A Taste of Maui

Dr. O and I try to take a big trip every year.  I live to travel, so thankfully, my husband doesn’t mind riding along.  I usually like to explore new places, but in the interest of pure relaxation and a bit of sentimentality, we decided to return to Maui (our honeymoon destination!) for a week around Independence Day.  It was really fun to go somewhere familiar but to see and do (and taste!) things we didn’t experience the first time around.

On the foodie front, Maui has some amazing high-dollar restaurants.  In the interest of keeping the budget intact, though, I deliberately sought out lower-cost options for us to enjoy.  Here are my food-related highlights from the trip:

  • Gazebo Restaurant: We had our first official meal of the trip here, and I am sooooooo sad that I didn’t take pictures of my banana, pineapple, and macadamia nut pancakes.  They were absolutely delicious.  Gazebo is this adorable little outdoor restaurant on the property of the Napili Shores resort. The food wasn’t fancy but it was incredibly tasty, and a $20 breakfast for two on Maui is quite the steal.  From what I understand, there is always a line; we arrived around 11:15 a.m. and waited for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Maui Brewing:  Dr. O and I live in the land of microbrews, so we make a point to sample local beer when we travel whenever there’s an opportunity.  Our first taste of Maui Brewing’s beer was at their brewpub up in Kahana (as opposed to the actual brewery).  Favorites included the Bikini Blonde (available canned all over Maui), Wild Hog Stout, and a cream ale.  The brewpub’s food wasn’t very well reviewed but we decided to have a snack anyway; the Kalua Pork and Hawaiian sliders were surprisingly good, if slightly soggy.  When we visited the brewery in Lahaina on the last day of our trip, we were surprised to discover that the beer selection at the brewpub (15 or 20 beers on tap) was far more extensive than that at the brewery (only five beers on tap).  If you like beer, either location is worth a stop.
  • Colleen’s at the Cannery:  We stopped at Colleen’s, located in the tiny town of Haiku, for breakfast on our way to Hana.  I really liked the vibe of the restaurant (high ceilings, lots of mirrors, exposed beams), but the food is what would bring me back.  My French toast was good (pay extra for the fruit – it’s worth it!), but Dr. O’s green chile breakfast burrito was out of this world. Colleen’s serves lunch and dinner as well; if we had been staying anywhere near the restaurant, we would have returned at least once.
Colleen's French ToastColleen's Green Chile Breakfast Burrito
  • Coconut Glen’s:  This was one of our most fun stops of the trip.  Coconut Glen’s is located right off of the Hana Highway at mile 27 1/2.  If you’re in the area, you’d be crazy not to stop!  I’m not vegan and I certainly enjoy dairy, but Coconut Glen’s organic, dairy-free, vegan “ice cream” is a treat everyone can enjoy.  Dr. O had the original coconut and I had the banana rum raisin; both were super tasty (though the original coconut was a bit creamier). And seriously, how fun is it to eat a frozen coconut treat out of coconut bowls with freshly-chopped coconut shell spoons?
Coconut Glen's SignCoconut Glen's Banana Rum Raisin
  • Tropica:  This was the one “fancy” meal we had on the trip (though it certainly wasn’t over the top) and it was one of our most enjoyable.  When I was doing my pre-trip research, I discovered that Tropica serves a three-course dinner for only $33 (a bargain considering that my meal would have cost $54 if ordered a la carte).  You can add wine pairings for an additional $10 (worth it!). The only catch is that the menu is served during limited hours, from 5 to 6 p.m. or 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.  We made an 8:30 p.m. reservation and were lucky enough to snatch up one of the tables outside on the grass right next to the beach.  The service was spot on (though our server looked oddly like Wayne Gretzky), and our meal was filled with tasty dishes like lobster chowder, seared swordfish, oriental mushroom linguine, tropical tres leches cake, and baked Hawaii.  I definitely recommend this one.  (It was too dark to take any food shots, but Dr. O took the photo below at our table.  You can see the greenery that separates us from the beach and a sliver of the moon above the candle.)
Tropica Table
  • Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice: We didn’t eat quite as much shave ice on Maui as we did on Kauai, but we knew we had to give Ululani’s a try since so many people rave about it.  We visited the 790 Front Street location.  First, I was blown away by the exceptionally friendly service (from a high school kid, no less!) and then I was blown away by the sheer size of the shave ice portions. WOW.  Dr. O and I shared a No Ka Oi (pineapple, guava, and lilikoi) with macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom.  The shave ice was the finest and fluffiest I’ve ever seen, and the bites had an almost creamy consistency.  We were impressed.
Ululani's Shave Ice
  • O’o Farm: As a person who is completely obsessed with food, this was my favorite activity of the trip.  O’o Farm is an 8.5-acre diversified natural farm in Upcountry Maui that is owned and operated by Pacific’O and I’O restaurants in Lahaina.  We walked around the farm, sampling produce directly from the grounds and trees (including coffee beans, asparagus, tangerines, gooseberries, and a variety of greens, including one that tasted just like wasabi!) and then we enjoyed a gourmet lunch prepared by a chef in an outdoor kitchen using foods from the farm.  The lunch included a citrus fish, roasted tofu and beets, the most gorgeous salad I’ve ever seen, and homemade focaccia bread.  So much fun!
