Too often it gets close to dinner time and I’m too hungry and/or lazy to cook for myself. One of my favorite places to eat while I’m in this semi-crazed state of mind is Fernando’s in Kahului, located in the food court next to Sports Authority. When I walk in the court, my eyes naturally roll left to Fernando’s. It’s just become a habit—one I have no intention of giving up anytime soon.
Every square inch of wall space is painted or otherwise decorated. Bold stripes of red, green, yellow, orange and blue run down the very tall walls. A decorative band of painted peppers cover the perimeter of the kitchen accent the colors. Walking in, there’s no possible doubt in any customer’s mind that he or she is in a Mexican establishment.
Every choice I’ve ever made from the menu has been delicious. While I’ve not tried everything they offer, I do have a few favorites.
I’d describe my normal state when I walk up to the counter as HUNGRY. When in this condition, I naturally opt for the seafood burrito. In fact, this burrito is my favorite above those served at any other establishment. Its large shrimp, deep-fried mahi mahi, avocado, rice and beans have satisfied me every time I’ve ordered it. They don’t advertise it as being gluttonously large, but it is.
The aforementioned chile rellenos are another easy pick. They take healthy sized Ortega chiles, then load them with cheese and batter and fry them to perfection. They even leave the stem on the chile to add a little heat to the dish. This style of preparation always keeps my taste buds interested, though I would like to know how they get the cheese inside…
When I go for lunch I typically choose the fish taco plate. The tacos are always straight to the point: fresh and tasty with no weird frills. The fresh salsa bar offers more than enough seasoning options.
Owners Fernando and Kristy Cardonas have run their colorful little eatery for the last three years. At one point they tried to run two Fernando’s restaurants at the same time, the other being in Kihei. But now they’re focusing on their Kahului location, having sold the other.
Fernando Cardona has been cooking on Maui for the last 10 years, mostly in kitchens on the Westside. Kristy was born and raised on this island and has worked in the restaurant business long enough to work as a manager for her last employer.
That’s a lot of experience, but it doesn’t translate into a cakewalk for them. Every time I’ve stopped in they’re working away, and it really shows. MTW