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Here's where we ate during an EPIC two weeks on Maui.
Kihei Caffe, Kihei: Conveniently located near our Kihei condo. This is where we spent many mornings. Watching the sun rise, sipping coffee, eating outside. Ordered a lot more off of the specials menu this time around compared to previous trips but still had some old favorites (scrambled eggs with fried rice, huevos rancheros). They are now offering a rotating list of French toast grand slam specials: banana bread, mango bread, cinnamon roll. Delicious. We split a mango bread french toast grand slam one day, and a cinnamon roll french toast grand slam a different day. Also had a wonderful blackened ahi benedict one day. Large portions, like 8 oz of tuna. Fresh fish, seared, still pink in the middle. Surfer sandwich on ciabatta with eggs, bacon, avocado, and tomato was great. Also very fresh. This spot remains one of our all time faves.
808 Bistro, Kihei: Nice enough place to go that's a bit hidden, especially when it's raining since they have covered seating. I had spicy jalapeno crab cake benedict which was not very spicy but tasty. My husband had a breakfast sandwich on focaccia which was OK. The sandwich's bread wasn't that great. A nice bit of an ocean view from the table though.
Farmers Market Maui, Kihei (they have one in West Maui in Honokowai as well): Purchased some bagels and lilikoi cream cheese to eat later on the lanai for breakfasts when we were short on time or feeling lazy. Heaven! Especially with some fresh pineapple or apple bananas. Lilikoi butter was pretty good on a croissant as well.
The Gazebo, Napili: We waited about forty minutes on New Year's Day. The line was loooong. Delicious fried rice. Even a half order is huge! Took a lot of it back. Split the combo banana, pineapple, and macadamia nut pancakes. Super fluffy pancakes with almost too much whipped topping... Tough to finish, even at half a portion. (I scraped a lot of it off after a while.) Nice views. And what's hidden behind the Please Wait to be Seated sign is a hoot.
Sea House, Napili: No wait at all. Gorgeous views, nice patio. Friendly service. Loved my Haleakala baked pancake with bananas and pineapple, sprinkled with cinnamon. A hefty plate of food. Especially the delicious crispy edges. Delicious food and lovely atmosphere.
808 Grindz Cafe, Lahaina: Awesome spot! Hidden in a shopping center behind / next to Nagasako's, with no clear signage, but this place was great. Very small, only a handful of tables. Extremely kind service. Super low prices for reasonable portion sizes. My husband had the rainbow french toast special (taro bread, guava bread) with fresh fruit and eggs, and the house mac-nilla sauce, which was amazing. Creamy and buttery and sweet. Fantastic dish and very, very tasty. I had a special of the day: crispy kalua pork patties with scrambled eggs and fried rice. Yum. Would definitely go here again... Great menu of benedicts, loco mocos, and more. So good. Look for photos and parking tips on Yelp. Make sure you park in the one hour parking not the thirty minute parking.
PLATE LUNCH & MORE
Poi by the Pound, Kahului: Loved it. This local spot is tucked away in an odd neighborhood but is totally worth it. We had the kalua pork plate and the squid luau plate one day, as well as the lau lau plate on a different day. So good! Loved the smoky salty kalua pork. The creamy and slightly sweet squid luau which came with delicious fresh poke, poi, and lomi lomi salmon on the side. The fatty and moist lau lau. Plus, their macaroni salad is super good! It's not super heavy on the mayo and they add in fresh oregano, for a unique spin. Bring a sweatshirt, they have the AC on high.
Local Food, Lahaina: Another unassuming favorite. Love their lau lau, kalua pork, and shoyu chicken. Mom and pop shop in a strip mall in Lahaina. And as we were eating a local cab driver pulled up and asked out the window, "It's good, huh?" Yes, yes it is. Order at the window, and seat yourself at a picnic table outside. Inexpensive and flavorful. Healthy portions, cheap eats. Note that their plate lunch comes with a mix of white/brown rice.
