Mahalo Hawaii

FullSizeRender.jpg

March 14, 2018: “You know how your New Year’s resolution was to travel more? Well I think we should go to Hawaii,” - Taylor

March 15, 2018: Hotel, flights and PTO schedule.

April 10, 2018: MaryKate, Taylor and I were officially on Oahu, Hawaii.

IMG_4857.JPG

After landing it was straight to the hotel, bathing suits on then straight to the beach (bar).

Cheers to spontenatity, booking the most memorable trip with 3 weeks notice, and for checking off my goal of traveling more this year. (Next up, Austin, Houston, Aspen...and working on booking more).

IMG_4789.JPG

We found ourselves at Duke's a few times on the trip, but the best was stumbling upon Duke's on our first day which happened to be a Sunday. "Duke's on Sunday," is their busiest day. Jimmy Buffet even sings about it. Known for being a tourist bar, but even the locals come out on Sundays. You can get a glimpse here. (that video is 2+ years old and I kid you not I recognize people in the video we saw that day we were there).

If you are Waikiki bound, make sure your trip allows you to be there on a Sunday, and make a stop at Duke's!

IMG_4803.JPG

Our hotel offered complimentary yoga classes every morning. 1, I'm an early riser, 2, I love me some yoga, and 3, I was 5 hours ahead of schedule, so early morning yoga was the perfect way to fill my morning besides staring blankly at the ceiling when it was 4 am but felt like 9am.

FullSizeRender.jpg

*Smoked salmon Benedict, Loco Moco and banana pancakes for breakfast at Cinnamon's

We got to Hawaii with very little plans and zero reservations. Traveling with two of your most laid back friends, makes things very easy. Thanks to Yelp and Google, we ate and did all the best things in my opinion. 

IMG_4820.JPG

Our zero reservations plan worked great beside one slip up the second night. We went out for authentic poke, but the place was apparently so good, by the time we got there they were completely out of everything. 

Luckily, the infamous bakery, Leonard's was across the street. We had read about Leonard's and hoped to make it there one day for breakfast or a treat. They are famous for their Portuguese donuts called malasadas. Think if a sopapilla and a jelly donut had a baby, but with a Hawaii spin because of flavor options like guava and coconut. So poke problems aside we opted for donuts for dinner. A win in my mind!

IMG_4865.JPG

Goofy's is a must for breakfast, brunch or lunch. So good we went twice! And conveniently right by our hotel. I recommend the açaí bowls and iced coffee. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

We were on a strict Pina colada diet while in Hawaii. So much, I searched for where to get a Pina colada in Oklahoma City. My search came up dry...

IMG_4888.JPG

*truly the best cocktail I've ever had. The Tropical Seoul: hwayo 25 shochu, pamplemousse liqueur, guava, pineapple and lemon. 

All delicious meals aside, nothing compares to our dinner at Herringbone. Our "splurge" meal of the trip you can say. The restaurant as visually delicious as the drinks and food. 

IMG_4891.JPG

If I could do this seafood platter again and again I would. 3 words. king. crab. legs. I love me some lobster, but I have never had crab legs and I can confidently say I have been severely missing out.

IMG_4926.JPG

A Loco Moco is a Hawaiian comfort food dish. The standard version consists of white rice, a hamburger patty, brown gravy and a sunny side up egg. So random it is actually delicious. Served at breakfast, lunch or dinner, a version showed up on just about every menu we saw.

Taylor ordered the Loco Moco at Cinnamon's. It was very traditional and delicious. I then tried the Loco Moco at Heavenly. More modern and organic so they claim. Kulana beef, local egg, local ginger soy glaze, and 10 grain rice with local farm green beans, broccoli, organic carrot, organic lentil beans, and organic black beans. My vegan health foodie wannabe ways loved it. 

IMG_4954.JPG

After our first poke fail, we redeemed ourselves at Poke Bar. Basically Chipotle, but Poke. Pick your rice, your fish, your toppings, dressings, add-ons etc.

IMAGE.JPG

Goofy's round 2 cause we couldn't stay away. This visit included less açaí bowls and more eggs, more carbs and more coffee. We had too much fun the night before...

Something I did not realize is how prevalent taro is in Hawaii. We had bought some chips and snacks the first day for our room, including some taro chips. I didn't think much about it because I can buy the same kind at home. You know that black bag with the pink, orange, and white veggie chips on the cover? Ya, those!

Well taro is everywhere. A root vegetable that helped sustain early Hawaiian settlers, apparently. Similar to a sweet potato, but even more versatile. We had homemade taro chips and guacamole at one beach bar, I saw taro as an add-in option for smoothies, and our favorite, the TARO MUFFIN. A couple of the breakfast spots we ended up at offered the taro muffin on the menu. Basically just an English muffin, but made with taro. And also purple, making it that much more fun.

IMAGE.JPG

*Incredible Cajun Fish Tacos at Duke's. So good all three of us ordered them. 

If I am on a vacation in an area that boarders water, I will eat fish at every meal. Oklahoma fish does not compare. For obvious reasons #landlocked.

IMG_4985.JPG

So for our last meal on Oahu, something with fish and quintessential to Hawaii was a must. The obvious choice, poke. 

IMG_4854.JPG

Poke and pina coladas aside, the rest of our trip was just as perfect.

IMG_4848.JPG

Taylor's one request on our trip was to visit Kualoa Ranch. AKA "Hawaii's Backlot." The site where they filmed part of the Jurassic Park movies. I've maybe seen the first JP all the way through once in school when we had a substitute teacher, but I was still game.

