Food, fiestas at Paco’s Tacos House

Brothers Paco and Tony Aguilar recently added to their business. In February 2011, they operated a food truck in the Kilauea Crossing shopping mall. Shortly after, they added another one in Kapaa. The Aguilars recently started selling bottles of Paco’s Tacos seasoning salt at the ACE Hardware in Lihue and this past Valentine’s Day, they opened a restaurant in Kapaa.

Paco’s Tacos House sits on the corner of Nui Street and Kuhio Highway, near Bank of Hawaii. Inside, Paco, the man behind the food, cooks Mexican specialties along with Americanized favorites. Family photographs line the back wall and include the brother’s maternal grandpa, whose nickname was “El Chili Verde.” In the center, their father and mother sit on a bench next the boy’s favorite uncle and his wife. The final picture, on the far right, shows a gaggle of smiling kids. Nestled among the seven of nine siblings are Tony (bottom right) and Paco (bottom left).

On the back counter, dual beverage dispensers chill and circulate housemade aguas frescas (32 ounces for $4.50). Horchata, a traditional beverage made with ground rice, cinnamon and sugar, is always available. Aguas frescas are often made with seasonal fruit and today, the second circulator is filled with soursop.

“We grew up with this fruit in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo,” says Tony of his early years in the Mexican Riviera. “When we saw soursop here, we decided to use it.”

Tony tells me agua fresca means refreshing beverage in Mexico and since he and Paco opened Paco’s Tacos House, they’ve made sweet, refreshing beverages with tamarind, watermelon, cantaloupe and hibiscus, also known as roselle.

Breakfast is available all day long and the lengthy menu includes Paco Loco ($9.25) with smothered fried eggs. One egg is covered in housemade chili verde and the other is covered in chili Colorado. In between are housemade rice and beans. Housemade chorizo is served with Huevos con Chorizo ($8.25) and Chilaquiles con Huevo ($8.25) is served with tortilla chips made to order and a tangy green sauce with nopalitos, the edible young paddles of the prickly pear cactus.

The brothers Aguilar also own Rocco’s Pizza in Lihue. Since the pizzas are freshly made everyday, Paco started playing with the dough. He created the buns for the Tortas ($9.75), which are filling Mexican sandwiches loaded with your choice of seven types of meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo and guacamole that’s made from local avocados.

Twelve burrito fillings range from bean and cheese to chili relleno and fish, shrimp or steak to carnitas, chicken or veggie. Whatever you choose, you can have it plain, enchilada style with a red sauce and sour cream ($2.25 extra), smothered with pork chili verde ($2.25), or chimichanga ($2.75); where your burrito is fried and served with guacamole, lettuce, sour cream and pico de gallo.

Every first Saturday of the month, Kapaa Town hosts Art Walk. Paco’s Tacos House always turns it into a party and tomorrow will be no different. The brothers cover the front parking lot with a dance floor and DJs Alben Rivera and DJ Flack spin Latin music. The night starts at 5 p.m. with a tango dance group.

Monday, May 5 is Cinco de Mayo, a day that commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The brothers will give away free pupus of fresh ceviche and sell authentic Mexican specialties.

Menudo ($12) is Mexico’s most famous hangover cure. The labor-intensive soup, consisting of beef tripe floating in a spicy, garlicky broth, is served with tortillas, cilantro, onions and lime. Paco’s Birria de Res is beef braised with chilies, oregano, onions and garlic and served with corn tortillas, fresh onions, limes, salsa and cilantro. Paco will also make posole, a chunky soup made with hominy, pork, that’s served with tortilla chips, shredded cabbage, onions, lime and cilantro.

If you’re super hungry, try El Molcajete ($28). If not, share it with a friend. The massive dish comes in a granite mortar, known as a molcajete in Mexico. The heavy bowl is heated and filled with strips of chicken breast and steak, piles of soft, crusty carnitas and curls of sautéed shrimp. It’s drenched in a zesty green sauce made with tomatillos and nopalitas and garnished with a whole, roasted jalapeno. Flour tortillas, housemade refried beans, Spanish rice, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo are served on the side.

Whether it’s for Art Walk, Cinco de Mayo, or just because you’re hungry, bring your own beverages to Paco’s Tacos House. If you’re anything like me, ice cold beer paired with tasty Mexican food is a match made in heaven.

4-1415 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa

822-9944

Open Monday to Saturday

7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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