Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 12:13 p.m.
4700 N Central Ave, Phoenix
The Hours: Tiki Time Happy Hour Mon - Fri 4-6 pm and All Day Drink Specials Sat & Sun, 10:30 am-7pm
Open Everyday: 11 am -10 pm
Friday & Saturday (Drinks 'til 2am)
Late Night Menu served Tues-Sat
The Details: Five for Five: 5 appetizers for 5 bucks each. Hula's signature tropical cocktails for $5. Draft beer, $3.50 and Bud Light bottles for $2.
Sleekly modern yet hip with the Tiki. A framed SHAG
print graces the expansive bar. The large screen TVs above the bar and up on the wall play looped 1960s campy surf movies complete with subtitles. Tiki memorabilia abounds. The outside patio is treat - a generously wide space shaded with large umbrellas, and a gas-lit fire pit for cool late nights.
The Cost: Two Mai Tai's + two appetizers = $20, without tax or tip.
The Conclusion: There's a consistency here that only a chain (albeit a small one) can typically provide. Clearly we're dealing with pre-made mixers and food -- hey, we're not complaining, when we want our 2nd and 3rd Mai Tai's we want them to kick just like the first one did. This mix is a match made in heaven. The drinks, by far, are their strong suit. The food is predictable, there's enough of it, and for $5 a plate you can't beat it, it's just not phenomenal.
The Hawaiian Ceviche is fresh chunks of fish sprinkled with cilantro, doused in lime juice and coconut milk, mixed with chopped red onion and red pepper, served with crispy fried won ton skins. It tastes like it should -- tender lime "cooked" fish.
The Coconut Shrimp rolls are shrimp and coconut stuffed and wrapped in a egg roll wrapper, then fried. How can you go wrong with fried? Plated with sprinkled green onions and roasted coconut shreds, plus a side of sweet and sour dipping sauce.
The only appetizer that was disappointing were the Thai Fish Cakes, chewy and overly cayenned -- we were thinking of Maryland Crab Cakes, flakey and succulent -- oops, wrong continent. The nice waiter/manager removed them from our bill because we didn't care for them, which was the decent thing to do.
While the weather continues to stay coolish Hula's patio is definitely a sweet spot on Central. With killer drinks and a prime location, we'll be back.
Overall Grade: B