Since Beach Bums opened at Ma‘alaea Harbor a few years ago, I’ve been a sucker for their Nalu Bum Sandwich. The thing is a monster: you chose two of their kiawe and guava wood-smoked meats–turkey, ham, pulled pork, brisket and Spam–and then they pile the meat up a couple inches, add a thick slab of onion and a few pickle slices, and finally let you go crazy with their selection of barbecue sauces. I always order it with turkey and ham (for some misguided reason, these seem to be the healthiest options) but it comes stacked so high I have to remove a few slices of meat to bring it down to mouth height.
It’s a magnificent, incredible, wonderful sandwich, worth a trip every time. There are a couple things about Beach Bums, though, that are slightly problematic. First, that it’s located in Ma‘alaea. Sure, it’s easy to find in the central part of the island and offers a great view of the harbor, but that means it’s not really close to any other town on Maui. It’s also not exactly a cheap place.
Addressing these issues is the new Beach Bums Express, which opened last week at the Maui Marketplace’s Kau Kau food court in Kahului. It’s located in the old Maui Ocean Grill spot, which seemed to rotate through a new establishment every few years (whereas the Fernando’s, Ba-Le and L&L Drive-inn spots seem more or less permanent). Anyway, this is strictly a walk-up deal with a stripped down menu. Given that the Express lacks Beach Bum’s bar, live entertainment, sit-down atmosphere and harbor views, it’s nice that the menu includes lower prices.
Given the quick lunch spot feel of the place, it’s logical that the new menu is skewed towards sandwiches: sliders, Prime Rib Melt, Smoked Spam and the “Big Bum” Sandwich, which is a delicious but heart-exploding hot link stuffed with pulled pork. It was also nice to see my beloved Nalu Bum Sandwich is (mostly) included in the new location. The Nalu Sandwich lacks a ham option, but priced at just $8.50, I was more than happy to add pulled pork to the turkey, creating an even better combination.
After slathering on some of their spicy BBQ sauce (and removing some pulled pork and one of the many thick slices of turkey they included), I demolished the sandwich in surprisingly little time. There are fewer side dishes on the menu, too, but for an extra $2.95 you can add cole slaw (which is tasty, very mild and not at all creamy), baked beans, spicy mac & cheese, rice, potato-mac salad, cornbread or green bean casserole to your sandwich.
But it’s not all sandwiches here. They also offer a variety of ribs (ranging from a quarter rack to a full rack), their signature “Drunken Chicken,” fish tacos and a few salads, though I’d feel safer if their “Award Winning” Chili didn’t have quotation marks around the words “Award Winning.”
BEACH BUMS EXPRESS
Kau Kau food court
270 Dairy Rd., Kahului
About Anthony Pignataro
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He started work as MauiTime's Editor in 2003, took a couple years off starting in 2008, then returned to the staff in 2011. He's the author of "Stealing Cars With The Pros," a 2013 collection of his journalism and the Maui novels "Small Island" (2011) and "The Dead Season" (2012)–all of which were published by Event Horizon Press. In 2014, his one-act play "War Stories" won second place in the Maui Fringe Festival.