Thank You for Smoking
5 Best BBQs - Texas, Kansas, North Carolina, and all places in-between lay claim to having the “best barbecue.” How does Maui score on smoky, sweet, vinegary, falling-off-the-bone, finger-lickin’ meat? What about the sides that keep it company on the plate, like cool, crunchy coleslaw, potato salad napped in mayonnaise dressing, spicy-sweet mustard and bacon-spiked baked beans? We decided to find out. (This was not a tough assignment!)
Smokehouse BBQ Bar & Grill
Smokehouse has been in Lahaina eighteen years, and according to owner Joe Lacap, the business will soon be expanding. So might its customers. The takeout plate weighs in at around two pounds, with half a chicken, moist and juicy, that has been smoked for four hours, chilled, then slathered in sweet-tangy barbecue sauce, grilled to caramelized perfection and flecked with bits of crunchy skin. Along with that comes a half-rack of baby back ribs and a side of house-made Louisiana-smoked spicy beef sausage. It’s made on the premises, with lots of spice, heat, smoke and a good meaty bite. The baked beans with bacon and molasses have a stick-to your-ribs goodness. Dinner platters offer a choice of steak fries, rice, or coleslaw—creamy, piquant dressing on shredded island cabbage with carrots and pineapple. Chef Joe shared his coleslaw secret: It takes two days to make and one day to eat. A whole baby loaf of golden-brown cornbread with macadamia-nut honey butter accompanies the plate lunch, as do two sweet, homemade barbecue sauces, one spicier, both good. Prices are very reasonable for the portion size—and I ate the leftover beans cold. Yum!
930 Waine‘e St., Lahaina
Monday-Friday noon-9 pm • Saturday & Sunday 3-9 pm • Late-night menu Monday-Saturday 9 pm-1 am
Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse BBQ
Chef/owners Toby and Anna Shadle are serious foodies. Toby hails from Texas, where barbecue is on every street corner. Anna, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, is the mastermind behind the other wonderful foods at Fat Daddy’s, including the deliciously sweet-tart Key lime pie with buttery graham-cracker crust.
The meats are seasoned with house-made dry rub, then smoked over kiawe wood fourteen to sixteen hours for a lean, mean barbecue. Anna cooks the pinto beans from scratch California-Mexican style: al dente with no tomato sauce or sweetness, just pure tasty beans that enhance the smoky flavor of the barbecue. The moist, lightly sweetened, buttery cornbread is some of the best I’ve tasted, and the mac ‘n cheese is creamy and cheddary. If you’re feeling health conscious (Seriously? Why are you eating barbecue?), the watercress salad with radish, bean sprouts and napa cabbage in a ginger-garlic vinaigrette is a refreshing compliment to the lean ribs, juicy pulled pork, beef brisket, and smoked brats sausage. Happy hour runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and features a Fat Daddy Special: Buy one Fat Plate and get the second plate half-price. Great food and warm, friendly service.
1913 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei
(808) 879-8711 • www.fatdaddysmaui.com
Daily 11:30 am-10 pm
Beach Bums BBQ
Skip and Dave have been doing barbecue on Maui — in the largest rotisserie smoker in Hawai‘i — since 2008. Designed and built in Texas, it can cook up to 1,200 pounds of meat at once. Whole hams, turkey breasts, beef briskets, chicken, baby back ribs and spare ribs are smoked long and slow with a mix of kiawe and guava wood. Briskets cook in the sweet smoke for ten to twelve hours, and pork butts for pulled-pork dishes, up to fourteen hours. Skip says, “No fire starter or propane is used to ignite the fire, only twigs and branches, so there is no fuel taste on our meats.” Beach Bums’ dry rubs are a company secret, as are their sauces prepared “Oklahoma-style.” The coleslaw has bits of pineapple and is lightly fruity, fresh and crunchy. The saucy, mildly sweet and tangy beans are sauteed with onions and rib tips and finished in the smoker to perfection. Service is great, and portions are generous. Did I mention the smoked Spam? Or the prime rib loco moco, for an over-the-top breakfast?
Ma‘alaea Harbor Shops, Lower Level
Daily 8 am-9 pm
Maui Marketplace Food Court
270 Dairy Rd., Kahului
Monday-Saturday 10 am-9 pm • Sunday 10 am-7 pm
Hali‘imaile General Store
Flash back twenty-five years: Beverly and Joe Gannon open a tiny gourmet takeout restaurant in sleepy Hāliʻimaile with delicious, fresh, home-style meals at reasonable prices. Flash forward to 2013: Chef Bev receives Maui No Ka ‘Oi’s coveted ‘Aipono Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her barbecued baby back ribs were on the menu then, as they are now. The slow-cooked meat falls off the bone with just enough chew to satisfy your inner carnivore. The citrusy-chili sauce is Chef Bev’s personal creation; she builds it with multiple layers of flavor, so it’s “not too sweet, not too vinegary, with just enough citrus for balance.” The barbecue comes with a cold, refreshing lemon-sesame coleslaw, reflecting the Pacific Rim flavors Chef Bev has done so much to advance. Extra-buttery mashed potatoes complete the dish at dinner; at lunch the ribs come with French fries and coleslaw. The dinner portion is huge. Eat sparingly beforehand.
900 Hali‘imaile Rd., Hali‘imaile
(808) 572-2666 • www.bevgannonrestaurants.com/haliimaile
Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30 am-2:30 pm
Dinner: Daily 5:30-9 pm
Whole Foods Market
Antibiotic- and hormone-free barbecue! No fewer than seven choices of in-house, kiawe-smoked meats are offered daily at the barbecue counter at Whole Foods. You can buy a plate lunch complete with a scoop of hapa (brown and white) rice and coleslaw. Or get a rack or two of baby back ribs and a slab of beef brisket to go. The sauce is bottled (Dean’s Brand) and compliments the smoky flavors of the lightly salted, dry-rubbed, hardwood-smoked meats. My favorite is the pepper-spiced smoked pork belly recommended by John, the counter dude. I’ve resolved to make it my new bacon substitute. And the brisket is juicy and tender, having cooked for fourteen hours in Whole Foods’ custom smoker. Even sauceless, it is sublime. Rack of lamb, chicken, smoked teriyaki meatballs, pulled pork and a daily special round out this day’s choices.
70 E. Ka‘ahumanu Ave., Kahului
(808) 872-3310 • www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/maui
Smokehouse items are available daily by 10 a.m. By 7 p.m., they’re often sold out.