Three of us headed down south for a birthday girls trip. Maui offered the sun and the surf and it was a safe place for us to walk and drive around on our own, even at night. The 10 days were filled with food, fun, and more food! Good thing we hardly drank any alcohol because we each came back with 5 extra pounds around the belly!
I have to split the posts because I just have too much to share! I hope you are inspired by my experience and head down to Maui some day – it really is an amazing island, filled with happy people and so much to do and see. And of course – if you love fresh fish and seafood – you can get your fill in Maui!
All prices noted are in US dollars of course. A couple interesting observations we made – at no restaurant did they bring the credit card machine out to the table like they do here in Calgary. They always take your cards away, process the payment, and come back with the papers for you to add the tip to and sign – totally Old School! And, at the bottom of most of the bills was a suggested tip calculation – 15%, 18% and 20%… helpful for those who don’t know how to do math, but a little presumptuous, assuming that their service was never worth only 10%. But of course, we always had good service where we went.
Part 1 – The Not So Expensive Meals
C and I had to wait for Y’s plane to land late at night, a few hours after ours. We wandered around the small town called Paia, close to the airport, and had a wicked dinner of fish tacos and blackened mahi mahi.
Paia Fish Market is one of those places where you order and pay at the till, find a seat at a shared table, and pick up your order at the counter when they call your number. This place was hopping – a steady stream of people in and out the whole time we were there.
My fish tacos ($12.95) were really good – fresh and filling! There was so much inside them that I literally could not close the tacos – I had to eat some of the filling with a fork before I could fold them to eat them properly. I don’t think I ate much of the rice that was hidden beneath the tacos – I was too full! The fish was moist but dense – a simple, lightly seasoned, fresh fish taco.
I think C said the market price on her huge chunk of fish was around $30. A half or a quarter order would have sufficed! She took home leftovers and ate them at the condo the next day. That was a huge (and tasty) chunk of fish. The coleslaw here is pretty good – with a slight twang to it.
Y and I walked over for breakfast with the birds… well, at the time we didn’t realize how prevalent birds are in the many open air restaurants on Maui. At least they wait to pick food off your plate until after you’re done eating!
I had the purple yam and Kahuli pulled pork hash. It was good but needed more salt. It was a little bland… Now I wonder why I didn’t salt it…?
This food truck is a semi-permanent fixture in a parking lot just off the main road. It has its own little fenced-off seating area with a variety of tables and chairs. Both times we went here, we sat awkwardly in the corner with hard to move patio furniture, but it didn’t take away from our enjoyment of the food!
Our first time at this food truck I went for something just a little bit different – the spicy poke and rice (1/3 lb ahi tuna) with jalapeños, for $14. It sure was spicy!! I actually wish I went with the traditional, since C said it was so good and actually went back and got it a 2nd time!
The traditional poke bowl was 1/2 lb of ahi tuna for $18 and came with slaw, although C didn’t get the slaw.
Y ordered the grilled fish tacos for $13. She said they were good but I don’t think I tried them. They looked good, but took quite a while to cook and come out to the table.
Many people recommended this restaurant, but it didn’t knock my socks off. Their margaritas were tasty and large ($10-11). The complimentary homemade salsa and chips was super garlicky (yum!).
I ordered two different tacos – cajun shrimp and calamari steak (I think it was $16 for the mix ‘n’ match). Both were really good! I really did like these two tacos… but I could live without the rice and refried beans – they were nothing special, that’s for sure. So if you go – just order a lot of tacos 🙂
I was lucky enough to have someone to go golfing with when I was there, and we got a decent price (with taxes and exchange it worked out to $125 CAD). We played Wailea Blue Golf Course and ate lunch at Mulligan’s on the Blue before we headed out. Apparently it’s Maui’s only Irish pub, but I still ordered fish! The fish burger was awesome! Totally delicious, and I would order it again. The salad, on the other hand, had a really weird flavour in the salad dressing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what flavour it was, but I didn’t really like it. I left most of my salad on the plate.
Coconut’s is a chain, with at least 2 locations in the Kihei area that we noticed. They have locations outside of Hawaii as well, including Sacramento California.
I was told (after the fact) that this place has wicked fish tacos. I felt overloaded with fish, so I went with the calamari strips and brown rice instead of fries ($13.75) – you gotta give me credit for trying to be just a little bit healthy with the rice! Someone had told me that we have to try the calamari in Maui because it’s very different than here. Well, it is very true that most calamari that we ate was served as strips rather than little tentacles and sliced tubes, and it was very tender and never chewy… but still, deep fried calamari is just that. This was one of the meals that I regretted…
The fish tacos looked so tasty, and C really liked them. With coconut milk on the coleslaw and fresh fruit, they were (apparently) really good and good value for two for $12.75! C thought she would still be hungry but was pretty full after the two tacos.
