You probably don’t think of Kapalua as a family restaurant destination. Time to think again. The Village Cafe and Sweet Shoppe, which opened in December, is a delight for the whole ‘ohana. Located in the Kapalua Village Center at the top of Office Road, the area is a hub of activity—check-ins for condos, the start of several hiking trails and, at the heart of it all, the cafe.
The first thing you see when you enter is the sweet shoppe counter/barista coffee bar. Fresh baked goods tempt you on pretty platters, Roselani ice cream waits in twelve flavors and espresso drinks made with Maui coffee offer the promise of a pick-me-up.
There is plenty of seating to choose from, starting with a casual lounge with couches and soft chairs within viewing distance of flat-screen TVs. Past that is a gorgeous buffet and then the dining room, featuring dark wood tables with comfortable high-backed woven chairs and high ceilings. If you prefer al fresco, head through the double doors at the back of the room and drink in breathtaking views of Northwest Maui.
The Village Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every night brings a different themed dinner special for $22.75, like North Shore night on Saturday with coconut battered shrimp, and tailgate night on Friday with grilled skirt steaks and mac and cheese, all served with side dishes, soup or salad and ice cream for dessert.
My daughter was impressed by the crayons that were brought to keep her busy; they’re triangle shaped and don’t roll off of the table, a nice detail. The keiki menu is extensive, with eight items, including pasta, pancakes, yogurt and fruit, quesadillas, mac and cheese and burgers. It looks like they got the memo: kids are persnickety eaters. Even better, each item comes with a choice of side ranging from the usual like French fries or fruit to grown-up items like green salad and steamed veggies. Picky as she is, my kid mowed through her dinner with zest—not because she loves broccoli, but to get to the Roselani and cookie.
My daughter and I share an affinity for calamari, so we ordered it as a starter. We loved their version: dusted with a bit of cornmeal, crisp on the outside and served in strips. The jalapeno tarter is perfect for dipping, but I also tried the artichoke dip, which arrives at the table blazing hot with crusty crostini. The starters are a perfect accompaniment to the extensive wine and cocktail list.
For dinner, the boys—photographer Sean Hower and my hubby Tommy—started with the soup du jour, a mahi minestrone, which earned raves. Sean ordered the brisket while Tommy gambled on the special. Thursday is Southern night: fried chicken, mashed potato and creamed peas. While the brisket was lovely, and the sauce on it was so good we wanted some to bring home, the fried chicken got top billing with its crisp breading and tender juicy inside. None of us could stop grabbing at his plate for samples.
I had the veggie lasagna, served with Ceasar salad. Baked in its own serving dish, it comes with a thick crust of cheese and lots of spinach. Seeing as I sampled so much of everyone else’s food I took a lot of it home for leftovers and it made a great meal for later. If it can hold up overnight in the fridge and stand up for lunch the next day, I know it’s good.
The place does have “sweet” in the title, so save room. The red velvet cupcakes—made on-site like the other goodies—are one of their signature items; get one in your mouth and you’ll understand why. The tiramisu is a work of art, beautiful as it is tasty.
Owners Stuart and Debbie Katz are new to the restaurant business, with a background in computers. “I have lots of experience coming from the other side as a customer,” says Debbie. “It’s a different perspective being an owner.” Their comment card is important to them—they say they truly want to shape their business into a place for residents and visitors alike. “Fill those cards out honestly,” Debbie encourages. “I really want to know what’s good, and what we should still be working on.”
Some other highlights on the menu that I look forward to trying include the build-your-own burger, the breakfast quiche with greens and POG vinaigrette and
the cinnamon-swirl French toast.
One of the perks of having such a dynamic space is the ability to host events. Swing by on May 5 at 5:30pm for a social media tweet-up mixer (no social media experience necessary), or the wine tasting reception on May 11 with winemaker Ray Signorello at 6pm. On Mother’s Day, seafood is the special with a shrimp frittata and caramelized sea scallops, along with a traditional turkey dinner.