In Laguna Beach, gems exist that can easily go unseen because they are tucked away. Royal Hawaiian is no exception! Located on the PCH, this is a truly fun, lively, entertaining restaurant with drinks that will transport you to the sandy beaches of Hawaii, tacos that will make you feel like you’ve been invited into a neighborhood grill, and music that moves your soul and stirs your feet. Throw in a crowd that is full of life and what you have is a combination you can’t ignore. This Tuesday night, May 31st, Ajenda PR’s owner, Jennifer Morris, sponsored a “Soft Launch” of the newly improved Tiki Taco Tuesday at Royal Hawaiian featuring the band Cali Conscious. Taco Tuesday isn’t the run of the mill evening with $2 tacos and shots of tequila. This place really did it right (and it was wall-to-wall with people).
For starters, it’s important to note that this restaurant is a historical fixture of Laguna Beach. Having opened it’s doors in 1947 after being founded by Francis Cabang, the Royal Hawaiian is known both to the locals and travelers alike as an authentic place to dine. In 2006, the Cabang family sold their restaurant to Doug Cole and over the years it has undergone several Management changes. Now, with a strong Management under the guidance of Colleen Oyler and the culinary evolution of Chef, James Harris, Royal Hawaiian is ready to re-launch with a fresh approach. Tiki Taco Tuesday’s are only the beginning. That said, Tiki Taco Tuesday’s are something worth the buzz. Allow me to walk you through my experience:
A red carpet lines the entryway as the Primo Beer truck parks happily on the curb just in front. Once inside, the front desk is adorned with lei’s, a very cheery and welcoming staff handing out lei’s and drink/taco “tickets”, and decor that is truly one-of-a-kind with Tiki masks, island lighting, and an overall sense that you just stepped off the sand and into a little haven. Up the steps to the left is a full dining room with booths and tables and to the right is a full bar, tables and chairs, and on this night – an incredible band plays live: Cali Conscious with Front-Man, Justin Ratowsky and Drummer/Percussionist, Dig Gbye. The music moves you as the scent of freshly made tacos invite your senses. The entire bar is crowded with patrons, press, and locals. The bartender comes to the table to take our order. I order the infamous Lapu – a cocktail swimming in various rums, pineapple syrup, and their own special twist on an island classic. I take one sip and am sold – it lives up to its reputation! I then venture over to the taco line, taco tickets in hand, and patiently wait. While standing there, I engage in a conversation with a local, Victor, that had been coming to the Royal Hawaiian for nearly 20 years. He tells me that this was once his favorite spot but hadn’t been in a long time and now that it has re-established itself, is more than happy to revisit and give it another shot. Eventually I get to the front of the line and order my 2 Fish Tacos with spicy sauce. Once back at my table, I bite into it. It’s good. It’s filling, simple, and the sauce is really what makes it – it’s fair to say that the menu is still being refined so I look forward to the continual changes.
In spite of the “ok” tacos, the drinks and atmosphere more than made up for it. We even had a little musical surprise. Ruben Gonzalez of Pasion Gitana and Ken Garcia took the stage for a Spanish guitar/Flemenco set that got everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – moving. Accompanied by Cali’s, Dig, this really was a sensational end to a fun night. I would like to thank Ajenda PR for putting on this event and Royal Hawaiian for reinventing yourself. I look forward to exploring Royal Hawaiian’s new and improved menu items. So to anyone looking for a great mid-week drink, a couple of comfort tacos, and music that makes you feel as if you’re taking a “stay-cation”, give Royal Hawaiian a try. For a much closer look at their menu, which includes items like Royal Hawaiian Spare Ribs Ala Moana, Tempura Fried Shrimp, South Shore Fries, and their signature Mai Tai’s, click here: MENU.
331 N. Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Monday – Friday – Bar Opens at 4 p.m. and
Dining starts at 5 p.m.
Saturdays & Sundays open at 11 a.m.