You know that feeling you get when you look at a place and think, “this has a lot of potential”. That’s what Javi Barberi, Dave Fincher and Julian Bonfardin thought of the basement waterfall restaurant located at The Wharf on Front Street in Lahaina. The spot, formerly known as Blue Lagoon, Da Kitchen, and Makani Kai, never really had a proper personality. Until, maybe, now. Now known as Down the Hatch, the three partners have developed a casual restaurant with a bar and a shaving ice stand that appears to be buzzing. I even love the cute pun in their name, riffing the location “down” the stairs.
The team chose the location as Makani Kai and operated under that name for a short time while they worked on the rebranding under the name Down the Hatch. They say it allowed them to see some of the things that were not working for the space and to refine what was working. But some ideas came to them, like the decision to order food at the counter, rather than relying on table service.
“We launched the counter service on July 4,” says Barberi. “We had two waiters who called and told us they weren’t coming in. We had to think quickly about how we were going to spend the short-staffed day and the idea for the counter came up. We knew we wanted to do some sort of counter service in the future, but it kind of forced our hand that day.
I was glad they switched to counter service for this place. It really simplifies the experience for you and speeds up the service. Fincher says they’re willing to take risks, and sometimes big risks mean big wins too.
“We have Michael Seacrest in the kitchen, and since we’re all from the South, there’s a lot of southern influence on the menu,” says Fincher. “Seacrest was experimenting with his mother’s sauce recipe. We didn’t have any sausages when we tried this so we used bacon instead. That’s what we do, bacon sauce. This is one of the variations of our chicken and waffles. We are constantly evolving and streamlining our ideas. If it’s just crazy enough, it might work.
Chicken and Waffles ($ 14.50) was one of those recommended dishes here, and you absolutely have to take it seriously. I ordered it because it’s one of those signature dishes, but I already had a bad attitude about it – how could it be better than the fish tacos my girlfriend just ordered? Surprisingly, this was the winning dish for the table and every drop of the bacon sauce was dabbed by their phenomenal tasty herb waffle. It was one of those dishes where you get one bite to eat, but everyone takes two. Fortunately, the portions seem to come from the south as well, which leaves a lot to share.
We also tried the Lava Lava Shrimp appetizer ($ 12.50). They are crispy fried shrimp in a divine spicy aioli served in a metal martini-shaped container. The same shrimp is found in the Louisiana Po’boy sando ($ 14), but this time appears on a huge baguette with lettuce and tomato tartar sauce, accompanied by a generous portion of fries.
Next, we dove into the grilled fish tacos. The menu allows you to choose between Mahi, Lava Lava Shrimp, Sweet Potato, Seared Ahi or Baja Chicken. The tacos are also served with fries and salsa. Tacos range from $ 12.50 to $ 15.75, depending on your order. The Summer Strawberry Spinach Salad ($ 13) was as delicious as it was pretty, with mac nuts, goat cheese, and slices of fresh strawberries decorating it.
Down the Hatch also has a handcrafted cocktail menu and the bar offers a chic drink selection courtesy of bar chef Adam Rio. Rio was on hand to demonstrate some of his standout selections from “Fresh Squeezed Fridays,” where you choose the alcohol and he cooks up a refreshing sip.
“There is now a trend in the food industry with guests and they want to be more involved,” says Barberi. “It started with flights a long time ago, and now you see it more when customers get involved in the dining experience. Choking leaves the room when this happens.
You can order Valley Isle Kombucha on tap, which is found in mocktails and stellar cocktails. The bar, of course, also stays real with a standard Mai Tai and all the basics, and happy hour runs from 3pm to 7pm and 10pm to 2am everyday. It offers $ 3 draft, $ 4 well cocktails, $ 5 selected tropical products and $ 8 boilermakers.
Down the Hatch has an industry night with half-cut dishes on the late night menu and drink specials on Thursday, a Flip party on Saturday – flip a coin, call it right, get half your note. Their kama’aina discount is 20 percent on food.
As I said earlier, there is also a shaving ice stand at Down the Hatch that serves acai bowls. If you are looking for something cold and sweet, they have what you need.
