ballin on a budget

Top 5 Maui Foodie Spots

top five maui foodie spots

We’re stillllll craving some fresh mochi, shave ice, and mixed plates from our Maui vacation. We’re having withdrawals and wish we could Grubhub it to us here in San Francisco. But since we can’t fly over some pulled pork from Maui… we want to share with y’all our five favorite and affordable foodie spots we enjoyed on our vacation.

Da Kitchen

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

There’s a reason Guy Fieri featured Da Kitchen restaurant on Triple D, because we’re still salivating over their huge portions of Hawaiian goodness! From fried spam musubi, kimchee burgers, Molokai Bread, to mixed plates there was something for every palate! Cesar, who was on the hunt for the best mac salad, says he found it here in the potato mac salad he tasted. The service was fast and friendly, and the wait wasn't long at all; we were seated almost immediately. They've reinvented local dishes to create yummy plates like the fried musubi, sriracha poke bowls, kimchee burger, and gigantic Loco Mocos with a twist. The prices range from about $12 to $20 per plate, but don't worry their food is worth every dollar. And like we said earlier the portions are huge!! Even ours hungriest cipotx couldn't finish their meals in one sitting; they actually have a challenge for their big moco meals like the Notorious B.I.G. Moco that win you a free t-shirt and bragging rights if you finish the whole plate unassisted within 30 minutes. Sadly, none were up for the challenge. Though we walked in super hungry, we all took home leftovers to enjoy for second dinner hehehe...

KINAOLE GRILL FOOD TRUCK

maui dinner kinaole grill
kinaole grill truck pulled pork

Okay, so we arrived in Maui in the afternoon and from the moment we landed we were moving and shaking. From picking up car rentals to buying groceries for the week, we wasted no time. Naturally, by the time we were close to our Airbnb we were famished and ready to eat right then and there. As we approached our Airbnb, we passed some food trucks that caught our eye. We quickly checked into our home for the week and after yelping the food trucks, agreed we would get dinner from Kinaole Grill Food Truck. Now when we tell you their food was delicious….. all of us were left dreaming about their plates. Their pulled pork was unlike any we had ever had, so tender and flavorful. Their seared ahi tuna steak was HUGE!!! Being from the Bay, we’re used to overpriced food and skimpy portions, but OMG it was more than enough and super tasty as well. If you’re looking for a quick meal you can pick up for a night in Kinaole is it!

 

Tobi's Shave Ice and Poke 

tobis shave ice

Poke and Shave Ice?? What more could we ask for? Well on a nice hot day after exploring the road to Hana, it was exactly what we needed.  Tobi’s definitely got it right. Their poke is fresh and delicious with more than four kinds of marinade to choose from served with rice and salad.  Their shave ice is heaven. They offer a variety of flavors from traditional ones like strawberry and lime to unique flavors like li hing mui and lychee. A small is actually not that small and being able to choose 3 flavors makes it more than enough. You can also choose to have it with ice cream, li hing powder, mochi, and even boba!! It’s a great place to stop on your way home from Hana.

The Fish Market Maui

fish market maui ahi poke

If you're not actively looking for it you will totally miss it. But this tiny, unassuming spot has some of the yummiest seafood we had in Maui. Ale was obsessed with everything seared ahi tuna, so naturally she ordered the seared ahi tuna melt sandwich and it did not disappoint. Second only to Tobi's, it was the best ahi tuna anything she tasted. They sell fresh poke by the pound that we just had to taste and it was bomb, nicely marinated and so damn good. We also enjoyed their coconut shrimp and pork tacos all of which satisfied our taste buds. Even the sauces were on point, a definite must if you make your way out to Lahaina. It makes a great stop on your way to the Nakalele Blowhole and heart shaped rock.

Home Maid Bakery

maui mochi home maid bakery

So the entire trip Aaliyah had us on a wild goose chase for some taro buns…. Ale couldn't figure out why because they're literally just dinner rolls made with taro….. We yelped all the bakeries close to us, and nothing. Meanwhile, Ale was secretly (not so secretly) craving some butter mochi she had tried in Oahu two years earlier, if you've been you know what we're talking about. We're talking about the kind they make and sell on the side of the road, the kind that's still warm but chewy, and buttery, and yummy...mmmmm. Enter Home Maid Bakery, they sell all of it!! We were able to get our taro buns, butter mochi, chocolate mochi (which basically tastes like a chewy brownie), peanut butter mochi, taro mochi donuts and more! If you're a mochi fanatic you gotta stop here, just make sure you eat it right away because they do go bad quickly.

