Acevedo’s cafe a family affair; Christmas dining suggestions

Shrimp tacos are served in tortillas with pico de gallo, grilled shrimp, cilantro, onion and shredded cabbage. AYA GANZ photo

Maui is a tropical oasis in the middle of the ocean and it is quite possible the best vibe on the planet when it comes to the holidays. The spirit of Christmas and aloha together make for the perfect combination to rejoice in the season. The holidays are all about family and I’m so thrilled to be growing my extended ohana as I continue on food adventures around our beautiful island.

Acevedo’s cafe is described as “Hawaicano” or Hawaiian-Mexican. This local lunch place is turning up the heat with fresh homestyle love, salsa, sizzle and my favorite . . . homemade hot sauce!

Acevedo’s has stolen my heart. I’m driven by spice. If my eyes are watering while I’m eating, I’m happy. The flavors in this tiny lunch restaurant set my heart on fire! Tucked away on Alamaha Street in Kahului, Acevedo’s is run by the multi- generational Acevedo family, residents of Maui for 20 years. “We cook like we do at home,” says owner Orlando Acevedo, with brother Omar Acevedo, originally from the Central Valley of California. This restaurant is a family dream realized. Virginia Acevedo, mother and matriarch of the Acevedo clan, originally from Oahu, is in the kitchen preparing my lunch. The smell of chilies fills the air and my mouth is beginning to water. With humble beginnings as farmers back in California, the food at Acevedo’s is a representation of how the family grew up working the land. They have a deep connection to fresh ingredients and you can taste it in the food they prepare.

Feeding our hungry community has become a way of life for the Acevedos. They are shipping in a one-of-a-kind food truck all the way from Mexico to add heat to their fire for catering events, which has become a big source of work for them. I’ll be sure to be at that opening and will let readers know as soon as I do! They all agree, “We’re enjoying the ride.” It’s obvious they all love what they do! A sense of deep pride and joy permeates their world with everyone working. This labor of love brings out smiles all around. Virginia offers to entertain my daughter while I eat so that I don’t get hot sauce on her face. I feel like I am at a family gathering.

Speaking of hot sauce, the Acevedo family make their very own. Two kinds as a matter of fact! The first is a mild sauce with roasted chilies. The Chile De Arbol. “This was my grandmother’s centerpiece. It’s what brings everyone together.” This sauce could go with anything. I love it. Orlando’s personal pride and joy, is his habanero hot sauce. His friend from Doughnut Dynamite in Wailuku challenged him to make a hotter sauce. So he did. And what a sauce! It’s hot and leaves the mouth in just the right burn! Lucky for us, Acevedo’s will be bottling their hot sauces for sale in the near future.

For lunch, I had shrimp tacos for starters, served in tortillas with pico de gallo, grilled shrimp, cilantro, onion and shredded cabbage. Next was a stunner of a dish: shrimp ceviche served in a glass skull. It tasted even better then it looked! The shrimp is cured in citrus and served with avocado, fresh tomato and onion. The recipe is a family secret.

Next up was their carne asada burrito with local Maui Cattle beef and other ingredients wrapped in a fresh tortilla with habanero aioli. Good luck fitting this serious monster in your mouth! I recommend a fork and knife for this Mexican must have.

I also had their pork chili verde plate lunch made with tender medallions of pork in a green tomatillo sauce, mild aromatic spice, fresh onion, cilantro, cabbage, tortilla, rice and beans. This is undoubtably one of their star dishes. I wasn’t allowed to leave without having dessert. Virginia insisted that I try Abulita’s chocolate haupia pie with macadamia nut crust. Rich, not too sweet and nice and cold; the perfect cool off for my palette, which was on fire!

The Acevedos made me feel like I was a part of their family with their kitchen at the heart of them all. Thank you again for that unforgettable lunch.

* Acevedo’s, 190 Alamaha St., No. 7A, Kahului. Call 871-7766.

