Honolulu, HI

No Rice, No Problem: Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Chinatown...Tlaxcalli

Ohanaeatz

Tlaxcalli translates to "tortilla" in the Aztec language of Nahuatl and the tortilla is definitely the focus of each dish presented by Chef Julio Gutierrez.

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Outdoor SignGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

While I have had the pleasure of visiting Mexico over 50 times in the last 38 years, I have traversed the peninsula and been blessed to sample cuisine from Zihuatanejo to the Yucatan. I am always on a quest for homestyle dishes and while Tlaxcalli may be located in Hawaii's Chinatown District, their authentic Sinaloan cuisine brings a flair to the Mexican food scene here in the islands.

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Inside Bar AreaGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

Upon stepping into the restaurant, you are greeted warmly with cultural pieces and the chef's artwork displayed on the walls. The open kitchen allows a sneak-peek into Chef Gutierrez's cooking techniques and his tortilla press. His authenticity and desire to bring his family dishes to guests are displayed on each plate he presented to our table.

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Artwork InsideGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

Our opening platter was a tuna ceviche, which was complimented w/ sliced cherry tomatoes, red onions, and topped w/ fresh cilantro in an acidic blend of juice, with a salsa macha drizzled on top and a side of crispy tostadas. The tuna was fork-tender, fresh, and flavorful and the heat and acid blended precisely with the crunchy raw onion and fresh tomato. The tostada was the perfect vessel to host the tuna with its crispy and crunchy texture.

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Atun CevicheGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

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Crispy TostadasGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

Our second course was the Cochinita Pibil, which was a tender pork shoulder marinated in achiote, spices, and citrus served with a banana leaf and pickled red onions. The sides included homemade tortillas and pinto beans. The pork flaked apart upon the entry of the fork and the white corn tortillas are so fresh, flavorful, and sturdy, that you could make a meal alone out of just them. While the chef provides two tableside salsas, one Verde and one Roja, we chose to combine both and add this mix to each bite. The spice, depth of chile, and overall acidity in the salsa did not compromise the flavors exuding from the pork. Instead, it added that little kick that just topped the dish gastronomically for us.

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Cochinita PibilGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

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Side of BeansGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

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Famous TortillasGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

Our third dish was the King Mushroom Mole. While mole is my absolute favorite dish from Mexico, I've sampled so many varieties throughout my travels. Each mole differs in consistency, spice, sweetness, and ingredients, but the texture of Tlaxcalli's mole was smooth with the appropriate quantities of sweet, heat, and cacao. The ali'i mushrooms, sourced from big island have a texture so endurant that they act as almost a substantial meat in this dish. We again paired the mushroom mole with the famous tortillas and it complimented this dish to perfection as well.

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King Mushroom MoleGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

The Tacos Gobernador were three tacos filled with shrimp, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheese and grilled enough to melt the cheese while maintaining the firm texture of the shrimp. The tacos are served with raw red onion and fresh cucumber, tomatoes, and lime. This dish has the similarity of a quesadilla in regards to melted cheese but the tortillas' crispy exterior and soft interior envelop the flavors of the shrimp, onions, and peppers. The crunchy fresh vegetable sides add that fresh snap in each bite.

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Tacos GobernadorGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

The Pescado A La Veracruzana is the fresh catch of the day and sauteed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, green olives, and Guajillo Pepper sauce. The side accompaniment of beans and tortillas is a standard with not only the meat dishes but the fish as well. The firmness and potent corn flavor of the tortillas provide yet another perfect match for the fish and sauce. I have yet to find a sauce or ingredient that does not pair perfectly with chef's tortillas.

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Pescado A La VeracruzanaGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

The Sunday Brunch specials we indulged in included the Huevos Rancheros and Chorizo Con Huevos. The Huevos Rancheros were served with slightly sauteed tortillas on the bottom and a sunny side egg on top with a tangy ranchero sauce. The dish was the perfect hearty breakfast that had the crispy, chewy texture of the tortilla along with the gooey, breakable eggs and spicy salsa while the beans delivered the creamy, filling side. The Chorizo Con Huevos was served on a platter with crumbled sauteed chorizo, scrambled eggs, and chunks of seared potatoes and onions. I chose to roll up each spoonful of tangy goodness into a tortilla and top it with beans. This dish was so filling, I had plenty of leftovers to relive this experience later in the day.

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Huevos RancherosGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

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Chorizo con HuevosGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

The Tacos de Bistec were the last of the savory dishes we enjoyed. While the bistec was chewy, seasoned well, and cut into bite-size pieces, the fresh chopped onion and cilantro, and lime added the texture and depth to this dish to make it a standout in both flavor and portion. Each taco was packed full of meat which really made for an enjoyable experience of hearty, substantial platters at Tlaxcalli.

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Tacos de BistecGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

Now, while our Cuckoo rice cooker is always filled with fresh rice at home, I can safely say I did not miss this side dish here at Tlaxcalli. The plentiful tortillas and beans were so outstanding that not offering rice on this menu did not take away at all from any culinary offering. Authentic Sinaloan Homestyle cuisine was truly experienced in our visit to Tlaxcalli.

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Outdoor DiningGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

And, if you find yourself having a little extra room for dessert, make sure you check out their Churro Bread Pudding. I did not think you could make a churro any tastier, but Chef Guiterrez managed to combine the crispy, sugary outer texture of a traditional churro with the soft, creamy, chewy, cake-like interior of a traditional bread pudding.

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Chocolate Churro Bread PuddingGina Ermilio-Na Ohanaeatz

For indoor and outdoor dining options, contact Tlaxcalli at:

(808)888-5200

http://tlaxcalli.com/

info@tlaxcalli.com

1128 Smith St. Honolulu, HI 96817,
Historical Tan Sing Building

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