Cinco de Mayo

Fred’s Mexican Cafe’s food runner Mariano Vasquez (at left) and Restaurant Manager Tessa Caskey get in the Cinco de Mayo mood. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

On Friday, the fifth of May, Maui eateries will be swinging like pinatas from Fred’s Mexican Cafe in South Kihei to little Nachos Grande in Honokowai.

Manana, Cinco de Mayo will be smokin’ hot as a chipotle at restaurants and you may savor the whole enchilada, from authentic Mexican foods to live music to icy cervezas, the latter giving the popular Mexican holiday its silly yet oh-so realistic “Cinco de Drinko” nickname.

Here are a few restaurants from which to booze, er, choose. Just be responsible and if you drink, don’t drive.


Fred’s Mexican Cafe in Kihei below Moose McGillycuddy’s will be jumping like frijoles in a hot skillet from 11 a.m. all the way to closing with beer and margarita deals all day long, says managing partner Penny Jo Putnam.

Fred’s food specials will include the shrimp diablo and fresh chile rellenos. Sip frothy Camarena margaritas and get free chips and salsa with meal purchase after 11 a.m. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

“Popular dishes are fajitas, chingaderas like little Mexican deep-fried burritos and our huge portions of nachos with queso, pico de gallo, jalapenos and black beans. We’ll have giveaways of swag like maracas and hats,” Putnam adds.

Fred’s Mexican Cafe is the first of its kind in Hawaii, but there are two in California, one in Huntington Beach and the other in Old Towne San Diego.

It serves breakfast from 7:30 to 11 a.m. and its sister restaurant Moose’s serves the morning meal all the way until 3 p.m. You may find huevos rancheros and omelets with jalapenos to wake you up.

For Cinco de Mayo, sip $5 margaritas, Dos Equis and Pacific’o beers; and shoot $6 Patron shots.

“Our food specials will be fresh tamales made here in house, chile rellenos and shrimp diablo,” says Fred’s principal partner George Watson.

Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon’s Lindsey Stout, General Manager Renae Robertson, Juliet Clark and Raymond Waggoner get ready for Cinco de Mayo. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

For the diablo, a ginormous serving of shrimp is sauteed in garlic and simmered in chipotle cream sauce. The chile rellenos are a pair of fresh poblano chiles that are stuffed with pepper-jack cheese and topped with roasted tomato sauce. Rice and black beans complete the plates.

“Everything here is housemade,” Putnam explains. “We also give chips and salsa with every meal after 11 a.m. It’s so fun here. For Cinco de Mayo, employees form conga lines and entertain with sombreros and maracas. The shot girls will be here, giving out swag. It’s a good time for people to come out and get their Mexican fix.”

For more details, call Fred’s at 891-8600.

Named after a Great Dane, Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon is the leader of the pack in Paia with its smokehouse menu and sushi bar. And it sizzles with several fun Mexican dishes that keep regular customers coming back for more.

The huevos rancheros is hugely popular at breakfast, served from 7 to 11 a.m. daily. Two farm-fresh eggs are served on refried black beans and crisp corn tortilla and then topped with cheddar-jack cheese. Volcano tomato salsa, mild green chili sauce and sour cream are accompaniments.

Las Pinatas cooks Eudo Martinez (from left) Emma Paz and Nila Escobar break from the kitchen. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

Charley’s also serves a breakfast burrito of a large flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage, refried beans and brown rice and topped with the above sauces and cilantro.

Housemade tortilla chips are crunchy and good when dipped into the spicy Volcano salsa, and you may order sides of avocado, sour cream and more. Housemade chili is a Charley’s signature, enhanced with jalapeno and diced red onion.

From 3 p.m. until closing on Cinco de Mayo, Charley’s will wow with kalua pig carnitas and spicy-ahi tacos.

“We’ll have drink specials on margaritas and Coronas,” says general manager Renae Robertson. For more information, call the Paia landmark at 579-8085.


Las Pinatas owner John Hargrove clowns around with a big bottle of Modelo beer, representing one of many Mexican brands he sells at the Kahului restaurant. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

Nachos Grande Cantina situated in its own free-standing building at Honokowai Marketplace will kick up its heels for Cinco de Mayo. Daily hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., with food service until 9 p.m.

“We’ll celebrate with specials on Mexican beers for $4, house margaritas for $6 and also Patron and Don Julio Blanco tequila shots for $5,” says a bar manager about the drink discounts.

“Miguel Reyes is from Michoacan, a state of Mexico, and he’s really turned the kitchen around,” says owner Margaret Gerner. “It’s what we call Mexican-Mexican cuisine. It’s not Tex Mex. He has his own little touch and people love it.”

“I’ve been a chef now for 22 years,” says Reyes. “Remember Chico’s Cantina? I was working there as a teen. I cooked at Moose’s, Mango Cafe and more.”

For Cinco de Mayo, Reyes will tempt with soft tacos filled with your choice of chicken, pork or shredded or ground beef for just $2; and he’ll also do batches of ground beef nachos for $5.

Fiesta Time in Wailuku is an authentic Mexican food restaurant, owned by the Luna family with Johanna (from left), Angel and Edith, who is from Sinaloa, Mexico. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

Reyes excels at comforting posole, mole dishes, tacos al Pastor and other taco fillings of fish, shrimp or lingua. Tortilla soup will be on the burner all day as one of the Cinco de Mayo specials as well.

Like it hot? Ask for the fantasma, aka ghost pepper salsa. The chef claims it’s the hottest salsa in the world. Be brave and try it. But a little dab will do ya.

