Surf n Salsa, located in Haleʻiwa, serves authentic Mexican cuisine. (Photo by Maria Pou)

By Maria Pou| Staff Writer

Down Kamehameha Highway and directly off the first exit of the “Weed Circle” roundabout lies the bustling town of Haleʻiwa. Haleʻiwa is a cultural melting pot, and as a result, unique cuisine can be found all over the town. Dozens of food trucks line the street, serving up a wide array of food from curry to katsu.

If eating is a hobby, then it’s one of mine. Living in Haleʻiwa for the past few years has turned me into somewhat of a food connoisseur for the area. Here are five food trucks on the North Shore that I would recommend to anyone ready to embark on a culinary adventure.

1. Jenny’s Shrimp – Haleʻiwa: Shrimp. It’s one of the first smells a person encounters when entering Haleʻiwa. It seems like around every corner there is another shrimp truck. While tourists crowd the overrated Giovanni’s Shrimp parking lot, Jenny’s remains relatively accessible. This food truck serves savory shrimp prepared just about any way you can imagine. Plates average around $15 each and come with rice, greens, and a tangy pineapple wedge. I prefer the butter garlic shrimp plate with garlic rice. Can we all just agree that butter makes everything taste better?

Instagram: @jenny_s_shrimp

2. Banyan’s Island Grill – Waialua: Tucked away by the Waialua Sugar Mill, Banyan’s is somewhat secluded, but if you’re willing to go the extra mile, it’s well worth the trek. Because everything is made from scratch, most customers wait around 30 minutes for their food. However, the amazingly fresh cuisine makes this a nonissue. The “catch of the day” is used to prepare delectable fish tacos, and $15 will buy my favorite item on the menu, the North Shore Burger. It’s served on a taro bun, a unique touch that brings sweetness to the savory sandwich.

Instagram: @banyansislandgrill

3. No7 – Hale’iwa: Conveniently located right off the main road, No7 serves delicious Japanese cuisine every day. Those with a palate for fresh fish might enjoy the spicy miso poke or the more popular shrimp tempura and avocado roll. The food truck serves plenty of non-seafood dishes as well, including chicken karaage, beef udon, and ramen. Prices vary depending on the item, but I consider this truck to be one of the most affordable places to eat in Haleʻiwa.

One feature I love about No7 is the relaxing atmosphere. The charming outdoor patio has umbrella-covered tables where you can eat under the soft glow of the lights that are strung up around the area. Sometimes, you can even hear live music coming from the neighboring trucks.

Instagram: @haleiwa_no7

4. Surf n Salsa – Haleʻiwa: Mexican food is my all-time favorite, so when I moved to Hawaiʻi from the mainland, I was reluctant to say goodbye to Chipotle. I soon discovered, though, that Surf n Salsa makes some of the best Mexican on the island (and it’s far more authentic than Chipoltle). On Tuesdays, the truck runs a special: five street tacos for $8, and these are prepared traditionally with a fresh lime wedge on the side. Somewhat less conventional, but no less delicious, are the carne asada fries, which are nachos prepared with french fries instead of chips. For a sweet treat, I sometimes order a cup of horchata, a cinnamon and rice milk drink.

Instagram: @surfnsalsa

5. Waialua’s Lunch Wagon – Waialua: The North Shore’s best-kept secret, Waialua’s Lunch Wagon, is a family-owned and operated business that sells fresh, locally caught ‘ahi. This place serves amazing melt-in-your-mouth katsu, but it also has yummy poke and other specials that vary from day to day. An ‘ahi katsu plate costs $13 and comes with rice, mac salad, and greens. The business operates in an unorthodox way. Waialua’s Lunch Wagon accepts only cash, sells out quickly, and does not have regular hours of operation. Before stopping by, be sure to check its Instagram to make sure it’s open.

Instagram: @waialuaslunchwagon