Loco Moco

Marilyn HawkesMarch 31, 2019
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Photography by Angelina Aragon

Hawaiian food fans are cuckoo for loco moco.

Hula’s Modern Tiki

Two Valley locations
As the story goes, loco moco was invented in the late 1940s by a restaurant owner in Hilo, Hawaii, as a hearty, stuff-your-face special for his teenage patrons. Today, the egg-rice combo is considered Hawaiian comfort food and is available across the islands – as well as to us haoles stateside. Hawaiian-themed Hula’s Modern Tiki features traditional loco moco ($11, pictured): a hefty ground beef patty perched on a pile of sticky white rice covered with wickedly good brown gravy crowned by a pair of sunny side up eggs (or scrambled, if you’re averse to runny yolks). Hula’s brown gravy is on point – rich, thick and beefy, and studded with shiitake mushrooms. The Hawaiian favorite is traditionally a breakfast food, but “you can loco moco all day long,”  owner Dana Mule says.

Ranch House Grille

5618 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix
480-946-1290, ranchhousegrille.com
Owner Leland Cline put loco moco ($10.59) on the menu after discovering the dish while visiting his sister in Hawaii. Like most items on the Ranch House Grille menu, Cline’s version is super-sized. He sinks a cooked-to-order 6 oz. ground chuck patty into a bed of soft rice, smothers that in beef gravy and tops the whole affair with three eggs prepared any style. A carb lover’s dream, Ranch House Grille’s loco moco also comes fortified with crispy hash browns and a choice of toast. He elevates his loco moco game by using Certified Angus Beef for first-rate taste and texture. “I just want to do everything a little bigger and better than everybody else,” Cline says. Mission accomplished.

Over Easy

Five Valley locations
At Over Easy, where loko moko ($9) is spelled with a k, the kitchen griddles a 6 oz. hamburger patty, places it on a bed of white rice and then blankets the plate with garlic-tinged mushroom gravy and a runny “sunny” egg. To add some flair and a little bit of crunch, Over Easy’s version is garnished with fried onion strings. Original owner Aaron May once told PHOENIX magazine, “Loko moko is the perfect embodiment of really simple ingredients with savory flavors that speak for themselves.” One final thought on loco moco: Urban legend holds that a young Hawaiian patron named Loco inspired the name of the inexpensive but hearty dish, which sounds good to us. In Spanish, loco moco translates to “crazy mucus” – and that’s something you don’t want to find on any menu.