Category: Restaurants

Upcountry roadtrip and restaurant update

Last weekend we went for an upcountry roadtrip. One of the kids had a tennis game in Kula, so I thought…. why not combine that with lunch at the ranch? There is something about going for a drive and eating a picnic bbq lunch.

The ranch, you say? Ulupalakua Ranch is located above Makena and Big Beach. As the bird flies, it’s not that far. However, the private ranch road is not open to the public. Years ago there was some significant flooding upcountry which took out a section of Kula Hwy. At that time the ranch temporarily opened their gravel road to upcountry residents. The only way to get the ranch is to drive to Kahului, up Haleakala Hwy, Kula Hwy and just follow that road until you get there – in about 80-90 minutes’ time. But not to worry – it’s a beautiful drive!

The ranch’s General Store sells some picnic supplies, clothes, and touristy items. In the back they have an order counter for their bbq (open between 11-2). If you follow them on Instagram, they often post food photos which make me hungry every time. Maui Wine (and the visitor restroom) are across the road.

This weekend we timed our lunch trip just perfectly, arriving about 10 minutes before a large group. It was pouring rain at the ranch, but we snagged a table on the lanai. There are additional picnic benches with umbrellas on the lawn. We had an hour to spare before the game. I suggested a walk along Thompson Road to stretch my legs. I was overruled – carrot cake was calling.

Grandma’s Coffee House

When we pulled up at Grandma’s Coffee House there were no cars up front or parked on the road. I wondered if they were even open. Turns out we got lucky a second time, ordered our carrot cake and lilikoi cheese cake and sat in one of the booths. Then a large group of people arrived. Unfortunately my phone camera flaked and didn’t take the cake photo. Sorry! Both cakes were delicious. I did pick up a pack of their home grown and roasted espresso beans for at home enjoyment. Yum.

Mauna Loa changes

This past year my favorite Mauna Loa macadamia nuts updated their packaging. They also changed their chocolate recipe on their individual nuts. While the mac nut cluster chocolate seems largely the same, the other has changed significantly. The milk chocolate individual nuts are a lot more dark chocolatey than they used to. They are still great – just different! I have discovered a new favorite – kiawe smoked bbq mac nuts. Yum.

Restaurant news!

With the ongoing Delta surge, Maui’s mayor announced yesterday a vaccine passport type program for restaurants. Details have yet to be announced, but I’ll update the blog when we know more. It is supposed to go into effect September 15th.

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Hula Cookies

Have you ever been to Hula Cookies? Their store is located at the Harbor Shops in Maalaea Harbor.

Friends used to own a small jewelry store next door, so we would stop in at Hula Cookies from time to time. After yesterday’s Maui Ocean Center visit, my youngest and I stopped at Hula Cookies for one of their gourmet icecream sandwiches. While we got there before their shop opened, we got lucky! They have an icecream sandwich vending machine just outside the store! Perfect! We still got our treats and got to support this awesome small business.

As the name implies they have a number of different gourmet cookies that they bake and sell. They also serve Roselani icecream. You can build your own icecream sandwich with your choice of cookies and icecream. How sweet is that! My son chose chocolate chip cookies and mint chip icecream (of course). But I had my eye set on the Hula’s Delight cookies These have dried mango, dried pineapple, coconut and mac nuts. We ran the credit card and got my son’s icecream sandwich out of the vending machine ($7), then ran it again for mine. In my haste it appears I punched in the wrong number, instead of an icecream sandwich I got a baggie of 4 Hula’s Delight for $5. In my opinion, a total win.

Icecream – I can take it or leave it, but give me something I can sink my teeth into (like four hula cookies), and I’m a happy girl! Now, keep in mind, the vending machine is a freezer, so they were all frozen (since the icecream needs to be kept frozen). The cookies softened up quickly enough. It worked for us, but I think next time we’ll try to time our visit better so we can have soft cookies with the icecream. Yum.

Roselani Icecream

Roselani Icecream is Maui’s very own icecream. Maui Soda Works started manufacturing it in 1932, since then it is sold at all grocery stores in Hawaii. We recently tried the Kona Mud Pie. Oh it’s delicious.

Maui Harbor Shops

Have you stopped at the Harbor Shops in Maalaea? You may recognize their two main tenants – the Maui Ocean Center and the Pacific Whale Foundation. Do take a moment to check out the other shops and restaurants – did you know there are two levels? Tante’s has a gorgeous harbor view, Beach Bums is popular and runs regular radio ads. There are a few gift shops, a tattoo parlor, and Maui’s newest live entertainment venue, Da Playground.

