Prior to my first Hawaiian trip, it was pretty much a certainty that the hole-free, Portuguese-inspired, plantation-era donut called the malasada would enter my life soon after landing. They did, on day two, near the southernmost point in the United States. Unfortunately, Panalu’u Bake Shop‘s malasadas were sugar bombs. Thankfully, a Hilo native suggested Tex Drive In, home of “ono kine” [delicious local] food & hot malasadas,” which were right on my drive between Hilo and Waikoloa.
Tex Drive In has been open since 1969, which has clearly given them enough time to get a grip on making malasadas. The original owner’s last name was Texero. The establishment houses a dining room with wood tables, but it was dark and empty. Everybody drives around back of the strip mall to find green walls and a big patio with tiles inlaid with sea turtles. Step inside to order at the counter, and swing by the nearby window to see dough rolled and frying malasadas.
A blackboard menu lists the plain ($0.96) malasadas, plus plenty of $0.45 fillings.
My choices involved one malasada piped with Bavarian creme, another with guava jam, both warm, soft, lightly sugared and pull apart, with a pleasantly yeasty smell wafting from paper bag.
Tex Drive In may not quite have been malasada Nirvana, as I later learned, but it sure felt like it on the covered patio with “sea turtles” under foot.