This little bohemian Paia café has a handful of indoor tables in its tiny, sociable dining room and another smattering outdoors, where the fairy lit garden plays host to eclectic live music. The staff at Café Des Amis function as chef, barkeep, and server, so depending on how hopping the joint is they can be sweet or slightly harassed. Service has never been quick, and you should avoid eating here if a leisurely pace drives you crazy or if your blood sugar is tanking.
Do come for the reasonably priced crepes, curries, and smoothies made from healthy, fresh ingredients. This menu is not extensive, but it’s not meant to be. We like the quintessential breakfast crepe: ham, cheese, egg, and tomato. This makes a lovely light dinner as well. The lentil tomato crepe is basically an Indian dal wrapped up in a French crepe, and it’s lovely. When we order the brie and apple crepe, we ask them to leave out the avocado, which turns the creamy texture of the brie into mushy ick in our mouths.
All savory crepes come with huge dollop of sour cream and a small green salad (undistinguished, but fresh). For dessert, try the Maui cane sugar crepe with lime juice: crispy, tart, sweet. Or go Euro and dig into a pocket of melted Nutella. Curries are good, and come in a few mild flavors. We ask them to take the heat up a notch or two, and the shrimp is our favorite. Each curry is served in a big bowl — nearly a serving bowl — with rice ladled next to the curry. If you like wraps and don’t want so much rice, the curry wraps come with raita and mango chutney.
The fruit smoothies are very fresh and creamy. The baristas know what they’re doing and they’ve got superb Lavazza Italian espresso to work with. They list a handful of wines and beers, but we like their fantastic lilikoi margaritas. This is a good place to stop when you’re in the mood for something light but satisfying, and a great place to see Paia town neighbors hanging out with each other.
The mismatched chairs (some of which are positively rickety) and the possibility of being showered upon (Paia gets some misty rain most afternoons) just reinforce the gentle non-conformist mystique of eating here. If you’re sick of resort dining, Café Des Amis — with her freshfrom- windsurfing-servers — likely has the cure.
Address: 42 Baldwin Ave., Paia, North Shore
Location: Across from Mana Foods
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks & Treats
Hours: Daily 8:30am-8:30pm