Kualoa was 45 minutes (or 15 minutes acocording to our uber Laura -__-) from where we were staying, but it was a great way to see more of the island on our way. Kualoa is a huge valley privately owned by a local family. Movies like Jurrasic Park, Godzilla, 50 First Dates, You, Me and Dupree and more were filmed here. They choose this site for it's idyllic Hawaiian look. 

We opted in to the ATV 2-hour guided tour (S/O to our guide Jay), which I highly recommend. They also offer 1-hour tours, horseback, zipline and bike tours. 

IMG_4850.JPG

Big dinosaur girls after a morning in the valley!

IMG_4911.JPG

Plan a hike too. Google may steer you to Diamond Head, but I suggest Manoa Falls. Only an hour round trip, but the hike is still a work out and the views are spot on. All leading to the signature "falls" at the top of the hike! 

IMG_4971.JPG

Last thing, do a booze cruise. Sorry sorry, I mean "sunset sail." We did this one. 2 hours, inclusive drinks (AKA oopsy juice <--- yup), best view of Waikiki, and to our luck a rainbow over the beach! Perfect perfect thing for our last night on Oahu. 

IMG_4886.JPG

Pro tip: go on a vacation with two of your best and most easy going friends. 3 is the perfect traveling number. 

IMG_4993.JPG

Until next time Hawaii.  Because I'm promising myself there will be a next time. Sooner rather than later. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Maholo (thank you) Hawaii for the best trip ever.

Annie

Restaurant Review: Iguana Mexican Grill

Iguana Mexican Grill is a name familiar to most who live in or around Oklahoma City. Iguana has been around for about a decade, but has a new vibe to surprise you with. Tucked into 9th Street off Automobile Alley, Iguana is packing a new punch. 

Throughout January, Iguana closed for a brief stint to revamp their space and menu. OKC's taco and tex-mex competition has been upping it's game recently. I applaud Iguana for taking this as an opportunity to stay in the game instead of sinking to the bottom. After seeing Sara Kate share this spoiler a few weeks ago on Instagram, I was even more anxious to see what they had done with the space. 

I've enjoyed Iguana as an easy spot for dinner, the occasional brunch, even a few events. Last week I stopped in for lunch to see what they had to offer post-revamp. Right behind the hostess stand you are greeted with a bright pink neon sign reading "Make Tacos Not War." I now want this for my bedroom. They removed the wall blocking off the bar area, creating a more open space with a community table and bar stools, perfect for happy hour.

We were seated in the original and main dining room, taking a seat at the banquette they created all along the east wall. Little aztec print pillows were scattered along the booth seat. The revamped Iguana is full of pink, turquoise, bright blue, lime green and other bright and playful colors. The food dishes now equally represent those colors too.  

I took my trusty eating partner, Kathleen, knowing that she would be more than happy to share and take bites off each other's plates. Not that guacamole isn't always great, but I'm on a guacamole kick right now. Salsa, sure, queso, I'll pass, I just want the guac. Iguana's GM, Ross, brought out a sampler of guacamoles with all different toppings. Kathleen loved the pineapple, I loved the smoky pepitas. 

For our entrees, I splurged a bit and got the chimichurri chicken with lime rice and veggies. I purposely got a bigger entree knowing my fridge was empty and that my leftovers would be perfect for dinner #noshame.  Kat got the fish taco "a la tuma" style with refried black beans and jalapeño cheese corn bread. What's a la tuma you ask? Named after an Iguana employee, they take the taco tortilla, but first sprinkle cheese directly on the flat top, put the tortilla over it, let the cheese get barely crispy then flip it over and fill the taco. The lunch menu averages around $10 a dish and serves perfect portions for lunch and Mexican food, for that matter.  

The updated menu is a foodgrammer's dream. So much color and so photogenic. The old Iguana fell into the brown, tan and yellow spectrum. The new Iguana is bright, vibrant and flavorful. Colorful food typically leads to better taste too. At least in my opinion!

The food, decor and service were all what I hoped for. Big ups to our server Alex who was as great as our meal! But make sure to take a bathroom break to check out this adorable wallpaper!

And since sister is pregnant, churros for dessert. I have to be honest I refrained to keep from going into a sugar coma and falling asleep during the remainder of my work day. But by her facial expressions and sound effects, I could tell they were delicious! 

Has it been a while since your last Iguana visit? With lunch, brunch, dinner, happy hour specials 2-7PM, $1.50 tacos on Tuesday's, catering and events, they have so much to lure you in. Take a peek back to see all the positive changes they've made! 

Annie

Let's work together! I'd love to review your restaurant. Email me annie@takeabiteblog.com so we can chat!
*Disclaimer: This is not a paid promoted post but I was partially paid in kind for compensation.

City Guide: OKC

IMG_0067.JPG

[UPDATE 8/22/18] Oklahoma City. I love this place, but I'll be honest I didn't always love it. I grew up outside the city in the burbs and loved my suburbian bubble. In the past few years OKC has evolved and changed in front of my eyes. It's the place I now call home and I love living here in the heart of all it's growth.

Below is a complied list of my favorite coffeeshops, restaurants, pick-me-ups and shops. List is subject to change, as my city continues to grow.

IMG_0644.JPG
IMG_1593.JPG
590A1058.jpg
IMG_0980.jpg
IMG_0617.JPG
C19A9040.jpg
IMG_3225.JPG

photo opp wall at 405 Yoga

Fitness:
Barre3
Beyond Studios
Four Graces Pilates
405 Yoga
Soul Yoga
Cyclebar

Do you live in the city, are you new to the city, or will you be visiting soon? Locals or newbies, I hope you enjoy my list. Feel free to email me at annie@takeabiteblog.com if you need any more recs or suggestions on what to order!

Annie