Every summer as a child, my family would escape the blistering heat of Arizona to vacation in the Hawaiian Islands. A little R&R and the yearly Western Trial Lawyers Convention brought us to the laid-back tropical paradise of pineapple plantations and sugarcane fields. The summers defined my youth and fostered an island spirit within. Years later, it would do the same to my parents. They picked up and moved to Maui. As a tribute to the islands that I know and love, Jaunt Magazine will be running a special series on where to eat, stay, and shop in Maui and beyond.
First up: Your Restaurant Cheat Sheet, Maui Style.
Fairmont Kea Lani Resort
4100 Wailea Alanui Dr
Kihei, HI 96753
First and foremost, we love the Fairmont Kea Lani. It just might be our favorite hotel on the island. An all-white Moroccan inspired design, enormous suites, and home to a restaurant with some of the freshest and widest selection of fish on the island, what’s not to love? The food at Nick’s continues to live up to it’s excellent reputation. A perfect spot to dine with couples or your significant other/spouse, you may walk away spending $200 or more for a couple dining with wine, but it’s well worth it. They also have a delicious (and relatively new) organic restaurant called Ko. We highly recommend, if you’ve got the time (and money) to spend.
Kihei Town Center
1881 South Kihei Road #KT-116
Kihei, Hawaii 96753
Believe it or not, much to our chagrin, there isn’t much sushi on the island. Sansei is the best, hand’s down. Using unique twists like Ginger Lime Butter and Cilantro Pesto, they’re even on par with some of LA’s more standard sushi spots like Crazy Fish. If you don’t mind waiting in a long ass line for about 45 minutes before they open at 5pm on Mondays, you can even get half-off.
Fish and chips, their famous burger, a giant fish caesar salads… another classic Maui staple right on Lahaina’s waterfront is… KIMO’S! PS. They’ve also got adorable soft cotton tee-shirts on sale right now. Worth feeling like a lame tourist when you slip it on and look like a sexy surfer girl.
845 Front Street
30 Baldwin Avenue
Paia, Maui 96779
Three words. Hot Chicken Salad. Two more. Duck Salad. Four more. Maui Burger & Beer Combo!
This is my family’s favorite lunch spot after a nice workout, day of shopping, or windsurfing in Kanaha. You can get two of the best salads on the island (if not two of your favorite salads in the US), and you’ll be waited on by smiling girls from the mainland or Waylon, our favorite cook in the kitchen. Plus, after you eat, you can wander around Paia Town and have some drinks at the two long standing nightspots in Maui, Jacques, where we consistently see Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson , note: NOW CLOSED 😦 or you can drive up to Makawao for some hang time at Casanova’s.
MAMA’S FISH HOUSE
799 Poho Pl
Paia, HI 96779
No, it’s not a steal, but Mama’s Fish House is a classic. My husband and I even shared an appetizer and an entree – it was plenty of food for the likes of our little Euro bellies. So, if you’re not a typical American who eats their entire enormous plate of food, Mama’s might not break the bank. The place for another romantic dining experience.
THE BANYAN TREE
The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua
One Ritz Carlton Drive, Kapalua
This is another favorite, pricey, but delicious fine dining experience on the island. My husband and I think it’s the best restaurant in town. Everything tastes exceedingly fresh, light, and delicious. Our good friend, who writes for Maui Magazine, also suggests The Lahaina Grill for high-end pricey fare, but we’re loyal to the Ritz. The service and the quality is hard to beat. Regardless, we recommend trying out both and letting us know what you think.
THE LAHAINA GRILL
127 Lahainaluna Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761-1502
The best – and most authentic – Vietnamese food on the island is tucked in a small corner of Wailuku. You just might miss it if you’re not a local. This is a great place to stop before you fly home for a quick bite if you’re staying in Wailea or Lahaina. Ask for Wing Wing (or Nguyan Nguyan). Friends (like the Revis’) call him Chicken Wing. He’ll make you laugh, he’ll make you cry. Every dish on the menu is fresh and excellent.
425 Koloa Street
Only five minutes from Kahului Airport, Da Kitchen is in a mini-mall near most of the windsurfing and kiteboarding shops of Kanaha Beach. Serving up traditional Hawaiian food like lomi (salted salmon chopped with tomatoes and onion), lau lau, Kalua pork, chicken long rice, poi and plate lunches with teriyaki chicken, Korean Kobe ribs, hamburger steak cutlets or fish tempura (served with rice and macaroni salad), prices are as low as $6.00-$8.00 and 2-3 people could easily eat one meal. It’s nothing high-brow or haute, but it’s about as local as you can get. Oh, and before we forget (and speaking of local) on Kahului Beach Road next to the harbor is a shrimp truck not to be missed called GESTE’S. If you eat there, you’ve officially achieved cool points from Jaunt Magazine staff.
Also – for quick eats with the kiddies and a dose of some Middle East staple, The Pita Paradise in Wailea/Kihei is your spot.