Continued (page 2 of 12)
127 Lahainaluna Rd.
Don’t let the name fool you. This "grill" is the swankiest haute-cuisine joint on the island. One storefront from the ocean in the old whaling port of Lahaina, it’s a warmly lit epicurean wonderworld of gleaming stemware, starched white tablecloths, and desert pastels beneath the high pressed-tin ceilings of an 1890s building. There’s no view, and that’s fine, because it would only distract from the exquisitely wrought New American cuisine. Tequila shrimp with firecracker rice, Kona-coffee-roasted rack of lamb, and kalua duck quesadillas are among the specialties. The service is so impeccable it’s scary. For foodie couples seeking a serious splurge, Lahaina Grill should be at the top of the list.
MALA OCEAN TAVERN
1307 Front St.
The tiny outdoor lanai of this little bistro by the sea is prime real estate for sunset dining—but it’s got just a handful of tables. Request it when you reserve (which you’ll need to do anyway). After the sun slips into the Pacific, blazing tiki torches keep the deck awash in fiery hues that make everyone and everything look fabulous. Foodwise, Mala's thinking is lots of organics, lots of whole grains, and no hydrogenated oils or preservatives whatsoever. That goes for everything from the seared ahi bruschetta to the superb beet and Kula goat cheese salad to the Honsin-glazed baby back ribs to the Kobe cheeseburger. The tiny bar, which specializes in exotic martinis and cocktails, hops to life as the night wears on. A second Mala opened recently at the Wailea Beach Marriott (3700 Wailea Alanui Dr.; 808-875-9394).
ALOHA MIX PLATE
1285 Front St.
A plate lunch is where protein, starch, and Hawaii’s multiethnic history come together to stick to your ribs without emptying your wallet. There are plenty of plate-lunch joints on Maui—but not too many with daily drink specials and million-dollar oceanfront views. Mix and match local comfort foods like Hawaiian kalua pig, Japanese shoyu chicken, Chinese roast duck, and Korean kalbi ribs, which are served plate-lunch style with two scoops of rice and one of macaroni salad. In the traditional Hawaiian fashion, seating is all outdoors beneath big shade trees, tarps, and umbrellas. Sailboats bob at anchor just offshore. This is an excellent place to experience local food, watch the sunset, and sip a couple of sassy wahines.
HALI'IMAILE GENERAL STORE
900 Haliimaile Rd.
After spending the afternoon exploring the cool upcountry part of the island, stop for a memorable meal at the flagship restaurant of celebrated Hawaiian chef Bev Gannon, caterer to the stars (Jack Nicholson, Sharon Stone, yada yada). Surrounded by sugar-cane and pineapple fields, Gannon’s elegant yet unpretentious place is in the old company store of a former plantation camp. Her Texas roots are all tangled up with Hawaiian regional cuisine in fare she describes as "eclectic American with Asian overtones." Try the lilikoi lemonade and the ahi Napoleon (layers of smoked salmon, ahi tartar, sashimi, and crispy won ton, with a wasabi vinaigrette), and be cool if you spot a big name at the table next to yours tucking into one of Gannon’s kalua pork enchilada pies.