Santa Cruz restaurant Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room is participating in Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2013, offering many tasty choices in its prix fixe $25 three-course menu. My family and I had a very good meal there earlier this week.
It’s the fifth annual Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, which began Wednesday and lasts until Oct 9. More than 30 local restaurants are offering special menus for eight nights. For more details, read my SC Restaurant Week event preview (includes restaurant list). This is the first year that Hula’s is participating. “We are incredibly excited to be a part of Restaurant Week,” said Hula’s General Manager Rita Price. “We love helping and being a big part of our Santa Cruz community and especially to be amongst such a great group of restaurants.”
My dinner at Hula’s included attentive service from a gracious waitress; it was pleasant to eat in one of the several family-friendly dining areas. There’s also a bar area for those who prefer that type of environment. For the first course I chose Vietnamese Spring Rolls, which I’ve had several times at Hula’s; it’s consistently good with ingredients such as organic tofu, apples, lemongrass, basil and carrots. I had a few bites of my husband’s sweet Tiki Torch Chicken Wings; I don’t always enjoy sweet sauces but this worked well with the meat. For a second course I selected Lemongrass Encrusted Hapu, a Hawaiian seabass. The lime-ginger-cream sauce was absolutely delectable, and those who don’t eat seafood can substitute tofu. It was a hearty serving accompanied by white rice and Hula’s popular and refreshing slaw.
I sampled my husband’s pulled pork entrée and enjoyed that as well. Ingredients included pineapple and soy. Because it had sweet seasonings like the chicken wings, I wouldn’t recommend choosing the wing app and pork entree as a combination unless you’re in a really sweet mood. Or, if you’re like us and you and your dining companions enjoy sharing food, this plan works fine because you get to try lots of different items and flavors!
For dessert we shared Pot Brownie and Hula Pie. I appreciated the whimsical title, and presentation, of the pot brownie, which was served in a terra cotta-looking pot (see photo above). It was a rich treat chock full of brownies, hot fudge, and whipped cream. Onto the pie, where the nutty flavor of macadamia nut ice cream provided balance for the sweet Oreo crust. A small dish of hot fudge plus whipped cream completed the dessert perfectly.
All in all, Hula’s Restaurant Week menu provided a great dinner, and an opportunity to try out some new dishes. Even though everything I chose for Restaurant Week is part of the restaurant's regular menu, the only selection I’d tried before was the spring rolls. Price said that I am one of many regular customers that have been coming in and trying new things. “I love having a fun showcase of some of our different foods,” she added. “So many people assume we are strictly Hawaiian food, which just isn't the case. We offer many varieties of food, from sustainable fresh seafood to vegetarian options or even to our gluten-friendly menu.” Do yourself a favor and take advantage of the showcase at Hula’s, and at many other restaurants over the next few days!
Visit the SC Restaurant Week web site.
Hula’s: 221 Cathcart Street, Santa Cruz 95060, (831) 426-4852.
On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.