Beach Bums in Ma’alaea: Better Than You May Realize

September 25, 2012, 1:33 PM HST · Updated September 28, 1:26 PM
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By Vanessa Wolf

Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef, previously working in Portland, Oregon. She offers her blunt assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.

House-made Hollandaise sauce adorns the Eggs Benedict. What’s not to love? Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

If you have written Beach Bums in Ma’alaea off as just another tourist trap: reconsider.

Sure, it’s full of sunburned people fresh off snorkeling boats and whale watching tours. Yes, 80s tunes blare day and night, and they sell $20 t-shirts with “Beach” printed on the front and “Bums” on the, well, bum. Don’t let that trouble you. Take some advice from Chicago (quite possibly playing overhead) and look away. Baby, look away.

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Beach Bums is legit.

Start with breakfast. The menu is teeming with options from omelets ($8.25 to $9.75) to Chicken Fried Steak ($11.95). Have a hollow leg? The OMG omelet ($31.25) features a dozen eggs, ham, bacon, spam, mushrooms, peppers and a full plate of home fries and toast on the side. Share it amongst four people, and it’s a reasonable $7.80 each.

Hung over? Beach Bums has your back. Every morning until 11 a.m. there are $3 Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers to ease your pain. Maybe the Blondie music overhead has you simply wanting to get the party started nice and early: you’re in luck, as doubles are just $5.

The Prime Rib Loco Moco is a beast. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The Prime Rib Loco Moco ($12.95) is gargantuan. Keawe-smoked prime rib slices rest on four monster scoops of rice and are topped with two eggs, brown gravy, and grilled onions.

Even if you don’t (think you) like loco moco, the Beach Bums version may change your mind. Mostly traditional, the smoky prime rib flavor elevates the entire dish, but still provides the homey goodness of the original. Don’t want to fix what ain’t broken? That’s OK: Beach Bums also offers loco moco with a hamburger patty for $10.95. Again, portions are massive.

The Eggs Benedict ($11.95) is equally impressive. Served with a choice of ham, turkey, spam or Portuguese sausage, the eggs were perfectly poached. The rich, lemony homemade Hollandaise was a faultless compliment to the thick chunk of smoky honey ham. There’s also a crab cake version available for $13.95

If you’re into home fry potatoes coated with a generous amount of rosemary, you’ll enjoy these. If not, your loco moco-ordering dining companion will likely be staring hopelessly at the mounds of brown gravy-covered rice before them and offer to share.

Should you go with someone else? Most definitely, as currently the “Maui Magazine” coupon book (available upstairs from Beach Bums on some wooden shelving by the “Farmers Market and Craft Fair” sign) has a “Buy One, Get One Free” coupon – valid from 8 to 11 a.m. You could spend A LOT more money for a breakfast of this quality on this island.

Fried zucchini (that’s courgettes for all you Brits and Kiwis). Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

If you get there too late for breakfast, Beach Bums continues to serve into the evening. The menu is mostly bar-type food featuring a variety of Maui Cattle Company burgers and an amazing selection of barbecue items. Their barbecue is smoked in-house on a rotisserie smoker using a combination of keawe, wood, and guava leaf. The smoky smell of the burning mesquite wafts through the restaurant and is reminiscent of being on a camping trip.

So are the flies. In their defense, the waitress warned us. Still, they’re persistent. Sit inside closer to the bar if you are not in the mood to be swatting the little buggers off your food.

As for the non-breakfast offerings, the Fried Zucchini ($7.25) appetizer was cut into sticks, rendering it less watery than the usual version. The zucchini itself was crisp and very fresh tasting and served with a side of ranch dressing.

The Prime Rib Melt Sandwich ($11.95) comes on sourdough bread slices a la a grilled cheese sandwich. The same keawe-smoked prime rib was covered with melted Swiss cheese and there was a light layer of horseradish sauce. The meat was a little inconsistent. On one visit, the cuts seemed to be hand-cut and were quite tender. The second time, they were thin and beef jerky-esque. Happily, the excellent au jus accompanying it moistened things up.

The Prime Rib Melt Sandwich. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The accompanying Spicy Mac ‘n’ Cheese wasn’t really all that spicy. Vegetarians beware: there’s bacon in there. The same is true for the Green Bean Casserole. A much better choice, however, it’s reminiscent of Thanksgiving and even has the crisp fried onions on top.

The next time you’re stuck in a traffic jam en route to Lahaina with time to spare, consider pulling off and giving Beach Bums a try. Service is super friendly and efficient, and the view – not to mention the breakfast in particular – is noteworthy.

We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening, reopening, or closing; total menu overhauls; or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line.

Dying to know how a certain dish is made so you can recreate it at home? Send in a request, and we will try to pry the secret out of the chef…and even take a run at cooking it up ourselves. Mahalo. -vanessa(@mauinow.com)

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