My Favorite Restaurants In Maui (Hawaii)
Maui is a breathtakingly beautiful island paradise. It's gentleness embraces you the minute you step off the plane and walk on its golden shores, as if to say "Everything is going to be okay." But Maui isn't all just Turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and coconut branches swaying in the breeze. A real foodie town, it boasts a multitude of fine restaurants and dining establishments that rival anything that you’d find in any capital city in the world. Whether you are vacationing with the family, friends, or a significant other, here are my favorite restaurants in Maui (listed alphabetically).
1) Hali'imaile General Store, Makawao (Maui's North Shore)
The Chef responsible for putting Hali’imaile General Store on the map is Bev Gannon, whose food is lovingly made with ingredients from local purveyors. Her cuisine marries fresh local ingredients, a Farm-to-Fork philosophy, and a fusion of foods and cultures brought to the Islands from around the world. Starting with a shared HGS House Salad (with Fresh island greens, orange segments, toasted walnuts and shaved Maui onions with a balsamic vinaigrette), I chose a delicious Blackened Ahi with Chuka Soba Noodle Salad for my main while Peter chose the Fish Tacos. By the time we’d finished our meal, we’d added the Hali’imaile General Store to our list of absolute “must-dines” in Maui. 900 Haliimaile Rd, Makawao. http://hgsmaui.com
2) Honu Restaurant (Lahaina)
One of the most ‘rampagingly’ successful in Owner/ Chef Mark Ellman’s trio, Honu's focus is on seafood and pizzas, which they do extremely well. One of the most popular restaurants in Maui, we were so taken by their Ahi (Tuna) Bruschetta and Mushroom brick over pizza (with Ali'i mushrooms, truffle cheese, lightly sprinkled with lavender and truffle oil) that we chose to dine there, and order exactly the same dishes, twice in the same week. Arrive early, very late, or better yet, book ahead. Otherwise you're in for a long wait. 1295 Front Street, Lahaina. http://www.honumaui.com
3) Hula Grill, Ka'anapali Beach (Lahaina)
Just walking distance from the Sheraton Maui in the Whalers Village complex, and perched on the shores of breathtakingly beautiful Ka’anapali Beach, is the Hula Grill. Here, you can relax in the broad rooms of a 1930‘s plantation style home, complete with warm koa wood floor and ceilings and slow moving fans that gently stir the sea breezes. Tiki torches are lit at dusk, adding to the delicious island atmosphere. The cuisine is Hawaii Regional seafood, with a reverence given to fresh ingredients. Part of the T’s. Restaurant chain, Hula Grill does not have a chain restaurant feel, although the economies of scale keeps the menu prices reasonable. You can have the choice of the Barefoot Bar, where the menu is casual and so are the dress standards, or the sit-down dining experience, which my husband and I prefer. A “must have” is Hula Grill’s Macadamia Encrusted Mahi-Mahi. 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina. Ph. 808.667.6636. http://www.hulagrill.com /
4) Lahaina Grill, Lahainaluna Road (Lahaina)
Holding a very special place in our hearts is Lahaina Grill, the place to go if you want to splash out for that special occasion. Voted the best restaurant in Maui for 18 years in a row, Owner and Executive Chef Jurg Munch manages to run a tight ship as well as consistently create magic in the kitchen. The service standards of the Lahaina Grill staff is second to none; with a thorough knowledge of the menu and wine list, they are helpful, gracious, and refreshingly unpretentious. Even better, a record is kept on file of your dining experience so that on your return, you are welcomed back as a regular. Speaking from our experience, we always get to sit in our favorite spot and catch up with our favorite waiter, Michael, each time that we return. It’s like catching up with old friends, which enhances the evening immeasurably. Appetizers are priced between $19-22, and mains are between $36-52. The coolest bar in town, despite not having a view. You'll also need to dress up a little more than your regular Front Street eatery, guys - an Aloha shirt and dress shorts is fine, but leave the flip flops at home and come in with deck shoes. As can be expected in a restaurant of this calibre, bookings are necessary. 127 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina. Ph. 808.667.5117. http://www.lahainagrill.com /
5) Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina)
Another favorite of Peter and I, this restaurant is owned and operated by chef Mark Ellman, one of the founders of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine and recipient of 2012’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Situated right at the water's edge near Mala Wharf on Front Street, Lahaina, Mala Ocean Tavern has a large foodie following, and offers a selection of tapas, seafood and vegetarian fare. A menu statement explains the concept: small plates, organic whenever possible, whole grains, no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils, and everything in proportion. The results are always innovative and a delectable surprise. Try the ahi bruschetta, which I can dine on all night and nothing else. A lovely laid back atmosphere, the menu is well priced for the quality of the food. I strongly recommend that you book early for a table on the verandah with a view of the water rather than inside, which can get a tad noisy and claustrophobic. This is a great restaurant for a romantic dinner for two. 1307 Front Street, Lahaina. Ph. 808.667.9394. http://www.malaoceantavern.com /
