Having just returned from Maui, I wish to thank the fellow chowhounds for some very chowish recommendations. With the reoccurring motif in our expeditions being ECONOMY, and given that we intended to partially ghetto it out with an electric cooker during our 5-night stay, we were left with a couple KEY opportunities to dine out. The manchild, knowledgeable of the short cuts to wumans heart, handed over the culinary reins.
Straight from the airport: Café O Lei, Lahaina for a late lunch. Ok, not diving into the Hawaiianess just yet, I ordered a standard chicken caesar salad, something light after the flight. Avoiding eye contact, the boyfriend ordered a hamburger with fries. Weve had conversations or maybe, me pontificating, What else if not In-N-Out?? I was wrong. The hamburger was juicy, tasty, meaty the Real restaurant burger. The fries ohhh perfectly fried to a crispiness without dryness; good even when cooled. I was impressed.
Foodland Supermarket: ahi ogo poki, kimchee crab poki, Kona Brewing Co. Longboard Lager, POG, and licorice-mango seeds. The pokis were excellent, lager tasty, and POG for the bf (tasted like Kerns to me). The licorice-mango seeds are red, preserved fragments of the seed shell and smushy mango, and almost scary to consider eating. Lightly licoricy, sweet and tangy, no semblance of the original creature. Yummy and interesting. Personal plus: stained everything red fingers, teeth, tongue haha, good fun. Oh and not to be missed, dried cuttlefish snacks wonderful to chew on after a dip in the ocean.
Breakfast at the Sunrise Café, Lahaina. Weve been here in the past, and enjoyed their simple breakfasts on the patio. I had the blue-plate with Portuguese sausage, and a glass of freshly whipped pineapple juice. The bfs croissant sandwich was everything on my dish, stacked on a croissant. Not necessarily a place for subtle titillations of the palate, but rather a comfy joint for straightforward, sturdy fare and catching Hawaiian breeze.
The highly acclaimed Mauis Fish Tacos at the Old Lahaina Square. Basing my point of reference from San Diegos Ro/Juan/Ali/and-then-some-bertos excellent Mexican food joints, Mauis Fish Tacos builds a sturdy and fresh taco. Had the fish and carne asada tacos. Delightful (almost drinkable) pineapple-tomatillo salsa.
Many thanks for the recommendation to Grandmas Coffee House in Keokea. Very good coffee. Good lemon cake and good (albeit SWEEET) lava cake. Great local scene. Sat down, read, watched friendly locals come in, almost adopted a dog. Beautiful view on the patio.
Tedeschi Winery, Ulupalakua (breadfruit that ripens on the back) lovely grounds with an interesting history. The Maui Splash, made from pineapples, was refreshing and fun, more of a dessert wine. Wasnt so crazy about the reds, but in the midst of such charm, who cares?
Dinner at Roys. Szechuan ribs appetizer something of a half-bean spicy sauce and miso marinade and finger-licking tasty! Meatloaf entrée garlicky, meaty and fine-grained. The winner was the seared ahi, which came as a super-sized steak. Very tender, very sexy eating. Chocolate soufflé á la mode dessert well executed, lava eviscerating after hacking out a small chunk from the side. About a 90 on the sweetness scale, I would have appreciated more tart purée. Flawless service. Roys prices are very reasonable for the quality; the amount is however, approaches steep for the poor-rumps (dats me), with most entrées closer to $30.
Road to Hana luscious passion fruit smoothie from the stand at the Twin Falls turnout.
Hana Bay small fast-food stand, Tutus. Not hungry but still dreaming of the Café O Lei fries, I rashly ordered a side. Bf raised an eyebrow, for inevitably he cleans up what I dont like (and hence dont finish). Hounds, we were in luck these fries were gorgeous, just like the Others.
Another happy plus - the fruit stands along the way and in Hana for local fresh-picked fruits.
Dont miss the grill stand at Makena State Park (Big Beach) parking lot had a wonderfully grilled spearfish and a flavorful macadamia nut sausage. Fabulous cornbread, buttery with a nice smokiness (the grill-lady placed it on the grill as soon as I ordered).
After snorkeling in the exceptional Ahihi Kinau Reserve Bay, we settled down for some BIG, steaming plate dinners from Da Kitchen. The pork lau lau wholly seeped up the essences of the ti and taro leaves, and the kalua pork was outstanding. Also, the loco moco is a real food-comforting experience a huge stack of a hamburger patty, two eggs and mushroom sauce. Home style, hearty, and hefty.
Finally, thank goodness we took the time to stop at one more place before the airport, Pasta Penne in Lahaina. Truthfully I was not craving for Italian food in Hawaii, but we would have missed out on another astonishment if we didnt try Pasta Penne! Our plates came oven-hot. I had a baked (pumpkin squash) with almonds, and the roasted beets with ginger and basil. The squash was buttery, naturally sweet, and oh-so-good, kind of like eating a dessert; and the beets were such an absolute delight with the basil! The bf had the pasta bolognese with savory sausages and mushrooms, which was also quite remarkable. We were shocked. We thanked the wonderful folks. We were still shocked.
One place I was disappointed in not being able to partake upon and try my luck at hound-blazing was the Maui cooking schools restaurant in Kahului, Class Act. I emailed, I called, I persisted, but I they seemed to be busy with the final renovations. I was sad. But I am still curious about this place for the future. Anyone have experience?
To those who are preparing to vacation and planning their culinary destinations to Maui, you lucky hounds!
Café O Lei
839 Front Street
693 A Front Street
834 Front Street, Suite 102
Grandmas Coffee House
Keokea, same row as the small shops & convenience stores
Off route 37 (on most maps)
4405 Honoapiilani Hwy
2439 South Kihei Road
Penne Pasta Café
180 Dickenson Street