By Claudine San Nicolas
Part-time residents Alexis Ruettenauer and her mom, Karyn Unrau, bring all their friends and relatives to Coconut’s Fish Cafe in Kihei.
“We love coming here all the time because the food is delicious,” Unrau said. Their favorite dishes are fish tacos, two for $11.95, and a seafood salad featuring cajun grilled ono priced at $13.95.
“It’s just the best and I think you really get what you pay for,” Ruettenauer said.
Owner Mike Phillips opened Coconut’s Fish in April 2009, bringing in a mix of visitors and residents into his restaurant at the Azeka Center. “All our business has been referrals,” he said.
Gary and Robyn Becher of Gilbert, Ariz., stopped by Coconut’s Fish for lunch following a recommendation from their parents who were vacationing on Maui from Arizona.
“We’re used to eating a lot of Mexican food and stuff and I must say this is very good,” Gary Becher said.
“The food is excellent. I’m glad we came here and we would come back,” Robyn Becher added.
Terry and Carla Lew of Walnut Creek, Calif., came into Coconut’s Fish after hearing about the restaurant at a cocktail party they were attending on Maui. “Now I’m going to recommend it,” Carla Lew said.
The Lews ordered fish tacos, a popular menu item that is made with grilled corn tortillas and a variety of 17 ingredients including tomato, cheese, coleslaw and mango salsa.
“Very good, I don’t say that very often,” Terry Lew said. “The fish tastes fresh and the ingredients that come with it are tasty.”
Aside from the tacos which can also be ordered with chicken or steak, Coconut’s Fish customers consume up to 50 quarts of clam chowder, which takes four hours to prepare each day, according to Phillips.
Phillips said food at Coconut Fish’s is made from scratch daily — all sauces, dressings, tartar, cocktail sauce and Caesar salad. Coconut’s Fish also offers “healthy choices” on its menu including grilled fish burgers, wheat buns and brown rice.
Phillips, who has opened seven different restaurants on the West Coast, said he tries to be environmentally friendly, charging 50 cents for biodegradable to-go containers, and recycling used cooking oil into a biofuel.
Phillips said he finds inspiration in the United States military and soldiers who have served the country. The restaurant’s brochure pays tribute to the men and women in uniform. “That you for protecting our freedoms,” Phillips writes. “Hats off to all who serve.”