Review of Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe at the Mauna Lani Shops


After a stroll around the shops at Mauna Lani, we decided to pop into the Tommy Bahama’s Cafe for some drinks and appetizers.  Though we were familiar with the Tommy Bahama brand, we had never heard of their restaurants.  Apparently there are several others.   

The Scene
DSC_1237The cafe is located on the second level above a Tommy Bahama retail shop.  The immediate view is of the parking lot, however, the distant views of the Mauna Lani resort grounds are pleasant.  There are tables on the lanai and tables indoors, though the restaurant was open air throughout.   

As you would expect, the restaurant is very tastefully decorated in an island motif. I did find it odd that the decor was Caribbean themed.  When in Hawaii, I prefer a Hawaiian theme. 

Live music was playing, which was pleasant, however it was also more of a Jimmy Buffet type music.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Jimmy Buffet music, but when I’m in Hawaii, I want to soak up all things Hawaiian.  So, I would have preferred music with a local vibe. 

The Service
We arrived at about 7:30pm and were surprised to be seated immediately.  Our server started out being attentive, then he was assigned two nearby tables of six people each.  Then we were kicked to the curb.  We had to wait long periods of time just to order our appetizers, wait for drinks, etc.  As an example of the wait, we probably had to wait 15 minutes or longer just to order our appetizers.  At this point, frustrations mounted and our plans of sharing a slice of Pina Colada cake went out the window.  We are very easy going people, but when we get bad service, we can’t wait to leave.

The Food
We ordered three appetizers to share and they were tremendous.  We ordered Big Island Goat Cheese, coconut shrimp, and Antiqua quesadilla.  (You can see the full dinner menu here.)  All their appetizers are large portions and extremely sharable.

Final Thoughts
DSC_1238Now, I ask myself, "Would I go back?"  Even though the quality of food was quite nice, the prices were high. Appetizers ranged in price from $13.50 to $19.50.  Dinner entree prices start at $31.50 (pasta dish) to $42.50 for the evening special.  For those kind of prices, I’d rather go to the Hualani Grill at the Four Seasons.  I’d rather dine a a place with more of a Hawaiian influence.


  1. Hmm, doesn’t sound like it’s worth it. Especially for the service, and how expensive it is. But then again, what isn’t expensive at Tommy Bahama’s?

  2. Hi Stefan – Yeah, Tommy Bahama’s stuff ain’t cheap! Thanks for your first time comment here at Go Visit Hawaii!

  3. Steve Jacobson says:

    I just love the food at Tommy Bahamas. Great relaxing atmosphere.


  4. We make at least 1 trip per year to the Big Island and always look forward to lunch and shopping at the Tommy Bahama cafe in Mauna Lani. Our most recent visit in October 2010 was a huge disappointment.

    We ordered cocktails and the prix fixe lunch menu which listed 3 courses. When our bill came, we were charged $12 EACH for the key lime pie. We of course complained to the manager, who explained that he has argued with “corporate” over the amibguity of the menu, but the pie is not included in the prix fixe lunch. With some arguing, he deducted the price of one slice of pie.

    1. The key lime pie was average. Good–just okay. In fact, I would be hard pressed to find a piece of pie worth $12. Tom Douglas Coconut Cream comes to mind (which is $35 for a whole pie)–but TB or any other key lime is a distant…well, it’s distant. Not even close to 2nd.

    2. Who in the freaking heck charges $12 for a slice of pie. I mean, nothing special about it. Your average 1/8 slice. No whip. No fresh fruit garnish. Nada. Pie on plate. Sheesh.

    3. When you list PRIX FIXE at the top of your menu and 3 courses underneath, the assumption is clearly that all is included. There was no “and may we suggest for dessert at additional charge…ask your server…”. Despite the argument from the manager, this is blatant lying, deception, and really, really, really poor service.

    4. I’ve been in the restaurant biz a long time and it was pretty clear to me that both the waitress and the manager were out and out LYING and knew full well that–as others have apparently been–we would be upset with a PIE BILL tantamount to 1/3 of our bill…of course some ditz in the corporate office who is a pencil-pusher and knows NOTHING about the hospitality service is likely most to blame. Actually, the waitress was very competent and I hope she’s found a position where her type of skill is more appreciated and customers are treated as a valuable commodity.

    5. We will never return and will not recommend TB’s and will go out of our way–in the same manner that TB went out of their way to deceive us–and leave this restaurant review in as many places as we can find.

    1. Carol – I agree if the menu says 3-course prix fix, it should INCLUDE all 3 courses. I hope Tommy Bahamas will look into that issue.

  5. D Ishimaru says:

    Henry our server ! His personality and knowledge for the menu was extraordinary !
    He is so on it when it came to service and he has a great attitude he is so humble. The meal was great and the fish is the best ever. But Henry is the man he is a big plus for Tommy Bahamas !
    Make you reservations and ask for Henry to be your server !

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