Folks are calling this spot the “Hawaiian Chipotle!” The place in question is Makai Pacific Island Grill, which you might have seen in a few viral TikToks recently.
Makai has been in the Las Vegas area since 2016 and has quickly grown into a chain with four locations. They are all about building custom bowls of Hawaiian barbecue favorites, and the number of possible combinations are truly insane.
So what makes this place worthy of the moniker “Hawaiian Chipotle?” There’s a couple of reasons: First, like Chipotle, this is an assembly line style fast casual spot. That means you go down the line and pick what you want in your bowl, and there’s a ton of fresh and crowd favorite Hawaiian food options.
You start by picking a base of brown rice, white rice, or salad, and from there, there’s a ton of protein options and sides to choose from. Classic proteins available are katsu chicken, teriyaki chicken, and Pulehu steak. They also have more unique offerings like mochiko chicken wings that you can add on top.
Makai is also mixing two different kinds of poke fresh daily: shoyu poke and spicy poke. They come in little cups but you can also ask for the rice to be flattened, and even get the poke lightly seared and scattered on top.
For sides, you can add on classic mac salad or a tossed salad, or veggies like kimchi coleslaw, corn, and edamame. Combine together your base, protein, and side options, and there’s a lot of different custom bowls you can make.
The other big reason Makai is compared to Chipotle is how fast it's starting to grow. They just recently went from a single location in the Vegas area to four. Sure, it’s not groundbreaking or as expansive as the actual Chipotle, but it's a starting point from which Makai could potentially grow and spread locations to anywhere else.
In the meantime, it’s definitely earning the title several have given it of the “Hawaiian Chipotle.”