Maya’s Tapas and Wine in Hale‘iwa Offers Spanish Fare, a Rarity on O‘ahu
There are also burgers, brisket and brunch.
Avocado toast ($12)
Photos: David Thompson
When Maya’s Tapas & Wine opened last summer at the North Shore Marketplace in Hale‘iwa, the kitchen focused on Spanish and Mediterranean fare exclusively. But it quickly became clear that dishes like baked burrata, hamachi crudo and grilled Spanish octopus weren’t the comfort foods the North Shore was used to.
From the window of his open kitchen, chef and owner Lamont Brown watched too many potential customers study the menu at the door, then drift away. So he added some hooks: burgers, a brisket sandwich, a tuna melt with fresh ʻahi.
Just like that, the drop-off-at-the-door rate turned around.
“If they come in for the burger then try a few tapas, that’s fine,” Brown says.
chef and owner Lamont Brown
When I stopped by for a weekday lunch, the 52-seat restaurant was deserted, except for Brown in the kitchen and general manager Juliet Wilson behind the bar. Lunch service just recently launched, and business has been hit-or-miss. “Sometimes we’re slammed, sometimes it’s a ghost town,” Wilson says.
Wilson, who previously designed drinks for Four Seasons resorts, created Maya’s craft cocktail menu, which includes the Instant Karma ($10), a fiery and refreshing mix of tequila and coconut rum with guava and muddled jalapeno. Maya’s also offers a wide-ranging wine list and quirky selection of bottled beers.
Breakfast waffles drizzled with a raspberry liqueur syrup ($13).
The Maya’s burger ($12) is a combination of Kunoa beef and Moloka‘i venison, the slight gaminess offset by caramelized onion and bacon-fig jam. Melted goat cheese ties it all together. “Is that the best burger you’ve ever had?” Brown asks proudly. I had slipped into the mild euphoria of burger bliss, so I was in no condition to make an objective judgment. But I believe I mumbled, “probably.”
The Frittata is loaded with goat cheese, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, brussels sprouts and other veggies ($14).
I went back for Sunday brunch, and this time the place was packed. The brunch small plates include an avocado toast ($12), topped with pea shoots and a runny fried egg; waffles ($13), drizzled with a raspberry liqueur syrup; and a frittata ($14), loaded with goat cheese, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, Brussels sprouts and other veggies. It all convinced us to return for more, perhaps for dinner (Maya’s offers a full dinner menu until 11 p.m.—the latest on the North Shore) or happy hour, when tapas go for $5 a piece.
Brown, who got his culinary training in the Coast Guard and at Kapi‘olani Community College, was the executive chef at Luibueno’s, a now defunct Hale‘iwa Mexican restaurant. He thought about opening his own Mexican restaurant but ultimately decided on tapas because they offer a better way to use local ingredients.
“At the end of the day, I love the kitchen and I want to cook,” he says. “And I want to cook for the community.”
Lunch Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Monday through Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m.; happy hours, Monday through Saturday, 5 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 66-250 Kamehameha Highway, (808) 200-2964, mayastapasandwine.com