At one time we would have shuddered to think we would recommend a chain restaurant that is designed to be a tourist trap … but we can’t help ourselves. If you like shrimp, don’t mind paying prices that are nudged just a little higher than they should be, and if you won’t hate yourself in the morning for contributing to their shameless commercialism (or being tempted to buy a t-shirt), Bubba Gump’s is worth checking out.
First of all, it’s on one of the best pieces of Front Street real estate: directly on the water with a front row view of the harbor, Lana’i, and sunset. We like to sit on the rail, and we wear clothes we don’t care about too much — because we get sprayed nearly every time. Every shrimp dish we can remember ever eating is on the menu, as well as OK steaks, pretty good fish dishes, and fried chicken that we like.
But we usually order the shrimp sampler: a wired rack with arms holding paper cones filled with several different preparations … this and the strawberry lemonade makes us as happy as Forest Gump when he runs without his leg braces. The overflowing bucket of peel-and-eat shrimp inspires one friend to spend lazy Sunday afternoons here with her sweetie. If you haven’t ever been to this theme restaurant paying homage to the 1994 classic Tom Hanks movie Forrest Gump, the incredible location and the friendly, efficient servers that keep the place running may be worth your stop. Everywhere you look there are details that tie into the movie; our favorite being the license plate-sized signs on each table.
When you sit down, the green sign reads “Run, Forrest, Run!” When you’re ready to order, or if you want to get your server’s attention, flip to the red sign that reads “Stop, Forrest, Stop!” This system gets their attention so quickly that we sometimes muse it ought to be mandatory for all Maui restaurants. The portions are the same whether you are there for lunch or dinner, and we like to eat mid-afternoon to avoid the crowds.
We also like that our friends with kids can take their little ones here and totally relax, knowing theirs will not be the only table emitting spontaneous giggles and shrieks.
Address: 889 Front St., Lahaina, West Maui
Location: Right on the seawall on Front Street
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Hours: Daily 10:30am-12am