Spent Thanksgiving on my very first tip to Maui and ate pretty well while doing it. I'll talk about lunches first.
The first place we ate was at Jawz in Kihei. This was lunch between the airport and our hotel. It was recommended in a post here on chowhound that I found before our trip. The fish tacos were ok, but I found them to be so stuffed with lettuce and rice that they were by no means great. The fish got lost in there!
The next day (Thanksgiving day) we went to Fernandos for lunch. They are within 3 blocks of Jawz, around the corner, off of the main drag. I also heard of them here on Chowhound. Frankly they are a world apart from Jawz; much, much better. A fish taco that is mostly fish! Some lettuce and cheese but just enough to accent the meat, not hide it. Wonderful stuff. Made me regret the previous days lunch, and half the price too. Not to mention that they were one of the few places open for lunch on Thanksgiving. There other tacos (carne asada, al pastor) were really good too.
The next day we stopped at the Pukalani Country Club, on the way up to the top of the volcano. This place has an "ONO" in the book Maui Revealed (their best rating), which claims it has tasty local dishes. This country club is a golf course club house. The ice cream machine is so noisy that you can hardly talk when it is running. The food may be a great example of the local style but I didn't find it all that special. Of course that may say more about my tastes than about the food.
Our last lunch stop was A Saigon cafe in Wailuku, also an "ONO" in Maui Revealed. This was a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant with an incredible variety on their menu. Highly recommended.
On to dinner! Our first dinner was at Sarento's on the Beach. This was a very nice restaurant for views and ambiance. The food was very well done. My wife had the tiger prawns that were so big they looked like lobster tails. I had the fish special (unfortunately I forget what it was) and it was terrific. My only complaint is the spaghetti and sirloin meatballs that my daughter ordered. They say this is their second most popular dish. If that is true, it is because there is a lot of timid eaters looking for bland meat and starch meals. I found this to be tasteless and boring. Other than that, a nice experience.
Our second dinner was at Nick's Fish Market. This was Thanksgiving Day and it was ok. First of all, my big complaint is that they did not have their complete normal menu. They did the holiday thing of offering roast Turkey and assuming that that's all anybody would want. I don't know about you, but I don't go to one of the highest acclaimed restaurants on Maui looking for roast turkey, no matter what day of the year it is. I would have much preferred the full regular menu. The restaurant was just fine (though the views are not as nice as Sarento's), but it was not the day to give it a review. One note about service: They did forget both a glass of wine we ordered and a salad for my wife.
Third night was at Mama's Fish House. This is a great place and with a great location. My only complaint is that by now the menu's were looking very similar. Lots of fish in similar ways with a few poultry or meat dishes. Only minor variations. The food was well done but I was tiring of the theme.
One major complaint about Mama's. The Wine list. They have lots of wines under $50. Lots of wines over $200. Nothing in between. For someone who usually orders bottles around $100, there was nothing to choose from. All the restaurants we ate at suffered from this to some extent, but Mama's was the worst by far. To their credit they had a wonderful Albarino for $34 that went great with the seafood. Another complaint about all the restaurants -- the wait staff in general was pretty ignorant about wine.
Our last night was at David Paul's Lahaina Grill. This was hands down the best dinner of the trip. First of all, the menu had the most variety to choose from, for fish, poultry or meat dishes. This was the first thing I noticed, and immediately told me I wouldn't be bored with the same old stuff again. Second there was a tasting menu. The two together spelled heaven. It was a four course tasting menu, but the real star was that each course consisted of sample sizes of three different dishes. So you got to try 3 of his appetizers, 3 different salads, 3 different main courses and 3 different desserts. So the ordering the tasting menu meant trying 12 of the different dishes on the menu. It was truly wonderful; great food prepared in a terrific manner. Highly recommended.
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