Breakfast At Tortilla Republic

It’s quiet at The Shops at Kukui‘ula. It’s early morning and all the stores are closed. No one walks the landscaped courtyard. The only sounds are palm trees swishing in the wind, and upbeat music, conversation and laughter coming from the Tortilla Republic Grill and Margarita Bar.

I wrote about its dinner service in the Aug. 15 issue of MidWeek Kaua‘i, and have been excited to share the news of its breakfast ever since. It’s been offered since July, and the menu is a combination of traditional eye-openers with a Tortilla Republic twist.

For starters, you can enjoy a Prickly Pear Bellini ($8), and a plate of freshly made Mexican Crispas and Beignets ($4). The crispas are fried flour tortillas topped with cinnamon and sugar. Pillow soft inside and crispy outside, beignets are a French doughnut similar to Mexican sopaipillas, and at Tortilla Republic, it takes 24 hours to make the dough. They are covered in a thick layer of powdered sugar and are perfect with a pot of French press coffee ($6).

“My staff thinks I’m crazy, but I wanted our beignets to be like the ones at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans,” says owner Jordan James. “They top them with powdered sugar and it gets everywhere! That’s

Tortilla Republic’s Mexican Crispas (left) and beignets. Hominy and Relleno Poblano sits on a bed of Mexican rice and is surrounded by roasted tomato-habanero sauce what I want. I want powdered sugar all over this room.”

This is the first restaurant where I’ve been able to get bacon flights. For $4 you get three slices of bacon, and your choices include spicy chipotle, bacon that’s candied in a Mexican sugar called piloncello, cinnamon bacon, or applewood-smoked bacon.

Cutting open a Mexican Egg ($10), the yolk is gold and runny. It’s about the size of a Faberge egg because it’s coated with a thick layer of sausage. The egg rests on a mound of thick sauce, which is for heat-seekers only!

“We take a soft-boiled egg,” says James, “and roll it in chorizo sausage that was made for us in Kalaheo. We roll it in panko bread crumbs, deep-fry it, and lay it on a bed of roasted jalapeno pesto.”

Mild poblano peppers have been roasted, split open and stuffed for the Relleno Poblano ($14). A creamy combination of cheesy scrambled eggs, spinach and pico de gallo fills the fat pepper, which sits on a bed of Mexican rice and is surrounded by a pool of roasted tomato-habanero sauce.

Dehydrated beef is only served in the Machaca Burrito ($15). The beef is rehydrated in a saucy reduction of vegetables and juice and combined with soft scrambled eggs, potatoes, Monterey Jack cheese and pico de gallo.

“We sear a beef shoulder, and then braise it in garlic, onions and peppers for three hours,” says James. “It’s cooled, dehydrated for up to 12 hours and torn into large shreds. Dehydrating intensifies the flavors of the meat. It’s a classic preparation in Mexico.”

The TR Benedict ($14) is served with chopped bacon, arugula and potatoes on the side. A thick house-made hollandaise sauce drapes over two poached eggs that rest on a split scone that’s made with black pepper and Manchego cheese. My friend, a Maui-based food writer, is having breakfast with me and she says it’s the best scone she’s ever had.

“This isn’t obvious Mexican food,” says James. “We take pride in offering unique meals made by hand using fresh ingredients and organic produce.”

Tortilla Republic
Breakfast: 7-11 a.m.

Marta Lane is a Kaua‘i-based food writer. For more information, visit