By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Oct 17, 2016 at 11:01 AM

The time is ripe to get your tiki and tacos on at the new Mangos Cafe East.

The new bar and restaurant – which will specialize in tiki and tacos – replaces Van Buren’s Whiskey Bar at 1682 N. Van Buren St.

The new spot is currently in its soft opening phase, but will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, Oct. 21. In the meantime, we’ve got a first look at the space and the menu, which is guaranteed to give you a bit of a tropical reprieve even as the autumn days grow shorter and cooler.

New atmosphere

The exterior signs are up, and all it takes is a walk through the doorway to establish just how different Mangos is from its former dive-bar-esque counterpart.

The bar features tiki-style thatch up top and urban-style tiki graffiti.

Meanwhile, you'll find the ceiling decked with tropical fans and fish nets while the walls are adorned with vintage posters, tiki-themed patterns and masks.

Tacos tacos tacos

A new menu features appetizers such as guacamole, empanadas and mozzarella sticks along with sixteen varieties of tacos, including chicken, fish, steak, pork and vegetable options.

The Caribbean fish taco features a breaded fish filet with housemade mango salsa ($3.25).

Fried shrimp are topped with tropical habanero sauce, avocado cream, lettuce and pico de gallo ($3.75).

Meanwhile, the chipotle chicken taco features a breaded chicken tender topped with jalapeno coleslaw and ancho chipotle sauce ($3.25).

And the beef avocado taco includes Caribbean marinated minced steak, lettuce, red pepper and avocado cream ($3.50).

Taco plates (three tacos or more) come with three tacos and Puerto Rican rice and Dominican style pinto beans.

Taco Tuesday? No way

Unlike other spots, which only offer taco specials on Tuesdays, Mangos will also offer a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. seven days a week featuring select $2 tacos, $2 empanadas and mozzarella sticks and $2 domestic taps.

Mangos Cafe East is open daily from 4 p.m. to bar time; kitchen open until at least 1:30 a.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.