Tortilla Republic, upstairs at the Shops at Kukui’ula in Poipu, offers a modern twist on Mexican cuisine. There is also a little island fusion in some of the dishes.
I started my meal with a ceviche of chilled citrus-marinated local catch of the day, ono the night that I was there. Adding to the freshness of the dish was cucumber, avocado, fresh lime juice, cilantro and mango salsa.
Drew, my waiter, was very knowledgeable about the menu and the specifics of how each dish is prepared. I was contemplating the Short Rib Chile Verde, Seared Scallops or a Poblano Mole Enchilada for my entrée. Each sounded unique and delicious. I had just finally made up my mind to order the Short Rib Chili Verde when Drew walked by with the Seared Scallops for another table.
One look and I decided to order the scallops instead. Scallops are one of my favorite foods from the sea and I like them simply prepared with a nice char. These scallops were perfection. Not overcooked, and yet with a good char on one side providing that bit of texture that so enhances the pleasure of eating fresh scallops.
The scallops are served with Applewood smoked bacon and roast potato hash. The chef imparts a lot of flavor into this seemingly simply prepared side dish. The truffle poblano corn puree provided some sweetness to the plate.
The atmosphere upstairs at Tortilla Republic is casual, yet it is a place where you feel you are having a special evening out. With the open air dining you definitely feel the enchantment of the islands.
The bar offers several signature margaritas, a wide selection of tequilas, wine and specialty cocktails.
In spite of being comfortably full after my ceviche and scallops, my waiter convinced me that I really needed to taste the Lilikoi Pie. Made with local Lilikoi in a cinnamon, coconut graham cracker crust, served with whipped cream, the pie was worth the indulgence.
If you are thinking about coming to Tortilla Republic for a celebration or family dinner, call ahead and ask to reserve a space in the adjoining dining room that can accommodate small groups.
This is the kind of restaurant where I want to come back and taste more items from the interesting menu. And yet, I know I will be tempted to repeat the exact same menu because I so enjoyed each dish.
Tortilla Republic “The Upstairs” is open for dinner Monday through Sunday from 5:30 – 9:00pm. There is live music on Thursdays and Spanish guitarists on Fridays.