After taking many trips to the Big Island last year, I was so excited to finally go to Maui! All of my west coast friends speak so highly of the island, and I was ready to get a taste of it myself. Luckily, my boyfriend has grown up going to Maui, so I didn’t need to do my usual week-long research. 😉 Just like most east coasters grow up going to the Carolina’s or Florida – Maui is the spot for the west coast residents. When they told me Maui’s food was 10x’s better than Kona’s, they weren’t kidding. We ate our way around the Island and barely made a dent in our list!
Located at the Hyatt right along the Kaanapali Path, Japengo is a sushi/Asian/Hawaiian fusion restaurant. The restaurant sits up on a rock which makes happy hour sunset views incredible. They offer happy hour 5-7pm, with discounted house wine and cocktails, along with half price appetizers – we definitely took advantage of this while enjoying a live band. The salmon was out-of-this world, and the sushi was extremely fresh.
Mala Ocean Tavern was my favorite of the trip. If you don’t know about it, it’s easy to pass up as a rundown fish n’ chips spot along, or more like ON the water when heading into downtown Lahaina. Luckily, my boyfriend’s family has gone to Maui for 25+ years and knows all hot spots! This place was OUTSTANDING! Make sure to reserve well in advance as the restaurant was packed with both locals and tourists, and is quite small inside. Plus, you’ll definitely want to sit on the “outside” portion, which is a screened in porch that has waves literally crashing onto the screens – serious waterfront dining! I had the special watermelon mint salad, fries, and coconut shrimp, while most people in our group had some type of fresh fish or seafood pasta. All the bites I snuck were deliciously fresh and flavorful. Don’t miss their complimentary “green sauce” and chips. I was warned by everyone beforehand how good this is – I think we asked the waiter six times for refills.
Monkey Pod Kitchen: We love going off property for lunch when we have a beach day at the hotel on vacation. It’s nice to get a quick change of scenery, and especially nice to get a few extra steps in on the way to lunch when you’re on a vacay diet. #hellofries We sat at the bar at Monkey Pod, which is located right in Whaler Village, and obviously had to order their award winning Mai Tai, along with a fresh caesar salad and a pulled pork sandwich. I rarely eat pork, yet I am still dreaming of that damn sandwich as I type this! So good. We also came here for dinner on our last night and had pizzas. I’d recommend it more as a lunch place than dinner.
Island Village Coffee: I know this isn’t some best kept secret, but this little coffee joint packs a punch in the food category! It looks like a boring café in Whaler’s Village, but after coming here the first morning, we returned everyday after that, then got the whole family addicted! Their cream cheese & veggie open faced breakfast bagel has so many unpredictable and fresh flavors, I’d fly back to Maui just to have it again. The acai bowls are also impressive, but make sure you order “The Original” as the other options had ice cream in them. Not what I’m going for when I order a health bowl! I wonder if they can ship that bagel to San Francisco…
Right next to Island Village Coffee was Choice Health Bar, where we grabbed fresh, locally sourced green juices. I made it a point to end my morning runs here. So refreshing in the Hawaiian heat, not to mention rejuvenating after said Mai Tais 🙂
Merriman’s has THE MOST INCREDIBLE BRUNCH! This place is a must stop. It’s a bit off the beaten path when staying in Kaanapali like we did, but right near a few other big name luxury hotels. We booked a Sunday lunch reservation here after the guys went golfing, and to our great surprise, they were serving Sunday brunch. The food was fantastic, and the mimosa flights were definitely memorable. The restaurant itself is indoor/outdoor with an open, airy floor plan that looks out to the sea. The perfect spot for a leisurely lunch. The Montage is next door, which is a great place to grab a post-lunch drink, because, well, you’re on vacation.
*Insider tip, the Marriott right on the Kaanapali path has $5 mimosas 9am-10am. Best way to start the day off right! Post green juice, of course!
Places on my list for next time:
- Duke’s (we go here in La Jolla all the time, OMG – the Hula Pie!)
- Mama’s Fish House
- Four Seasons Maui
- Andaz Hotel
Where are your favorite hidden gems in Maui?