Billed as offering the best Mexican food on Maui, the Cilantro Grill is a great pick for an inexpensive and quick meal. Located in downtown Lahaina, parking is free as the restaurant is actually in a shopping center (Free parking is somewhat rare in Lahaina.)
The Cilantro Grill is a quick service restaurant offering neither waiters nor individual menus. A large blackboard serves as the menu and is the first thing your eyes see upon entering the restaurant. The decor is clever and unique; my favorite was the farewell sign to all its diners which read “alohadios” (the Hawaiian aloha and the Spanish adios combined, both meaning goodbye).
We split an order of salsa and chips and I really like how the Cilantro Grill prepared it. As opposed to receiving a basket of chips with just a tiny cup of salsa to share, tortilla chips come in a bag (ours were piping hot and that much better), and then all diners can go to the salsa bar and pick and choose their own individuals salsas. There was the standard mild, medium, and hot, as well as some more flavorful ones.
For my entree I ordered the classic cheese enchiladas (tortillas filled with white cheese and the house enchilada sauce) topped with crema fresca (fresh cream) and served with fiesta rice, your choice of beans, and spicy jicama slaw. They were delicious, although I was on the point of being stuffed.
D ordered the roasted chicken enchiladas, which were stuffed with chipotle citrus rotisserie chicken and topped with the house enchilada sauce. His also came with rice, beans, and the jicama slaw. D especially liked his because he said the rotisserie chicken really set off the taste, as opposed to just the standard cooked chicken that enchiladas are usually stuffed with.
Also on the menu are burritos, seafood burritos (it’s Hawaii, what do you expect?), rotisserie chicken, taco plates, tortas (Mexican style sandwiches), entree salads, and the choice of creating a combo which by choosing three items from either the enchiladas or tacos section.
I read about the Cilantro Grill in my Fodor’s Maui 2011 guidebook and am really glad we ate there. One can never go wrong with Mexican food, even on Hawaii, a place thousands of miles from Mexico. Old fashioned, home cooked fare can exist anywhere in the world and the Cilantro Grill is definitely a testament to that.
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