Tiki Tacos n’ Burgers n’ Wings serves up quick eats and island vibes

The made-to-order fast food restaurant on Washington Street opened on Easter weekend.


Jeff Sigmund

Customers enjoying themselves inside Tiki Tacos on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Tiki hut style centers, plants and painting can be found throughout the restaurant.

Delaney Orewiler, Arts Reporter

Iowa City gained a new restaurant on East Washington Street earlier this month, right next to the downtown Target. The restaurant, Tiki Tacos n’ Burgers n’ Wings, brings made-to-order fast food with an island atmosphere.

The restaurant was designed to be the perfect spot for the college crowd, said owner and homegrown Iowa Citian Brandon Ryan.

“I want this spot to be a place where the college crowd or professionals come before they go to the bars,” Ryan said. “This is a place where you want to come have a good dinner with your friends, have a few strong tiki drinks, and then go out and have a good time and come back for a late night dinner.”

Ryan emphasized that Tiki Tiki Tacos n’ Burgers n’ Wings is trying to do something different with its food, drinks, and overall atmosphere. It cooks with fresh organic ingredients, local all Iowa Angus beef, and makes the Tiki drinks with regional rums from Barbados and Puerto Rico.

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Ryan said it’s no surprise that many of Tiki Tacos n’ Burgers n’ Wings customers return.

“We cook with a lot of different spices. It’s just good old fashioned, up-scale Iowa fast-food made from scratch and made to order,” Ryan said. “We pay all the attention to the details. Everything here is very well thought out. We have phone chargers at every table. If you come here late at night, you can get a bite to eat, charge your phone, and go back out to the bars.”

Owner and cook Brandon Ryan checks to make sure the queso is not getting over done. in Tiki Tacos on April, 20, 2021. (Jeff Sigmund)

Ben Kinonen, the restaurant’s sous-chef, agreed with Ryan’s assessment. He said that, even if given the chance, he would not change a single thing about Tiki Tacos’ current menu. He does still have some favorite items, however, Kinonen said.

“My favorites are the honey chipotle wings and the Tiki Standard. The honey chipotle is the best wing sauce in Iowa City, and I love the Tiki Standard because it’s locally sourced meat and homemade pickles, and that makes all the difference. Every single ingredient is top-notch,” Kinonen said. “My favorite item on the drink menu is the Mai Tai. They’re delicious and strong, but not off-putting. It’s truly a gourmet Tiki drink.”

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Regarding COVID-19, Ryan stated that, with people trying to get out of their leases as quickly as possible and restaurant supplies being cheap, it was almost the perfect time to open. Tiki Tacos n’ Burgers n’ Wings is still facing a hardship, however, although much lesser and more trivial. That is, the restaurant is on the opposite side of the street from two places the college crowd frequents on nights that they go out — Mesa Pizza and Pancheros.

“Our biggest hindrance is the college crowd is used to walking on the other side of the street. There’s never been a bar or restaurant on this side of the street,” Ryan said. “Our biggest challenge has been how to market to them.”

This week, Tiki Tacos n’ Burgers n’ Wings will add online ordering to their list of options. They will add delivery after graduation weekend. Their menu offers everything from classic wings to a vegan burger to nachos and a variety of Tiki drinks. The best way to explore this new restaurant, repeat customer Chad Treloar said, is to come check it out for yourself.