For one reason or another, we found ourselves not interested in going out for a fancy meal on the Kaanapali portion of our trip. We were planning on going to one of our favorite restaurants, A Pacific Cafe in the Honokowai shopping area across the street from the Embassy Resort, but we were saddened to see that it had closed. There is another location in Kihei but we didn't check it out, thinking we would go to the one in Honokowai. Here's our report on the places we did go to:
Bubba Gumps: We returned here because it's a fun place, relatively inexpensive, has a great location, and our son loves the coconut shrimp. I had the "special" (it was also the "special" when we were there 2 years ago!), Mahi Mahi served in a lemon garlic sauce over rice, and my wife had fish and chips (most likely also Mahi Mahi). Both were excellent and served in generous portions as was the coconut shrimp. The service is fast and friendly. In fact, it may be TOO fast. They don't take reservations and they try to turn the tables over quickly, but they'll slow down if you ask them. Go early to avoid the lines. Their location is one of the best in Lahaina as they are one of the few places on the water side of Front Street. You are literally over the water and sometimes the top of a big swell can reach the windows. The decor is all about the movie Forrest Gump and the waiters will even play Forrest Gump trivia with you - ours stumped me on Forrest's football jersey number (44). And you can have all the Dr. Peppers you want but of course then you "gotta pee". And that's all I have to say about that.
Lahaina Cannery Mall: The food court here has improved since our last visit. We particularly enjoyed the orange chicken from the Chopsticks Express (which shares a counter and kitchen with L&L Plate Lunch). There's also greek, philly steaks, mexican, and Dairy Queen/Orange Julius. Go on a Thursday night and you can eat cheaply and watch their free Polynesian show. The show is mostly hula dancing accompanied by singers, guitar, bass, and ukulele. Curiously, they ended the show by singing the Doxology and the Christian praise song "Majesty". The mall is one of the better places to shop with a diverse selection of stores. There's also a Safeway grocery store.
Honokowai Shopping Center: This is located conveniently across the street from the Embassy Resort. Since A Pacific Cafe was closed, the only places we went were Subway and Pizza Paradiso for takeout to bring back to the pool. The Subway prices are only slightly higher than the Mainland. Pizza Paradiso has good (but not great) pizza, pasta, and salads. Ice cream, too. The shopping center also has a small sushi bar, mexican cantina, and a new cafe called Java Jazz which seemed pretty popular. There's a Star Market grocery store as well with probably the highest prices of any of the local big groceries. If you're buying a lot of groceries you would probably do a little better at Safeway at Lahaina Cannery or the Foodland in Napili.
Whalers Village: This shopping area has some of the best casual dining in Kaanapali. It's hard to beat the outdoor seating at the Hula Grill and Leilani's. They are across from each other and adjacent to the spectacular Kaanapali beachwalk. Go early to avoid the crowds - the line starts forming about 5:45 to watch the sunsets. Both restaurants also have inside seating with a more upscale menu, but we prefer the lighter fare served outside. They both belong to the same chain (which also owns Dukes, Kimos, and Keoki's Paradise) and feature similar menus. We enjoyed fish tacos, fish and chips, calamari, salad topped with fresh ono, and a humongous guacamole burger. Great Hula pie too. Service is friendly and there is usually entertainment in the early evening. The Hula Grill has the added nice touch of a sand floor. Don't forget to get your parking ticket validated which will give you 3 hours free parking. Otherwise parking is $2.50/hour.
There is also a small food court at Whalers Village. If your kids need a Happy Meal, there's a McDonalds Express with higher than Mainland prices but not outrageously so. Avoid the Korean BBQ - it didn't look appealing and even when the food court was real crowded, there were no takers. Pizza Paradiso is about the same as the Honokowai location - good, but not great. The best place for my money was Mr.Sub. For about 6 bucks you can get an excellent 8 inch sub on a variety of specialty breads. They pile on the meat (easily 4 times as much as Subway) -- I had roast beef on an excellent onion bread. There is limited seating in the food court and it can get pretty hot. There are a few tables outside the food court as well. You can always take your food to the beach which is just a few steps away.