*Dreaming of a Hawaiian vacation is just part of the Seattle winter blues - pretty much everyone we know does it! Our writer Rebecca recently went on a trip to Maui (her favorite island), and we thought it may be helpful info for anyone looking to get outta dodge!
Travel is nothing without good, local food and one of my favorite places in the world to eat is Maui. Beaches aside, one of Maui’s strongest draws for me is the variety of food. While you can spend a fortune on great meals, you can also have one of the best meals of your life for a reasonable price. While this list is in no way encompassing (and honestly always changing), these are my current eight favorite places to eat on Maui.
Aloha Mixed Plate
This casual outdoor restaurant sits right on the ocean along Lahanina’s Front Street and affords amazing views (especially sunsets) with award-winning meals. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Aloha Mixed Plate serves dishes from the varied ethnic groups that call Hawaii home. The mixed plate came to be in the early days of sugar plantations when workers from Japan, the Philippines, Korea and Hawaii would gather together for a simple lunch with food from their homelands. The tale goes that it wasn’t long before they began to share their food with one another and the “mixed plate” was born. The traditional mixed plate is always served with two scoops of rice and one scoop macaroni salad. Aloha Mixed Plate has the best-mixed plates on the island. Make sure to try the coconut shrimp for an appetizer before settling in to enjoy the kaluha pork, lomi lomi salmon, teriyaki beef, shoyu chicken and chow mein. You won’t go wrong with the Loco Moco, another island favorite with a hamburger patty, and two eggs on a bed of white rice and smothered with brown gravy. It’s not fancy but it is good.
1285 Front Street, Lahaina; (808)661-3322; http://www.alohamixedplate.com/
Slappy Cakes is fun. It’s a fun restaurant where you make your own sloppy cakes (pancakes) table side. After selecting your batter (there are four to choose from), some mix-ins and toppings, you are handed the batter bottle and left to your own devices. We had fun making tasty designs and doctoring up our cakes with blueberries, chocolate chips and lots of syrup. Make sure to order a side of the candied bacon which is caramelized with brown sugar and macadamia nuts. Slappy Cakes delicious menu serves many made to order items if you are not yet ready to assume responsibility for the griddle pan.
Honokowai Marketplace, 3350 Lower Honoapiilani Rd. #701, Lahaina; 808-419-6600; slappycakes.com
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
Featuring Maui’s freshest ingredients, Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop has some of the tastiest homemade pies along with breakfast and lunch items which they call, “glorified grandma comfort food” and I call delicious. The bread is baked fresh every day and the banana in their banana pancakes and banana cream pie are harvested from their own farm. Not to be missed is their chicken and waffles dish which I admit to going back for two mornings in a row. The cozy atmosphere lends itself to lingering but the hungry crowds will keep you moving along.
820 Olowalu Village Rd, Honoapi'ilani Hwy, Lahaina; (808) 662-3600; http://www.leodas.com/
Sometimes you want a good but inexpensive meal and this is where Maui Tacos wins. The always delicious mission style burritos are gigantic and filling for a reasonable price. My favorite, the Napili burrito is packed with char-broiled chicken in a freshly made tortilla with rice, black beans, guacamole and sour cream. Hit up the salsa bar for extra toppings, like fresh cilantro, limes, jalapeños, pickled carrots, Maui onions and five different salsas.
2411 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei; 808-879-5005; Mauitacos.com
The Mill House
The newest restaurant on my list of favorites is The Mill House at the Maui Tropical Plantation. Using local ingredients from the plantation grounds and select farmers and providers, The Mill House is focused on providing only the best food from Maui. The rotating menu focuses on showcasing the best of the season. I had the butternut squash and jamon flatbread while my companions enjoyed the beef tacos. I’ll admit to having dreamed of the flatbread with it’s carefully salted flavor and autumn tastes. Run by Chef Jeff Scheer, this ultimate "farm to table" model has unique and timely ingredients grown literally yards from the kitchen. The beautiful outdoor surroundings add to the great meal with chickens and other birds roaming by. Allow time for a walk along the grounds and some Mill House Roasting Cafe coffee.
1670 Honoapi'ilani Hwy., Waikapu; (808) 270-0333; mauitropicalplantation.com
Mama’s Fish House
Mama’s Fish House is called the best restaurant in Hawaii and it is easy to see why. The oceanfront open air dining and perfection of the decor within the restaurant lend to a true Hawaii dining experience. All of the cuisines is artfully prepared and the diner is made aware of who caught their fish that particular day. While on the pricer side, this is a meal not to be missed. The Traditional Hawaiian meal with grilled mahimahi, salmon, and big island wild boar is perfection when paired with the octopus luau, ahi poke and sweet potato. There is not a bite on this menu that is not utter perfection.
799 Poho Place, Paia, HI 96779; (808) 579-8488; http://www.mamasfishhouse.com/restaurant/
After Chef Sheldon Simeon appeared on Top Chef, Star Noodle’s popularity blew up. I’ve been dining at this restaurant every chance I get over the past few years. The pork buns bring me back every time and the Hapa Ramen renews my love for ramen. Located up the hill from Lahaina, Star Noodles is in the middle of an industrial area but the food makes up for the lack of a view. Wait times can be upwards of 90 minutes so reservations are highly recommended along with an empty stomach. You’ll want to start with the Ahi Avo and leave room for the Malasadas.
286 Kupuohi St., Lahaina; 808-667-5400; Starnoodle.com
Shave Ice abounds on Maui but my favorite place (and many others but the length of the lines) is Ululani’s. The ice shave is fine and they have more flavors than I’ve ever thought possible from Matcha Green Tea to Raspberry and Watermelon. My favorite combination is the Haleakala with Coconut and Leche and topped with sweetened condensed cream. The kids always go for the bright Keiki Rainbow with Cherry, Banana, Blue Raspberry flavors.
819 Front St., Lahaina; 360-606-2745; ululanishawaiianshaveice.com