Lahaina’s new hot spot also hosts occasional monthly nightly parties like their Anti Valentine and David Bowie Tribute party. Look for their next event on St. Patty’s Day. Down the Hatch is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily at Lahaina Wharf.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HATCH
658 Front Street, Lahaina
At the bottom of the hatch menu
crispy prawn shrimp lava, spicy lava sauce, green onions 12.5
Crispy coconut shrimp with sweet Thai chili sauce, mango salsa, fresh coconut 12.75
siren fries fries, cheese, bacon, ranch, spicy lava sauce, green onions 7.5
siren fillets chicken fillets, cheese, bacon, ranch, spicy lava sauce S / 12.5 L / 14.5
bacon-n-sprouts fried or grilled Brussels sprouts, bacon, balsamic glaze 7
Crispy calamari strips with mild Thai chili, homemade tartar sauce 9.5
koki beach quesadilla kalua pork or chicken / bacon, cheese, ranch, spicy lava sauce P / 12.5 L / 14.5
chips and salsa homemade chips, fresh salsa 6.25 add coriander lime guacamole 3
sample plate lava shrimp, kalua pork quesadilla, squid 21.5
two tacos / order, crisps and fresh salsa, add 2.5 avocado on the tortillas
mahi mahi (grilled or crisp) 15.75 lava shrimp lava (grilled or crisp) 14 sweet potato 12.5
all served with cabbage, mango salsa, cheese and spicy lava sauce
seared ahi seared cajun ahi, cabbage, wasabi aioli, pickled red onions 16
baja chicken spicy chicken, cabbage, mango salsa, cheese, spicy lava sauce 12.5
large plates & fresh fish
local style plate kalua pig & cabbage lunch, rice, mac salad S / 13 L / 16
Hawaiian kalbi ribs kalbi ribs, rice, macaroni salad S / 17 L / 21
down the hatch fish and fries tempura breaded mahi mahi, fries, tartar sauce S / 16 L / 19
chicken & waffles fried chicken breast, spicy lava sauce, country sauce, maple syrup 14.5
lemon mahi butter in a macadamia nut crust, mango chutney, rice, sautéed vegetables 22
sesame crusted ahi apple cider butter, vanilla rice, bok choy 22
Grilled Cajun catch of the day, vanilla rice, local vegetables 21
served with fries between rolls
Grilled cheese stuffed with lobster & lobster crab, piece of crab, tomato, cabbage 19.5
surf-n-turf burger lava lava shrimp, local beef, creamy butter sauce 16
grilled mahi or ahi fish sandwich, mango salsa or wasabi aioli, lettuce, tomato 16
louisiane po’boy lava shrimp, lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce, baguette 14
spicy lava lava chicken sandwich tenders, melted cheese, spicy lava sauce, ranch 13.75
down the hatch cheeseburger american cheese, produce, spicy lava sauce 13.75
add bacon, pineapple, grilled onions, a fried egg or avocado 1.5 / ea
from the island garden
strawberry summer spinach goat cheese, mac nut, red onions, papaya vinaigrette 13
Seared grilled ahi fish salad, wasabi aioli, spinach, mango chutney, red onions, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar 16
spicy Roman Caesar salad, croutons, parmesan, bacon 11
salad complements: chicken 4 shrimps 5 mahi 6 ahi 8 avocado 2.5
At the bottom of the hatch bar menu
select drafts 3 • mai tai / lava flow / pina colada / daquiri / sangria 5
cocktails well 4 • boilermakers (well drawn & a beer) 8 *
made from juniper berries – that’s the original martini spirit! . . . Gin
collins kombucha gin, Tahitian lime kombucha, lemon juice
gin burst gin, lemonade, pomegranate soda, lime
Rum. . . distilled from sugar cane and a pirate’s favorite libation
Hawaii’s famous mai tai maui rum, triple sec, sour, POG, dark rum float
May Tai Topshelf Volcano with Sailor Jerry & Kraken Spiced Black Rum
classic pina colada maui rum, coconut, pineapple, mixed
strawberry daquiri rum, strawberry purée, lime juice, mixed
rum maui lava flow, coconut, pineapple, strawberry puree, mixed
dark ‘n’ stormy dark rum, ginger beer, pinch of bitter
from the Russian word “little water”. . . Vodka
lilikoi basil martini ocean vodka, thai basil, lilikoi juice
summer sandia cucumber vodka, watermelon, lime
haymaker double vodka, pineapple juice, shaken frothy
Tequila. . . made from blue agave in tequila city, mexico
paloma herradura silver, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit soda, salt
acai margarita cuervo silver, triple sec, lime juice, acai puree
makes it a beer minus the hops then distilled two or three times. . . whiskey
maui sour bourbon bubble, mango lemonade, dragon fruit puree, kiwi
sorry ms. jameson jameson, pickle juice, ginger beer, lime
moscow mules. . . always served in a copper cup
el burro loco herradura silver, ginger liqueur, coriander, lime juice, ginger beer
sorry ms. jameson jameson, pickle juice, ginger beer, lime
classic mule vodka, lemon juice, ginger beer
strengthens bones, rich in silicon, increases calcium and mineral deposits for bone tissue. . . draft beer
kona longboard lager • big wave golden ale • blue moon • seasonal IPA • coors light • pacifico
bottled beer. . . sunlight or lamp light can actually hurt beer so green / brown bottles
corona • heineken • budweiser • bud light • stella • coors light
mbc bikini blonde • mbc coco porter • angry orchard
na drinks / kids cola stuff, d. coca, root beer, sprite, regular iced tea, iced plantation
tea, POG, orange juice, lemonade, mango or lilikoi juice 2.75
Mango, strawberry, pina colada, pineapple or passion fruit smoothies 5
locally made kombucha seasonal flavors, ask your bartender 6