Maui has many attractions. One of our favorites is the food. Let me tell you about some foodie places.
by two cruisers on December 30, 2008
When I told friends that my husband and I are returning to Maui for the fifth time they asked what draws us back there. The answer is simple. First are the sunsets, which are gorgeous. Second is the scenery, which is varied from exotic to desolate. Third is the great food. Maui has terrific food. In local slang we say they have ono grinds (the best food). The range is fast food to lunch wagons to plate lunch to elegant cuisine. We travel on a budget, which means we fix two meals a day in our condo/timeshare and usually eat out for the noon meal. Many restaurants offer lighter and less expensive versions of their menu at the mid-day meal. This trip we stayed 15 days and that meant we could return to some favorite places for multiple visits. Our foodie experience started minutes after renting our car near the airport. First official stop of the trip was at the Krispy Kreme on Hwy 380 in Kahului. This is the only Krispy Kreme on the islands and we laugh to see the number of their boxes going on board the airplanes as carry-on luggage. We also love to prowl the aisles in the grocery stores. Yes, there is sticker shock when you compare the prices with your hometown grocery. However, taking a sightseeing trip to Foodland, Super Value or the big ABC markets can introduce you to new foodie experiences. Check out the produce, bakery, and snack aisles and you will find many new treats to try. And don’t forget to buy Spam. Hawaiians put it on the menus in restaurants. You can grill a slice with pineapple for a great breakfast in your condo. Yummy!
Zippy’s is new to Maui, but it is a much-loved family restaurant on Oahu. Founded in 1966 they are also known for the items in their Napoleon’s Bakery, in particular the Napples that are flakey turnovers. We have patronized one in Kaneohe where Bill Clinton ate and one in Honolulu where Barack Obama ate. I wonder what future president will be attracted to the one in Kahului, Maui. Technically this Zippy’s is at 15 Ho’okele Street in the Puunene neighborhood; within sight of the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Mill smoke stacks. Nearby is the Sugar Museum. This is the largest Zippy’s we have seen. If you aren’t a regular customer here, it takes a while to work your way through the menu. There are eight Daily Specials Menus, (A-H), that rotate through the seven days of the week. In other words Tuesdays special this week is Wednesdays next week. There are some unusual items on these menus like: Mandoo Soup, Kim Chee Fried Rice, Lamb curry, Chicken Nishime, and Oxtail Stew. Don’t worry Bruddah, there are basics too such as Kalua Pig, Roast Beef, Beef Stroganoff, Meat Loaf, and Baked Ham. In addition to the Daily Specials There is another huge menu with plate lunches, breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers, and Mini Pacs. Bill had a bacon cheeseburger. I was more adventuresome and had a Zip Pac. This perennial favorite includes fried chicken, Teriyaki beef, battered fish, rice, cabbage and a slice of Spam. Actually I had the Mini Pac that to my disappointment deleted the Spam (also deleted the fish and one scoop of rice). We did have problems getting what we ordered. I chalk that up to it being a newly opened restaurant that’s still working the kinks out. I would return here, the food is value priced and you can’t beat the variety. Supper for two with one beverage and tip was $23.00.
Seascape Ma’alaea is a part of the Maui Ocean Center, but it has an exterior entrance for those not paying admission to the Center. That entrance is located near the edge of the Maui Ocean Center adjacent to the Harbor Shops of Ma’alaea. We elected to use that entrance. On another trip to Maui we had visited the Center and fondly remembered our meal at Seascape, so this trip we combined a shopping trip to the Harbor Shops with lunch at Seascape. One of the primary reasons we like this restaurant is the view of the harbor with the West Maui Mountains in the background. Also to be seen from here are the islands of Lanai and Kaho’olawe. Seating is on a patio with huge umbrellas for shade. Flowering shrubs and plants are visible in all directions. The other reason we wanted to revisit Seascape is the terrific food. Bill had the BBQ Pulled Pork with French Fries and I had the Cashew Chicken. The Chicken dish was a work of art and had generous portions of meat, cashews and Kula Vegetables with crispy asian noodles. Bill also ordered a Maui Mud Pie. It is a huge serving of coffee flavored ice cream with Oreo crumb layers and chocolate sauce. Very rich. Very sinful. Seascape was worth the return trip. Lunch for two with a two-spoon dessert and tip was $46.00. After lunch we shopped in the Maui Ocean Center Gift Shop. To get there we had to have our hands stamped, this gave us access to the shop but not the rest of the center. I like this shop and found another Maui made treasure to send home.