Sam Sato's, Wailuku: Popular and crowded especially on a rainy day. We huddled under awnings with the locals for a while, after writing our name down on the legal pad by the window. It poured and poured as we waited. Once inside, we loved the slightly chewy dry mein and sweet-savory BBQ beef sticks. Red bean manju and pineapple turnover for the road, too. Flaky & not too sweet. Mmmmm.
Port Town Chevron, Kahului: I grabbed some karaage (Japanese style fried) chicken bentos and chicken katsu bentos for the road to Hana, popped them into the cooler to keep warm. The bento selection was excellent. Our bentos came with a small side salad of potato, lotus root, bamboo shoots, and shiitake. There was also a shu mai, pickled daikon, pickled ginger, a seaweed salad, and white rice with furikake sprinkled on top. They had a big selection of spam musubi, shu mai, and egg rolls, too.
Huli Huli Chicken & Ribs, Kihei: You can see the smoke from the roadside stand driving down Kihei Road. They're in front of the green Keolahou Church only Wednesdays and Saturdays. Huge "truck" sign parked by the side of the road. Got the combo plate with both chicken and ribs. Liked both.
THE GREAT MAUI POKE OFF OF 2014
Tamura's Fine Wines & Liquors, Kahului: Tried the hamachi, scallop, sunrise, and shoyu pokes. Shoyu remains the weakest link here, unfortunately -- needed more soy and/or salt in my opinion. Hamachi poke was awesome, despite being previously frozen (so glad I finally got to try this one, has been sold out on previous attempts). Sunrise was good -- spicy ahi with drizzles of sweet sauce and sesame seeds on top. Wild scallop poke was the sleeper hit for me. Creamy white sauce with tiny orange fish roe, slightly spicy on the finish. One of the best poke selections on the island that we have seen so far.
Foodland Farms, Lahaina: Amazing selection, so fresh, so delicious! The spicy bomb ahi was great, something a little extra going on that I couldn't easily identify. Loved the California roll poke. Creamy and slightly spicy sauce, some fresh sprouts, imitation crab. So ono. Sea asparagus and furikake pokes held their one as well. Really excellent. Spicy bomb here might my husband's favorite of the entire trip.
Eskimo Candy, Kihei: Their poke bowls remain hard to beat because of the seaweed salad and wasabi aioli on top of the rice. Something about the combination…Yum. Still enjoy their shoyu, spicy, wasabi, and furikake poke. Furikake remains my favorite. Unfortunately our favorite counter person appears to have left, oh, well. My husband's favorite poke bowls on Maui.
South Maui Fish Co, Kihei: Silky smooth tuna, good texture and flavor. Very fresh and served with an awesome pineapple coleslaw on the side. They only make regular and spicy, however. And spicy is basically just regular with spicy sauce drizzled on top--not the same as other places. Great new contender in Kihei.
Fish Market Maui, Honokowai: High quality fish. They make the poke to order to the level of spiciness of your choosing, by adding more chile pepper flakes, etc. Nice ahi chunks. Maybe slightly too many onions. Very good but I don't think they put any limu into ours so it was missing that final something to put it over the top. Wish they had more varieties of poke but the fish is very good.
Poi by the Pound, Kahului: We only had a handful of cubes on the side with a plate lunch, but their poke was really good. Fresh, salty, delicious. Would definitely come back and order a poke bowl. More research needed....
Merriman's, Kapalua: We ordered the poke appetizer and it was basically perfect in terms of seasoning, texture, limu, inamona, onions, etc. Came on a bed of guacamole, which was a little hard to pick up. Pricey, small portions, of course.
Times Supermarket, Honokowai: I bought some pre-packaged poke to go. Shoyu, limu, and kukui nut (inamona), plus two scoops of white rice on the side, to make DIY bowls. All fresh and pretty good, especially for supermarket poke. I enjoyed the kukui nut and limu the most. Too bad they don't have a poke bar and everything is pre-packaged into 1/2 pound containers. Not bad quality for the super market though!
