A sign of a good restaurant in a tourist town like Hale’iwa, on Oahu’s North Shore, is that you have to wait for a table on a weeknight when it is not peak tourist season. Such was the case with our visit to Luibueno’s Restaurant. We sat at the bar while waiting for a table, and the waitress promptly brought us water, corn chips and salsa but we had to ask for menus. Mexican and Latin flavors the cuisine here, and it seemed that the clientele were a mix of locals and visitors.
Founder Luis Silva grew up with Mexican food in San Diego California - his mother always made fresh salsa and tortillas. He watched and learned authentic Mexican cooking from his mom, and his passion for the cuisine grew.
Luis moved to the North Shore of Oahu in 1992, and he noticed that there was very little Mexican food available in the area. He would bring coolers full of fresh tortillas and marinated Carne Asada back from California to share with his friends in Hawaii. He made his dream of owning his own restaurant a reality when Luibueno’s Mexican & Latin Cuisine opened in 2010. The menu features Baja-Style Mexican recipes using fresh ingredients made from scratch and infused with European and Latin style influences.
Luibueno’s has an intimate, colorful setting with a casual, lively modern vibe. When we walked in, the place was buzzing with life and we were greeted by the delicious aroma of authentic Mexican food. The friendly barmaid took our order at the bar. We ordered the 14oz Ribeye Asada and the Ahi Enchilada, as well as the Fresh Local Greens salad. The meal arrived fairly quickly despite the fact that they were very busy, and soon after ordering we were seated at a cozy corner table.
The Ribeye Asada, served over roasted Poblano mash and topped with a jalepeno cream sauce, was a huge serving and the steak was juicy and tender. The creamy sauce complimented the delicious potato mash. The Ahi Enchilada was a tasty blend of flavors, however it was a little too salty. The creamy sauces that accompanied the meals were very tasty but a little heavy. A highlight of the meal was the cilantro dressing on the Fresh Local Greens salad – absolutely delicious.
The friendly barmaid Jennifer, who originally served us, went out of her way to ensure that everything was great for us. This was a nice touch, when the floor staff were inundated and not able to attend to us very well.
Overall, Luibueno’s is a decent dining experience for lovers of Mexican food. The place is bright, colorful and lively, albeit a little loud due to the bar environment. The food quality and taste is good and worth a try if you are visiting Oahu’s North Shore.