Lahaina’s famous Banyan Tree is best photographed with the quaint dark green trimmed in white Pioneer Inn in the background. When you are through admiring the huge tree wander on over to the Pioneer Inn Grill and Bar and have breakfast, lunch or coffee and dessert. I don’t think they have the best menu on the island; the wait staff isn’t the most attentive; but I still have enjoyed every visit here due to the ambiance. Seating is in an open-air covered porch. Sunshades sometimes block the view, and occasionally a tour bus discharging diesel fumes can be unpleasant. If you have any imagination at all it is easy to picture this place when it was a bustling seaport. Even though it was built in 1901, it evokes the much earlier time when whalers anchored in the harbor. As I indicated before the food is good, not great, but the servings are generous. On this trip we visited here for breakfast and an afternoon pick-me-up. Bill had scrambled eggs, bacon and fried potatoes. I had Huevos Ranchero and we shared a short stack of plate-size pineapple pancakes. On the day we stopped for coffee break we each had a dessert. Mine was a Chocolate Brownie Sundae with way too much whipped cream. Bill’s choice was an Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream. Being accustomed to the Pioneer Inn’s large servings, we were surprised at how small the tart was. We would have been better off just having the coffee, which was good, or drive back to the Upcountry Komoda Bakery were the pastries are superb. Breakfast for two with tip was $26.00. Coffee and desserts for two with tip was $15.00.
Perfectly located on the "Dig Me Beach" section of Ka’anapali Beach Leilani’s Beachside Grille combines casual barefoot atmosphere with good food and great people watching. We haven’t made a trip to Maui without having at least one meal at this restaurant. Leilani’s has an upstairs dining room for evening meals, but the casual lower level is the one that draws us back. We usually combine it with a shopping trip to the adjacent Whalers Village. If your timing is right in the late afternoon, live music is available and it is usually pretty good. And if you are really lucky you can have your meal and watch one of Ka’anapali’s fantastic sunsets. Of course there will be a stream of people walking down the sea walk between you and the view, but that’s ok too. On my last review of Leilani’s I may have mentioned the impossibly uncomfortable chairs. Others must have complained, because on this trip the chairs were much more comfortable allowing us to sit upright while we ate our meal. I had the Chicken Quesadilla and Bill had the Fish and Chips. We were happy with our selections. I can also vouch for the Cashew Chicken and the spectacular Hula pie that we have enjoyed on previous visits. The servers do a credible job, especially when confronted with customers who rearrange the furniture making it difficult to deliver orders.Our two meals plus tip were only $26.00.
A visit to T. Komoda Store & Bakery is worth getting up early and driving to the Upcountry. Located at 3674 Baldwin Ave near the intersection with Makawao Ave in Makawao. If I hadn’t had the exact address with me, I’m sure we would have driven by this unassuming building. No flashing lights or neon signs here, just a small sign Komoda Store on the front of the building and it isn’t even by the entrance! The store was established in 1916 by Takezo Komoda a Japanese plantation worker and hasn’t had many modernizations since. But that’s ok; the bakery puts out a wonderfully large selection of items. We had been forewarned to get here early before the cream puffs were gone. There were three left when we walked in. I bought two for us and selected some Malasadas for myself. Malasadas are Portuguese doughnuts, square with no hole. Years ago on Oahu I had bought a variety with various fillings such as poi, poppy seed, and standard berry flavors. This time I selected unfilled but rolled in sugar. I think they are the best. Bill had a very difficult time making a selection. Bakeries are his weakness. Finally he picked peach-pear turnovers. They had a flavorful filling and excellent crust that didn’t leave a lardy residue in your mouth. How I wish we lived near such a bakery. On the other hand…how grateful I am that I’m not confronted with that temptation daily. Oh, yes, the cream puffs…they were worth the drive. I honestly haven’t had a cream puff this good since our hometown bakery closed down in the 1960’s.
Kimo’s is a popular place at 845 Front Street in Lahaina. In the evenings the street level is taken over by the bar crowd and bar food menu while the second floor is the dining area. At noon, when we visited, we were seated on the street level floor on the open-air lanai. In fact our choice of tables put us in the splash zone, as my husband quickly found out! It was a small table, but a terrific view of the water. We watched a wide variety of boats including the unusual looking Reefdancer, parasail, catamarans, and cruise ships. Kimo’s is a sister restaurant to Oahu’s Duke’s and Ka’anapali’s Leilani’s. Bill ordered a grilled Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich with grilled pineapple and Maui chips. He was happy with is selection. I ordered the "Broke Da Mouth" Plate Lunch. That is a luau combo of teriyaki chicken, pork ribs, rice and macaroni salad. The title is pidgin for delicious, and it was. I should have scraped the sauce off the ribs because they were excessively coated and very very messy. On the plus side for Kimo’s is the waterfront views, location close to the prime Maui shopping and strolling area, and a menu that agrees with most tastes. The down side is the lack of parking, and the teeny tiny tables. Lets face it, as tourists we carry a lot (shopping bags, cameras, purses, hats etc). At those tiny waterfront tables it’s hard to keep everything corralled and dry. A few well-placed hooks to get our stuff off the floor would have been appreciated.
