HONOLULU (KHON2) — The legend of tacos is not an easy one to trace.

There is a consensus that has evolved around the belief that tacos originated with silver mine worker in Mexico sometime during the 18th century.

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Legend has it the word “taco” refers to the small charges that miners would use while excavating the ore from mines.

The tiny pieces of paper that were wrapped around gunpowder and inserted into holes carved into rock faces. In fact, the first mention of a taco was in a 19th century dictionary that describes tacos de minero, which means miner’s tacos.

But tacos have another history. During the colonization of Turtle Island (North America), in the United States in particular, the genocide waged against the original inhabitants reach epic proportions.

With an open license to murder indigenous peoples indiscriminately, many military and civilian forces went for the food resources that tribes had relied upon for millennia. Buffalo were slaughtered by the millions simply so indigenous peoples would have no access to their food sources.

As a result of the indigenous tribes being forced away from their traditional home and hunting lands, tribes were forced to rely on the U.S. government for food supplies. These supplies were far from their traditional foods.

This led the Navajo Nation to create fry bread. Fry bread is the foundation for what is now known as Indian Tacos. These tacos are now staples at powwows as well as during community/tribal and family gatherings across Indian Country.

Sadly, as delicious as these tacos are, they are linked to many health epidemics in the indigenous peoples of the U.S. Cut off from their ancestral foods, European food commodities have wreaked havoc on indigenous health.

Hawaiʻi ranked on Yelp! for tacos

For 2023, Yelp! ranked the top 100 taco restaurants/food trucks across the United States.

Sitting at number 20 is Pit Stop Tacos, Burgers & Sliders, a food truck located in Waikīkī.

There are a total of seven taco makers located in Hawaii that are on the top 100 list.

Coming in at number 20, of course is Pit Stop Tacos, Burgers & Sliders.

At number 34 is Saucy Mama’s in Mountain View. Number 47 is Thyda’s Tacos located in Kakaʻako.

Coming in at 51 and 53 are Dos Jefes in Honolulu and TaquerEATa in Lāhainā, respectively.

Pancho’s Tacos in Pāhoa came in at number 62, and Sleeping Giant Grill in Kapaʻa came in at 89.

Where to find the best tacos in Hawaiʻi

There are places to get tacos in Hawaii. Sure, lots of folks tend to complain that Hispanic foods in Hawaii are not as good as on the continent; but user reviews on Yelp! paint a different picture. So, where do locals love to get tacos? Let’s take a look.

On Oʻahu

These are the top 10 user ranked taco restaurants on Oʻahu according to Yelp! users reviews.

  1. Alejandro’s Mexican Food has three locations: Kalihi, Kapahulu and Pearl City.
  2. Tight Tacos is located in Kaimukī.
  3. Taqueria la Merea is located in Kalihi.
  4. Thyda’s Tacos is a taco truck located in Kakaʻako.
  5. Aloha Mamacita is located in Ala Moana Center.
  6. Taqueria el Rancho is located in Wahiawā.
  7. Taqueria el Gallo Rosa is located in Ala Moana Center.
  8. Taco Kabana is located downtown.
  9. Pit Stop Tacos, Sliders & Fries is located in Waikīkī.
  10. Tlacuaches808 is located in Waikīkī.

On Hawaiʻi Island in Hilo

These are the top five user ranked taco restaurants in Hilo according to Yelp! users reviews.

  1. Tacos Jalisco is located on Kekūanaōʻa Street.
  2. Panchos Tacos is located on Pāhoa Village Road.
  3. Amigos Taqueria is located on Keawe Street.
  4. Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant has two locations: Luquin’s 454 in Hilo and Luquin’s Cantina in Pāhoa.
  5. Maui Tacos is located on East Puainako Street.

These are the top four user ranked taco restaurants in Kailua-Kona according to Yelp! users reviews.

  1. Killer Tacos is located on Kaiwi Street.
  2. Open Street Tacos is located on Aliʻi Drive.
  3. Shaka Tacoz has two locations: Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook and Aliʻi Drive in Kailua-Kona.
  4. El Mercadito Rincon Mexicano is located on Luhia Street.

On Maui

These are the top eight user ranked taco restaurants on Maui according to Yelp! users reviews.

  1. Ono Tacos is located in Lāhainā.
  2. Tight Tacos Maui is located in Kahului.
  3. La Poblano Comida Mexicano is located in Kahului.
  4. Taco Aztecas is located in Kīhei.
  5. Bubba’s Shack Maui is a food truck located in Haʻikū.
  6. Maui Taco Loco.
  7. Maui Tacos is located in Kahului.
  8. Island Taco is located in Haʻikū.

On Kauaʻi

These are the top eight user ranked taco restaurants on Kauaʻi according to Yelp! users reviews.

  1. Island Taco is located in Waimea.
  2. Tiki Tacos is located in Waimea.
  3. Sleeping Giant Grill is located in Kāpaʻa.
  4. Carlito’s Way is located in Princeville.
  5. Little Fatties is located in Kāpaʻa.
  6. Lele’s Breakfast Tacos is located in Līhuʻe.
  7. Tacos & Burritos Carlito’s Way.
  8. Jimmy’s Grill Kauaʻi is located in Kāpaʻa.

If you want to try some Indian tacos to celebrate, then you can click here for some authentic Navajo recipes.

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So, there you have it. All the best tacos that locals love to eat. Go out and celebrate National Taco Day and remember that tacos are rooted in indigenous and Hispanic history.