By Dane Feldman

Additional contributors: Samantha Spoto, Molly Freeman, Veronica Chavez

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Shaka Burrito is a Hawaiian-themed burrito franchise, but this review focuses on the one located on 23rd Street in Manhattan between Second and Third Ave. The restaurant boasts “grass fed, GMO-free New Zealand beef,” as well as “non-GMO basmati brown rice and cooking oil,” which means Shaka is off to an impressive start.

I, for one, was rather pleased overall, but I have dined here on multiple occasions with other BTR staff members and our opinions vary. Because of this, we thought we could offer a more comprehensive review by each offering our input.

Samantha’s Take

Photo by Samantha Spoto.

At the beginning of the year, I set out on a Burrito Challenge. I made a promise to myself that I would eat 100 burritos by the time 2015 ends. I am well on my way to completing the task. Although I’ve consumed a fair amount of unappetizing burritos, Shaka Burrito has made my challenge much more enjoyable than other Mexican restaurants.

I have eaten at Shaka Burrito twice. On my first visit I ordered the Baja, which is a rice bowl with chicken, adobe beans, jack and cheddar cheese, Shaka salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and chile lime coconut. I swapped the bowl for a tortilla and made my meal a burrito. I have no complaints about Shaka. They cut their burritos in half, which usually irks me, but all of the ingredients stay compact inside their perfectly folded tortillas. Also, every meal comes with chips and salsa for no extra charge.

The atmosphere is an added bonus. On both occasions, I dined in at Shaka. Their storefront is clean and inviting, with surfboards and bamboo walls sending patrons on a temporary vacation.

Molly’s Take

Photo by Molly Freeman.

Because of Samantha’s Burrito Challenge, I’ve officially added the dish as a staple in my diet and managed to try many Mexican restaurants in the Chelsea/Flatiron area of New York City. Shaka Burrito is an interesting spot with its Hawaiian-themed menu and decorations. On our recent trip to Shaka, I ordered the Duke’s Chicken burrito, which was a just-fine burrito–the chicken was a bit dry and the flavor of the zucchini in the veggie medley was overwhelming.

Photo by Molly Freeman.

I will say that the ambience of Shaka is worth multiple return trips. With cool Hawaiian and surf-themed decorations, a repurposed washing machine and dryer as the garbage/recycling receptacles, and a fish tank in the middle of the space, Shaka Burrito is a great place to grab a bite. It might even be enough to keep me coming back until I find a menu item that truly satisfies my burrito craving.

Veronica’s Take

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Although Shaka is clearly known for their burrito-making skills, on my way to the surf-themed restaurant I decided I would opt for the Fajita Veggie Rice Bowl.

Once I caught wind that the burritos my friends were ordering came with chips and salsa I added some chips and guacamole to my order as well.

Unfortunately, it seems that I didn’t order clearly enough. I was given a basket of chips and atop my rice bowl a small scoop of guacamole. Slightly disappointed but too hungry to have them correct the order, I transferred the guac to the chips basket and proceeded to eat that as an appetizer.

When I finally began eating the rice bowl, I regretted not leaving the guacamole on there. The dish was healthy but not nearly as zesty or flavorful as I imagined it would be. The vegetable medley was composed mostly of red peppers and zucchini and the adobe beans didn’t add much to the plate. Maybe the cheese I had asked them to withhold from the plate would have added a bit more flavor but seeing that I’m vegan, that’s really not an option.

For now, I think Shaka will remain a strictly chips and guac spot for me.

Dane’s Take

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Shaka’s menu is a far cry from the burrito joints at which I have recently dined. The items are creative and because of its Hawaiian influence, many of the entrees include seafood; the Hawaiian Grilled Fish burrito, Big Island Shrimp burrito, and Kona Fish tacos with tilapia or mahi mahi are just a few of those.

The first time I dined here, I had the Pipeline Beef Rice Bowl: dry rubbed beef, roasted Vidalia onions, corn salsa, adobe beans, and cilantro brown rice topped with chipotle BBQ sauce. Followers of Dish + Drink know that I have that unfortunate—and likely genetic—distaste for cilantro, so I asked if I could taste the rice before making a decision. Thankfully for me, the cilantro is not overpowering at all, and the Pipeline Beef is a big winner.

If I hadn’t been so eager to try other dishes, I would have ordered it on the second visit, too. Instead, I opted for the Big Kahuna burrito, which consists of chicken, beef, jack and cheddar cheese, cabbage, guacamole, pico de gallo, adobe beans, rice, onions, and corn salsa. Yeah, they even describe it as “the kitchen sink,” but everything pairs quite well and the burrito was truly delicious. No regrets, waistline, no regrets.

The surf-themed restaurant also serves salad, acai bowls, yogurt, Hawaiian shave ice, and flatbread quesadillas.

It looks like we’ll be returning to Shaka soon, but who knows what we’ll be ordering.