The economy is in crisis at the time of our trip, the talk is of cutting down on luxuries…such as travel and lattes. With that in mind we wholeheartedly embraced the concept of a "Farewell Tour". We ordered and enjoyed specialty coffees often. We also bought bags of coffee to send home to friends and family. Two of our favorite coffee houses on Maui are Starbucks and Hawaiian Village Coffee. The Starbucks we patronized was in Lahaina between the Foodland parking area and the parking lot for the Post Office. We had a little problem communicating with the barista here, she was more interested in the younger clients. But honestly, that is going to happen more and more as we age. We had much better service at the Kahana mall location of Hawaiian Village Coffee. This is a local hangout with Internet access. We enjoyed browsing the newspapers and checking out the bulletin board as we sipped our perfectly made coffee concoctions. The best prices we found on packaged coffee were at the Whalers General Stores found in Lahaina, Ka’anapali, and Ma’laea Harbor Shops.
We came for breakfast and stayed for lunch. (Well, not exactly.) After reading several guidebook and on-line reviews of The Gazebo, we searched it out. Located poolside on the property of the Napili Shores condominium complex, 5315 Lwr. Honoapiilani in Kapalua, this fifteen-table restaurant is known for its breakfasts. It also has a reputation for long waits in line to get a table. But rarely do you hear a complaint on that score. When we arrived at about 10:30 a.m. there was a long line. Bill held our place in line and I explored the area. Instead of a sandy beach the shore has a lava rock tide pool. I watched as people walked around observing the critters in the pools. Later, I saw someone netting the area…maybe that harvest would be on the lunch menu. Once we were seated we decided on ordering from the breakfast section of the menu. I had a customized Kula Veggie omelet and for 50 cents more added some tasty Portuguese Sausage. There was rye toast and country potatoes on the side. Wow! Was that good! Bill had standard fare of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, but with the view of Napili Bay and Molokai it was a perfect breakfast. It was so good we decided to come back a couple of days later for lunch. This time Bill had a Club Sandwich and I had the best Kalua Pork Plate Lunch I’ve ever had. The pork was very flavorful and instead of two scoops rice and one macaroni, this plate lunch was served with steamed cabbage and a small tossed salad with Papaya seed dressing. The service here is exceptional. It is very crowded in the small pavilion, but despite that the customers seemed to all be in a good mood and credit goes to the wait staff who are personable and accommodating. Our waitress told us there had been three whale sightings recently, which is rare for this early in November. That kept us watching the bay between forks-full of food. The Gazebo is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Park as far back in the lot as you can and walk to the poolside through the lovely central courtyard. Meals for two with tip averaged $32.00.
I am going to lump all the fast food places together. Some are good, some are bad, and one was a real disappointment.1.I had read articles and reviews raving about L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. We tried one at the Lahaina Cannery Mall food court and were disappointed. The chicken catsu was tough, difficult to cut with a plastic utensils and a challenge to chew. The only flavor of the meal came from the overly sweet sauce. Catsu or katsu is a Japanese style of crisp breaded coating. Bill had better luck with the beef short ribs, which were tender, but fatty very messy to eat…not car food that’s for sure. Both are served as a plate lunch and include two scoops rice and one scoop macaroni. The macaroni with shredded carrots was good. Lunch for two was under $14.00.2. Dragon Wall Express served a limited variety of Chinese fast food. While it was tasty at the time, it did not survive a microwave reheat. The veggies were mushy, not the crisp doneness expected, but the meat was tender and tasty. The location is in the food court at the Whalers Village in Ka’anapali.3.Nikki’s Pizza is also located at the Whalers Village food court in Ka’anapali. Nikki’s was a surprise hit with us. Bill bought a large slice of Hawaiian pizza and it made a satisfying meal. They also offered smoothies. Pizza went for $4-5 per slice.4. After our Whalers Village food court experience we finished the meal with a treat from Honolulu Cookie Company which is located on the same level of the mall. These expensive (9 cookies for $6-7) little shortbread cookies come in a variety of flavors and are a real taste treat. After sampling several flavors at their ‘have a bite’ display I bought Kona Coffee flavor and Lilikoi Mango flovored ones. It was a difficult decision because all the flavors were wonderful.5. Burger King located on Front Street across from the Banyan Tree is a dependable, inexpensive and quick solution to a day packed with activities. We had taken a morning cruise from Lahaina Harbor and a stop here was right on the way to our next activity. No wait, no tip and lets face it, a plain old cheese burger and small side salad was just what we needed. Lunch for two was under $7.00.6. Mc Donalds in a Kahana shopping mall off of Hoohui Road provided fast, cheap food when we were in transition between a condo in Lahaina and one in Ka’anapali. They were out of the packs of apple slices I wanted, but the manager stepped in and substituted a fruit salad for the same price. Lunch for two was under $12.00.
