Hula’s Modern Tiki sounds a bit contradictory to me. “Hula” refers to a type of Hawaiian dance while “Tiki” is more a reference to American Tiki Culture's love of kitsch rather than a Maori term for carved wooden figures. Additionaly, the restaurant in downtown Phoenix - known for its jerk chicken, fried plantains, and johnnycakes - sounds more like a Jamaican menu. Thankfully, Hula’s does a remarkable job of combining all of their island influences into an upbeat atmosphere.
Start with the dangerously delicious Crispy Coconut Shrimp Spring Rolls, Spicy Edamame, or Hawaiian Ceviche made with citrus juice and coconut milk. The “Jawaiian Jerk” chicken or pork plate are paired with mango salsa, johnnycakes, and plantains for an authentic island event. I found myself enamoured with the Cocojoe’s Chicken served with lilikoi sauce.
More than just great food, Hula’s is also a great after work meet-up spot with drinks like the Dr. Funk (Coconut Rum, Vodka, Crème de Banana, Pineapple & Orange Juice), The Pink Bikini Martina, or the Scorpion Bowl. And for the extreme drinker, the Scorpion Bowl option also comes in a Volcano size.
Hula’s Modern Tiki makes for a delightful dining experience from the food to the friendly staff and cheery, comfortably posh atmosphere. Whether a late night stop on your weekend schedule, a casual dinner date, or Tiki Time Happy Hour get out to Hula’s Modern Tiki.
Perhaps it is Hula’s wood-paneled-station-wagon feel, updated and upgraded, that creates the fun-loving, lively character. The interesting structural design adds some funk all on its own with the large, Central Avenue-facing hexagonal window in the bar area and the slide up windows in one of the dining areas that can be opened to the fresh air, weather permitting.
While Hula’s Modern Tiki offers some exciting takes on restaurant classics like burgers and tacos as well as a delightful assortment of fresh fish options and vegetarian choices, I would strongly recommend the “Hula’s Favorites” section for the more adventurous foodie or diners looking for a unique culinary experience.