Side Dish: Hawaiian Inspired Cuisine and Goodbyes

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Hula dancers at a luau.
— Photo: Pixabay

Luau in Newport

Didn’t make it to Hawaii this summer? Don’t worry. Hawaii can come to you, courtesy of Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, which holds its inaugural Newport Beach Luau on Saturday from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

The first-time event honors authentic luau food and entertainment with kane and hula dancers, fire throwing and a traditional pig ceremony.

Taking place on the sand, guests will learn the history of the luau told through music, dance, drums, and chants while enjoying a delicious Hawaiian-style dinner under the stars with grilled chicken teriyaki, fresh pineapple, kalua pulled pork and more.

Sip cocktails from the tiki bar and savor the sunset along the Back Bay while basking in the ultimate luau experience.

Tickets are $75–$99, and are going fast.

For more information, visit


Tacklebox Tackles Hawaii With New Burger 

Tacklebox in Corona del Mar has been having a busy summer. So has the sister restaurant at the OC Mix in Costa Mesa, where guests can enjoy some of chef Brian Huskey’s outrageous burger creations.

The Hawaiian burger and homemade chips from Tacklebox.
— Photo courtesy Tacklebox

His most recent gem is the Hawaiian burger: Angus beef patty, blackened pineapple, crispy spam, cabbage, American cheese and teriyaki ginger aioli.

Huskey took his inspiration from a Hawaiian barbecue platter and shaped it as a burger.

“I knew the cabbage would go well with the teriyaki, and the crispy spam is rich so you need little sweet acidity to cut the fattiness,” he said. “I loved spam growing up, it crisps so well, it’s delicious.”

I took one bite of the burger and immediately swooned. The combination of flavors and textures was, to me, perfect. The spam was a brilliant addition, and the cabbage added texture. It also comes with the best homemade chips in town.

The burger is $14, and this month you can add a Kona Kanaha blonde ale for another $1, making this the best burger deal around.

For more information, visit


Gratitude Says Goodbye

The dinner spread at Gracias Madre, which plans to open in November.
— Photo courtesy Gracias Madre

Gratitude Kitchen & Bar is closing for renovations on Sept. 3. When it reopens in November, it will have a new look and a new name: Gracias Madre.

I’m told that Gracias Madre’s original location in West Hollywood has become a staple in the Los Angeles food scene since its launch in 2014 with a focus on plant-based Mexican food.

The Newport Beach location will welcome Chef Alan Sánchez Lázaro from Mexico City, who will oversee the Orange County kitchen’s menu, a version of the original L.A. location’s menu with the addition of some of his own signature items including the bowl uno, flautas de camote, jackfruit carnitas tacos and coliflor frito.

The new location will also carry on the tradition of the Gracias Madre bar program, offering organic, artisanal tequila and mezcal craft cocktails.

The decor will be refreshed and updated by Wendy Haworth Design Studio to reflect the Gracias Madre aesthetic, giving the restaurant a cozier, more intimate feel. Mexican tiles will accent the bar, while updates to the expansive patio include a perimeter of tall hedges, centralized mature trees, new flooring, draping, and light fixtures.

For more information, visit and


End of Summer at Mayor’s Table

The folks at Lido House Hotel reminded me that the summer menu at the Mayor’s Table restaurant will be ending soon.

Some of the dishes not to miss: Summer peach salad with goat cheese and cashews; toy box melon salad with compressed monkey cucumber; watermelon gazpacho; pan roasted scallops with saffron bomba rice and spanish chorizo; and prime bone-in ribeye with potato au gratin.

For more information, visit

Guests drink and chat inside Mayor’s Table restaurant at Lido House Hotel.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
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