Just A Taste: Natasha Davis reviews new restaurant Hiya Taco

My name is Natasha Davis and I’m a senior with a passion for food. After becoming a vegetarian at the beginning of the year, I realized I needed to search for new recipes that would accommodate my new lifestyle. This change fueled a new love for cooking and baking. Even as I write this, I’m eating. I showed up late to my meeting because I was cooking. Somehow, I’ve found some way to incorporate food into every single conversation I have. It’s an obsession that I don’t think will go away anytime soon. I’m constantly looking for new recipes and experimenting with fresh ingredients, shown on my food instagram: @cheftashh. I’m excited for what’s to come from this column. 


For months the village of Shorewood has been wondering what will happen with the empty space previously occupied by The Ruckus. Finally, the news came out that a new taco restaurant, Hiya Taco, was replacing it. My first thought was something along the lines of, “please let them have some good chips and guacamole.” I waited patiently all summer for them to open their doors, but with the whole pandemic currently happening, they stayed closed until recently. I wandered in with my family one night, and was immediately greeted by the friendly staff and modern atmosphere. The clean and updated version of the building added to the hip ambiance the restaurant seemed to present. The name “Hiya Taco” is intriguing in itself. For some reason I was expecting the workers to say “Hiya” as soon as I walked in the door. Unfortunately, this was not the case and kind of tainted the whole experience. I’m ready to start a petition for that to happen.

My first thought was something along the lines of, ‘please let them have some good chips and guacamole.’

It was near dinner time, yet they didn’t seem to be very busy. The space was set up where customers order in the front and wait by the counter or outside for the food to be taken to you. We ordered almost the entirety of the appetizer menu: Totchos (crispy tater tots, cheese, crema, pico de gallo, green onions, guacamole and seasoned chorizo mix), a Tostada Melt (crispy tortilla, cilantro cotija sauce, chihuahua cheese, corn salsa, pico de gallo, avocado chunks, cilantro, arbol oil and crema), and the chips and guacamole. To my surprise, the tostada melt came shaped in a pizza, which I thought was a very ingenious way to serve multiple people. The avocado crema gave a nice smooth layer to it, while the pico de gallo was robust but not overpowering. The flavors presented melded together beautifully. Overall, I wish the tortilla was a bit more crispy because the amount of toppings almost made it soft. My family reported that the totchos were packed with bold flavors and didn’t provide a mushy consistency typically seen with tater tots and a sauce. Both items needed to be warmer but are a nice treat at a fair price for the amount you get. I’m sorry to say I was disappointed by the guacamole. It included fresh avocado and a little extra ingredients, but left much to be desired. The chips were a little stale and needed more salt. I found that the price was a tad high for the quality but fair for the amount you receive. 

As for the stars of the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised with the innovative taco ideas they had available. Priced from $3.50 to $4.75 per taco, you have an extensive menu to try out. They cater to most dietary needs: vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. As a vegetarian, I was tasked to review a few of three choices on the menu: Pop Rock Tofu, Mushroom Carnitas and Asian Jackfruit. Out of them all, the Pop Rock Tofu was my favorite. Marinated in some sort of savory sauce, the odd addition of pop rocks was a happy balance between the flavors. It wasn’t flavored like candy and wasn’t overpowering in any way. The Mushroom Carnitas were strangely hard to bite into, which left me to wonder if they were overcooked or it was simply the type of mushroom they used. Similar to the chips, the tortilla was also an awkward consistency. As for the meat lovers, my family rated the Soy and Citrus Meatball taco and Chicken mole as top notch. They each incorporated potent seasonings with the cooked meat. However, they found it strange that the Crispy Chicken Taco and the Steak and Tomato taco was served with one big slab of meat. One wish was to possibly have it shredded but another was that it needed more flavor. 

Hiya Taco is perfect for a fun family taco night or groups looking to share big plates.

Hiya Taco is your typical new taco place, serving innovative ideas to the public. It’s not a destination for picky eaters, nor does it necessarily serve child-friendly food, but for an adventurous foody, it’s a good choice. Altogether, the tacos were a little cold and needed better preparation, but good enough to merit a second visit. The risks they took with some of their ingredients paid off. The appetizers were delicious despite the boring guacamole. I would say the pricing could be improved, as the quality of some did not live up to the high cost. The restaurant itself was clearly new and renovated. It seemed to be quite clean and maintained according to new COVID-19 restrictions. All the masked workers were polite and attentive to any needs we had. Hiya Taco is perfect for a fun family taco night or groups looking to share big plates. It’s a good place to visit to try something original, but won’t become your next go-to night out restaurant.