If you’re looking for a great Christmas stocking stuffer or Hanukkah gifts for friends, family or co-workers, I recommend Maui’s own HI Spice hot sauce. This local hot sauce company is owned by Justin Orr and Katie Cook. When the couple first started dating, they were growing chilis in their backyard. They subsequently launched a Kickstarter for their chili sauce back in 2016. Once business was officially underway, the couple enlisted the help of local farmers to grow the peppers. HI Spice would need to keep their bottles filled and mouths on fire. Everything that’s in the bottles is grown here, according to the couple. This Maui-crafted hot sauce is 100 percent HI Spice. They use local fruits such as lilikoi, papaya, mango, pineapple and blackberry, creating a unique product in the hot sauce world by focusing on our island’s homegrown flavor palate. Their irresistible flavors also range in heat to accommodate everyone; from the timid user, to those of us bold enough to blow our heads off.

How to incorporate some of HI Spice’s flavors in your holiday kitchen musings? For a unique “sauce of the season,” Justin recommends The Papaya Jerk Sauce. It tastes like “Christmas in a bottle.” It as a classic Caribbean jerk flavor with allspice, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, papaya and Thai chilies. It’s a natural meat tenderizer, so it’s great on a pork loin, chicken or shrimp. Going to a Christmas party? Justin recommends the Raspberry Ghost Sauce drizzled over baked brie with crackers. Number one gift idea for the absolute hot sauce fanatic is HI Spices newest flavor, their Ho Brah. This “no joke” sauce is the hottest one they have created yet. It has an amazing distinct flavor. The perfect gift for those like me, who love it hot!

HI Spice can be found at various retail locations on Maui and often at the Upcountry Farmers Market on Saturday in Pukalani.

Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas! This holiday season let the sun warm your soul. Feast your eyes on a red sunset. Swim with the sound of whales singing to their babies. Wish on a shooting star. Enjoy food with a loved one and give love, it’s the best gift of all! To all foodies, locals, tourists, restaurants, food trucks, farmers, markets and all who make the Maui food scene so delicious, happy holidays from my heart to yours.


Away from home this holiday or traveling? Maybe you just don’t want to cook! To the rescue the holiday, Maui’s restaurants are preparing very special meals to celebrate the holidays. Here’s a sampling of what’s available:

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel will offer a holiday feast from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday in its Tiki Terrace Restaurant. The hotel’s award-winning brunch will include a wide array of items, including breads and pastries, waffles, crab legs, sushi and Hawaiian specialties.

The cost is $56 for adults and $26 for children 6-12 years old. Children age 5 and under eat for free with a paying adult. Special event parking rates will apply.

To reserve a table, call 667-0124 or visit www.tikiterracerestaurant.com.

The Montage at Kapalua Bay at their restaurant Cane & Canoe will be hosting a enchanting Christmas Eve Dinner on Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m. with a prix fixe dinner for $80 per person. They are also hosting a beautiful Christmas day dinner on Wednesday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $115 for adults and $40 for children 5 through 12 years old. Cane and Canoe celebrates Hawaii’s diverse culture while sharing its holiday-spirited menu. For reservations, call 662-6681 or visit caneandcanoe.com.

The King Kamehameha Golf Club will also be hosting a beautiful Christmas Eve Dinner from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Sit next to the green and celebrate with the restaurant’s grand buffet which will include some holiday and local favorites such as ahi poke, prime rib, roasted herb-rubbed chicken, pepper-crusted salmon and a selection of pies, cookies and cakes.

The cost is $45 per person and $22.50 for children 10 and younger. Reservations are required. Call 243-1025.

Five Palms on the beach at 2960 South Kihei Road in Kihei is offering a traditional Christmas turkey dinner on Wednesday. The first course is a choice of Upcountry baby green salad with goat cheese, roasted beets and a pomegranate vinaigrette or seasonal ginger carrot soup. For the entree, enjoy roasted turkey with sausage and apple stuffing, glazed yams, potato puree, giblet gravy, cranberry and green bean almondine. White chocolate Christmas torte will conclude the meal.

The cost for seatings between 3 to 4 p.m. is $54.95 per adult. The cost for the seating between 4 and 9 p.m. is $59.95 per adult. Children 12 years old and younger may dine for $32.95.

Reservations are required. Call 879-2607.


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