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This post is dedicated to friends of mine who will be on Maui in a matter of days. I am soooo extremely excited for them while being extremely disappointed at the same time since I won’t be there with them.
Making the best of an inconvenient situation I thought I would share with them — and all of you — what I would suggest if I were there. Consider me your virtual tour guide;)
When you grow up on Maui, or any island for that matter, you tend to put together “must do’s, see’s, and eats” for family and friends who visit, so let’s consider this the first of a few posts, encompassing my favorite Maui Eats.
One of my favorite things to do after landing is beelining it to Marco’s Grill & Deli. I’m always hungry after the flight and Marco’s is conveniently located on the corner of Hana Highway and Dairy Road (Ste M, 444 Hana Highway, Kahului, HI | 808.877.4446) and for lunch, I get one of two things:
- The Tomato & Cheese Salad (minus croutons, extra rolls) OR
- The Grilled Veggie Sandwich (it’s served open-faced & comes with salad or pasta)
* The garlic cheese bread is ridiculously yummy, and if they have clams — get them!
You’re going to see a trend here — zero, zip, NO dietary restrictions mentioned in ANYTHING I boast about. That’s because I either a) Make an exception for indulging in home fare, or b) alter the dish myself to make it accommodate my specific restrictions. Completely up to you.
A lot of vacationers hit Costco before heading to their condo, and you might want to do the same, HOWEVER, I’m a huge fan of experiencing a place by indulging in local fare — and Maui has some AMAZING eats. Trust me, I won’t even put in a dent in what’s offered — I’m only mentioning my favorites and what I consider to be “musts” if it’s your very first visit:)
Also, instead of going Day-By-Day, I’m going to spit out a bunch of things, and you can determine if and how it’ll fit into your trip..
Let’s start with food since I’m already drooling and on a roll..
A huge must while visiting Maui is to experience The Gazebo restaurant, which is found ocean front at Napili Shores. With about 14 tables squeezed into an adorable gazebo, the team pumps out over 300 covers from 7:30A-2PM. Regardless of what time you get there, there will be a line. I suggest saving this breakfast treat for a weekday and avoid peak breakfast times, but seriously prepare to wait 45-60 minutes for a table and just enjoy your surroundings! Get pumped to indulge in:
- Banana Mac Nut Pancakes (with whip!) and a
- Half order of the Fried Rice
- Any Omelette w/country potatoes is a winner
Once you’ve experienced the Gazebo and have earned your time in line, MAYBE, I’ll tell you how you can bypass it in the future;)
Another phenomenal place to experience breakfast on Maui is at The Plantation House Restaurant, in Kapalua. Home of the once Lincoln Mercury, Mercedes, and now Hyundai Golf Tournament. Take in the jaw-dropping surrounding beauty where every year the PGA Tour kicks off their season at the Plantation Course. I suggest ordering:
- The Moloka’i Sweet Bread French Toast (+ fruit!)
- The Portuguese Sausage & Cheese Omelette (with rice!)
The Kula Lodge is a favorite of mine, especially on those early mornings spent at the Haleakalā Sunrise:) The service is sub-par, but sometimes places (like here) have the exception. The atmosphere is cozy, with fireplaces complimenting the brisk upcountry air, and overlooks the amazing views of Maui..
I’ve only ordered the Buttermilk Pancakes — circle the wagon (topped with everything: roasted macadamia nuts, chocolate chips, bananas & whipped butter — it’s divine!) + a cappuccino!! Believe me when I say it is worth any inconveniences! My best advice is to order as soon as you get there and make sure you have everything you need, then the next time you see your waitress ask for the check. HAHA!!
Joking aside, I haven’t been there in awhile and perhaps the service has improved.. but I doubt it. I share this because I still encourage you to go merely because of the amazing views & fabulous pancakes. Don’t be scared:)
A few choice lunch spots include:
To say the Paia Fish Market is a favorite of mine just sounds like an understatement! My man and I stopped there twice on our way to and from Hāna. You can read about it here and here🙂 You’re gonna want to order:
- Opah Burger
- Salad w/Opah
If you didn’t notice, you soon will — Opah is a favorite:)
Duke’s is a famous TS restaurant just north of Airport Beach in Ka’anapali. This area desperately needed a solid eatery and I think they did well putting in a Duke’s! The Waikiki location is still the best, however, these guys are definitely coming along. So far I’ve enjoyed:
- Arugula & Farro Salad
- Beachside Grilled Fish Tacos
- Roasted Turkey, Bacon, & Brie
- Fire Grilled Vegetable Wrap
Check out the full (lunch) menu *here.
