Waking up at dawn on a Saturday morning kind of sucks. It’s one of those things that’s only worth it if you have something really great in store, like a sunrise on Haleakala or an empty surf lineup. Last week, with friends visiting from out-of-town, we planned an early morning fishing trip.
It was fun, but a downside was that we were really, really hungry. By 9am, the mood was bordering on hangry and the sun was high in the sky. I love Lahaina, but being from Upcountry, I don’t have all the spots figured out. I had heard rumors of 808 Grindz Cafe, so we went.
Apparently we weren’t the only people with that idea. Though I was under the impression that it was still sort of a secret, there was already a small crowd of locals and tourists waiting out in front of the glass doors, when we got there. The cafe is tucked into a humble storefront in the strip-mall next to Foodland, and I would have walked right by it but for the patient people lining up for their pancakes and eggs.
We put our name on the list and pored over the menu on the window, which was under the slogan, “Where everything is onolicious.” We spent the 25-minute wait designing a sweet-and-savory breakfast experience to overcome our early morning woes.
With a small, humble interior and friendly staff, the cafe is popular because of its yummy breakfast, good prices and down-to-earth vibe. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch, and the menu has a variety of great brunch selections. Pancakes, eggs and meat options, loco mocos, and benedicts all have their own section on the menu.
The big hit at our table was the stack of pancakes from “Da Griddle,” which were fluffy and yummy, and though the homemade Mac-nilla was a little sugary for me, it was still really good. There are also flavored pancakes, from the typical banana and blueberry to the intriguing Reese’s Chocolate Chip. They even have a gluten-free option.
The Bene-menu also has a variety of savory options. The Salmon Florentine and Crab Cake were well-portioned and tasty. The hollandaise was the real deal, and the variety of options were creative and fun. The most important element of breakfast–the coffee–was also quite decent.
808 Grindz is cute in the same way your auntie is cute when she asks if you like eat some kaukau. Inside, the space is reminiscent of a 21st century update of Kitada’s. Monstera-print tablecloths, fresh flowers and a lucky gold Japanese maneki-neko lucky charm complete the look. Their “$8.08 All Day Menu” features choices like “Da Kanak Attack” and “Mowie Wowie,” and of course, a “Steak Moco,” which are served on plates with a plumeria and lauhala motif. The servers were sweet, and despite the wait, the customers all looked satisfied.
The prices are also very reasonable. $8.08 is a pretty good price point, and they also have a $6.75 “Kama‘aina” menu with a mixed plate of options.
808 also has an entire section of “Moco” options, with lots of options for meat, like spam and short rib. Even their “Ali‘i” menu tops out at $15, but from the description it looks like enough steak, eggs, meat and waffles to feed a soccer team.
Haiku residents will remember 808 Grindz Cafe’s sister restaurant, the now-closed North Shore Cafe in Haiku. After its closing in 2013, many people missed the spot and so they relocated and renamed.
If you’re looking for a super-healthy breakfast spot with ocean views, go somewhere else. If you’re looking for a local-style breakfast at an affordable price with good service, 808 Grindz is your place. The cafe doesn’t take reservations, so expect a line. But also expect a yummy breakfast that won’t break the bank and is guaranteed to fuel you up for a day in the Maui sunshine.
843 Waine‘e St., Lahaina
Photos: Darris Hurst