Affordable Grinds In Hanapepe

Grinds Café owner Christine Marois (left) with Jeremy Ing and Jeth Parbo

There’s something for everyone to eat at Grinds Café in Hanapepe, where you can choose from more than 100 menu items including pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes – and breakfast is served all day long.

That’s exactly the type of restaurant Christine and Kirk Marois planned when they opened Grinds 12 years ago, a place where a family or group of friends with diverse eating habits can stroll in together and everyone can find something they like.

The Maroises have taken their concept steps beyond with portions large enough to satisfy the hungriest construction worker or surfer at very reasonable prices, $3.25-$19.50; pizzas from $15 to $30; all wines for $5 per glass; and pastries, cookies and bread baked fresh daily.

In short, Grinds Café is the place to go if you’re hungry and want a delicious, hearty and affordable meal.

At Grinds Café, you can order breakfast any time of day, like this (half) pizza skillet

“Everything here is made from scratch,” Christine says. “We blend our own spices and mix our own sauces. It’s easier for customers with specific dietary concerns. We always know what’s in everything. And we don’t deep-fry anything.”

With such an expansive menu, the Maroises have developed a formula: to be positive that everything is fresh all the time.

“The same ingredients are used in all sections of the menu,” Christine says. “We play a game with our daughters called, ‘What else can we make of these ingredients?’We also order in small enough quantities so we go through things quickly. That way you know the product’s fresh because things move through here so fast.”

The Maroises’ daughters, ages 9 and 16, also were part of the menu creation for Island Taco, the restaurant the couple opened in the past year in Waimea, where customers can have kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, ahi poke or tofu tacos.

When my boyfriend Lincoln and I visited Grinds for dinner, it took us a while to narrow down our selections – everything sounded delicious. We pondered pizza and also wanted to take advantage of Grinds’ breakfast-all-day concept by ordering eggs.

We found both ideas combined on the breakfast menu in the pizza skillet: grilled pepperoni, salami, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and potatoes topped with mozzarella and two eggs any style.

Lincoln liked ordering breakfast food at dinnertime. “It means you can have beer with your eggs with no guilt,” he said.

Grinds Café’s booths and TVs make for a comfortable casual dining experience

Our order arrived split into two large bowls, each portion large enough to fill both of us, and each egg cooked in the style we each wanted. It was hard to imagine eating more after that, but there were so many more dishes on the menu we wanted to sample. Besides, we planned to walk off our extra calories after dinner by strolling Hanapepe’s weekly Friday Art Night.

We decided on the mahi mahi dinner: two generous mahi fillets, lightly breaded, grilled and served with excellent homemade tartar sauce. It was ono!

We wanted to try one more thing. When we spotted the short stack of two pancakes on Grinds’ Mini Menu, we started to laugh and knew that was what we wanted. Mahi and pancakes for dinner. What a fun restaurant.

We asked Christine what she thought of our odd blend of flavors. “I’ve seen so many kinds of combinations I don’t even judge anymore,” she said, laughing.

Grinds Mini Menu came about after many customers requested half-orders because Grinds’ regular meal portions are so large. Beyond pancakes, the Mini Menu includes keiki sizes of burgers (a quarter pound), chili, eggs, pasta and more with prices ranging from $3.75 to $7.50. “Our regulars really enjoy it,” Christine says.

We were far too stuffed to eat dessert, but we did look lovingly at Grinds’humongous cookies including peanut butter, chocolate chip and ginger, as well as brownies, a walnut-raisin cinnamon roll, turnovers and blueberry coffeecake.

Server Brandee Carlos-Kahalekomo

We bought a loaf of freshly baked rye bread to take home, and it was wonderful.

Christine said she and Kirk, who was raised on Oahu, enjoy responding to requests from the community. They plan to add Spam to the menu soon, they are considering starting a Loco Moco Challenge, and have incorporated donated recipes including Grandma Flo’s pineapple carrot cake.

Major holidays have gotten busier each year at Grinds as families find it more convenient to let someone else do the cooking for Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

Sports-minded customers can thank Kirk for the two large televisions.

“He was working here on a Sunday, and he called me at home every few minutes to check scores,” Christine said. The TVs were installed shortly thereafter.

Grinds’ focus on providing hearty, very reasonably priced meals also has won fans from other islands, including sports teams that come in after tournaments, often taking cookies home with them.

But the Maroises know it’s their Kaua’i customers who are the key to their success. “Without our local clientele, we would have never made it 12 years,” Christine said.

Grinds Café is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Friday nights have open mic on the lanai from 6 p.m. to closing. Call 335-6027 or visit grindscafe.net.

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