Honolulu's Eat the Street food truck party takes place on the last Friday evening of each month. // © 2016 Street Grindz
Feature image (above): On Kauai, the chicken and waffles at Nom Breakfast & Burgers has earned a devoted following. // © 2016 Peter Burka
Food trucks aren’t new in Hawaii. People have been lining up for great grub out of mobile kitchens since the plantation days more than a century ago.
But, as island lunch wagons keep growing in popularity, creativity and quality, they’re starting to show up in the same place at the same time — on purpose. On a daily basis and during special events, rolling eateries are sharing real estate to increase their exposure to the hungry public.
That’s good news for food-loving visitors, who can sample everything from Asian-Mexican fusion dishes to chicken and waffles, all in one spot. The following Hawaii food truck rallies showcase a range of cuisine at reasonable prices.
Eat the Street/Makers & Tasters, Oahu
A festive evening event called Eat the Street has gained such a huge following that it recently moved to a new food park on the Honolulu waterfront. On the last Friday night of each month, hundreds of upbeat locals and visitors sample food from its 40 mobile vendors and hear live music under the stars. Every day, meanwhile, the same site — dubbed Makers & Tasters — draws a more casual posse of trucks for lunch and dinner.
On most days in this east Kauai town, several food trucks park oceanside at 4-1602 Kuhio Hwy. That’s where clients can find Al Pastor, reputed to serve the island’s best fish tacos. A few steps away is Nom Breakfast & Burgers, famous for its chicken and waffles with pineapple bourbon butter and syrup. Regulars also include Spicy Island Grill, a barbeque specialist; and Shave Ice Tege Tege, touting organic sweet treats.
Kihei Fourth Fridays, Maui
Each Friday evening, Maui throws an outdoor bash in a different town. The Kihei party, held every fourth Friday, boasts the biggest and best food truck collection of the bunch. The impressive cuisine ranges from Fiji-Indian fare via Jini’s Curry to savory stuffed pastries from Maui Samosas. Additional carry-out favorites include plate lunches, shrimp tacos and poi mochi. Live entertainment serenades the appetizing affair.
Kona Street Eatz, Hawaii Island
Kailua-Kona’s first mobile food zone rolls out a variety of trucks featuring dishes by top area chefs. Check out Cool Runnings, which demonstrates the talents of a Jamaica-born chef, and Island Roots, which serves cooked-to-order local shrimp. Kona Dogs fashions fresh, gourmet street food, and Da Bomb makes southern-style barbeque. Different food trucks show up on different days. Check the website for their schedules.
Pau Hana Market, Oahu
For Oahu visitors, one of the most convenient food truck meccas can be found in a Waikiki parking lot, within walking distance of most hotels in the area. Highlights include plate lunches from Lani’s, fire-roasted chicken from Diamond Head Kitchen, fresh poke bowls from Hawaiian Mana, ramen from two different trucks and churros and ice cream from Chu Loa. Six vendors and shaded seating await guests from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. daily.