The glorious burger has a new incarnation in Kihei. Stewart’s Burgers recently opened next to Starbuck’s in the Kukui Mall. They kind of slid in under the radar when Stew Pinsky and his wife Trina Teruya Pinsky bought the existing Fat Daddy’s burger restaurant.
They made a few subtle changes like hand-patted Hawaii Ranchers beef patties sourced from Big Island and Garden Island cattle, gourmet French Dijon mustard and bakery-made buns. In December, they officially changed the restaurant’s name to Stewart’s Burgers and added a new burger menu.
“We do not serve, as they say in the biz, frozen patties from freezer, pre-made, directly to grill,” says Stewart. “What sets us apart from the majority of burger joints is that every morning we season our meat with our own special blend of spices, then we individually hand form each patty. No mass production machine here! No fillers at all.”
I put their burgers through a few ingenious tests–mainly dinner–and they held up. They have a great build-your-own menu that includes just about everything you can imagine on your burger, from cleverly named “Jalapeno bottle caps” to grilled pineapple to crumbled bleu cheese.
Your base six-ounce burger starts at $6.75, with toppings costing a dollar. The menu has a big list of specialty burgers, too, which have interesting combinations of toppings, cheeses and meats (the latter includes including veggie, fish, ground turkey, pulled pork and chicken breasts). The Pinskys spent a lot of time fussing over the right bun, and came up with made from local bakery-baked Hawaiian sweet bread that really adds perfect flavor and texture to the burger.
“I wanted clients to get the entire experience, from bun to meat,” says Stewart. “Most restaurants just slap on a generic cold white bread bun. By being unique with our bun, it sets us apart from the others. For those gluten-free customers, we offer a Maui lettuce wrap.”
I had my picky seven-year-old kid-test the Menehune Burger (the meal is $6). Her take: “I tried the burger, ketchup only, and also with Teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki sauce wins.” But in both cases the whole burger disappeared with fries.
For sides, their beer batter onion rings are sinful. Note: they’re even more so when you combine it with their sweet potato fries for an order of “Springs.”
The desserts are great, and include fresh baked cookies made into Roselani Ice Cream sandwiches. One day they were on special for $4, but they’re regularly priced at $4.50. The Roselani shakes are also decadent, and you can get plain old ice cream scoops, too.
Their al fresco dining is pleasant. Both times I visited were at sunset, and there was a great view of the horizon. But beware of pesky birds dive bombing your fries or pecking at your bun. If you aren’t keen to be outdoors, they also have a small indoor dining room that’s quite comfortable.
One night I noticed a party of eight whooping it up with burgers and a bottle of Cabernet (Stewart’s is BYOB). They told me they do it every week and love it there.
Stewart’s Burgers is a mom and pop operation in every sense of the description. Stewart is there every day, making sure the burgers are perfect and the ingredients are fresh. He says they love the business and would open more on Maui if they found the right spots.
“We get our meat from Hawaii, and we have locally made buns,” he says. “All vegetables come from our farmer up in Kula. We take a lot of pride in what we serve and we strive to offer the best product we can daily. So far since we opened we’ve been accepted in a very positive way and we look forward to expanding our menu as we grow year by year.”
Find Stewart’s Burgers at 1819 S. Kihei Road or online at stewartsburgers.com.