Taco Rosa – Big Island

Taco Rosa – A Small Waimea Restaurant That Produces Tacos with Big, Authentic Taste
Local Expert's Rating:
5.0 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Don’t pass up Taco Rosa because it is inside a small space. Step inside for some of the most authentically Mexican tacos you can find anywhere in Hawaii. For the unparalleled flavor of handmade, small-batch tacos, stop by Taco Rosa in Waimea.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Hawaii surprises visitors and locals all the time with its variety of restaurant offerings. Some of the best options include small restaurants in unassuming locations. Taco Rosa is one example of a local secret that surpasses all expectations.

Located in a shopping center in the same suite as a pizza restaurant, Taco Rosa is easy to overlook. Diners in the know, however, recognize that this is one of the best places in Waimea to get handmade, authentic tacos.

This counter-serve restaurant has no-frills. Drinks are in a cooler across from the counter and include alcoholic beers and margaritas and non-alcoholic waters, sodas, and juices. All seating is outside with a pair of tables in front and a larger, covered seating area behind the restaurant. The casual feel of the restaurant makes this location feel like a trip to a taco truck or a family picnic. And like at a family picnic, you’ll enjoy homemade foods at this restaurant.

Every day, the restaurant prepares fresh, gluten-free corn tortillas from scratch. These are what sets Taco Rosa’s tacos apart from other Mexican restaurants. Visitors who have enjoyed homemade corn tortillas in Mexico favorably compared those at Taco Rosa to their Mexican counterparts. Even diners without personal experience eating authentic Mexican tortillas report that the tortillas are the shining stars of their meals that elevate their taco-eating experiences.

Coupled with authentic tortillas, Taco Rosa uses all local ingredients in its tacos, rice, beans, and other dishes. Order at the counter from the relatively small menu. The restaurant limits its offerings to ensure that it can put the most care into creating each taco when ordered. Since they prepare each taco fresh, you can specify when you order if you need the staff to use vegan ingredients or want to adapt your order to other dietary preferences.

Check out the following highly recommended menu items at Taco Rosa:

Beef Ranchera Tacos
The Beef Ranchera tacos do not overwhelm you with multiple ingredients. Instead, these treats allow the flavors of the beef and condiments to shine. The restaurant slowly braises beef in-house sofrito to infuse it with full flavor and tops a homemade corn tortilla with the beef. Fermented serrano salsa, cilantro, and onions cover the beef. Unlike other places, the salsa for these tacos is a slowly fermented one. The fermentation process mellows the heat of the peppers while bringing out a deep, complex flavor that standard salsas cannot match. You also get a side of black beans with your taco order to round out the meal or choose to order a plate that includes two tacos, rice, and black beans.

Pork Chile Verde Taco with Potato
A close second in visitors’ favorite dishes at Taco Rosa is the Pork Chile Verde Taco with Potato. These tacos have tender pork stewed in tomatillo sauce for a tangy kick. Potatoes add extra flavor and texture to these tacos. They come with San Francisco sauce, onions, and cilantro, but you can choose any other salsa on them if you prefer.

Rajas de Poblano con Hongas Tacos
Taco Rosa is one of the few restaurants to do vegetarian tacos well. These tacos begin with fire-roasted poblano peppers topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions. Feta cheese and salsa cruda finish these tacos. You can enjoy these meat-free tacos as a vegetarian entrée or request them with vegan preparation, which eliminates the cheese. Both preparations come packed with flavor that most people don’t expect from vegetarian tacos.

Visit Taco Rosa to find out why locals want to keep this place a secret and keep all the tacos for themselves. You’ll feel the same once you’ve tried the authentic, homemade tacos from this unassuming restaurant that will blow away your expectations.

Insider Tips:
-This restaurant is at the same address as Pau Pizza. Signs for both eateries are in front of their shared building. Go through the door on the right for Taco Rosa. The door on the left leads to Pau Pizza.
-No inside dining. Go behind the restaurant to access the covered outdoor dining area.
-Ask about mini quesadillas for the kids as an off-menu option other diners have enjoyed.
-Check out the drink cooler for both bottled sodas, juices, hard seltzers, beers, and margaritas.