Eatery brings change of pace to Maui’s south side dining scene
Thanksgiving is finally upon us. This Thanksgiving will be my first with my baby daughter. I’ve never felt the spirit of Thanksgiving more. This season is all about family — ohana — which includes not just our blood family, but our friends, our in-laws, our neighbors and our extended community.
The origin of the word comes from the word ‘o ha, meaning the root of the taro plant. This life-sustaining first food of the Hawaiian islanders is, and continues to be, a staple to our way of life. The roots of the taro plant represent the connection of the people to the aina and vice versa. To become part of someone’s ohana is a great honor!
This year, in particular, I am deeply feeling the gratitude for what this season is all about: being grateful! As we gather together to give thanks and to share meaningful meals with those we love, I hope we can all take time to reflect on the bounty of this wondrous island. I give thanks to Maui as she continues to provide for us all. To those who live here and those who travel to this beautiful island, E Aloha Kekahi i Kekahi — Love One Another.
Tucked in and almost perfectly hidden from the bustle of South Kihei Road in Dophin Plaza, That’s a Wrap Cafe is a gem of an eatery that brings a change of pace to Maui’s south side food scene. It is an adorable, healthy, wholesome spot for breakfast and lunch. They have something for everybody with a dedication to farm-to-table goodness and keeping it all organic! Chef Gina Dello and Josh McElmury “like to use all local farms on island: Lapa’au Farms, Okoa Farms, Maka Vista Farms and the Upcountry Saturday farmers market” to fill their ever expanding and delightfully seasonal menu.
That’s a Wrap serves “comfort vegan” food, as Gina likes to call it, as well as selections for the carnivore. Some people who don’t eat vegan or a plant-based diet, think vegan food is just salad. Take it from me, this place is so so much more! Healthy eaters can find it all here. For those of you who enjoy meat, Gina and Josh prepare their own with great care for their delectable wraps: roasted turkey, smoked salmon and tuna.
There are fruit bowls and veggie bowls; light fair both rich in color and taste! I had a tantalizing Buddha Bowl with forbidden rice, and a vegan saag paneer made with delicate tofu. I also loved their Mermaid Smoothie Bowl which is built upon papaya, graced with a spiralina/fruit puree and topped with chia seeds. Of course, local seasonal fruit is used, including pineapple, berries, and starfruit. Their acai bowl is purple heaven in a cup; the acai comes from Kauai and has no added sugar. Those of us who love sweet but are staying away from refined sugar can be happily satiated here; there is no refined sugar on the entire menu! Maple syrup and agave are added to sweeten up pastries and cakes.
Enjoy avocado toast made with a twist; they use naan bread. Gluten free is also an option. Those wraps, That’s a Wrap is famous for, are made with coconut and flax seeds.
Gina and Josh who are not only a team, they are married to each other and the vision of beautiful food. They have worked collectively in the restaurant and hospitality industry for more than 30 years.
Veterans of the Maui restaurant scene, That’s a Wrap began five years ago as a food truck.
“We started off as a little food truck because there wasn’t a lot of healthy options on the south shore to eat,” said Gina. Then Maui Brewing Company invited them to park at their location. The combination of great local craft beer and healthy-minded food go hand in hand, so That’s a Wrap’s food truck was a perfect fit. Gina and Josh kept their fulltime corporate restaurant jobs, while they worked tirelessly on the food truck as well. When Maui Brewing Company put in their own kitchen, Gina and Josh took a leap of faith and opened a brick and mortar restaurant. With their name and brand already established with a dedicated following, their clients followed. Two years later they are going strong!
Upgrading from a 10- by-12-foot food truck into a small restaurant is no easy task. Gina told me, “We couldn’t do it without each other. We are a solid team. We don’t have any other employees. Its just us,” and, “because I have a whole kitchen now, I was able to explore so much more! What started out as just a few wraps and a Buddha Bowl has now become all of this!”
For inspiration, they look to their family and their customers. Gina smiles when she says, “My family is alive in this menu,” and “creating something from nothing, your customers will guide you to what they want.” The menu grows and changes seasonally and daily. Gina and Josh are also availbe for private events, parties and catering engagements.
That’s a Wrap Cafe is located at 2395 South Kihei Road, Suite No. 118.
Also on the South Side of Maui, food truck Outrigger Pizza is serving up some of the best pizza I’ve found on island. They’re located at 1819 South Kihei Road, and also have a located at 55 Kiopaa Street in Pukalani, near Longs Drugs.
Kevin Laut and Matt Paul operate and run three amazing pizza food trucks. This ambitious island duo serves thin crust pizzas with local flavors. “We pride ourselves on our dough and fresh ingredients bought every day; you can really taste and feel the difference,” said Kevin. The pizza is cooked in custom-made ovens that run at about 700 degrees, and are fired with local kiawe wood. One of their food trucks is really mobile, and is used primarily for events, weddings, fundraisers and gatherings. Kevin hopes to open another truck in Lahania soon and then another in Kauai.
This pizza is a must; I recommend the white cheddar and mushroom. The garlic aioli crust is crazy good!