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The Hot List: Made with Aloha

Summer is finally here, which—for the lucky ones—might mean a trip to Hawaii; for the rest of us, we can enjoy island treats right here in our own backyard. Here’s a taste of some aloha-inspired favorites.

Cool Beerwerks


The little hamlet of Cool is not where one would expect to find a microbrewery serving island-inspired pub grub, but Cool Beerwerks boasts a menu full of aloha-licious delights. Start with an order of poke nachos, coconut prawns, Maui shrimp, or all the above; then dive into their Hawaiian French dip featuring tender, juicy pork loin with melty Monterey Jack and pineapple relish (pineapple, mango, onions, jalapeños, and cilantro) on a hoagie roll alongside au jus. Hungry for more? Their loco moco and spam musubi also come highly rated. Whatever you do, pair your provisions with their Hawaiian Haze, a coconut IPA with an ABV of 6.5%. 5020 Ellinghouse Drive, Suite H, Cool, 530-885‑5866,

Tropics Island Grill & Ale House


Speaking of Hawaiian hamlets in the Sierra foothills—how about Tropics Island Grill & Ale House in Camino? It may be 2,500 miles from O’ahu (where the restaurant started) but is only a hop, skip, and a jump to get your island food fix. Spam musubi, coconut shrimp, and poke nachos will get your tongue dancing the hula before you take on the BBQ kalua pork sandwich. For mainlanders who are uninitiated to kalua pork, it’s the island version of pulled pork: slow-cooked pork shoulder seasoned with salt and smoke. Tropics adds a drizzle of BBQ sauce for a sweet, tangy finish. Pair that with their Bumgarner Aloha Lilikoi Cider, and you’ll save yourself a boatload of money and hours of air travel! 3590 Carson Road, Suite B, Camino, 530-303-3942,

Big Island Hawaiian BBQ


Big Island Hawaiian BBQ in Folsom makes iconic island-inspired dishes as authentic as their name implies, from “mocos” aplenty (loco, katsu, and kalua) to spam & eggs, lumpia, and more. My personal pick? The kalua island fries with creamy sriracha mayo and a heaping helping of shredded, pull-apart pork; and the teriyaki chicken plate with house-made sauce alongside fluffy white rice, creamy mac salad, and a crisp bed of cabbage. Say “aloha” to your new favorite Hawaiian BBQ spot! 1016 Riley Street, Suite 5, Folsom, 916-790-8271,

Chaodown Poki


With its clever name and wildly popular product, Chaodown Poki (owned by the Chao family), is bringing hau’oli (happiness) to us poke lovers. The variations of fish, sauces, and toppings available in their build-your-own poke bowl make every trip an adventure. Pick a size (regular, large, extra-large, or kids), then add your base (white or brown rice, organic spring mix, wonton chips, or half and half), protein (raw: spicy, tuna, salmon, scallops, yellowtail; or cooked: octopus salad, shrimp, chicken, crab salad, tempura shrimp, or tofu), sauce (11 to choose from), and your toppings (24 total)—then, ta da, you’re ready to “chaodown!” 1950 Douglas Boulevard, Suite B-3, Roseville, 916-918-2936,

Da Tiki Hut


Hosting a  beach-themed bash this summer? Impress your guests by booking Da Tiki Hut—a Hawaiian meets Mexican mobile catering company that serves up colorful, playful plates like musubi, loco moco, poke nachos, and luau platters (perfect for indecisive palates!). Wondering where the fusion comes in?  Mexi-Hula fries, taco flights (with fun fillings like island chicken and charred pineapple), and tropical ceviche are just some of the many Mexican-inspired entrées available. And if you’re not hosting a party, no problem! The “Hut” is also found at area breweries and farmers’ markets. 530-848-5898, holalohafolsom 

Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade


It started as a lemonade stand in Maui in 2012, and now you can get their refreshing Hawaiian drinks in El Dorado Hills. Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade is more than a neighborhood lemonade stand, however. Serving specialty drinks with names like Butterfly Mojito, Mango Pineapple, and Lava Flow (all non-alcoholic), WWHL keeps its island roots front and center. They also serve acai bowls, superfood smoothies, coffee, tea, healthy bowls (the Blue Hawaii is a must!), and toasts (try the Lilikoi Butter Toast with strawberries and macadamia nuts). Stop by to get refreshed and healthy Wow Wow Hawaiian-style! 3373 Bass Lake Road, Suite 100, El Dorado Hills, 916-293-8062,

Almighty Cocktail Bar


Looking for a one-stop-island shop for adult beverages and bistro-style pub grub in a dreamy setting? Almighty Cocktail Bar in El Dorado Hills offers a wide selection of vacation-dream-inducing fare. Cocktails include the Maui Sunrise Mai Tai, Killer Kilauea, and the Jungle Bird #3. Sip on one of those specialty delights while enjoying pasture-raised ono chicken, misoyaki-braised salmon, or—our recommendation—their mixed plate lunch: a heaping helping of Hawaiian heritage all in one bowl (glazed teriyaki chicken, garlic prawns, house-made spam, kalbi beef, white rice, mac salad, and sunumono). Hearty, (somewhat) healthy, and definitely delicious! 4355 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 114, El Dorado Hills, 916-510-1204,



Where can you find a kid- and dog-friendly outdoor space with a tropical vibe? Well, that would be Shangri-la in Fair Oaks, of course! With its expansive patio, replete with palm trees, umbrellas, a fire pit, and bocce, this island-themed restaurant is the dream child of Sommer Peterson. Her eclectic design and menus, both bar and restaurant, feature eclectic, eye-catching cocktails like Zen Potion #9—green tea-steeped coconut milk, gin, passionfruit, lime, and grapefruit/vanilla bitters—and the Mai Tai 3.0 with pineapple rum, house-made velvet falernum (rum-based liqueur), Kronan, pistachio orgeat (I had to Google it, too), and a dark rum float. After one of Shangri-la’s intriguing drinks, try their garlic shrimp or ahi poke with avocado mousse, mojo sauce, sambal, yuzu, tobiko, and tortilla chips. Whatever you sample, good vibes are guaranteed. 7960 Winding Way, Fair Oaks, 916-241-9473,  

Cool Beerwerks photo by Megan Knight. Tropics Island Grill & Ale photo by Taylor Allred ©stylereadersmedia. Photos by Jyo Bhamidipati ©stylereadersmedia.