* Subject to change
Star Noodle in Lahaina is a fabulous hidden gem… I can’t stray from the following dishes:
- Pohole Salad
- Spicy Namasu
- Star Kim Chee
- Garlic Noodles
The garlic noodles alone will make you return again and again…and again! Keep in mind it’s large enough to share:)
Every time I go to MĀLA for lunch or dinner I order the same thing:
The GADO GADO Salad. It’s that amazing.
I’ve only been to HONU once — sat at the bar with a couple friends who were in town for the night and we enjoyed several different pupu’s.
My suggestion is to put your name down at MĀLA’s for dinner and head over to HONU for a drink & a couple starters. Let the MĀLA host(ess) know, and they’re actually pop in HONU when your table/reservation is ready:)
Speaking of Dinner..
Kimo’s is one of my favorite Front Street restaurants and I strongly suggest going for dinner (get there before sunset). Get a table along the railing and enjoy the unobstructed panorama view as the sun dips into the horizon. I have always ordered the Sashimi as an appetizer (apps are called pupu’s in Hawai’i btw:) and the Parmesan-crusted Opah (sub rice for garlic mashed) for my entree. Even if you’re full, order the Hula Pie. It’s amazing and you’ll regret it if you don’t try it. If you’re feeling adventurous, purchase some merch as a not-so-tourist-y souvenir — Kimo’s on Maui is the best TS restaurant and worth the loot.
On Sunday’s from 5PM-6PM and Thursday (& Friday’s?) after 10PM Sansei’s offers 1/2 off sushi! ANYTHING you order will be phenomenal, but some of my must-have-plates include:
- Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi
- Dynamite Shrimp
- Grilled Veggie Roll
- Salmon Skin Hand Roll
- “Granny Smith” Apple Tart
Couple things to keep in mind: Sansei’s is a popular place. If you’re going for the 1/2 off at the Kapalua location you need to get there EARLY. As in 30-45 minutes early! Also, because it’s PACKED, it’s a very fast paced, loud environment — so get into it — embrace what I consider a “hip/city” environment and enjoy it! It is very easy to order the entire sushi menu as I’ve always gone with a group of people OR I’m starving and know how good everything is. If it’s just you and your spouse or friend I strongly suggest sitting at the Sushi Bar if you can (it’s limited seating) and on Thursday/Friday’s after 10PM there’s karaoke — free (yet priceless) entertainment:)
Kobe’s is another great restaurant for both Sushi and Teppanyaki. It’s community seating, which can be fun if you’re in the mood and the menu is great. Sitting at the sunken sushi bar is also a treat, and I always get the miso soup, the salmon skin handroll, and the butterfish — absolutely amazing!
Another one of my favorite places to have dinner is at Roy’s. They recently changed locations, from Kahana to Ka’anapali, and while I’m certain the food is still amazing, I have no idea about the new ambiance. I always enjoyed sitting at the bar and ordering several pupu’s (appetizer’s, remember;) and end the romantic evening with their amazing soufflé (a la mode, of course).
The Feast At Lele is by far the BEST Lu’au on Maui! I went on and on about it in this post so please, please, please, take the time to read/watch/drool. Not only is this the BEST Polynesian food you will ever eat and experience, the entertainment and staff are full of ALOHA.
This style of Lu’au is plated and served opposed to buffet style. It’s also an OPEN BAR, and the food is unlimited. If you like a certain dish and want more — you get more! You simply cannot get any better than that.
Since The Feast is both dinner AND an activity, I am going to cut this giant post right here. Come back tomorrow for Maui [Activities].
PS: One thing I have to mention is Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. It is by far the best shave ice you can get anywhere, so if you’re walking around Front Street in Lahaina and want to take a break — visit one of their two locations and get any flavor combinations you want, but promise me you’ll add the Roselani’s Vanilla ice cream!!
I am super proud of these guys — because of their high standards in quality they have become very successful fast!