There are some places on Maui that you won’t find by using Yelp or a Maui dining guide. That’s because the food isn’t fancy and there aren’t any sunset views, bells and whistles or poolside beverages. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.
At Diamond’s Icebar in Kihei, your cold pint of beer is served with a cute smile and not much else, unless you order lunch. During the day, lots of beardy lips take sips, and the I’ve-paid-my-dues crew here might not have a lot to say to smart phones and Four Square check-ins, but I know they hang their hats where the gettin’ is good.
It’s an unpretentious bar with sports on the televisions and a rock and roll playlist over the speakers. Diamonds is a check-your-attitude-at-the-door kind of place, a Kihei version of Cheers where Randi Schnider, the manager and twinkle behind the bar, knows everyone’s name and has your drink ready before you sit down.
It was Tuesday when I stopped by and Randi was pushing fajitas, the special of the day. Then a sizzling platter of peppers and onions with your choice of chicken, steak, shrimp or fish went whizzing out of the kitchen right by me. The air conditioning was thankfully brisk at high noon and the floor-to-ceiling windows gave just the right amount light so the daytime vamps didn’t have to wear sunglasses inside.
I was wavering on choosing either spicy chicken wings or a shrimp surf wrap. Both sounded good with the cold Stella Artois draft I was sipping. Meanwhile, my sister ordered a giant burger and fries that came on an onion bun with cheese and all the fixings.
Diamonds opened about three years ago, and the restaurant has grown up a bit. Chef Jorge Galaviz commands the kitchen and has matured the American menu to include some of his homemade Mexican specialties and hybrid recipes from his old Horhitos. His burritos are of epic proportions stuffed with fillings like chile verde, chicken, grilled fish or veggies and then served with rice and beans. Every Mexican item also comes in a solid vegetarian version. The combo platter is a colossal tour de Mexico for just $11.50 for two items or $14.50 for three.
Their huge menu takes a something-for-everyone kind of approach. The steamers are wonderfully brothy and briny with garlic and lemon and bread. They have great fries, and when you add enchilada sauce and cheese on the pile of fried natural-cut potatoes, you have Texas Fries. The wrap is one of those mixed breed foods–Mexican or American? Hot or cold food? I don’t really care since the fresh shrimp, lettuce and Chipotle mayo are always crisp inside, and the portion is enough for two meals.
The happy hour and nightlife gets this north end of Kihei at Azeka Makai rocking. From 3-5pm, chicken and ground beef tacos are a dollar (also 10-11pm). Happy hour for cocktails is 3-7pm. There are drink specials all day, too, including $3 margaritas and plenty of tequilas to go with all of their Mexican specialties, plus beer, bourbon shots and Jager. In fact, Jager does so well here (it’s the top selling Jager bar in the state) that Schnider will throw a Jager Fest on July 20. It should be a raucous bash DJ’d by Illz, where everyone can win lots of Jager schwag (not just the cheap stuff, mind you) and nobody goes home empty handed and, of course, you can swill lots of that dark herbal aperitif in $6 bombs.
This is where my sister and I go to polish our sucky shuffleboard skills. Other bar sports involve pool sticks and balls, and tournaments are Thursdays at 6:30pm.
But this Friday, July 13, the Vince Esquire Band plays at 10pm, food goes till midnight. PBR is on special for $3 while Camerena Tequila is $5. On Sundays, Gina Martinelli plays at 6 pm and Mondays Gomega at 10.
For private functions and parties Diamonds has a lush upstairs lounge that overlooks the restaurant and stage. No leather jacket and bandana required to enjoy the rock and roll vibe here, but don’t be surprised if you see more than one.
DIAMONDS ICEBAR & GRILL
1279 S. Kihei Rd.