Coffee Cherry and BeanLunch Produce
Cape GooseberryO'o Farm Lunch
  • T. Komoda Store and Bakery:  We went shopping in Makawao after our time at O’o Farm, and I had a feeling that Dr. O would appreciate the “stick doughnuts” I had read about from the T. Komoda Store and Bakery.  The pros?  The doughnuts were pretty darn tasty and cheap, and the store sold inexpensive water.  The cons?  The store is a bit of a dump.  If you’re willing to brave aisle piles for a treat, though, this is a fun stop.
Stick Doughnuts
  • Hula Grill: I originally intended for us to eat in the Barefoot Bar area of the restaurant since it has a lower-priced menu, but we accidentally ended up at the chef’s bar (with the same menu) because we came through a back entrance. I’m going to classify this as a happy accident, though, because it was really entertaining to watch the kitchen staff work.  The food (Thai Chicken Pizza for me and Kapulu Joe with Mac Nut Slaw for Dr. O) was solid but not amazing with two exceptions: the beer – Barefoot Brew, a honey amber made by Maui Brewing but sold exclusively at Hula Grill – and the Baked Hawaii.  The Baked Hawaii was our favorite on the island; it’s a pineapple upside-down cake, ice cream, meringue, and rum caramel sauce masterpiece.
Barefoot Brew
  • Honokowai Okazuya and Deli:  This takeout place was another favorite during our honeymoon because we could both eat for $20.  Menu prices aren’t exactly low, but one entrée is typically enough to feed two.  We had the Panko Fried Mahi Mahi, which was seriously delicious (and seriously naughty!).  If you pay them a visit, keep in mind that the restaurant is cash only.
  • Umalu: Based on the menu prices and Umalu’s location at the Hyatt Regency, I was expecting this to be one of the nicer meals of the trip.  Imagine my surprise, then, when we sat down to paper napkins and plastic drink cups. Still, we enjoyed super friendly service (from a fellow Coloradan!), tasty cocktails, and absolutely-to-die-for beer-battered Maui fish tacos.  They had a really fun band playing outside as well.  Although it wasn’t what we expected, we enjoyed it.
Umalu Cocktails
  • Maui Tacos: This was another honeymoon favorite, so we snuck in a lunch visit on our last day in Maui.  Dr. O and I both got #1 combo plates (two Baja grilled fish tacos, rice, and beans) and I dressed mine up with pineapple salsa from the salsa bar.  Maui Tacos is super casual but it’s tasty, and it’s another place where you can feed two people for $20.  From what I understand, though, location matters; we went to the well-reviewed 840 Wainee Street location and deliberately avoided the poorly-reviewed Napili location.
  • The Flatbread Company: I scheduled our last vacation day so that we would be in Paia for dinner.  I initially thought we would end up at Paia Fish Market or Cafe Des Amis, but Dr. O felt like pizza, so we decided to try the Flatbread Company.  The atmosphere was pretty cool; their giant, rustic pizza oven takes up much of a central room and our seating area was really bright and airy.  The food lived up to the positive reviews I had read as well.  We had an absolutely gorgeous (and delicious) pineapple and papaya salad and our flatbread pizza was half Hawaiian, half Mopsy’s Kalua Pork.  We had asked our server which pizza he would choose if he could only eat one for the rest of his life, and he couldn’t decide between the two.  Once we’d sampled them (both excellent!), we could understand why.  A note about portion sizes: If you want leftovers, get the 16-inch flatbread.  Since we were getting on a plane after dinner, the salad and 12-inch flatbread made a perfectly-sized meal for the two of us.
Pineapple and Papaya Salad
  • Ono Gelato:  We decided to skip dessert at the Flatbread Company in favor of a visit to Ono Gelato just a few doors down.  Oh, my.  The gelato was absolutely heavenly.  I had a flavor called Sandy Beach (peanut butter base with goodies) and Dr. O had some Kona coffee/chocolate/macadamia nut flavor.  Service could have been a bit warmer, but the gelato is certainly wonderful enough to warrant a return trip.  This shop also sold some local goodies (including jams and pancake mixes), which was a nice touch.
Did we have any disappointments on the trip?  Thankfully, they were few and far between, but here they are:
  • Bad Ass Coffee: We stopped at the Honokowai location on our way to grab snorkel gear that first Saturday morning.  I’ll admit that I enjoyed the first few sips of my Chai latte, but I quickly became overwhelmed by the sweetness.  Dr. O said his vanilla latte was too sweet as well.  At least we tried.
  • Aloha Mixed Plate: This was one of our favorite places when we honeymooned in Maui, and it was unbelievably disappointing this time around.  Long wait, inattentive service, terrible food.  Poor Dr. O ended up with a plate full of dry, tough meat and fish; if he won’t eat it, you know there’s a problem.  We’ll definitely return to Maui, but not to Aloha Mixed Plate.
So there you have it!  We ate our way through Maui and had a wonderful time doing so.  I’m already dreaming of our next trip…

Check out my other travel posts:

Food, Glorious Food! (London)
Berry Patch Farms (local, but noteworthy)
Kauai Food Love 
Back from Oz (Australia)
Haloumi, Wine, and Thai – Oh, My! (Australia)
Greetings from Sydney!  (Australia)

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