Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hula Hut

Today was our last day in Austin, and we decided to take a friend’s advice and eat at Hula Hut.  I looked it up online, and it looked kind of like the Duke’s of Austin.  The website described it as Tiki Mex (instead of Tex Mex).  It looked like a fun atmosphere.

We arrived for lunch around 1:30pm and had to park in the parking lot across the street because all of the close parking was taken.  It was actually a pretty walk.  I watched squirrels and birds flying in the trees.

Hula Hut definitely has a Hawaiian vibe.  It’s located right on the water and is decorated with surfboards and metal palm trees inside.  

We chose to sit outside on the patio.  There’s a bar with a full menu where you can seat yourself, but we chose to sit in the outdoor dining room.  There was a chance of rain, and the bar wasn’t covered as well as the dining room, which had a full roof.
patio dining room

outdoor bar area

the view from our table
Our waiter brought out chips and salsa.  The chips were okay, but they were mainly just average.  The salsa was nice and spicy, but it tasted like there was papaya or some other tropical fruit in it.  It didn’t taste like just a typical tomato salsa.  I don’t like fruit salsa, so I didn’t eat much of it.

We took our time looking over the menu.  So many things looked good!  In the end, my husband decided to go with the Thursday special, the Cha-Cha Chango, which is described on the menu as “a flour tortilla filled with chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, green chilies, onions & cilantro; lightly fried, drizzled with sour cream, on a bed of deluxe tomatillo and served with rice, beans and a side of queso.”  My husband thought the queso was awesome.  Per my suggestion, he poured it on top of the rest of his food.  The rice and beans were traditional.  He really liked the chilies and the cheese in the tortilla, and he thought the shredded chicken was juicy.  He might try something else if he came back, but he definitely wouldn’t mind eating this meal again!

I ordered the Shrimp & Spinach Tubular Taco, which is described on the menu as “sautéed shrimp, fresh spinach and Monterey Jack & herbed cheeses baked in a homemade flour tortilla with Tomatilla Sauce.  The meal came with rice and beans, but I chose to substitute a small Hula Hut Chopped Salad for the sides for only $1 more.  The salad is described on the menu as “fresh mixed lettuce, roasted corn, sprouts, carrots, roasted pistachios, red bell peppers, tomatoes & parmesan, topped with a fried poblano ring and tossed with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.”  

I was surprised how big the taco was, and it was definitely tubular!  There’s something amazing about the combination of shrimp and cheese.  I loved the mixture of the flavors.  The taco was practically oozing cheese.  The shrimp were delicious, and the tomatilla sauce was a great complement to the other flavors. 

The salad was really good too.  I usually ask for dressing on the side, but this time I didn’t.  It wasn’t overly saturated with the dressing; it was perfect.  I don’t know that I could eat an entire entrée-size salad like this for a meal, but it was a delicious side with my tubular taco.  I had to have my husband help me eat the taco.  It was very filling.

Even though we were both full, we decided to share a dessert.  We ordered the Banana Boat Rangoon, which is described on the menu as “fresh banana covered with cream cheese, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla, wrapped in a wonton skin and deep fried.  Served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, fresh fruit and drizzled with hot caramel and pecans.”  I was impressed with  the size of it.  The mango and strawberries were sweet and delicious, as was the vanilla ice-cream.  The banana/wonton concoction was very sweet and delicious.  The ice-cream helped mellow out the sweetness a little.  The dessert tasted very tropical and appropriate for Hula Hut. 

I would definitely order the Banana Boat Rangoon again, but next time I might have to try Chuy’s Key Lime Pie.  The table next to us ordered a piece, and it was huge!  It looked about like cheesecake.  When I think of key lime pie, I think of lemon meringue but with lime instead of lemon.  Something as thick as cheesecake would be delicious.  It’s described on the menu as “made with fresh squeezed lime juice.  Served in our homemade almond-coconut crust and topped with fresh whipped cream.”  If I had seen pictures of the desserts before ordering, I don’t know which one I would’ve ordered.

It was a lot of fun visiting Austin, and they definitely have some great food.  Hula Hut is no exception.  It felt like a tropical getaway.  I will definitely come here the next time I’m in Austin.

Happy eating!

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