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A Mexican Feast In The Middle Of The Pacific

by Meg · 21 comments

If you have been following our blog in 2012, you are probably well aware now that Tony and I ate PHENOMENAL food on our RTW trip. We were fortunate enough to travel to some cities with exceptional food scenes (Buenos Aires, Paris, Berlin) and even got to travel to countries that served up our favorite cuisines (Italy and Thailand).

But there was always one cuisine we were never able to find on the road:


Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

Unbeknownst to us prior to our trip, Mexican food is practically impossible to come by outside of Mexico and the U.S.  As such, this was one food I craved all year and never once got to enjoy.

By the end of our year-long trip, I had almost forgotten what a burrito tasted like.

I had almost forgot about my love for guacamole.

I had almost forgot what a REAL nacho plate should look like (piled high with guacamole, cheese, beans, sour cream, and love).

As soon as we landed in Hawaii, my eyes were frantically searching for Mexican.  Luckily, the island of Kauai (where my parents live) has a remarkable Mexican food scene.

On our first week in Kauai, we were invited to have lunch with Linda Sherman (of The Courage Group and Kauai Marketing) and her husband, Ray, for a Mexican feast at Tortilla Republic in Poipu.

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

On the island, Tortilla Republic (also with a location in West Hollywood, CA) is renowned for its Modern Mexican dishes with an island twist.  I also heard from Devon of Answering Oliver that the restaurant had wonderful Cucumber Lavender Margaritas…

I was so game.

Luckily, the weather was perfect on the afternoon we arrived at Tortilla Republic and we were able to dine on their relaxing outdoor patio.  The restaurant was tastefully decorated with an airy ambiance that fit right into the island vibe.

As soon as I sat down, my mouth was watering just scanning the restaurant and seeing all the scrumptious Mexican dishes fly by me.  Having read my mind, the waitor immediately came over and started educating our table on the menu.  Being incredibly indecisive and wanting everything on their menu, the four of us decided to order a multitude of dishes for the table to share tapas-style.

Best. Decision. Ever.

The chef brought out some of the savory favorites, including the;


Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

Flautas (Tacos) de Pollo

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

Tacos de Jicama

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

Pescado Asada Tacos

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

Quesadilla de Camarones

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

and the Ahi Burrito.

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

All of the dishes were everything I was craving for all year long… and more.  True to island-style, they were light and fresh with the perfect amount of saltiness to satisfy your cravings after a long day at the beach.

Everything was delicious, but my personal favorite was the Ahi Burrito… After a year of no Mexican, the richness of the burrito slathered in cheese was pure nirvana.

Being a dessert lover, I was also blown away by the finale of Churros and Chocolate Flan.

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

After a long year of waiting, I FINALLY got my Mexican.

The result?

Two happy (and full) gringos in Kauai!!!

Tortilla Republic Kauai Hawaii

Given the amount of great Mexican places on this island, there will be plenty more Mexican feasts to come, but I am so glad our first stop was Tortilla Republic!

Your turn: What is the one dish/cuisine that you miss during your travels?  Please share below in the Comments section!

All photos in this article were taken by photographer, Ray Gordon

About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) January 12, 2013 at 12:33 am

Oh my god, yes! We’ve been on the road for 5 months now, and had Mexican twice. Once in Shanghai because we were done with China and just needed something good to brighten our day, and once in the Philippines, where they love all things American so much it’s really no surprise they had a few Mexican joints as well. Both were ok, but nowhere near as amazing as the places back in the States. While we were staying at a friend’s apartment in Singapore, I actually broke down during a drunken night out and purchased tortillas and expensive cheese just so I could make a quesadilla. It was amazing!

Meg January 13, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I am surprised you had such good luck in Asia finding Mexican food… But yes, it all just “ok” overseas. Genius idea on making your own quesadillas on the road! We once did a “make your own taco” night in Croatia when we rented an apartment there and it was a blast… and so delicious!

Vicky from acoupletravelers January 12, 2013 at 9:09 am

That food looks amazing!!! Definitely could use a burrito right about now! Dave got a burrito once in Vietnam but it was really a sad excuse for a burrito and nothing worth even talking about! It’s true we too have not seen much Mexican food on our travels so far. By the way did you ever go to Ana’s in Boston/Brookline?? I used to go there sometimes when I was at BU!

Meg January 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

We are OBSESSED with Annas. I missed it so much on the road. I completely understand the “sad burrito” story. We once ordered nachos in Bolivia and all wer got were 5 chips and a dallop of guac…. very very sad.

Vicky from acoupletravelers January 17, 2013 at 11:17 am

Yay for Anas! So nice to be able to bond over a food establishment from back home! I am seriously missing avocados! It doesn’t even need to be guac it can just be an avocado with a spoon and a dash of salt – I’ll settle for that !

Meg January 18, 2013 at 9:10 am

Anna’s is such a religion! avocados were so hard to come by on the road… I am making up for lost time now back in the US!

JR January 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

Meg, Love Mexican. And I agree that when traveling GOOD Mexican food is hard to find. The dishes look Fantabulous :) I loved that so many were seafood based also.

Vicky I love the call out regarding Anna’s. Now that is real Mexican. I live in the Boston area.

Meg January 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

hahaha did you just use the word “fantabulous” JR?!? We miss Anna’s so much JR and cannot wait to do many runs with you back in Boston!

Vicky from acoupletravelers January 17, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Haha yessss regarding Anna’s! Love that someone else recognizes it too!!!

Stephanie - The Travel Chica January 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm


Meg January 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Thanks Steph… knew another fellow foodie would appreciate my longing for good Mexican overseas!

Barn January 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm

My husband and I love Mexican food, we will definitely check this restaurant out soon. Great pictures!

Meg January 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Barn. Are you in Kauai? It is definitely worth checking out!

Caroline @ Traveling 9 to 5 January 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm

This looks Awesome-less! Lets go.

Meg January 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

hahaha we MUST go!

Kipp January 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Anna’s is the hands down winner, but great Mexican scene in Chicago with Rick Bayless heading up a lot of restaurants here. I actually haven’t even tried his food yet but I found another Mexican restaurant (Mezcalina) I love downtown with chapulines… if you’re feeling adventurous.

Meg January 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Oh my lord I miss Anna’s so much!! When we come visit you and Lydia in Chicago, we are SO down for a Rick Bayless tour…. and of course some Margaritas to wash it all down!

Kristine January 16, 2013 at 9:47 am

This post just made me so hungry! Okay I hardly ever eat Mexican when I’m here in the US but when I was traveling around Europe, I found myself CRAVING it simply because it wasn’t available. I would’ve killed even just for some T-Bell.

Meg January 18, 2013 at 9:11 am

I totally know how you feel… We always want what we cant have! hahah my hubby loves T-Bell!!

Callie January 17, 2013 at 8:30 am

I have been in Asia for 4 months now and I MISS MEXICAN SO MUCH. I’m impressed you guys found ceviche! It all looks delicious.

Meg January 18, 2013 at 9:13 am

Thanks Callie! It has been so nice having access to Mexican here in Hawaii… Speaking of Ceviche, Peru has the best!

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