D.C. Foodies Find A Hawaiian Culinary Paradise in a Taco

Washington, D.C. What do you get when you take a top rated chef and let him spend some time living in and exploring the Hawaiian islands? You get someone eager to bring the flavors of that exquisite cuisine back to the mainland.

The D.C. area is in for a treat, with Chef Ryan Fichter opening his first restaurant, Tiki Taco, located at 2010 “P” Street N.W. in Washington, D.C. The restaurant features a menu that offers patrons the ability to sample island-flavors right in the heart of the city. Chef Fichter is using the recognizable taco to help people expand their culinary horizons and experience some new flavors inspired by far-off lands.

Photo courtesy of Tiki Taco, DC
Photo courtesy of Tiki Taco, D.C.

“I want people to taste the cuisine of the islands and experience a little bit of a twist on foods they already know,” explains Chef Ryan Fichter, owner of Tiki Taco. “For example, with our tacos I tried to take what people think a taco should be and turn it into what it can be. I envision the tortilla as a blank canvas, from there deciding what I’m going to put on it is limitless. In other words, the tortilla is simply the vessel for tasting food.”

And tasting a variety of delicious foods is exactly what patrons do at Tiki Taco. Their menu includes such dishes as:

  • Tacos – Kailua pork, pork belly, jerk chicken, crispy sesame tofu, Kalbi beef, or island fish.
  • Poke – Ahi, salmon, served traditional, shoyu, spicy, tiki style, or vegetarian.
  • Wings – Served with jerky blue, spiced pineapple, or hot.
  • Entrees – Loco moco (hamburger patty, over easy egg, sticky rice, brown gravy), taco rice (spiced ground beef, cheddar and Jack cheeses, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, cilantro lime crema, served atop a bed of sticky rice).
  • Additional offerings – Tiki chips with salsa, salads, guacamole, children’s menu, Asian slaw, potato mac salad and dessert, including Hawaiian shaved ice or pineapple upside cake.

In addition to the main menu, the chef will be offering ongoing specials each week. The specials serve as an outlet for the adventurous diner, giving them a chance to try something unique. Current offerings include such dishes as a soft shell crab taco or roasted cauliflower taco with curried carrot salad.

The chef gained years of island culinary experience while living in Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii, which is an area of just under 40 square miles, located along the shoreline of Kailua Bay. Hawaiian cuisine is unique, offering its own flavors and historical aspects. Dishes that are common to the type of cuisine include poke (pronounced po-kay, is a word that means to slice, and features raw fish), loco moco, luau foods cooked in large proportions, and shaved ice.

Photo courtesy of Tiki Taco, DC
Photo courtesy of Tiki Taco, D.C.

“The hardest part that people have when they visit Tiki Taco is picking out which tacos to try,” adds Chef Fichter. “The options all so sound good that you have to come back again and again so you can try them all. We cater to those who want to excite their taste buds with something different and delicious.”

Chef Fichter is a Maryland native who has been leading some of the culinary trends in the DC area for over a decade. He served as the executive chef of both Thunder Burger & Bar, and Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge. He worked in numerous other restaurants as a chef prior to that, and spent time as the sous chef at The Royal Kona Resort in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

He also ran a catering business in Hawaii, which allowed him to explore and develop new dishes. Fichter first began cooking as a child, helping to prepare family dinners with his parents and watching culinary legends such as Julia Child, Graham Kerr, and Jeff Smith of The Frugal Gourmet. Chef Fichter has always dreamed of opening his own restaurant and with Tiki Taco his dream has become a reality.

The fast casual restaurant is something that the chef refers to as a stationary taco truck that offers more of an ambiance and a controlled environment. Tiki Taco is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 11 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 2 am. Those who stop by to check out Tiki Taco will fall in love with its Hawaiian-inspired roots and island-inspired dishes. To learn more about Tiki Taco, visit the site online at: http://www.tikitacodc.com.

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