Tiki Tacos more than a tongue twister

KEALIA — Protected from the hot sun beating down on Kealia Beach across the highway, Tiki Morales has come full-circle.

“I remember when as a child, my grandmother would be holding me while she was cooking in a restaurant,” Morales said, juggling an armful of Kailani Ku Morales-Widmer while grilling vegetables at the Kealia Kountry Market Sunday. “Now, I’m holding Kailani Ku and cooking, just like my grandmother would be holding me.”

Perhaps that connection with the past is part of the magic for Tiki Tacos, whose only outlet to taco aficionados is through the Kealia Kountry Market.

“We are not at any place else,” said Bard Widmer, who was occupied with keeping track of customer orders. “We are working with someone on a location, but as of now, the only place we do this is here in Kealia.”

The unique taco specialty shop has already garnered its share of followers since the Kealia market opened earlier this year; vendors and customers alike flick the name off their tongues in casual conversation.

“Oh, wow,” one fish taco enthusiast said. “This is really good taco.”

Widmer said people who dine on the taco usually make a special trip across the park to comment on its quality after enjoying the morsel, accompanied by the live music which wafts across the small park on the cooling tradewinds.

Morales said she makes the tortilla masa, or corn dough, with fresh materials.

“This is not like other places serving tacos where they buy the (tortilla,” she said. “I make the masa, sometimes with corn we grow on our farm in Moloa‘a.”

Morales said most of the vegetables used in the platters of fish, organic beef or roasted pork tacos are produced on their own farm.

“We try to use fresh in everything,” Morales said. “We also don’t deep fry. Everything is on the grill.”

Adding even more flavor to the taco offering, the country setting under a quick tent is adapted to become a restaurant as Widmer clothes pins orders to one of the support bars in lieu of any permanent order clips.

Morales picks up each one in order, working her magic over the grill sitting next to a pot of beans.

For now, Tiki Tacos, billed as “authentic Mexican-style tacos with a Hawaiian heart,” can only be found from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays at the Kealia Kountry Market.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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