Paia town has grown up plenty in the last 20 or so years. What used to be a sleepy North Shore community, mostly considered a Road to Hana pit stop, now attracts visitors from all over. With some of the best boutiques, beaches, galleries, cafes and restaurants on island, Paia has become a must experience day trip destination on any travel itinerary. After hours of shopping, tanning and exploring, there’s not much better than a late afternoon treat. Happy Hour is calling. Let’s examine the best options in Paia, starting with a new kid on the block.
Opened less than 8 months ago, in May 2022, is Lima Cocina + Cantina, Maui’s only Peruvian restaurant! They specialize in many of the South American country’s star dishes and drinks. Some of the freshest ceviche and tiraditos (think sashimi with sauce) on island. Refreshing tropical libations featuring Peru’s national liquor, Pisco. Pollo a la Brasa (whole rotisserie chicken), Saltados (wok stir-frys), and Arroz con Pollo (chicken with fragrant rice).
But, as you probably already guessed, this segment is about their Happy Hour! From Tuesday to Friday, between 2 and 5PM, is one of the best in Paia. There’s $10 food and cocktail specials, $2 off beer and wine by the glass, and 25% of bottles of wine. I always start my order with the Tiradito de Maracuya (pictured directly below). Daily fresh catch, thinly sliced, served with a lilikoi amarillo (passion fruit and chile) sauce, topped with yams, corn and black sesame.
The fish is always uber fresh and melt in your mouth. But that’s nothing new for Maui. What does steal the show here is that delightfully bright sauce on top. Tropical, citrusy, slightly spicy; it walks the fine line between savory and sweet with precision. Perhaps even more note-worthy is the price. $10 for about 12 pieces of the freshest sashimi possible is a steal in 2022!
For drinks you can’t go wrong with anything on the Happy Hour menu. Personally, I think the locally brewed Lokahi Pilsner from Kohola Brewing goes perfect with the tiradito. If you’re more a wine connoisseur, the highly rated Love You Bunches (a carbonic Sangiovese Rose) pairs well with fresh and bright notes of raspberry, watermelon, and fresh cut flowers. The 2 featured $10 cocktails are also a treat. The Chilcano is a Peruvian rift on a classic Moscow Mule, while the slushy-style Pisco Punch is the perfect refreshing cocktail for a hot and sunny afternoon.
I would be selling their bar program short, however, by omitting their signature (and the Peruvian national) drink. The ever delicious Pisco Sour. While not apart of the Happy Hour specials, this libation can’t be overlooked. This well known South American treat is taken to the next level at Lima with the addition of lilikoi. It’s one of the best new cocktails I’ve tried recently, can’t recommend it enough!
Cafe Des Amis
Cafe des Amis is a bit of the old guard in Paia. But their sustained success speaks volume about their continued quality. In fact, I have been enjoying this quaint restaurant since it opened, and still look forward to every time I walk into their charming courtyard. Add in the fact that they offer a later Happy Hour (4-6PM) everyday, and I find myself here enjoying a drink or meal quite often.
I love that the whole bar menu is discounted at 30%, so you don’t have to worry about something being on special or not. Even though it’s not their original half price discount anymore, every drink being $10 or less is still great value. Especially considering they have nearly perfected one of my favorite drinks on island, the lilikoi margarita.
On any given afternoon, you’ll be sure to see this sunshine colored beverage being enjoyed at multiple tables. It’s just that good. A sublime mix of sweet and sour, with just enough agave punch to have you coming back for more. This is one of the island’s signature drinks, in my opinion, and Cafe des Amis does it as well, if not better, than anyone. It’s one of the initial restaurants I bring first-time visiting friends and family for a reason!
Paia Bay Coffee Bar
It’s hard to believe that Paia Bar Coffee (+) Bar has been open for over 10 years already. Tucked into a slightly hidden courtyard behind San Lorenzo Bikinis, Rip Curl, and Honolua Surf Co. is this low-key outdoor oasis. Don’t let their name fool you, they serve much more than espresso and avocado toast. They actually have a well-stocked bar and are open for dinner nightly.
They also have daily specials all week long, including $25 bottles of wine during Wednesday Trivia nights, mimosa specials all day Saturday, and the ever popular Friday Night “Rum Circle.” Our favorite day, however, is undoubtedly Taco Tuesday! With great food and drink specials all day long, this has become a favorite hangout of mine. The star of the show is of course the $3 street tacos with chicken or pork, as well as the $4 vegan and baja fish options.
For drinks, there’s $3 draft Stella Artois and Pacifico. Those an be upgraded to a michelada (with added bloody mary mix) for just $1 more. If you’re looking for something a little stronger, there’s also the properly priced $5 house margarita. That too can be upgraded to a Hapa Hottie (the mango version pictured directly below), a jalapeno and fruit-infused add on for an additional $3 extra. Considering inflation and the prices of eating out in general, paying $12 for 3 tacos and a draft beer should be on the radar for all those budget minded.
Paia continues to be a community on the rise. As one of the most walkable towns on island, its truly an outstanding Maui day trip to enjoy by foot. In fact, all 3 of the locations featured above are less than 5 minutes of one another. If a Happy Hour bar crawl is your near future, all that I ask is that you stay safe and smart. Please have a designated driver, or take a taxi/ride share if you are drinking!
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