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If you can’t escape the snow to Hawaii, there’s always this: The Hula Girl food truck begins a pop-up at Cleveland Park’s Pulpo tonight.
Hula Girl chef/owner Mikala Brennan will serve up Hawaiian staples like Spam musubi and a poke of the day as starters. Plate lunches ($12-$15) include Kalua pork and cabbage, hula-hula chicken, and teriyaki plates with a choice of chicken, steak, or tofu. The plates come with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad or tossed salad. The menu will expand as the pop-up continues, but check out the opening menu below.
Bartender Tommy Magnanelli will feature Hawaiian cocktails like the Crispy Ginger with Gosling’s Black Rum, ginger syrup, ginger beer, and ginger chips as well as a passionfruit, jalapeño, and lime margarita with li hing mui (salty dried plum) and Hawaiian salt rim. Hawaiian beers and pure sugarcane sodas from Waialua Soda Works will also be available.
The restaurant itself has also been transformed with Hawaiian photos adorning the exposed brick walls, mid-century Pan Am artifacts, grass-skirted hula girls, vintage longboards, and more. Every table will have Spam containers to hold chopsticks and squeeze bottles with a variety of sauces.
The pop-up is slated to run four to six weeks and will be open for dinner and weekend brunch. After that, Puplo owner Dino Tapper, who also runs Fed Restaurant and Floriana, plans to revamp the space into a new yet-unnamed restaurant. Director of Operations Dave Hansen says they’re working on developing something that will incorporate “multiple elements and styles” under one roof. He’s been playing with menus ranging from international barbecue to “stylized street food” to “a revolving, tight yet highly stylized core menu that skirts close to a Paul Liebrandt inspired palette.”
Hansen says there’s no rush to open the new restaurant after the pop-up: “We’re chasing perfection.” In the meantime, they’ll be working to give Floriana a refresh. The Dupont restaurant recently hired chef Daniel Hlusak, a Roberto Donna protégé, and also plans to also refurbish the decor.
Hula Girl pop-up, 3407 Connecticut Ave. NW