Coconuts Fish Cafe, Kihei: Their new poke offering just didn't seem up to par especially how great everything else on the menu is. I would have liked a firmer texture, and more seasoning. There was a spoon of soy served with it, a bit too DIY for me. Also I'm not a fan of poke bowls with brown rice and huge amounts of cabbage.
SHAVE ICE & SNACKS & DRINKS
Ululani’s, multiple locations: Go to Ululani's or go home. We really don't go elsewhere for shave ice nowadays. Snow cap on top, Roselani macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom, add on you choice of delicious guava, mango, lilikoi, pineapple, etc. syrups... Perfection. Don't forget your loyalty card.
Coconut Glen’s, Road to Hana: Fantastic vegan coconut ice cream On the road to Hana. So cold and creamy and delicious. Tried both original and lilikoi. Nice chunks of real fruit inside! Great!
Aunty Sandy's, Road to Hana: Delicious hot out of the oven banana bread on the road to Hana. Awesome. Even more awesome the next day, warmed up, with lilikoi butter on top. Mmmm. Buy more than one loaf. You'll want more later.
Shaka Pops, Road to Hana/Swap Meet/etc: Available at various stores (incl Foodlands) around Maui, as well as their stand in Hana, and at the Swap Meet. Love Lava Flow as well as Coconut Lime. The pomegranate mojito was special for Christmas and oh so tart. Fresh local fruit, Popsicles made by hand. Great frozen treats.
Maui Cane Juice, Swap Meet: Their cane juice at the swap meet looked tempting but we opted for a deliciously tart lilikoi lemonade instead.
Jeff's Jams and Jellies, Swap Meet: Amazing stuff, free samples at the swap meet but he was sold out of his lilikoi butter already. Gotta get there early! The "Maui style" was really good, too. Lilikoi, pineapple, guava, orange.
Long's, Foodland, and ABC stores also provided a healthy supply of chips (Maui Onion Maui style chips as well as Kitch'n Cook'd Maui chips), macadamia nuts (Maui Onion & Garlic, Kona coffee glazed), Island Princess Mele Macs, and Maui Kwoo Kees.
And we drank a lot of Waialua Soda Works sodas. Lilikoi, pineapple, etc.
Donut Dynamite, Kihei: Great lilikoi malasadas. The lady who makes these makes them huge... The size of two small fists, with lilikoi from her garden. Amazing. She doesn't make them every day. We pre ordered from her and you can pick up at Memphis Belle in Kihei or from the Saturday Swap Meet in Kahului. They are also available at the Grand Wailea. In terms of their cart… they have left Kahului Harbor for the new Maui Brewing Co. Tasting Room. Check their Facebook Page for more details. BTW, the bacon maple brioche ain't no slouch either. Super sweet lady.
Sugar Beach Bake Shop, Kihei: I stopped in briefly to see what they had, and there were coconut cream malasadas in the case! We passed at the time for shave ice, but thought this info might come in handy....
Merriman's, Kapalua: See below.
Memphis Belle, Kihei: A pleasant place to get some pour over coffee and hang out... Also tried their flat white. Good but it didn't change my life like the sign promised. :) We also picked up some Donut Dynamite donuts here.
Lava Java, Kihei: Can't stop, won't stop ordering the frozen Kona mochas. It's on the menu as the "granita."
Java Jazz, Honokowai: Their mocha breve was rich and warm, hitting the spot after a chilly whale watch trip. I almost got away without putting whipped cream on but the barista insisted. Darn.
Stewz Burgers, Kihei: Under new management. Used to be called something else. We ordered two Makena burgers. Local beef with teriyaki, grilled pineapple, and bacon. Fresh Maui baked buns. I added cheddar, lettuce, onion and tomato to mine. And ordered "frings": half fries, half onion rings. Delicious. Friendly service, a bit pricey for burgers, but we thought it was worth it. Outdoor seating only. Kitchen can be a bit slow.
