Hawaii’s second largest island strikes a good balance between Oahu’s commercialism and the Big Island’s agrarianism. They have world-class hiking and mountain biking, plenty of culinary rewards circling the resorts of Wailea and Lahaina, and more down home fare in the middle. Learn about 18 places where you should absolutely eat and drink on Maui.
Updated October 2, 2015
Removed: Amasia (Closed), Sure Thing Burger (Closed)
Ali’i Chang founded a lavender farm in Maui’s Upcounty, on a steep hillside en route to the volcanic Haleakala Crater. Koa took over after his father’s passing, and the land continues to yield yellow echeverrias, oversized protea flowers like the woolly bear, the occasional tri-horned Jackson chameleon, and 45 varieties of lavender. Take a walking tour along the Peaceful Path to see (and smell) the differences between French (oily, serrated leaves, culinary), low-lying Spanish (less oil, bunny ears, decorative) and English (oilier bulb, simpler leaf, sweeter), to name just three kinds. The tour ends at a gift store, with opportunities to experience lavender in food and drink.
MUST ORDER: Walking Tour, Lavender Scone, Lavender Dark Chocolate, Lavender Tea
The Road to Hana is a windy vehicular workout involving a series of hairpin turns and one-lane bridges. Clearly that kind of drive deserves a reward. Enter Coconut Glen’s, a fresh coconut milk ice cream stand in a hippie-style wrapper from Boston native Chef Glen Simkins that dates to 2007. The open-air shack stands at mile marker 27.5 and includes an aqua tile counter and map of the world where customers can pin their hometowns. This dairy-free ice cream is surprisingly creamy. Original coconut comes with sweet shards of chewy coconut candy. Honey mac is another favorite, folded with roasted macadamia nuts. If you like, they’ll also crack a coconut to order with a machete, yielding fresh coconut water and meat.
MUST ORDER: Ice Cream
Ed Schultz’s island born chain has two branches on Maui. Honolulu Coffee resides on the second floor of the ritzy Shops at Wailea and houses marble tables, pastel green, fern-etched walls, and a plant-lined patio with umbrella-covered tables. The branch in Kaanapali’s Hyatt Regency features green walls, marble counter and tables, hyper-real Maui nature photos, and a case for massive pastries and muffins. A blackboard touts their Kona blend of the day, which during my visit was Kona Red. Honolulu Coffee Company also has a Nuova Simonelli two-group espresso machine and 100% Kona French press in case batch brew doesn’t cut it.
MUST ORDER: 100% Kona French Press, Cold Brew Iced Coffee
Chef Mark Ellman, a founder of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, runs three adjacent restaurants on the Lahaina waterfront with his family: Mala Ocean Tavern, Frida’s Mexican Beach House, and Honu, a Mediterranean-Asian restaurant. Honu, my favorite restaurant of the bunch, occupies a building that took part in a pineapple canning through the ’30s and housed a Japanese bakery that got leveled by a tsunami on April Fool’s Day, 1946. Now the space features white walls lined with sea life art. Outside, Honu’s wide rock shelf allows turtles to lay out in the sun. Honu houses a 900-degree brick oven, which yields the signature Ahi Sausage Pizza with crumbled sausage crafted from fish, plus Kalamata olives, tomato sauce, herbs, and lemon. Seafood also fuels creative dishes that never get too serious.
MUST ORDER: Ahi Sausage Pizza, Oyster Shooter