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Amigos: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

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   January 31st, 2014 · 15 Disqus Comments ·
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· Maui Food

By Vanessa Wolf

Large Shrimp Ceviche Bowl: the Kihei version. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Large Shrimp Ceviche Bowl: the Kihei version. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

In a veritable Mexican food wasteland all but forsaken by authenticity with the likes of adobo, chilaquiles and mole, Amigos is considered one of the island’s lesser south of the border-style evils. With three locations to serve you – Lahaina, Kahului and Kihei respectively – we went in with high hopes.

The Long Version

On our first visit to the nondescript strip mall location in Kahului, we tried the Shrimp Ceviche Bowl (small $8.99, large $10.99). Mama Pajama, it’s good stuff. Boatloads of small, lime-infused shrimp mingle with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, oregano and cilantro. Better yet, the hearty portion is topped with a generous amount of fresh avocado. Ole!

The Guacamole (8 ounces for $8.99) possesses a texture that screams either “squeezed from a packet” or “Help! Where’s the ‘OFF’ switch on this blender!?” None too impressive for $18 a pound.

The Chicken Nachos. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Chicken Nachos. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The flavor was acceptable-ish, but the baby food-like consistency punctuated with bits of onion and tomato is unfortunate when fresh local avocados are often available.

The Chicken Nachos ($9.99) feature a mega-helping of shredded seasoned pollo, but very little (unmelted) cheese. The additions of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole and a deluge of refried beans rendered everything kinda soggy. Not bad, not great, and thank goodness for the salsa bar to help counter the overall blandness.

At the cramped Lahaina location, service was sloooooooow, but eventually we were able to place an order for some a la carte items.

The Al Pastor Pork Taco ($2.99) was sweet, with an almost BBQ sauce-like taste. We added some salsa atop the heavy ration of raw onions and that helped tip the flavor scales away from K.C. Masterpiece and back toward La Costeña country.

The Al Pastor (right) and Carne Asada (left) Tacos. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Al Pastor (right) and Carne Asada (left) Tacos. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The Carne Asada Taco ($3.50) had an excellent grilled flavor and was topped quite traditionally with onion and cilantro. You can’t go too wrong here. The Shrimp Taco ($3.99) wasn’t what we expected, but we ate it anyway. The same small shrimp found in the ceviche arrived in a mojo de ajo-style red sauce. Not very traditional with lettuce, tomatoes and orange cheese, it’s edible nonetheless.

The requisite Chile Relleno ($6.99 a la carte) – the standard by which all Mexican American restaurants, arguably, can be judged – was at least partially well-executed with a fresh poblano pepper roasted and stuffed with copious cheese. Although the egg batter was hella greasy – maybe heat the fry oil a little hotter next time – and the presentation lacked the traditional Ranchero sauce, we’d still order it again in a pinch.

In order to do so, we hit up Amigos in its relocated-a-little-over-a-year-ago location in the Long’s Shopping Center in Kihei. Boasting what is by far the most appealing ambiance of the three, it is also the busiest.

The Chile Relleno. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Chile Relleno. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Although we already had photos, we couldn’t resist an encore with the Shrimp Ceviche Bowl ($10.99). Still every bit as amazing as we’d remembered flavor-wise, this version had just six small pieces of avocado and two of them were going bad. Bummer.

We also tried the Chile Relleno and Tamale Combo Plate ($13.99), which took over half an hour to arrive.

The tamale was dry, but flavorful and – side note – surrounded by beans, rice and a ludicrous amount of iceberg lettuce. Perhaps because of the excess greenery, our relleno was clinging to the edge of the chilly plate as if thrown on as an afterthought. Judging by the frigid interior and rock hard cheese, we suspect they found it hanging out in the fridge. We would have asked for a redo or at least a few minutes in the microwave had the waitress ever come back. Alas, that was not to be.

The Tamale and Relleno Combo Plate may have spent some had plenty of time to think deep thoughts before making its way to us. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Tamale and Relleno Combo Plate may have had plenty of time to think deep thoughts before making its way to us. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

With amigos like this, who needs enemies? We did what we could with the soggy, greasy pepper and hoped things would fare better with our last dish.

Sadly, the Shrimp Fajitas ($14.99) are the kind of dish you’d expect to encounter in the economy section of an airplane. The menu claims they are “sizzling to perfection.” Really? The only thing that sizzled was our enthusiasm. If this dish was even threatened with a photo of a hot grill, we’d be amazed. So much for worrying about burning yourself on a flaming hot cast iron dish: Amigos delivers you an exceedingly safe lukewarm plate topped with a jumbled up mess of raw onions, red and green bell peppers and (what we suspect are) boiled shrimp. Fajitas are admittedly a “Tex Mex” invention… but what in the actual hell?

The Shrimp "Fajitas." Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Shrimp “Fajitas.” Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

On the upside, there are a generous 15 of the (wholly unremarkable) shrimp, so… yeah. Caveat emptor.