Coconuts Fish Cafe, Kihei: Fish tacos continue to be huge, messy, overloaded, but delicious. Crispy tortilla. Mounds of tropical coleslaw and salsa. Mm. The trick is to eat half the filling with a knife and fork before attempting to pick it up. Coconut shrimp with tropical dipping sauce to start. Yum. See above above for my thoughts on their poke.
Maui Thai Bistro, Kihei: Very busy over the holidays. We had summer rolls to start. Nothing amazing but fresh and tasty. Their Penang curry with short ribs is still great. Well balanced, spicy, not overly sweet like so many Americanized Thai spots. My spicy shrimp with eggplant was beautiful and tasty. A little bit on the sweeter side but still good.
Hank's Haute Dogs, Kaanapali: Unfortunately the Maui location doesn't have any of the unusual dog options that the Oahu one does. Only the Hawaiian, Chili, Andouille, Fat Boy, No Dog, and Hank Jr. dogs on the menu. We both did the Hawaiian: Portguese sausage with mango mustard and pineapple relish. $12.95 for a hot dog and fries with garlic aioli or curry ketchup. Ah, resort pricing! The dog was tasty but probably not worth going out of your way for. It's part of the Mai Tai bar...kind of. You can order at the separate Hank's window to go, or you can sit down at the Mai Tai bar and get their food/drink menu plus the Hank's menu. Which is totally unclear. Also if you order to go at the window, you're not allowed to sit down at the Mai Tai bar tables unless the server for some reason looks the other way? We and several other tourists all made the same mistake. Whatever. Still waiting for a Puka Dog/Hula Dog on Maui. (Wanted to try Sumo Dogs but they were off for the holidays.)
NICER DINNERS OUT
Monkeypod Kitchen, Wailea: Crowded and crazy over the holidays. Reservations are a must! Love their happy hour. $9 pizzas, $9.50 cocktails, half off non-seafood appetizers. Garlic truffle oil fries were addicting. The pizzas aren't amazing but tasty enough. I really liked my Maui Cattle Co burger with Dijon, sautéed onion, fontina, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. On another night we went for the fish dishes. Kiawe grilled ahi with jalapeno mashed potatoes, sesame soy, and Maui onion sauce. Keahole lobster, fish, and coconut curry with peanuts, bean sprouts, squash, mushrooms, fresh basil, brown rice. Chock full of fresh flavors and vegetables, though I would not have minded more lobster. No room for pie! Excellent Monkeypod Mai tai. Tried a Rollin' Down the Street cocktail as well: Aviation gin, pineapple, orgeat, lemon, very tasty. Everything is usually fresh and tasty here, and we will definitely be back.
Morimoto, Wailea: Also very busy around the holidays, the outside seating was packed and had a bit of a wait so we didn’t get to sit by the pool. We started with the oysters foie gras, which were amazing. Lightly steamed oysters on the half shell with hot seared hot gras, sweet teriyaki and luscious uni. Husband got his favorite, yellowtail on rice cooked in a hot stone bowl. I broke my own rule, and got some mediocre maki rolls. The cooked dishes are typically way better here. (Stopped at the Lehua Lounge at the Andaz for drinks beforehand; basically perfect sky at sunset. Drinks were good, too, but not quite as good as previous visits, a bit too much ice in our drinks. Could have just been an off night.)
Ka'ana Kitchen, Wailea: Farm to table small plates at the Andaz. Cool open kitchen layout and the outdoor tables overlook the bar and infinity pool somewhat. Their format is small plates, kinda…ish, laid into multiple columns by ingredient source. And yet their menu clearly has entree sized dishes listed with a flower. So you don't have to share. (Yes, it's a bit confusing.) The ahi tataki with heirloom tomatoes, burrata, and lilikoi was excellent. Fresh and flavorful. The pork belly with slow cooked egg, asparagus, and bagna cauda was good but not quite as good. Thick fatty slabs of pork--like bacon. Both of these dishes were more appetizer size. The abalone risotto with runny egg, miso, and shiitake salt was excellent in terms of texture and taste, but a large enough portion that it became a bit monotonous after a while. The jalapeño buttermilk fried chicken with cornbread was very good. The cornbread also had been fried to be crispy, which was a great touch. Served with a simple but good side salad of fresh greens. Both of these dishes were more like entree size. We also liked the Lehua Punch cocktail that was on the menu. Overall a good meal, though a bit pricey, and the menu can be awkward to navigate.
