Two years before Ray Croc began selling the world’s most famous corporate fast food burger, Lovey Yancey created the Fatburger, a gourmet burger counter restaurant franchise that was years before its time. Now that trendy, fancy burgers are all the rage, Fatburger reigns supreme in its Southern California origins–even with plenty of new kids moving in on the gourmet burger gig.
Fast forward to Pukalani in 2012. It’s here that Hawaii got its first Fatburger joint. The recipe for the burgers hasn’t changed since Lovey started the business 60 years ago. Their patties are fresh ground chuck sirloin beef. The toppings are also what they are known for–mustard, relish, pickles, chopped onions, fresh sliced tomato and shredded lettuce are all part of “the works” package. If you want a few extras like bacon, mushroom, egg, cheese, chili or guac, they have that too for a buck or so more.
Don’t worry about the price though. In fact, owner Ernie Abarro says he just dropped the price on the Fatburger meal deal to $10.69. That includes a medium burger, a choice of Fat or Skinny Fries and a drink with free refills (adding cheese costs 69 cents and extras like guacamole and bacon are just 99 cents). Fatburger also has a “Happy Hour” that runs from 4pm to 6pm daily in which you can buy a medium or large burger meal and get a medium burger for free.
“I want people to come here all the time,” says Abarro. “I hired local Upcountry folks that would care about this place. I am working really hard to keep the pricing competitive so folks can get a great burger here. We have an open kitchen so you can see right in and see how it’s made fresh. It’s a simple menu, but it’s high quality ingredients.”
Abarro has changed the scene at the sleepy upcountry Foodland strip mall with his new eatery. The casual counter order burger joint features great jazz and blues on its speakers–tunes that Yancey was into when she first created the brand, and the franchises continue to embrace that. Abarro has taken that concept one step further by offering live music on Friday at dinnertime and on Saturdays at lunchtime in the outdoor dining area. This Friday, for instance, slack key guitarist Cindy Combs will play from 5 to 8pm.
Depending on how hungry you are, patty size counts. Fatburger offers a small 2.5 ounce patty, a third-pound patty (medium) and a half-pound patty (large). If your appetite can handle it, they have the XXL and the XXXL that doubles and triples the half-pound patties on your bun. For real burger enthusiasts, Fatburger has the XXXL Challenge: if you can eat the entire thing inside the restaurant (it’s a pound and a half of beef), then your photo goes on the wall and you go home with a certificate to prove you did it.
These aren’t just large burgers, either. Their great taste has a lot to do with their bread-to-meat-to-vegetable ratio. Their proprietary buns are designed to hold the size of the meat just right. They don’t get soggy, but they don’t overpower the juicy patty with a mouthful of billowy bread.
Fatburger has scrumptious sides too. Their fries come in just one size, but two kinds, Skinny or Fat. The Fat steak fries are off the hook, and have less sodium than skinny versions. You can also add chili and cheese to your fries. Their onion rings are made fresh on site, where they batter and fry them crisp. Hot dogs, chicken fingers, BLT, turk-veggie burgers and sausage and egg sandwiches round out their menu. For kids they have a meal for $5.79 with fries and drinks with burger, chicken strips and hot dog options.
For a sweet finish, Roselani ice cream shakes come in five flavors: banana, cookies and cream, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, all topped with a generous dose of whipped cream. They also have root beer floats and fountain drinks. The Fatburger Pukalani is off to a great start on Maui, so much so the company is opening another location at Pearl Harbor on Oahu.
Pukalani Terrace Shopping Center
55 Pukalani St.