Aloha Island Grille serves up Hawaiian food favorites seven days a week from 11am-9pm.
Owner Numa Trepanier opened the restaurant in 2004—at the time there were no other Hawaiian restaurants in town, he says, and he figured it was a natural fit given the strong connection the islands have with Santa Cruz. After having spent time in Hawaii, he has a lot of passion for the cuisine and its blending of cultures, as well as the fresh ingredients and how the food itself seems to offer up aloha. He spoke with GT recently about his restaurant and the menu items he’s most proud of.
What sets your dishes apart, and how does Aloha embody aloha?
NUMA TREPANIER: We strive for quality, consistency and keeping it simple. We are lucky to be able to use so many local suppliers, as well as being blessed by the great local produce. And we keep our menu on the smaller side, which allows us to provide high-quality authentic food all across the board. We try to honor the aloha spirit by providing a place where people can relax, have fun, and leave with a full belly. We’re very fortunate to be in such a cool community, and we’re so thankful for the relationships we’ve cultivated over the past almost two decades where customers become friends and family.
What are the most popular items on the menu?
Our chicken teriyaki with our signature house-made marinade is a definite crowd-pleaser. The chicken is tender and savory and comes as a plate with white rice and house-made macaroni salad. Guests say it really makes them feel like they’re back in the islands. Some of our other popular dishes include our chicken katsu that is breaded and fried, as well as our traditional loco moco, which is two hamburger patties served on a bed of rice with two fried eggs and smothered in our brown gravy. We also do a good Spam musubi: It’s grilled and seasoned Spam on white rice wrapped in nori. Our most traditional offering is our kalua pig. It’s slow-roasted smoked pork cooked with traditional Hawaiian sea salt. It’s fall-apart tender and really delicious. We also offer a fresh and simple ahi poke that has kept our guests coming back for 17 years and counting.
1700 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz. 831-479-3299.