The new Jimmy Hula's in St. Pete is set to open on Monday, December 11. The first 50 people in the door win free tacos for a year, which we reported on here. Their soft opening starts today, Sun Dec 3rd, and runs through the week. Hours all week will be 11AM-3PM & 5PM-9PM
St. Petersburg Foodies was invited to the friends and family last Friday, December 1st. Managing Partner, Tony Marasco was on hand greeting guests at the door.
Jimmy Hula's is a fast-casual concept specializing in fish tacos and burgers in a surf shack themed, family-fun, party-style atmosphere. There was a hula girl performing like a dancer / gymnast, and a live singer / guitarist interacting with the crowd and being silly. He actually sounded just like Jimmy Buffet when he performed Margaritaville.
Speaking of which, Jimmy Hula's is kind of like a smaller scale Margaritville, except that you place your order at the counter, and then take a number and choose your table. We sat at the bar and ordered from there. It's quite a fun place with a touristy atmosphere. I felt like I was on vacation at the beach.
Keeping in mind that this was a pre-opening event where the food is free, with the purpose of giving the staff the chance to practice on real customers, you can expect that not everything is going to be perfect.
Bests: Extremely cheerful and friendly staff. Havana Spring Rolls, and Fish Taco.
Worst: Timing on food delivery.
Just Ok: Street Taco, Hamburger.
We like to end things on a high note, so we'll start with the details on the worst, and work our way to the best.
Within 10 minutes we had all of the food we ordered all at once. Our appetizer did come first, but then Lori's french fries showed up right after - too soon - and without the hamburger it was to go with.
Then, while we were still eating our appetizer and fries, my two tacos arrived - again way too soon. A couple of minutes later, the hamburger showed up. The irony of service that is too fast.
They advertise the fish tacos and hamburgers, so we thought we had to definitely order those. I was also happy to see that they had meat tacos as well, which fall under the Street Tacos section on the menu.
For my street taco, I had the Wipeout Street Taco - Marinated Steak, Shrimp, Fries, Jack Cheese, Avocado, Salsa, Baja Sauce. I didn't realize until writing this piece that there was no shrimp in the taco at all. I didn't remember the description while eating, so didn't say anything because I didn't know I was missing something.
That might explain why I thought that there was very little meat since there needs to be room for shrimp. I actually wasn't sure if it was the meat or fish taco until I got to the center and found some meat. The flavor was pretty good. It was the first time I ever had a taco with french fries, and their fries are good.
The hamburger wasn't too bad, it just wasn't our style of hamburger. We like the big juicy chunks of rare to medium-rare burgers. However, since they list burgers as one of their specialties, we ordered it. Burgers are 6 oz each, and consist of two smashed thin, 3 oz patties, seared mid-to-well done. (Sounds like a good late-night, drunk munchies kind of burger.)
We had the Santa Barbara Burger - Avocado, American Cheese, Grilled Onion, Lettuce, Tomato, Voodoo Sauce. Lori changed out the American cheese for Jack cheese, and admitted that it was a mistake. It would have been much better with American. Again, not bad, just not our style on the meat. I did like that it had Onion, Lettuce, and Tomato, plus we added bacon.
The french fries reminded me a little of McDonald's, but with less salt and grease, and I mean that in a good way. Jimmy Hula's fries are quite good. (Lori disagrees with me on the fries. She's thinks McD's are better.)
The Killer Fish Taco - White Fish, Cabbage, Jack Cheese, Honey Habanero Boss Sauce was great! The fish was fresh, plump, and juicy, and the hot sauce gave it that nice little kick that I like. (Photo above.)
The star of the show was the Havana Spring Rolls - Smoked Pork, Sweet Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickle, and Mustard - basically a Cuban Sandwich as a spring roll. We would come here just for these! They are soooo delicious!
They may not look impressive at first, but wait until you bite into them! The dipping sauce is a delicious mustard sauce. Be careful as the rolls come out piping hot.
We were glad to see that they had a full bar. I had a Margarita, and Lori had her usual vodka & soda.
We can't wait to have more Havana Spring Rolls, and to try some of the other fish tacos.
California-Hawaiian tacos & burgers in a surf shack themed decor