It’s easy to hype up new restaurants. Not that they don’t deserve the attention—everyone wants to meet the new kid in class, and it’s always nice to add something new into to the usual dining and drinking routine. But other than waiting for the next big thing, how about revisiting some old haunts to see what’s new on the menu or discover an overlooked gem?
Our first stop on this journey: Hawaii, Calif. Don’t ask us why the California Hotel and Casino is Hawaiian-themed. I don’t think anybody knows. But it doesn’t matter. We say “mahalo” to the hotel for its identity crisis and its island cuisine, specifically at Aloha Specialties. What prompted the trip to the fusion spot was a suggestion from my Hawaiian Uber driver Tony, who owns his own food truck in Alaska. He said it was one of his favorite places for island fare in town.
To find it, make your way through the tropical casino floor to the second level where you’ll also find Lappert’s Ice Cream Shop and the Vegas 808 snack shop with packaged items such as matcha covered almonds and hot red squid legs. The recently remodeled fast-casual restaurant’s large menu takes some time to look over considering each combo comes with four or more items. They have rice bowls, teriyaki, soups, sandwiches, breakfast, and sides including the quintessential mac salad.
Cute little old ladies take your order at the register, and the food is delivered fairly quickly to your table, making the destination a good place for lunch. Everything is under $12, which is cheap considering the portion sizes. The Aloha Bento meal is enough to fill three people. It comes with an entire Mahi Mahi filet, a Redondo’s hot dog, teriyaki steak and Korean chicken over a heaping bed of rice topped with sesame seeds for $11.75. For a smaller-gigantic combo, the Local Plate comes with two spam musubis, teriyaki steak, teriyaki chicken and mac salad for $10.75.
Tony, if you’re out there reading this, thanks for the suggestion. You and Aloha Specialties each deserve five stars.