We read about Café 808 from an on-line search, otherwise we never would have found it. Our plans for the day were to go Upcountry Maui. We wanted to find a place for lunch between two other activities. There aren’t many places to choose from in the Kula region. Thankfully I brought along the computer printout showing how to find 4566 Lower Kula Road in Kula. (Past the Holy Ghost church and across from Morihara Store) The place doesn’t look like much from the street or inside. Perhaps this is a former meat locker; on one wall there are doors like walk-in refrigerators. The floors are concrete or non descript vinyl, the tables are wobbly and a mismatched collection of ice cream parlor chairs and plastic lawn chairs are the only seating. The tables were spaced far apart, which seemed unusual after the crowding in most Lahaina restaurants. The menu is on a huge board above the order/pick-up counter. We were the only tourists, but no one made a fuss about that. There were lots of other customers, mostly picking up take out orders. This was truly a local’s café catering to the workers in the area. My review? This was absolutely the best-unknown restaurant we have been to. I ordered a Reuben on marble rye with a side salad. Bill had a roast pork plate lunch with mashed potatoes instead of rice. The flavor was wonderful! Conversation ceased as we concentrated on the wonderful food. Who needs a view or posh furniture when the food was this good? Speaking of the view…there is one from the parking lot. It’s a terrific view of the valley between the two Maui mountain ranges. Lunch for two plus a contribution to the tip jar was $22.00. I also bought a souvenir coffee mug. Our only question was where did the name come from? What is the significance of 808? My only clue is that is the phone area code for the state of Hawaii.
In the movie "Forrest Gump" the crowd at the football game had to yell, "Stop, Forrest Stop!" to keep him from running out of the stadium. That phrase is on one side of a license plate at each table. If you want the wait staff to stop at your table, just display that sign. That indicates the fun atmosphere at this waterside restaurant. We were seated right at the railing overhanging the water. Great view, a fun waitress, and decent food made for a great experience. Forrest Gump was a champion ping-pong player and sure enough, there was a ping-pong paddle on each table. The paddle held the drink and dessert menu. We got a kick out of all the movie trivia posted around the room and incorporated in the menus. As expected there are a lot of shrimp dishes on the menu. Don’t let that discourage you from eating here if you don’t care for or can’t eat shrimp. I had excellent Fish and Chips. Bill had BBQ pork and a huge strawberry shortcake made with big biscuits not that cardboardy sponge cake. The staff was very accommodating to my special dietary requirements. I overheard our waitress asking movie trivia question to the large group at a nearby table. That sparked a lively competition and a lot of laughs within the group. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market is located at 889 Front Street in Lahaina. Parking is a challenge, but there is a public lot across the street or street side if you get lucky. After eating, be sure to stop in the gift shop and do as the sign says: "Shop Forrest, Shop". Lunch for two with one dessert to share plus tip came to $42.
This casual restaurant with a terrific view ranks at the top of my husband list of Maui restaurants. Located at 1285 Front Street in Lahaina it is easy to find. Directly across the street is the Lahaina Cannery Mall. Next-door is the Old Lahaina Luau. In fact one benefit to an evening meal here is the "free" music drifting over from the luau. The other benefit is the gorgeous sunsets with Lanai in the background and in the channel a flotilla of small boats. Very picturesque. Seating is outside under dark green oversized umbrellas. There are two levels with the upper level being adjacent to the bar. You are served on "paper plates, this is a casual place. This trip we came here twice for lunch. Bill chose the Hawaiian Plate both times. He is a big fan of Kalua Pork and cabbage with macaroni salad. That plate also comes with Lomi Lomi Salmon, Poi and Haupia for dessert. I had the stir-fry with chicken, veggies and Teriyaki sauce one time. At our other visit I had the Teriyaki Beef Mini Plate Lunch. Both were excellent choices. I did try one new thing on the menu. Manapua is Hawaiian slang for a Chinese pork filled bun. When the waitress brought it to the table I laughed out loud. It looked like a baseball! Perfectly round and covered with soft white dough that has been steamed not baked, the top is stamped with a red character. The filling was finely shredded Char Sui Pork and it was pinkish and sweet. On one of our visits we also took home a couple of desserts. Mine was a Taro Pineapple Bread Pudding. Instead of a vanilla sauce on top it had a thick layer of chocolate. As much as I like chocolate, I didn’t think this was a good combination. Bill’s dessert also had that hard thick chocolate layer on top, but it complimented the Naughty Hula Cheese cake better. Averaging the cost of our two visits here, it would be $28 for lunch for two.
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