Short version

Go to Amigos and get the ceviche. Ask for extra avocado if you’re not already in Kahului. Under no circumstances order the fajitas and intervene with extreme prejudice should anyone in your party attempt to do so. That is all.

Amigos is located at 1215 South Kihei Rd. in Kihei, 333 Dairy Rd. in Kahului and 658 Front St. in Lahaina.

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  • hakuita

    The only authentic Mexican food in Maui is in the homes of cooks who know how to prepare it. Give up trying to get away from iceberg lettuce and yellow cheese in the restaurants here. The good news is that we can get real coitja and fresco. I just keep hoping someone will open a real taqueria here someday.

    • Gringo Haole

      Horhito’s taco truck makes the best al pastor tacos I have had in the islands. Not perfect but far better than anything else.

  • allenbam

    Amigo’s has a very non-Amigo arrogant attitude from my encounters w/him, the owner (outside of his eatery), IMHO Fernando’s at Kau Kau Corner/Maui Market Place is hands down…anything chicken is a winner…and his chili verde is to die for…the peeps there are very friendly and most accommodating…as for Pinatas, I never go there since 15 years ago I went and ordered the kitchen sink burrito ‘wet’ and they charged 3$ for the ‘wet’ and that was 15 YEARS ago…give me a break…Pollis well put it this way I”m not about to drive upcountry to order/eat over priced ‘Mexican’ food sold by non-Mexicans…sorry, just doesn’t work…

  • ay yi ya yi yi

    with the proliferation of taco wagons / converted taco wagon businesse to restaurants ALL mexican places need to step up their game…although most have a favorite dish: amigo’s , taquitos, rellanos. pinatas: hard shell tacos, tamales. taquirea cruz: natchos. there is a new food truck in lahaina la palapa de noah. so far the tacos “small” (two bites) are great for 1.25 quesadilla carne is good….wife had a fish taco she seem to like…Ohana tacos: fish tacos….Maui tacos: nothing . Pollies, the mixed chips with flour and corn tortilla, nothing else is good at all there….
    I’ve not been to mexico so I wouldn’t know real south of the board food unless it was made at someones house…..that is from that part of the world

  • amazed

    Oh goodness looking at the FB posts, WTF?. Vanessa is critic, that is what she does. Why is it NOTHING on Maui can be bad? Yes people, some stuff is just bad no matter where it is in the world, even precious Maui. As for the person posting below on the FB section “Maybe she doesn’t like Mexicana people” is stupid, immature and typical. Hey, how about she just doesn’t like the food? What a concept?????? She seems to me to have worked on her assessment by going to the 3 locations. You may like something, don’t slam or begrudge others who don’t.

  • Mexican Illegals on Maui

    Costco’s $5 rotisserie chicken, tortillas, salsa and 7-layer dip are far superior to any Amigos for a fraction of the price and without the attitude of illegals. On that note, does anyone wonder why Spanish is Maui’s second language? They buy a $300 ticket to Hawaii and stay beyond their visa by working in restaurants as slaves for less than minimum wage. The locals with rights and “attitudes” are thrown under the bus by biz and the almighty buck. Same thing in the construction biz.

    • checkered demon

      If you want to sling mud regarding illegal aliens, look westward, my friend. Lots of Filipinos, Marshall Islanders, Tongans and Samoans doing the same thing. It would be a good investigative article for one of our fearless newspapers to check out.

      • Mexican Illegals on Maui

        Not slinging mud. Just opining the obvious. Honolulu Civil Beat has the best investigative journalism that I’ve encountered here. HuffPost Hawaii is a bloody joke which is Arianna’s MO. I’ve never encountered a “fearless newspaper” especially in Hawaii. Agreed that Micronesia has become the #1 welfare recipients of Hawaii.

        • checkered demon

          What about “Hawaii Free Press”? I get their on-line edition every Sunday. Always chock-full of crime, slime and graft.

          • Mexican Illegals on Maui

            Thanks for the Hawaii Free Press referral. Appears somewhat substantive at a glance. But the bottom line is that politicians (on both sides) and corporations want and need illegals to become citizens to become the new slave class for Amerika to survive.

          • checkered demon

            I can only read so many of the articles in the Free Press before I get overload and have to go outside.

          • Mexican Illegals on Maui

            Oh Jesus Christ, I here you…the mentality (or lack thereof) of those on this site and others… politics in general is enough to say F-O to the world! Thanks for the reminder to converse with Nature instead of BS…

    • You a racist mofo

      Way to keep it klassy and on topic.

      It’s nice to racist dipshits are everywhere.

  • Abby Hale

    Amigos is authentic Mexican food, don’t like like it, don’t eat there! I have had two Mexican boyfriends that ONLY eat Amigo’s food.

    • Mexican Illegals on Maui

      Mexican boyfriends? Obviously you have standards… How desperate does one get? Especially when they are illegals looking for green cards in Hawaii instead of picking oranges for $2/hr in Cali.


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