Y quite liked the coconut shrimp ($10.99), but disliked the fries. I even tried a couple – they were so salty they burned your tongue. Y told the server and she was really nice – one of the managers even came over and offered to provide new fries. They really seemed to care about customer satisfaction, which was nice to see.
Wayne’s is in the same parking lot as the South Maui Fish Co. and is worth stopping into. He’s got a nice little patio set up with shade, and the roll that I had was super tasty!
For $16 I had the ‘Hawaii Goes Fishing’ roll with soft shell crab, spicy tuna, and a whole lot of other tasty stuff. For a food truck, this was really good sushi!
The Fish Market in Honokowai is located in a strip mall on the main drag. There are a few stools along the window inside the restaurant, but we were able to grab a table outside on the sidewalk, with a wicked view of the parking lot 😉
The restaurant is a fish market as well. With the reflections off the glass of the display case I don’t have many photos worth sharing, but this one gives you a hint – fresh and frozen fish, seafood, and house-made treats. Yum!
Y ordered a tuna sandwich. Wow. She cut me off a small chunk and it was so delicious. The bun was light and fresh and didn’t fall apart, and the tuna was fresh and tasty and moist – not at all like the chunky canned tuna we get at home. The tuna salad didn’t have too much mayo – it was just the right amount to hold all the fish together. I should have moved out of my comfort zone of fish tacos and tried something different…
I got one fish and one shrimp taco. Again, these were fresh and tasty and oh so good. With the fresh corn tortillas and the fresh veggies, I had nothing bad to say about them!
This cafe sells breakfast all day. Just a short walk from our condo, we knew that we had to hit it up for brunch one day.
There is often a huge lineup running outside, down the length of the building. There are ropes inside the cafe, like at a bank, to manage the customers once they’re inside the building. You stand in line, review the menu, place your order, pay by cash only, grab your drink, then head outside and find a seat; your food will be delivered to you when ready. The servers walk down the patio shouting your name – kind of entertaining, actually!
It’s quite a large menu, with a good selection of sweet and savoury, and daily specials posted on the board inside.
I ordered the daily special of fresh, locally caught, crab cake eggs benny. I think it was $16.95. And WOW. Here in Calgary you’d pay that price to be served a fraction of that crab as an appetizer. The two huge crab cakes were served on top of english muffins, with a hollandaise that was good, but not great. I really liked the potatoes – tender cooked and pan seared. With a glob of ketchup the potatoes were awesome. All in all, the meal was excellent for the price – it was a giant pile of fresh crab and good value for the portion.
I couldn’t tell you what kind of omelette C ordered – but look at the size of it! We were joking after about how many eggs would have been required to make an omelette that large – I’m guessing at least 6! She said the omelette was just OK.
All in all, the portions at the Kihei Caffe were HUGE! If you want a lot of food that tastes good and is good value, then this is the place to go for brunch. I would rather go for quality over quantity, and get less food that is more creative and a tad tastier, but that’s just me.
Da Kitchen is another restaurant that was recommended to us. It is easy to find in a strip mall off the main drag in Kihei, with lots of parking. The menu has a wide variety of options, including Kalua pork, fish, teriyaki chicken and beef, and saimin noodles. It turns out that ‘salad’ actually means potato salad…
C got the Kalua pork sandwich and it was the biggest pulled pork sandwich either of us had ever seen. Quite literally, the photo does not do it justice. With a drizzle of the BBQ sauce (provided on the side), C had delicious juices running down her arms and was so full she almost couldn’t move. The pork was deliciously flavoured and moist.
I ordered the Chicken Katsu – boneless thighs coated in a panko bread crumb batter and seasoned with an Asian inspired homemade BBQ sauce. I think it was around $15. I had assumed that this would be a lighter, smaller dish that I could handle. But again, NOPE. What is with American’s and their portion sizes!? This photo doesn’t do it justice either – there was so much chicken and rice that it could have fed a family of 4. And you can’t see much of the potato salad hidden beneath, but it was there… I actually felt bad because I barely made a dent in the volume of food on the plate. The chicken was very tasty though – I would recommend the dish (for sharing!).
I had to try the Spam Musubi here, having been disappointed by it at another restaurant. It was still disappointing. This is one thing that I have to say is made better in Calgary! I’d take the musubi at Eats of Asia any day over the two that I tried on Maui…
Y ordered the fish and chips. I think she said that the standard portion is 3 pieces of fish so she asked for only 2 pieces, and look at the size of the portion still!
There are plenty of decently priced restaurants around Kihei to choose from. Given the volume of food you get at some of these places, you could really share one dish with two people and save money that way.
In my next posts I’ll share my experiences at the more pricey places, and as well, I’ll share some of the little hidden gems that we found and things you may want to check out on your visit to Maui.