Nick's Fishmarket, Wailea: Started with the crispy, hot kalua pork pot stickers served with sweet Maui pineapple curry dipping sauce. Very nice. Husband's spiny lobster with Mac and cheese and broccolini was awesome. Perfectly cooked lobster. Addictive, savory , creamy Mac and cheese. He polished off every bite. I also greatly enjoyed my Opah with creamy Parmesan-potato gnocchi, fragrant tomato-shellfish broth, and saffron aioli on top. Moist flaky fish, well executed. Nothing on the desserts was calling out to us, so we skipped. We had a wonderful table here, facing the pool, and a front row seat to the torch lighting ceremony at sunset. Food was very good (but not amazing), as was service. We enjoyed ourselves but aren’t necessarily rushing back.
Migrant Maui, Wailea: Service and timing needs much improvement though the food was good. We had a wobbly table that they swapped out for us...for another wobbly table. Started with the pork rinds and spicy dipping sauce, pretty good. "KFC” Korean Fried Chicken wings were tasty, sticky, but a bit too sweet though the peanut sauce helps with that. Needed a wet nap or something afterwards (none was provided). I liked the ahi avo alright but we had so much great poke on this trip that it didn't stand out at all in retrospect. We wanted the shishito peppers but the chef had deemed them too spicy that night, so I ordered the corn instead. "Street style" corn on the cob was good but the cut pieces were presented with the short side facing up so sprinkling bits of bacon on top just didn't work. The bacon all fell off when you picked it up. Weird. All three dishes came at once, all on huge plates, so there was no room on the table at all. A pretty bad Mai Tai also came out seconds after being ordered (as in the bartender probably wasn't spending a lot of time crafting drinks). The check also took forever to come. Eh.
Mala Ocean Tavern, Lahaina: Pleasant but cramped place, and it gets a bit loud. Was lucky to get a reservation last minute, had originally wanted Honu, but only Mala had space. A lot smaller than I would have thought. The half order of ahi bruschetta was very good. Well seasoned with balsamic vinegar, contrasting nicely with the edamame purée, micro basil, fresh tomatoes, grainy flaxseed bread, and seared tuna. Simple but done right. Our ahi burger and mahi sandwiches were in a similar vein. Nothing complicated but fresh and well executed. Lightly toasted bun, freshly made tartar sauce, moist fish, big heap of crispy and hot garlic fries.
Merriman's, Kapalua: As on previous trips, the best upscale meal we had. Outstanding ahi poke to start served on a bed of avocado puree, and Molokai sweet potato chips on the side. Perfectly dressed and seasoned tuna. A New Year's Eve special of glazed Long Island Duck with a crispy green onion and potato “cake” for the husband. Togarashi spiced mani mahi for me, served on a bed of bok choy and slightly spicy, chewy chow fun, with a little bit of papaya salsa and soy-citrus ponzu for brightness. Their old school 1944 Mai Tai was excellent (made in the style of Trader Vic so not a ton of fruit juice - very different from your typical Hawaiian Mai Tai), as was the Pineapple Right Side Up (rum, pineapple, mac nut syrup) which tasted exactly like its namesake dessert. And I went with Cuckoo for Coconut, with gin, lime and lemongrass tea, and cream of coconut, basically summer in a glass. Hot white chocolate malasadas with caramel lilikoi dipping sauce for dessert, served in a small brown paper bag, and some coffee for the road. Amazing sunset, great service, tons of people dressed up for NYE, with live music and a dance floor and festive balloons.