When I moved to Kihei two months ago, more than one friend said that I’d love living in a place with so many great restaurants. I suppose they’re right, though I haven’t even come close to trying them all, mostly because I’ve been spending much of my time at Pita Paradise.
Tucked away in a corner of the Triangle on South Kihei Road, Pita Paradise is a fantastic little cafe that serves a wide variety of Mediterranean dishes. Well known to local residents, it surprised me when I walked by it one recent weekend as I was hunting for a non-burger lunch.
Much too hot and humid to sit on the outdoor deck, I found a small table inside, not far from a hanging photo of a sidewalk cafe somewhere in Europe, and ordered a Grilled Veggie Pita. Though it came with my choice of cheese—parmesan, mozzarella, feta or cheddar-jack—I opted to keep it to just the grilled zucchini, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and tomatoes that it usually contains and drown the whole thing in their tangy ziziki sauce. I also opted for a side of roasted red potatoes—thick, tender wedges dusted with herbs that disappeared much too quickly from my plate—though you can also get any of the place’s pitas served with a scoop of delicate, authentic rice pilaf.
It’s amazing how many lunch items Pita Paradise offers—pitas stuffed with steak and Kula onions, teriyaki chicken or gyro meat; fresh fish kabobs; salads topped with lamb or chicken. But it wasn’t until I’d been in there two or three times that I noticed they had an entirely separate dinner menu.
Grabbing two friends, we went in one recent Monday night. We began with a Pitza appetizer—a toasted flatbread disk topped with mozzarella, feta, cheddar-jack cheese, basil and tomato.
Heidi, seriously contemplating the Veggie Platter—salad, sauteed vegetables, falafel, roasted potatoes and more toasted pita bread—instead ordered a Caesar Salad, which she relished. But unable to get the platter out of her mind, she went back on a later night and relished it.
Joe opted for a heaping bowl of Chicken Mushroom Pasta. He dug into it, amazed at the chicken’s juiciness. Just as juicy were the lamb kabobs I ordered, which also came with side orders of sauteed vegetables and rice pilaf.
There’s something about Mediterranean cuisine—plates stacked with vegetables instead of meat, though when they do cook meat they use stuff like lamb—and always served with plenty of olive oil, garlic and flatbread. The only thing I never cared for was feta cheese, and especially Greek chefs tend to crumble feta over just about everything.
Like most Mediterranean cuisine places, Pita Paradise stretches its menu to cover other foods—hence the Flat Iron Steak, Kalua Pork Pita, potato skins. I suppose eventually every restaurant in the U.S. will balance out and sell just about everything. Until that happens, Pita Paradise will remain the place to go on Maui for (mostly) Mediterranean food. MTW