I try to take advantage of the many amazing and traditional Mexican restaurants Staten Island has to offer. For this reason, I rarely seek out any Tex-mex or Cali-mex restaurants. However, while walking with some friends I stumbled upon a place called “Ho’brah”. I assumed it was a Hawaiian restaurant, since the exterior was adorned with brightly colored flowers and a huge surfboard, plastered on the wall. I took a closer look and noticed a sign that read “Ho’brah, A taco joint”. Hawaiian tacos? I had to figure out what this place was all about, so, I went home and did a bit of research. The restaurant defines the term “Ho’brah” as a prelude to describing something intense or amazing. The term is American surfer slang that derives from the Hawaiian pidgin language. The first restaurant actually opened in Brooklyn and aims to provide customers with “fresh, bold, and healthy flavors” within a homestyle atmosphere. This sounded like the ideal situation to me! I summoned my trusty taco sidekick, Brianna and we planned our visit.
We went on a Thursday afternoon and to our surprise there were already quite a few people there. We figured this had to be a good sign! Once we were seated, we took a look at the menus that were on available both an iPad and a placemat. I loved the iPad version! It featured pictures of each meal, so customers could see exactly what they were getting. We started with the chicken nachos and opted for a mango iced tea. The chicken nachos came on a pipping hot skillet with a little oven mitt attached to the handle. The nachos include shredded chicken, loads of cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, jalapeños, a dollop of guacamole and a side of sour cream. THEY WERE SOOO GOOD! The gooey melted cheese and beautifully seasoned chicken worked in perfect harmony. Those are some nachos worth dreaming of! Unfortunately, we were quite disappointed with the house made mango iced tea. It was presented in a mason jar with a slice of lemon on the side which was a really nice idea but the taste was just awful. It had an overwhelming artificial mango flavor which was a bit of a turnoff. However the nachos gave us high hope for the rest of the food. We ordered three different tacos to share.
First up, was the “Captain Jack” taco which features panko crusted shrimp, jack and cheddar cheese, pickled red onions, “cali” coleslaw, and chili lime sour cream. The plating of the taco was picturesque. It looked almost too good to eat. But of course, in the name of Taco Literacy, we had to. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts! To my dismay, The Captain Jack did not whisk me away to paradise but rather forced me to walk the plank. The shrimp was mostly breading and the flavor was very bland. Despite having all those ingredients, the pickled onions and panko crumbs seemed to be the only discernible tastes. Next up, was “The Veggie”. This one we both really enjoyed. The Veggie, comes with char-grilled asparagus, black beans, roasted corn, and avocado crema. The vegetables were delightfully crisp, with a nice tart flavor courtesy of the lime. The final taco we tried is called the “Longbeach All Star”. This taco comes with char-grilled hanger steak, honey bourbon BBQ sauce, and an avocado slaw. I was VERY skeptical and simultaneously intrigued, by the idea of a taco with BBQ sauce. After trying the combination, it is safe to say that, I have yet to be convinced the sauce belongs in a tortilla. It was the strangest thing I have ever tried, to say the least. The BBQ sauce and avocado slaw did not seem to work together. The sauce overpowered everyother ingredient. It just didn’t make sense to me and the steak was a bit too tough.
For dessert, we ordered the churros. Again, they KILLED it with the presentation! The churros were placed in a mason jar that was coated with raspberry sauce and came with a side of caramel sauce for dipping. As for the taste? If I could marry a dessert it would be this one. Some of the cinnamon sugar, slightly melted onto the dough which left a glaze of pure bliss. It was the perfect way to end the meal. My overall experience at Ho’brah was pretty good. The atmosphere is very inviting, as promised. Even though most of the items we ordered fell flat, I would still go back because the food we did enjoy were worth the visit. It gives me the impression that they may have other hidden gems on their menu. And if the meals don’t entice you, they have a large cocktail selection and some bomb nachos! I would definitely rate this as a good happy hour spot. Most importantly, I would call this taco-venture a success.