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Tropical Corner at 12th and Market

February 27, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
Want to bask in the sun? Check out the surfers at the beach? Gaze at the island sunset?

Well, for a shot of warm, Hawaiian atmosphere, check out the Tiki Bar & Grill at the corner of 12th and Market streets in Wheeling.

Surf videos, hula girls, surf boards, colorful birds, scenes from Hawaii, tiki torches and more make you feel as if you've just landed on a warm, tropical island.

James Grace, one of the owners along with Chris Stadler, noted that there's been a "good response" to the restaurant, which opened Jan. 2.

The menu, itself, is a colorful work of art. And it features some interesting choices.

Some of the items on the menu are inspired by the island of Hawaii. In the large selection of "pupus" or appetizers, try the mai poy sweet 'n' sour popcorn shrimp, pineapple chicken brolette and island grilled shrimp skewers. There's an aloha burger, an island chicken sandwich, Hawaiian glazed chicken, coconut shrimp, Hawaiian glazed grilled salmon and a Hawaiian salad, which includes grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, pineapple, shredded coconut and macadamia nuts.

Of course, there are lots of other things on the menu: wings, with a variety of sauces; a reuben, grilled steak or chicken salad, an eggplant sandwich, prime rib, crab cakes and more.

I had a fish taco, which was a piece of fried fish wrapped in a spinach tortilla with red cabbage and a lime sauce. It was really, really good.

The soup was good, and hot, too — always a plus!

And the fries are to die for. We tried the garlic fries, and I'm already having cravings. They were delicious, and the serving on the side of the burger was quite generous. I wasn't too crazy about the burger; the bun was good and the toppings were good. But, the burger meat itself was just OK.

However, there are a lot of varieties of burger creations from which to choose: the hot lava (with a cayenne pepper sauce, jalapenos and pepper jack cheese!!); the big mess, with chili and coleslaw; the heartstopper with bacon and double cheese; the buffalo blue burger, with bleu cheese; the remi, with a fried egg, fresh spinach, tomato, onions and mayonnaise; and the Pittsburgher with fries, coleslaw, tomato and onion — just to name some of them!

There's also the Spam Sandwich! Grilled Spam with lettuce, tomatoe and mayo on grilled bread. The menu suggests giving it a try!

A nice kids' menu is available with items for $2-$3 – PB&J, Spaghettios, grilled cheese and chicken strips.

I also was impressed with the variety of the sides: wild rice, steamed asparagus, cucumber salad, fruit salad - these are just some of the more unusual ones.

Prices are fair. My fish taco with a side (I got steamed veggies) was $5.50. Most of the burgers are $7.95, while a half-dozen wings are $3.75. The entrees range from $11.95 to $17.95, which most in the $12.95-$13.95 range.

Not only was the atmosphere sunny and bright, but the wait staff was as well. Our waitress, Desire, was very attentive and sweet. She also asked how everything was in a very timely manner.

Menu selection, service, atmosphere all rate high at the Tiki Bar and Grill. It's a place I'll try again ... especially if they kick up those burgers a notch or two.


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