Zippy's 

upload.jpg

Good ol’ Zippy's, a staple throughout the Hawaiian islands. If we had to compare it, we'd say it comparable to a Ono's Hawaiian BBQ. It leans more towards being a fast food spot, but still tasty if you're on the go and in need of refueling- it's open 24 hours by the way. We stopped there on our last day before heading to the airport; service was fast and there's no wait for a table. It's the perfect place to eat when you're in a rush. Our favorite was the kaarage chicken and the chili with rice.

Honorable mention

Warm spam musubi from the ABC Store a block from our Airbnb after a sunrise stroll on the beach.

So there you have it, five places in Maui that will satisfy your tummy without disrupting your pockets. Of course there are countless delicious foodie spots on the island - we still had more bookmarked, including Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, Three’s Bar and Grill and 808 Grindz Cafe.. But that’ll just have to wait til next time.

How to Plan a Maui Family Vacation

How to Plan a Maui Family Vacation

Surprise! We went to Maui! As we hinted before, we had this family vacation in the works for a couple months now but we kept it a secret from our little Cipota, Aaliyah who is turning 13 today - so that it would be a surprise birthday getaway. We know you must be wondering… how do you plan a surprise Maui vacation? and on a budget? I wanna go! … we got you!

How We Survived the Longest Government Shutdown

How we survived the longest government shutdown

Today Mariajosé returned to work… after 35 days of furlough. Ale has been on unpaid maternity leave (thank you government job) since December, so the government shutdown hit us extra hard. Something we should mention is that aside from being co-workers, bloggers, and friends, we are basically roommates. With us both not working the anxiety kicked in as we wondered how our bills would get paid. Since we’ve been federal employees for many many years now, government shutdowns and furloughs are nothing new - some years we even had scheduled furloughs -but this time it was totally different because our livelihoods were threatened - yup, seriously… when you gotta live 35 days without pay and more than your mouth to feed, you go into survival mode. You may have seen or heard different stories on the news or on your social feeds, but this is our story.

This is how we survived the longest Government Shutdown.

broke bank account balance
  1. Finances - Made a budget and stuck to it

    Our financial situation took the hardest hit during the shutdown. It’s already hard enough to live paycheck-to-paycheck, but when that paycheck is taken from you during the holidays while all your bills still need to be paid, you may want to cry. We had to sit down and figure out how long our last dollars would stretch and set a hard budget to stick to. Suddenly items that we thought we needed became luxuries (goodbye Christmas presents and Starbucks runs), so we prioritized the bills. Being the major foodies that we are, this was definitely the hardest part because  we couldn’t eat out anymore.. Whereas in the past we would create budgets and make false promises of how we would meal prep at home to save money, we really had no choice but to eat at home and so we….

2. Started the Arroz y Frijoles Diet… ¡hay comida en la casa!

furlough frijoles

Hay comida en la casa is a Latinx saying that our parents tell us whenever we want to eat out whether it be a restaurant or McDonald’s, the answer is always the same “hay comida en la casa” which translates to “There’s food in the house”. But our eating habits changed drastically to more than just there’s food at home, specifically to there’s rice and beans at home. And so began our challenge to reinvent the rice and beans diet in as many ways as we could think of. We tried everything from pinto to black beans, plain rice to coconut rice and every combination you can think of together and separately. We stopped asking what there was to eat….but then the glorious day came when we….

3. Signed up for our local food bank.

food bank haul

Now, this was hard to do….it first meant we had to set aside all the extra pride we carry as members of the Latinx community. For the first few weeks, we were not ready to admit that we needed help and that we were hungry for something other than rice and beans. But as time went on and there seemed to be no resolution in sight for the government, we decided it was time to ask for help. Ale made her way down to the local food pantry and came home with items we hadn’t seen in a while….fresh fruit and veggies!! Praise be!! Although, the shutdown is over, we are so grateful there are places like our local pantries that help us when we are in need. If you are in San Francisco or Marin and should you or anyone you know be in need of food please visit San Francisco Marin Food Bank to find the closest pantry in your neighborhood, most only ask for your ID.

4. Hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked!

Sassy+Cipotas+at+Sweeney+Ridge

We suddenly had all this time on our hands and no where to be, so naturally we started hiking regularly. Ale was still trying to complete the 52 Hike Challenge she had started the year before, and we had been eating so much rice we definitely needed to get out and move. The hikes forced us to get out of the house to avoid falling into heavy depression and the fresh air from the outdoors brought about a sense of renewal. We hiked rain or shine, baby no baby, etc. We completed short hikes to get us motivated or sometimes made a day of it and packed food to eat on the trail. Some of the trails we hit up were Sunol Little Yosemite, Sweeney Ridge, Glen Park, San Bruno Mountain, Crystal Springs Sawyer Trail, and Joaquin Miller Park. It definitely became part of our self-care routine and we loved it.

5. Traveled

20190119_153458.jpg

We want to preface this by saying the trips we went on were planned long before the shutdown, and in both cases cancelling would have caused us to lose out on the money we had already spent. And so, with limited funds we set out on what would turn out to be some fun adventures. Mariajosé road tripped with her parents through snowy landscapes up to Bend, Oregon to visit friends before  crossing through scenic byways of the Willamette National Forest along Hwy 20 towards Portland, Oregon to attend her Tia’s wedding. As a family, we went to Tahoe over the MLK weekend and had a blast (look for a blog post coming soon). We didn’t have much but made the most of it and used the time to connect and build as a family.

6. We started a blog!

the blog is here

Yay! After wanting to start our blog for so long, the shutdown finally was the perfect push for us to launch it. Sassy Cipotas had been in the works for two years yet life’s speed bumps, twists and turns kept veering us off our path to completion. Once the new year hit, we sat down and wrote our goals for 2019 and from there we realized it was about damn time to get this party started. We instantly began setting up a game plan from our dinner table brainstorming sessions, tuning in to Instagram Live webinars for inspiration, to randomly listing content ideas in the car, we did it and here you are! Since we’re all still new around here, check out our Who We Are page to learn more about us and our goals. We’d also like to thank our dear friend and Lifestyle Blogger Kimiko Marie for motivating us to follow our passion and share our adventures with the world.

7. Looked for Furlough Freebies

Photo Credit: Kevin Hume

Photo Credit: Kevin Hume

Two weeks deep into the government shutdown we got a message from our colleagues with resources for furloughed federal employees which included a list of places offering freebies or discounted offers. Now most places offering furlough deals were still out of our super tight budget - tighter than Mariajosé’s fajas - or were only available to Washington D.C. based government employees. However, we came across the glorious words “free all-you-can-eat buffet lunch or dinner for furloughed employees and their families until the shutdown ends,” we knew this was a place we had to try. Not only were we super excited to take a break from the arroz y frijoles to enjoy a free dinner at Lefty’s Ballpark Baseball Buffet and Cafe, we were curious to check out the new San Francisco Giants themed restaurant in Fisherman's Wharf. As soon as you walk in you’re greeted by friendly staff inside the Giants Dugout store and as you make your way upstairs to the buffet level, you see a towering replica of the World Series trophy and fun Giants murals and memorabilia on every wall. We flashed our government IDs and were off to fill our plates and hearts in no time. Liyah was in love with the cute chicken and waffles plates, Mariajosé went straight for the clam chowder, Ale went in on the crab legs, seafood salad with crostini, prime rib… you name it! Even Anaís was drooling over the sight and smells of it all - she almost stole Liyah’s mashed potatoes just as she stole the hearts of the employees. Special thanks to Lefty’s owner Nick Bocis for serving our community - we’ll be back soon!

8. Re-envisioned our lives.

business meeting cumaica gif

As many other government employees began to re-think their life choices, we too pondered the thought of life outside the government. In true Marie Kondo fashion, we asked ourselves “does this truly spark joy? or should we thank it and throw it away?”#thankunext! Our lives are more than our jobs and more than this government’s tantrums. A positive outcome of this shutdown was our declaration to stop living in the mundane 9 to 5 world and actually envision the lives we want to be living. This process was all about purging that which no longer serves us - including clearing our social media accounts and phone contacts from toxic people or negative rhetoric. #sorrynotsorry The more we discussed our goals, intentions, and desires, the more excited we grew of all the possibilities that lie ahead. Everyday we’re rediscovering our passions and verbally calling out to the universe what we want to achieve, whether it be listing our dreams while climbing up San Bruno Mountain or by working on this blog, it’s time to not let fears, doubts or government shutdowns dictate our future.