6) Mama’s Fish House, Paia (Paia)
Located in Paia, in Maui’s north shore, the restaurant at "Mama's Fish House" is nothing less than a culinary experience so if you are staying in Lahaina, it is well worth the drive. Their daily menu features a wide variety of the freshest seafood. In fact, such is their pride in the freshness of their produce that information on where the fish is caught and the name of the fisherman is included on the menu. My Romaine salad with Caesar dressing, Reggiano parmesan and smoked marlin was followed by Ono, a white, delicate fish, caught by Shawn Conners, and prepared in an up-country style, with caramelised Maui onions, tomato, avocado, and jasmine rice. My Ono was executed to perfection, every mouthful a symphony. Book ahead and make an occasion of it. Extremely popular with locals as well as visitors, Mama’s Fish House has the reputation of being the best fish restaurant in all of Maui, a reputation that is justly deserved. A tad pricey, but well worth the experience. Mama’s Fish House - 799 Poho Place. Paia. 808.579.8488 http://www.mamasfishhouse.com
7) Pacific’O (Lahaina)
Sitting right on the edge of one of Maui’s loveliest beaches, you couldn’t get a more romantic setting than Pacific’O. Menu ingredients consisting of freshly-caught fish and organic fruits and vegetables from their own O'o Farm in Kula combine to make innovative meals that are prepared with great pride and executed to perfection. The following main, with its layers of textures and flavors, blew me away at our last dinner: Hemp seed encrusted ahi (sashimi grade tuna), pan seared & served with white jasmine rice & black rice, wakame seaweed salad & julien root vegetables, served with a ginger & citrus infused sauce. 505 front Street, Lahaina, 96761. Ph 808.667.4341http://www.restauranteur.com/pacifico/
8) Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Kapalua)
Voted one of America's eight best sushi restaurants by Travel & Leisure in '01 and winning the 2006 Hale'Aina Gold Award, Sansei is owned by Chef Dave Kodama, a third generation Japanese American. Another one of my musts, you will always find Sansei "jumping", and after tasting their meals you will understood why. The dishes are innovative and full of flavor, their presentation and execution always above par. Maui is a foodies paradise so you’ve got to know what you’re doing to do well in these necks of the woods, and Sansei most certainly do. With their mantra, "Dress casual, bring a smile, relax and enjoy the adventure of dining.", this is an ideal restaurant to enjoy equally with your family, group of friends, or significant other. And no need to panic either, as you cast your eyes over the incredibly extensive menu, wondering where to start. The staff know each and every one of the dishes on offer as they have tried them all themselves as part of their training. They will help put your selection together for you, based on what you enjoy. To avoid disappointment, booking is a must. Can get very noisy when filled to capacity, which is most nights. Kapalua Resort, 600 Office Road, Lahaina. Ph. 808.669.6286. http://www.sanseihawaii.com
9) Sale Pepe (Lahaina)
Who would have thought there'd still be a culinary gem, located in the heart of Lahaina, that we hadn't discovered. Sale Pepe is a cut above most Italian bistro restaurants. Owned and run by Michele (from Rozzano, Milan) and wife Qiana (a native New Yorker), walking into Sale Pepe is like being transported to a typical Italian household. With a vibe that pumps with music, laughter and conversation (don't come here if you want a quiet night out), the intoxicating smells that emanate from the kitchen have your tastebuds bursting before you even sit down. Sale Pepe's cuisine can best be described as authentic regional. In-house made pastas and artisanal pizzas, their specialty, are crafted from a certified pizzaiola using fresh, local ingredients. For the gluten intolerant (like myself), their risotto is one of the best that I've ever tasted. A great find! Units 7 & 8, 878 Front Street, Lahaina. Ph 808.667.7667 http://salepepemaui.com
10) Star Noodle (Lahaina)
Star Noodle has been voted Maui's 2012 Restaurant of the Year, with good reason. It's been spot-on with spotting food trends from day one. With its innovative Asian cuisine and twist on local favorites, the dishes are light and fresh as well as flavorsome. While some dishes may have quirky names such as “Look Moore Funn” - hand made noodles with Black Bean Sauce, Choi Sum, and Chili Oil) - there is nothing quirky or flippant about the quality of their food. For a relatively new restaurant that’s had to compete with more seasoned establishments, Star Noodle has developed for itself a dedicated and hard core foodie following. Well deserved, I say! 286 Kupohi Street, Lahaina. Ph 808.667.5400. http://www.starnoodle.com
With its accessibility to all the fresh produce from its abundant land and waters, Maui has plenty to offer it's diners, leaving one spoilt for choice. Aloha!
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