This post will be the first of three - Where to Eat, Where to Stay, What to Do.
Naturally, since the food is just so delicious and there are so many wonderful eateries, I forgot to take some photos at many of the places where we ate (or I remembered after the food had been devoured) - oops! This post does not cover all of the restaurants at which we dined, but rather, it highlights our top local and highly recommended places to eat.
1.) Ono Hawaiian Foods - Do yourself a favor, go to Honolulu, and eat at Ono's. Go home. Wake up. Go back to eat at Ono's again!
This is my absolute number one recommendation for anyone looking for real, authentic, Hawaiian food. However, be forewarned: Ono's does not look that attractive on the outside, nor does the street it is on. The inside is covered with wood paneling and has probably not been updated since it opened! However, the walls are covered with pictures of famous people who have eaten there, and the old style atmosphere just adds to the wonderful experience that you will have.
The staff at Ono's are so kind, will explain the menu to you, and they may even let you have samples before ordering! The waitress that served our table reminded me of my Italian grandmother. She just threw the food down (even seasoned it for us), "taught" us how to eat the meal, and then basically told us to mangia!
This was the end result of our meal... we even received some extra Haupia (Coconut)!
3.) Kihei Caffe - If you are visiting Maui, you will notice that the hotels and resorts are all clumped together and separated from the towns. This makes eating in Maui a bit difficult and very expensive if you do not have a rental car (so please do yourself a favor and get the rental car - it's worth it. Breakfast buffets alone are around $30/per person).
Since we like to wander off and explore the areas we are staying in, we found Kihei Caffe and ended up going back a couple of times for breakfast! Do not be alarmed if you see a huge line and nowhere to sit! They move very quickly at the caffe and manage to keep a great flow. You will order inside first and then sit outside under a covered patio. Oh, and their portions are huge! The first time we went, I ordered the veggie scramble and then decided to also order the papaya with granola and yogurt, thinking that just the scramble would not be enough. Needless to say, I was wrong. It was a struggle to finish the scramble alone, but so worth the effort!
Little note: Hopefully you do not mind chickens! They run around under the tables and hang out with you at Kihei Caffe! It's pretty cute and funny.
4.) Mama's Fish House - This one may not be much of a secret as it is one of the top rated seafood restaurants in the states. However, this restaurant is a must! It is like a right of passage for staying in Maui! Yes, it is pretty pricey, and if you drink, you could end up being in the $200 - $300 range, but again, it's a wonderful dining experience.
The Polynesian Black Pearl dessert
5.) Wow Wow Lemonade - The name says it all. Once you take your first sip of lemonade, you will say "Wow!" If you like Acai Bowls, this is also your place to get them! Every other day I was here ordering a lemonade (watermelon basil was my personal favorite) and an acai bowl. For the bowls, the Haupia Ono was a favorite, but the Da Kine bowl was also quite yummy too (it has chocolate).
Wow Wow is a great place to stop for breakfast or lunch since the Acai Bowls are so large and filling, or you could always just pop in for a lemonade or juice. Tell them I said hi! I think I managed to become a "regular" in the 10 days I was there.
6.) Three's Bar and Grill - If you want to go to a more laid back place for dinner where many of the locals dine, then Three's is the place for you! It is by no means a fancy restaurant, nor does it serve gourmet food; however, it is a relaxing environment with friendly staff and tasty meals that are not $50 per entree! We went here a few times to try out some different menu items, because they are a Hawaiian, Southwestern, and Pacific Rim restaurant! Get it, three different types of cuisines... threes..? It was also founded by three surfer friends!
7.) Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar - Finding sushi in Hawaii is very easy! However, if you ask many of the locals, they all say that you should visit Sansei while you are in Hawaii. Although we live in New England and are quite spoiled with our seafood and sushi, Sansei definitely hit the mark on satisfying our sushi tooth!
Sansei does get quite busy, so reservations are highly recommended at least a day or two in advance.
8.) D'Lish Healthy on the Go - for healthy breakfast, lunch, and smoothies. Sometimes you just need a break from heavier foods!
9.) Joy's Place - another great option for a healthy lunch. Joys serves all kinds of wraps and juices, and you can even have your sandwiches made on a collard green wrap if you are feeling extra healthy!
10.) Migrant - Located at the Marriott Wailea resort, Migrant is a fun place that serves up some very creative entrees! If you are looking for an ahi that is coated in a nut crust and served with pineapple salsa and some exotic sauce, than Migrant is for you! My one complaint would be that on some of the dishes, they just went a little too crazy on the sauces. Yes, the sauces were very tasty, but one of my meals came with five different sauces that I forgot what half of them were! Sometimes simple is okay.
Please note: These restaurants did not ask me to write a review - this is my honest opinion. Additionally, we were only on Oahu and Maui, so there may be other great restaurants that were left out.... until our next trip!