Visitors to Hawaii probably expect to encounter Polynesian restaurants and plenty of seafood-focused meals, such places are almost a dime a dozen across the islands. But sometimes you want to go out of the typical Hawaiian fare, sometimes you want those delicious Hawaiian ingredients prepared in a different cooking style. For those times, the thing you might want is the Kula Bistro.
The Kula Bistro is an Italian-styled restaurant that is open all day long. This is a more casual location and certainly one more popular with locals while going a bit under the radar for many Hawaii vacationers. Why it isn’t more popular with locals probably has to do with a mix of its location in a less tourist-oriented part of central Maui and due to it offering more classic Italian-American fare rather than the more Oceanic and Asia cuisine popular with those visiting Hawaii and eager to tap into the local culinary delights. But like we said, sometimes you want another type of taste.
The building that houses Kula Bistro is fairly unassuming. It looks like one of the older plantation-style commercial buildings with tons of open windows bringing in the light. When you step through the front doors, you will be stepping right into the massive, one-room dining room. There’s wooden flooring, unassuming dining table sets, and neutral-toned walls and decor. Along one side, there is a large glass display case full of ready-to-go pastries and desserts. In short, Kula Bistro is an unassuming, casual type of restaurant, but it is also one that you will rarely find lacking for patrons.
People are drawn to Kula Bistro for its affordable prices and hearty, good-tasting meals. Lunch and dinner menus are the same both in prices and content, while the breakfast menu features both traditional items like French Toast Crab Cake Benedict, as well as Hawaiian favorites like Loco Moco. Portions for every meal tend to run big and if you plan on ordering appetizers in addition to main entrees, you should probably plan on likewise bringing extra food home in to-go boxes.
When it comes to the lunch and dinner menu, local favorite menu items include:
This Italian pasta dish comes loaded with large, succulent shrimp that have been sauteed in butter, white wine, tomatoes, and a blend of spices and herb sauce. These shrimp are served over pappardelle pasta.
Not your everyday burger. This Kula Bistro favorite features locally sourced Lope’s Farm beef as the centerpiece. This hunk of beefsteak gets topped with sauteed onions (also from a local Maui farm), mushrooms, and doused in homemade brown gravy. Included sides are steamed rice and potato salad.
Kalua Pork Panini
Again, sounds like a standard American grille item, and yet this Kalua Pork Panini may very well turn out to be the be panini you’ve ever had. Enjoy biting into deliciously seasoned pulled Kalua pork topped with melted Monterey jack cheese and served within a grilled panini and a side Thai chili aioli.
-Kula Bistro is a BYOB establishment. So while you are in the Upcountry, you might consider grabbing a bottle of pineapple or other fruit wine at MauiWine or a six-pack of your favorite from the Maui Brewing Company and bringing it to pair with your brunch, lunch, or dinner at Kula Bistro.
-The parking lot at Kula Bistro truly isn’t big enough for how many people it can seat plus its staff. If you beat the breakfast, lunch, and dinner rushes, you can find a spot in this lot, but otherwise, expect a good chance of having to do street parking on the main throughway and walking over.