Although Beach Bum’s Bar & Grill in Ma’alaea opened its doors several months ago, co-owner Dave Mecklenburg says the joint didn’t really hit its stride until recently, when the permits were finally approved for the wood burning rotisserie smoker that now flavors much of the menu. (Before that, says Mecklenburg, “we were kind of like a Chinese restaurant without Chinese food.”) The smoker, the only one of its kind in the state, lends a signature flavor to Beach Bum’s fare that BBQ lovers will fall for at first bite.
Situated waterside in the cluster of cafes and shops near the aquarium—and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner—Beach Bum’s lives up to its name with a relaxed, welcoming vibe. A number of intriguing beverages await those who like to lubricate before chowing down, including the Freight Train, a mixture of vodka, gin, rum, sweet and sour, Sprite and raspberry liqueur that’s named after a famous local surf break. (As the menu notes: “Two of these and you’ll feel like you’ve just been hit by one!”)
We began our meal with some smoked marlin and a horseradish dipping sauce that provided the perfect interplay of flavors. To offset the savory, we ordered the sweet potato fries drizzled in honey, a delightful combination that stayed good to the bottom of the basket.
To get the most out of that shiny new smoker we tried the BBQ lover sampler, which features ribs, pulled pork, beef, ham, turkey and, yep, Spam. Now I must confess that despite the many aspects of local culture I’ve warmed to, I remain a Spam skeptic. Fortunately my wife has no such misgivings and convinced me to try the ubiquitous meat. After eating the stuff fresh out of the Beach Bum’s smoker, I’m one step closer to becoming a convert.
Augmenting the sampler were two bottles of made-on-site BBQ sauce, one sweet and one with tongue-tingling kick, plus an array of sides ranging from a sweet-but-not-too-sweet coleslaw to some hearty baked beans.
Though the aforementioned foodstuff would have been more than enough to leave us satiated, Dave insisted that we try the fish tacos—and I’m glad he did. This is a bold claim, but I make it because it’s true: those are the best fish tacos I’ve had on the island, and that’s saying something. They come grilled or blackened and topped with a mango tartar that complements but doesn’t overpower the fish.
And, yes, we managed to save a smidgen of space for dessert. The brownie sundae and strawberry/mango cheesecake were both enticing, but in the end the pineapple cobbler with vanilla ice cream won out.
Congrats to the folks at Beach Bum’s on their “second grand opening.” That smoker was worth the wait. MTW