The opening of Mi Almita Cantina by James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega and the MINA Group brings exuberant coastal Mexican fare to Waikiki. Located on the first floor of the International Market Place facing Kuhio Avenue, Mi Almita Cantina is a gustatory journey into authentic Mexican cuisine from Ortega’s heart. Houston-based Ortega has roots in Oaxaca, Mexico, and his food highlights time-honored traditions passed down through generations. Combined with fresh local ingredients, the result is a unique and delicious experience.
The vibe is casual on the open-air dining patio where you can sip your favorite tequila, a smoky mezcal or a cocktail by award-winning bartender Andrew Woodley from the Myna Bird Tiki Bar. Pull up a stool at the margarita bar for a frozen cocktail or have one of the bartenders hand-shake a margarita tableside for you.
The menu features shareable appetizers, traditional tamale and taco plates, and specialty dishes like Broiled Kona Lobster, NY Strip Steak “Carne Brava” and a Mexican twist on traditional paella.
The tostadas are easily one of the most popular appetizers (antojitos) on the menu. The tuna is always fresh, the mango luscious and the sour orange mayo adds a hint of citrus. The result: Although these are meant to be shared, you won’t want to.
The same goes for this triple-threat sopecitos, another popular appetizer. Ortega's version are small cakes of fried potato and corn dough that are topped with juicy chicken, beef and local pork. .
No Mexican restaurant is complete without tacos, and Mi Almita offers several: slow-cooked Pono pork, smoked chicken, red wine and guajillo-smoked beef brisket, Baja-style crispy fish, line-caught daily catch “al Pastor” and charred octopus al Carbon. Tacos come in trios and feature hand-pressed, house-made tortillas that are 4 to 5 inches.
During your visit, shake things up with a signature cocktail (or two — we won’t judge). After all, that’s what the in-house margarita bar is for. In addition to cocktails, The bar also has a gppd selection of tequila, mezcal, beer (yes – they serve Tecate) and wine.
Mi Almita Cantina's daily happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. with specials including popular selections from the lunch and dinner menu — like the ahi tuna crudo tostadas ($5 apiece) and tacos ($4 apiece) — as well as frozen cocktails for $6.
Earlier in the day, the breakfast menu features Iocal favorites like loco moco, breakfast sandwiches, omelets and Mexican specialties such as Smoked Chicken Chilaquiles ($14.99) or Chorizo Breakfast Burritos ($13.99). A must-try is the Mochi Pancakes, drizzled with lilikoi sauce and topped with coconut cream ($12.99).
Mi Almita Cantina is Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina's third full-service restaurant on Oahu after Stripsteak Waikiki on the 3rd Floor Grand Lanai at the International Market Place and MINA’s Fish House at the Four Seasons Ko Olina. The Street Food Hall by Michael Mina, next to Mi Almita Cantina, is a modern global dining collection of nine food stations offering pizza, ramen, burgers, BBQ plates, poke bowls/rolls, sandwiches, salads, smoothies and two bars with a wide variety of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails.
Mi Almita Cantina
International Market Place
2311 Kuhio Ave.
Daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Happy hour 3-6 p.m.