At first I was skeptical about taking friends to a restaurant that had the word “garage” in its name. But Manana Garage proved to be one of the best dining experiences I’ve had on Maui.
The artistic decor began at the front door, which used two gas nozzles for handles. The L-shaped bar, constructed from green industrial glass, has seating near the entrance and in the main dining area. Radiant glass chandeliers accent the colorful walls and give a warm and inviting glow to the place. While the interior of the restaurant was appealing with its air-conditioned climate and live Latin music, my friends and I opted for an outdoor spot.
After being seated Nambe, our extremely friendly and unbelievably competent server came by. After ordering drinks we turned to dinner. The food at Manana Garage can best be described as Nuevo-Latin though the eccentric menu incorporates flavors from Hawai’i and the Caribbean. After a long deliberation we decided to share three items: the Adobo BBQ Duck and Sweet Potato Quesadilla, which came with mild green chiles, Jack cheese and a side of chipotle chili salsa ($9.95); the Sesame-Crusted Sashimi served with cucumber jicama escabeche, crispy sweet potato strings and guava chili sauce ($15); and the Macadamia Nut-Crusted Ahi with lilikoi chile sauce, sauteed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes (Market Price).
Our food arrived just as we finished our first round of drinks. After the food was placed and we were reminded what each item was, Nambe asked if we’d like another round. We resisted at first but her enthusiasm for the pineapple Mojitos proved too much to stand.
While the drinks were being mixed, we began deconstructing the individual works of art placed before us. My friends started in on the sashimi and Mac-Nut Ahi, while I enjoyed a slice of the quesadilla.
The duck was perfectly tender and provided a good juxtaposition with the sweet potatoes and chipotle sauce. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more heat in the sauce, but I could easily eat that dish any day of the week.
While I was still marveling at my delicious quesadilla, my friend commented on how well the guava chile sauce complimented his tender and crispy sashimi. He was a little confused by the sweet potato strings and how to go about eating them but the rest of the plate was so pleasing he quickly moved on.
As for the last member of our group, she waited until she finished her plate before offering any feedback. She said the fish was served piping hot and cooked to perfection. The side vegetables were tender but not mushy and the mashed potatoes were creamy with just the right amount of garlic infused into them.
It’s rare to find a place that offers unique atmosphere, tasty food and superb service. While Manana Garage is by no means a cheap eat, it’s definitely a value-packed meal. MTW