The chile-verde “macho chimichanga” is for hungry eaters only. “Nobody else makes it,” says Reyes.

“Everything I do here is from my grandmother’s and my mother’s recipes. It’s the old-school way of cooking. It motivates me. People from California and Texas always tell me, ‘Your food is good and we know good Mexican food.’ “

Cater parties inside the restaurant or order take-out. For more details, call Nacho’s at 662-8565 or 662-0890.

Tucked away above the resorts and the tennis courts, the new Wailea Kitchen & Tap will kick it up a notch with Mexican fare and live music Friday for its first Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Known as Pete & Pete, Peter Hamit and Pete Sebastion will get the crowd going with “dad rock” oldies. They will play from 5 to 8 p.m. and the new happy hour will run from 3 to 6 p.m.

Restaurant Chef and Operations Manager Judah Secunda and Sous Chef David Koenig will showcase what they call their red-neck roots, using Mexican recipes taught to them by Hispanic friends in the oil fields in Texas and elsewhere.

“Dave has a lot of recipes from those days,” says Secunda. “We’ll do beef brisket tacos and tostadas as dinner plates with rice and beans. We’re not a Mexican restaurant, but we also do nachos, buffalo shrimp and wings, fried jalapenos and mahimahi tacos with pineapple pico.”

For more details, call 878-3663.


People frequently want to know where the “real deal” Mexican food is on Maui. If you like to order takeout, there is no better place than Fiesta Time at 1132 N. Lower Main St. in Wailuku.

From Sinaloa, Mexico, where the famous Mazatlan resort is located, owner Edith Luna took over the restaurant from the previous management in October 2013. She was trained by the original chef-owner, Raul Jaimes, and cooked for him at the old Papa’s & Chiles and at another Fiesta Time, before his retirement.

Jaimes still owns the Fiesta Time building in Wailuku with the vibrant Mexican mural. Inside, there is a walk-up counter and a few seats in the small room. A new mural is in the works near a picnic table.

Popular dishes that Luna and her family make all the way from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and until 4 p.m. Saturday are the enchiladas Suizas with chicken in creamy green sauce; enchiladas Mazatlan with shrimp, olives, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes and other veggies; and chile verde pork in green sauce.

“As a Cinco de Mayo special, we will make fresh mahimahi ceviche and we’ll do menudo,” says Chef Edith’s daughter Johana Luna, who runs the front counter. “We do not do these all year and people love them and request them.

“We also do party platters of tacos, chile verde, enchiladas and taquitos for at least 10 people, minimum. A lot of people ask for tins of rice and beans, too. We get really busy this week, so please call now. We are working hard for the people to enjoy good Mexican food.”

For more details, call 249-8463.


5 Palms at the Mauna Kai Resort in Kihei is the perfect spot to sip a beer as well as drink in the views from its perch on the north end of Keawakapu Beach. On Cinco de Mayo for happy hour, come in and check out the specials. 5 Palms happy hour runs twice daily from 3 to 7 p.m. and from 9 to 10 p.m. Select pupu are 50 percent off with a one-drink minimum.

Mexican beer such as Dos Equis on draft and Corona in bottles will be discounted for happy hour,” says Director of Operations Gary Smith. “We’ll also do half-off baked chile shrimp. It’s very good and popular and it is spicy.”

“We’re going to run a special for the day of a Golden Cadillac margarita made with Patron tequila, Grand Marnier and housemade margarita mix for $9. It’s usually $14. It will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for Cinco de Mayo.”

For lunch, dig into fresh fish tacos on corn tortillas with black-bean pineapple salsa and cilantro sour cream. For further details, call 879-2607.


Las Pinatas of Maui will celebrate the start of its 23rd year on Maui with food and drink specials Friday in its location off of Dairy Road in Kahului (near Tin Roof by Sheldon Simeon).

“It’s our 23rd anniversary this month and so our Cinco de Mayo is old enough to drink,” jokes owner John Hargrove, whose parents opened the restaurant on May 1, 1995, when gas was only $1.50 a gallon, and Costco wasn’t even here yet.

“Now, the kids we fed are grown up, and we feed second- and third-generation kids as customers.”

As far as Cinco de Mayo goes, “We serve as a family alternative for those who want to acknowledge Cinco de Mayo but who don’t want to dance on the tabletops. But don’t get me wrong. We still get rocking here. Las Pinatas has just always been about the food more than the beer.”

However, Las Pinatas features happy-hour specials all day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Quesadillas and nachos are $1 off and the Friday fajita will be $4 off. You also get half off your second beer.

“We also serve Bohemia, Modelo Negro and Especial, Corona and Corona Light, Dos XX Amber and Lager, Pacifico and Tecate,” he adds. “It’s got to be the cheapest on island at two for $6.”

The signature dish is, hands down, the kitchen-sink burrito. Other popular items are the quesadillas fungo with mushrooms and onions; and the huevos Pinata’s — a new take on huevos rancheros. Pile your favorite accompaniments at the salsa bar from Haiku habanero sauce to hot arbol sauce to onions, cilantro and jalapeno slices.

A sea of pinatas hangs from the ceiling, from Maui-centric fish to dolphins to a hand giving the shaka decorated with green, red, yellow and black reggae colors.

“We sell pinatas made by ARC of Maui, a nonprofit for our developmentally disabled adults,” says Hargrove. “And we import some from Mexico. You fill them with what you like.”

Pinata’s also has a new online ordering app. Visit Facebook.com/pinatas. For further details, call 877-8707.

Nachos Grande’s Chef Miguel Reyes will offer $2 tacos and other specials. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo