Molokai Burger: At the Center of Everything

June 21, 2014, 5:46 PM HST · Updated June 21, 8:51 PM
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By Vanessa Wolf

This must be the place. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

This must be the place. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The island of Molokai is 260 square miles and – including two coffee shops, the bakery where you get the late night sweet bread and that ice cream/snack food place – boasts 15 glorious eating establishments, give or take.

For those counting, that’s one restaurant per 17 square miles.

As a result, much like their slogan – “at the center of everything” – if you spend more than a day on island, odds are good you’ll wind up at Molokai Burger.

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So what can you expect?

Much as the name implies, there are burgers.

Thick. Meaty. Juicy.

The Cheeseburger comes with a complementary boatload of special sauce. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Cheeseburger comes with a complementary boatload of special sauce. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

We like our burgers like we like our steaks.

What?

Did you think we were going to say men?

Don’t be ridiculous. We like our men tall, rich and able to write prescriptions. After that, not much else really matters.

Oh, lighten up, we’re joking…. Except about the ground chuck.

That’s kind of tough luck though, because (in all honesty) the only box Molokai Burgers can check off is “meaty.”

Still, for where you are and what they’ve got, you can’t go too wrong.

The burgers themselves are billed as a ‘Deluxe 1/3 pound’ and a Cheeseburger will set you back $4.60.

The Molokai Mushroom Burger. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Molokai Mushroom Burger. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

They don’t claim to be slinging any fresh, local product so the fact that this appears to be a previously frozen patty we personally witnessed taking a leisurely trip through one of those conveyer belt toaster oven things shouldn’t cause too much consternation.

All told, the end product is reminiscent of a Big Mac mini me: American cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato and a heaping helping of special sauce, which we are 99% certain is mayo and ketchup mixed together.

That being what it may, it’s a pretty reliable rendition of the fast food classic, minus the fresh, flour-dusted bun, which happily kicks things up another level.

We greatly preferred the Molokai Mushroom Burger ($5.50).

The same soft, delightful bun is topped with just the meat patty, shrooms and Swiss, keeping things nice and simple… which also happens to be how we like our syrup, our math, and people named Simon.

The Onion Rings. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Onion Rings. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

There are other, intriguingly named burgers (the Kapakahi, for instance), but we have no idea what they entail.

You see, service – at least if you’re not from around those parts – is curt yet efficient; but newbie questions (“What’s the Holi Moli Pastrami Burger like?”) are met with short, ambiguous answers. Case in point: “Pastrami.”

Erm…?

Citizen Kane would probably understand, but we didn’t.

So anyway, upgrading to a combo adds about $3.50 to your purchase price and includes soda and thick cut fries.

The Fries ($2.50/$4 a la carte) are crisp and well-prepared.

So are the Onion Rings ($3.75).

The Pulled Pork Sandwich. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Pulled Pork Sandwich. If you look close, you can actually see the fat chunks. Wowzers. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The ration is acceptable, rendering you seven thickly breaded onions dipped in panko breadcrumbs. All told, there’s a lot of dough and not much onion, but the “Fry Sauce” flows freely.

The same stuff that was on the cheeseburger (mayo and ketchup mixed together) isn’t really our bag, but we appreciate the little personal touches nonetheless.

If you prefer to dine on slightly smaller mammals, Molokai Burger also offers a Pulled Pork Sandwich ($6.95).

In a surprisingly Southern fashion, it arrives smothered in super sweet BBQ sauce and topped with coleslaw.

This would be fine, minus all that adornment gets in the way of your newly assigned chore: locating and removing the giant hunks of fat.

We understand pigs are not the leanest of creatures, but this sandwich offers up a flab level that would make Jack Sprat’s wife do a double take.

Who needs the Colonel when you have this Fried Chicken? Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Who needs the Colonel when you have this Fried Chicken? Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Unless you’re intentionally bulking up for a long, cold winter, we recommend you stick with the burgers.

Well, until we learned about the Fried Chicken ($8.50 to $28.95), that is.

Although Molokai Burger is certainly a reasonable choice for its namesake item, we were informed by a local in the know that it’s also home to the best bird on the island.

Thus, we returned to sample the Six Piece Fried Chicken ($10.20) and enjoyed some crisp, juicy, freshly hot oil-bathed poultry and at least an inch on our hips.

It was worth it, though.

So go ahead and give in.

The Milkshake. They could teach you, but they'd have to charge. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Milkshake. They could teach you, but they’d have to charge. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Seeing as Molokai Burger is clearly hell-bent on making you fat, you may as well admit inevitable defeat and indulge at the island’s only drive thru window.

Their Milkshakes ($4.75/$5.75) will certainly contribute to your chin count and bring all the boys to the yard.

We ordered up a chocolate one and received a dairy beverage so thick and decadent we couldn’t suck it through the straw.

That’s not a double-entendre, but we still think Kelis would approve.

Warm it up.

The boys are waiting.

***

Molokai Burger is located at 20 Kamehameha V Highway, Kaunakakai on Molokai. They are open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m . to 9 p.m.

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