimp or chicken as well. Of course we got the pork chops and they were soooo good, the entrees are all served with rice, mac salad, steamed veggies and seaweed salad. The sides were unexpected and very exciting, all came on separate little plates for the table to share and all were good, it seemed like the seaweed was local and wasn't a variety I had seen before. But, the pork chops were the star...it was a huge serving, actually two pieces of meat in all with little bone. It was hot and had a light, crisp breading, probably dredged in flour and pan fried. They were greasy, but oh so tasty. Overall, a great meal and great price.
2. Tako Taco is in Waimea, a bit east of what I guess would be considered the center of town, but still on Mamalahoa Hwy. It shares its sign with several other businesses and seems sort of shack-ish from the outside, but it is in fact in its own freestanding building and is quite nice inside with a good amount of seating. The walls are colorfully painted, the chairs are orange and stylish and everywhere is decorated with those painted tin ornaments and mirrors which are a common handicraft in Mexico. Also I seem to remember some decorative strands of colored lights which were not annoying, sometimes a hard thing to accomplish. Anyway, though, the place was full when we went on a Friday night, the vibe that night seemed to be local haoles with their kids and a few Hawaiians, kind of felt like we were San Francisco. The food was quite delicious, although they didn't have actual tako (octopus) tacos that evening (some things on the menu had been covered with paper so I'm assuming things change based on what is the fresh catch). I had awesome fish tacos, I feel silly not remembering what kind of fish it was, possibly ahi, but it was grilled and had great flavor, served with corn tortillas and pico de gallo, white cheese, rice and beans (choose pinto or black). Friend had a grilled chicken burrito which was large and delicious, he said. There were ample chips with salsa for free. They advertise da kine margaritas and I would agree. My lilikoi version was good and strong and I got to choose salt or li hing mui on the rim, I chose the latter which was unique and delicious. We were both stuffed and happy at the end, and it was a pretty reasonablly priced and casual night, although would have been a nice "date" spot I reckon.