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Sexy, Smoky Beef and Fowl

How Wilma made food love to Fred Flintstone.

September 23, 2010
James and Molly Jacobson

They’re slow-smoking top-notch Oklahoma-style barbecue at Mā‘alaea Harbor’s Beach Bums Bar & Grill. (The owner’s talent was developed at a prize-winning “Okie” joint before he brought the goods to Maui.)

Smoking meat is a particular art form, one that takes both talent and patience. Beef ribs are rubbed out with a homemade spice mix before slow-cooking in the smoker. A half-day later, they emerge with long flanks charred and tender pink insides. They fall off their bones; they’re done.

That so-seductive chicken is massaged with spices, wrapped in bacon and set astraddle an open can of beer. She relaxes in the smoker’s privacy while the liquid gold tenderizes her flesh and her cloak of bacon keeps the juices in.

Article Photos

Beach Bum's Bar & Grill Food Rating

There is no basting in the smokehouse tradition, so meats and sauces are judged as separate arts. Unfortunately in our judgment, neither of the two house barbecue sauces is a winner. The “spicy” is undistinguished except for a spiky mesquite flavor; the “mild” is sunk with too-sweet guava. (Combined, they make a decent sauce.)

All rubs, sauces and sides are made in house, which we always admire in a tourist area. James, our Southern Boy, finds the comfort of home in the creamy green beans—but he adds a dash of salt.

Molly’s Boston roots want mustard added to the baked beans to dial down the sweet flavor—but she loves their tender texture. Fries are commercial shoestrings (but crispy); the mac-n-cheese average; the salads fresh, but uninspired.

The open-air bar is often packed with rowdy sports fans, but the service is still happy-touristy for the sunburned visitors still dazzled by their Molokini snorkeling. We can put up with the toothy smiles (“Hey, how was your day? Where are you visiting from?) …as long as the drinks still come fast and they check in regularly.

Note: Our ratings are for the barbecue, not the rest of the menu.

Beach Bums Bar & Grill, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, is located at 300 Mā‘alaea Road, in the Mā‘alaea Harbor Shops on the lower level facing the harbor. Call 243-2286.



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