BBQ cooked in large smoker at Beach Bum’s

The Smoke House Burger at Beach Bum’s is a perfectly grilled 1/2 pound of ground beef, piled high with cheddar and pepper jack cheese and topped with grilled jalapenos, thinly sliced bacon and onion rings. AYA GANZ photo

Beach Bum’s Bar, Barbecue and Grill is Ma’alaea Harbor’s best-loved barbecue restaurant and bar, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Come for the fresh salty air, a look at Maui’s iconic harbor, hang out for the outstanding sunset view and stay for the cold drinks, epic food and backyard home-style vibe.

Situated in the harbor amidst boats that bring people to and from whale watching, snorkeling trips and pleasure cruising, Beach Bum’s is Maui’s number one, delicious port-of-call with a tantalizing menu of classic barbecue and other fresh island delights. They have a menu to make your meat lovin’ heart sing a country tune. I bellied my way to the bar to take in the venue and sat down with the owner, David Mecklenburg, to hear a bit of his story to get a behind-the-scenes look into his world. David, originally from Buffalo, N.Y., moved to Maui over 30 years ago. I asked him what brought him to Maui and he jokingly replied, “Ever spent a winter in Buffalo? You wouldn’t have to ask that question.”

For 13 years, Beach Bum’s has been in full swing; serving aquarium goers and water enthusiasts during the day, keeping the food going until 9 p.m. and adding great, live music every night from 5 to 8. Beach Bum’s caters to six different vessels that take locals and tourists on daily fishing, snorkeling and pleasure cruises.

Barbecue is what’s on the agenda here. They have the largest smoker in the state of Hawaii. The smoker is so big, they can smoke an entire pig! During their famous Wednesday rib night, they can fit over 100 racks of ribs in the smoker at one time and still sell out! Like a little surf with your turf? Tuesday night is just as big of a slam dunk, with their Lobster and Prime Rib Night.

Having a great reputation in the community, Beach Bum’s has a strong local following. The staff is all smiles and most of their employees have been with them for years. The harbor boats keep this amazing place producing great food for a lot of people, and their catering provides for those who never even make it through their doors. There are daily happy hour specials from 3 to 6 p.m. with margaritas and mai tais at $3.50, and a pint of beer starting at $2.50. There are alluring tropical cocktails too! I thought the Bum Runner looked delectable with its light and dark rum, creme de banana, and blackberry brandy, blended with ice and served with orange and pineapple. Their Freight Train also looked like it might do just what it’s named for, with vodka, gin and rum mixed with sweet and sour and Sprite, and garnished with a fresh lime and a cherry.

I was more than ready to experience what this place does best, BBQ! So, I started my meal off with the BBQ Sampler. I wanted to try it all, and this dish gives you a sampling of the whole smoke house. It was a carnivore’s dream come true. A rack of ribs in Beach Bum’s signature rub, a spiced sausage, pulled pork that was spiced to perfection, supple and savory, accompanied by smoked strips of tender brisket, served with cornbread made from scratch and a local favorite: mac salad. It just wouldn’t be Hawaii without it.

This plate offered up Beach Bum’s best and lots of it! Order only if hungry, or take home an epic doggie bag, which is what I did, because I wasn’t done just yet! I had to try a burger. How could I resist? The Smoke House Burger is a perfectly grilled 1/2 pound of ground beef, piled high with not one, but two cheeses — cheddar and pepper jack — and topped with grilled jalapenos, thinly sliced bacon and onion rings. The rings were crunchy and delicious. The burger was just about as good as I’ve ever had. If you crave burgers like I do, this one’s for you. I was told to try one of Beach Bum’s specials, too. I had the pan-seared opakapaka, a white flaky local fish that they serve in an original jalapeno and pineapple beurre blanc, on a bed of white rice and vegetables. The sauce was outstanding. Delicately creamy, with just a hint of sweet and spice. Delicious!

I had a chance to speak briefly with two chefs on the line who were busy as can be, but made a special trip out of the steam and sizzle to greet me. Chef Edward “Eddy” Caralos and chef Tapu Ngiraibab asked me how I liked the food. I was more than happy to report I was full, fat and happy! Edward tells me how much he loves his work, “Here we get to be kooks, not just cooks!” Well, if laughter is the best of all medicine, then laughing while you cook has got to make this food tickle the spirit while it satisfies the tastebuds!

* Beach Bum’s Bar, BBQ and Grill, 300 Maalaea Road, No. 1M, Wailuku. Call 243-2286.

Reserve for Valentine’s Day

Cane & Canoe at Montage Kapalua Bay will serve a Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu from 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 14 for $250 per person. The 7-course dinner created by chef Robert Barrera features Tsar Imperial grade caviar or higher-grade caviar. There is an optional $110 wine pairing per person. For reservations, call 662-6681.

Treat your sweetheart with a romantic dinner at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel’s Tiki Terrace restaurant between 5 and 9 p.m. Feb. 14. The cost is $65 for adults and includes a glass of house wine or champagne and a Valentine’s rose. The cost for children, 6 to 12 years old, is $50 and children 5 and younger eat for free with a paying adult. For reservations, call 667-0124.

Pre-order a Maui Steamer Pot seafood feast for two from Maui Prime Fine Foods. The store is located at 142 Kupuohi St., Lahaina in the Emerald Plaza and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To place an order, call 661-4912.

Cafe O’Lei at the Dunes in Kahului will offer a Valentine’s Day dinner buffet with carved prime rib of beef, poke, ceviche, seafood paella, chocolate-dipped strawberries and more. The cost is $42 per person and $21 for keiki. For reservations, call 877-0073.


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