MAX & LUCY’S
568 Halekauwila St.; 547-3663. Breakfast, lunch. $
Max & Lucy’s has no parking whatsoever and is open only on weekdays for breakfast and lunch, but the small coffee shop on a Kakaako side street has made it for eight years, thanks to regulars hooked on its comfort food and homemade pastries.
Owner Mike Ingraham is often sold out by 1 p.m., so come early to get his specials — like the barbecued ribs and salmon.
He doesn’t dare switch the specials from their regular days, because “if I switch them, people get angry. Like we only have mashed potatoes on Mondays, served with chicken cutlet, and people come just for that because they love it,” he said.
He and his wife, Amy Thompson- Ingraham, named the restaurant after their children “because everything we do is for Max and Lucy” (now 16 and 14, respectively).
The coffee shop is on Halekauwila Street next to the heavily trafficked federal and circuit court buildings and the New Wave Restaurant, so most of his customers walk in from a seven-block radius, drawn by plate lunch portions that are massive, served with rice and green salad.
Best-sellers are the three kinds of salmon (teriyaki, katsu or pesto), tender barbecued ribs and panko-crusted opakapaka. And there’s always a line for the prime rib special on Thursday.
Regular entrees include a steak plate, meatloaf and chili.
For breakfast, served until 9 a.m., there are bagel and English muffin sandwiches, coffees and smoothies, as well as sweet treats anchored by old-fashioned brownies and lemon bars, cheesecakes.
“I really pride myself on taking care of every customer every time,” Ingraham says. “The second time you come back, I’m taking care of you even more. I may not remember your name, but I’ll remember what kind of egg you got, and what kind of meat you got.”
TIN HUT BBQ
Pearl Highlands Center; 492-8676. Lunch, dinner. $-$$
Since 2012, Frank Diaz has parked his Tin Hut BBQ truck at various military bases, with a smaller truck added in 2016 to meet demand for his dry-rubbed, “mainland-style” barbecue.
Civilians had been nudging him to set up somewhere they don’t need a pass to reach, leading to Diaz’s first brick-and-mortar restaurant, newly opened at Pearl Highlands Center’s food court.
Diaz calls his fare “mainland-style barbecue,” focused on specialties of various regions — Texas-style brisket, with a pepper-based rub; Tennessee/Carolina pulled pork, with a vinegar and mustard base; Southern-style chicken, seasoned with spices, not coated with batter; Kansas City ribs, spicy and sweet, with a tomato-based sauce; and California tri-tip beef, rubbed with coarse pepper, salt and other spices.
The brisket is his top seller, offered in a plate with two sides, in a sandwich, or in options of two- and three-choice platters.
A jumbo grilled cheese sandwich with pulled pork or brisket — secret menu item at the food truck, is on the regular menu at the new restaurant, and includes variations with buffalo chicken or jalapeno.
Tin Hut sides include smoked BBQ beans, green beans with bacon and onions, mashed potatoes with brisket gravy, and mac and cheese.
At the new restaurant, Diaz will soon offer different toppings on the mac and cheese, including one made with garlic toast croutons.
Another option: “You crumble up some spicy Cheetos, throw it in the broiler oven and boom! You get a nice, spicy crust on it!”
Diaz, a Gulf War Army veteran, chose the name “Tin Hut” as a play on the military term “ten-hut!” — “come to attention!” — so all military people would recognize it.
His food truck remains on the road; visit Tin Hut’s Facebook page to find it.
Top selections for quick meals, excerpted from Crave, the Star-Advertiser’s weekly food section. “Grab and Go” is a monthly feature of Crave.