Yet another food establishment has opened in Wailuku, minus a proper sign. I know the vague, bureaucratic county signage policies can be daunting, especially when your forte is food, so I can’t hold it against them. In fact, I had a selfish thought to keep this place all to myself—but I can’t keep good food a secret. The best way to find Vineyard Food Company—a modest cream-colored building between Market and Central—is by the rainbow flag hanging off to the side of the double doors.
The small dining room has limited seating but most of their clientele work in Wailuku and order lunch to go. Bottled drinks from the fridge include Honest Teas, Dasani water and a few sodas. Specials vary week to week, and you can sign up for an e-mail list that’ll keep you current. Recent popular items have included the Vineyard cheeseburger and the Italiano and Reuben sandwiches.
The deli menu is well-crafted and focuses on fresh. “My favorite food is deli food,” explains Chef Ralph Giles. “It’s good food fast, but not fast food.” Sandwiches range from $6.75 to $7.25—and can all be ordered as wraps. That’s a selling point for me as I’ve been on a recent wrap kick—I love the lightness, portability and simple texture. Their mahi mahi sandwich is tempura fried with a lemon caper aioli; I got mine rolled in a phenomenal herb wrap. The crisp exterior held up, with the lemony aioli juicing the flavor.
Another standby is the chicken salad, a special concoction of roasted chicken, almonds, raisins and curry served with tomato and cucumber. I’m not a big fan of raisins, but they work in this classic curry combo, which packs a sweet-and-savory crunch. If you’re hankering for a more substantial lunch, try the stick-to-your-ribs Vineyard Street. The titular creation features tangy homemade mango barbecue sauce dripping off thinly sliced warm roast beef on an onion bun. It’s like a gourmet Sloppy Joe.
The deli also offers a full line of classic salads: Ceasar, tuna, garden, chef and Greek. The seared ahi salad is gorgeous, with a generous portion of spicy crust-seared tuna, sliced and layered over Kula greens and topped with Kula onion slices. The list of specials keeps growing, to the point where they’ve had to employ a larger chalkboard. There’s always a pasta or two, along with some soups.
The made-in-house baked goods are also affordable and fantastic. The Aztec brownies meld cinnamon and orange, while the regular brownie is dark and delicious. The mac nut shortbread is truly exceptional, a crisp coating of toasted coconut gracing the top of fine-textured, lightly glazed shortbread. All these desserts are $1.50.
This week VFC will be getting into the Wailuku First Friday spirit, offering sweet beignets and homemade hot chocolate. And on Superbowl Sunday they’ll serve sandwich and pasta salad platters so you can skip the prep and enjoy the game.
Vineyard Food Company may not be easy to find—but once you do find them, you’ll remember where they are.