Chef Bev Gannon has reversed the typical Wailea equation (great views, but less than great food) to give us home-style comfort food in a setting that — while quirky — still provides a lovely vista. Joe’s is perched on stilts over the tennis courts at the Wailea Tennis Center. There’s a clear view over the courts, golf course and ocean, and you can see great sunsets there. The restaurant itself is open air and features a deep bar made of copper, wide planked floors, and large tables that are somehow still intimate. We love coming with a few good friends to commune over the big plates of steak, fish, pork loin, and meatloaf.
The meatloaf is thickly sliced from a large loaf made with moisture-retaining veggies and tender beef. The sweet-sour-spicy barbecue sauce is key to this dish’s success: savory, comforting flavors. Served with steak fries or mashed potatoes, this is the manliest meal on Maui.
We also like the diver scallops, which come in plump little islands of perfectly seared flesh on silver-dollar-sized discs of tender yellow potatoes. Beautiful deep green beans accompany the shellfish, and the whole dish is sauced with a light-but-rich shallot butter. Also try the ribs, which we love at Hali’imaile General Store as well, and the prime rib with the stunningly simple au jus.
Appetizers and salads are simple and aboveboard and generally very good. As purists, we feel the ‘ahi carpaccio is weighed down by too much sauce: truffle oil, a mass of capers, shaved Parmesan and lemon dill aioli end up taking away from the fish. But the shrimp cocktail is excellent. The secret to this dish is not just super-fresh shrimp, but the spicy cocktail sauce. Bev’s version is freshly spiced with horseradish, but also lemony highlights, and a hint of sweet. We also like the simple wedge salad with homemade blue cheese dressing.
The desserts are generously proportioned and straightforward, just like the rest of the meal. One exception: the “Not Your Usual Crème Brulee.” This de-constructed dessert is a mash-up of blueberries, strawberries, and custard. Since our favorite part of crème brulee is cracking the caramelized shell, the magic is lost for us.
One of this restaurant’s quirks is that the parking lot is set up the steep hill from the restaurant, making for something of a climb after your meal (it’s downhill on the way in). To address this, there’s always someone in a golf cart ready to shuttle you back and forth. It’s good service, which is matched throughout the meal by the rest of the staff.
For stargazers, Joe’s is a frequent haunt of local celebrities. Bev’s husband Joe was in the entertainment business for years (evidenced by the concert light cans hung over the tables and the photographs of rich and famous guests lining the entry). His friends often drop by for a quiet bite to eat. Mauians don’t raise much of a fuss over celebrities, which we see regularly, and that keeps them coming back.
Prices are moderate for Maui and certainly for Wailea, the view is good (although we have to note the thwacking tennis balls can interfere for some people), and the service is just as good as the food.
Address: 131 Wailea Ike Place, Wailea, South Maui
Location: Wailea Tennis Center Meals:
Dinner Hours: Daily 5:30-9:30pm