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Maui’s own German Bakery!

Some of you may know that I (Cara) grew up in Austria. It’s been a while, but one of the things I really miss is a good grainy loaf of bread. While Costco has a decent loaf in their bakery section, it doesn’t come close to the Austrian/German Bakery of my childhood.

I remember my dad going for walks twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) to the bakery in our town and picking up fresh buns for breakfast. I’m not sure if it was because he loves fresh bread or because he wanted an early morning walk, but Tuesdays and Thursdays were my favorite breakfast days – fresh buns with homemade jam. Wow that brings back memories.

A few years ago the Maui Bread Company opened in Dolphin Plaza along South Kihei Road. It is a cute little bakery with great baking, but not the Austrian/German breads and buns I love. This week my neighbors told me the Maui Bread Company had reopened and…. that they were baking German bread. Had I checked it out and was it authentic?

Well….. yesterday (in the interest of research) Sig and I went for a walk down to Dolphin Plaza to the Maui Bread Company. The bakery still looks quite like it always did. Of course, it has the obligatory Covid plastic protective panels now and a sign at the door allowing only 4 people at a time…. but there they were – fresh buns, fresh loafs of German bread and even pretzels. A lady approached me to offer assistance and I detected a slight German accent. Next thing we knew, Christine and I were chatting in German, getting acquainted and hearing all about their journey in buying this little bakery.

Christine and her husband bought the Maui Bread Company in January 2020, then closed due to Covid in March. They’ve recently reopened and Christine’s husband, a master baker from Germany, just started baking German breads early December. It’s sourdough breads, all natural (possibly organic) ingredients, and some gluten-free.

Honestly – this German bakery made my week! The buns were amazing, the spelt bread fantastic. I do believe we will resurrect my dad’s tradition of walking to the bakery for fresh buns and bread. Once you’ve had it, you just can’t beat it!

By the way, yes, they are continuing to bake many of the goodies the former owners baked, including gluten free and vegan options.

What else can be found in Dolphin Plaza

Dolphin Plaza is a two storey stripmall that sits perpendicular to South Kihei Road, across the street from Kamaole I beach. My favorite stores there are….

  • Maui Gelato (get the lilikoi gelato if they have it)
  • a gift shop
  • the Maui Bread Co
  • Cafe @ la Plage – my friend Beth Cooper painted/decorated Cafe @ la Plage this summer (check it out!)
  • Koiso Sushi – Maui’s best (and most exclusive) tiny sushi restaurant (you need reservations weeks in advance).
  • a fish and chips place
  • a number of other restaurants, a nail place and of course Pizza Hut!

Please note, due to Covid and the severe drop in customers (due to the contraction of tourism), many businesses have scaled back their hours of operation. Do check to avoid disappointment.

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Lunch at Ami Ami

Prior to Covid our family frequently ate out for lunch or dinner to celebrate special occasions. Covid has changed that, but this past week we had cause for celebration and I insisted. After much deliberation, we agreed to try ‘Ami Ami’ for lunch.

Ami Ami is located along South Kihei Road and is part of the Maui Coast Hotel complex. It is part of the Cafe o Lei family of restaurants (Cafe o Lei in Kihei, The Dunes at Maui Lani in Kahului and Ami Ami in Kihei). I’ve always admired the dining room from the road while walking or driving past, but they didn’t used to be open for lunch. On Maui the cost of dinner is almost always more than the cost of a similar meal for lunch. We have though frequently had dinner at the Kamaole Poolside Cafe behind Ami Ami, pre-Covid that is. The two locations share a kitchen, and the poolside cafe has live music in the evening (and cats).

Our lunch was fantastic. The menu has some similarities to that of Cafe o Lei. The boys enjoyed the burgers, Sig had the fish special and I found a poke bowl on the menu! Yum!

Sig’s lunch special – panko crusted ono
my tuna poke bowl with sriracha – delicious

Of course there are Covid rules. There very few tables and chairs set up, all appropriately spaced out. Hand sanitizer both at the host desk and bar. The wait staff all wore masks, and yes, you wear a mask at any time NOT seated at a table. They also took my name and phone number for contact tracing purposes.

What other restaurants were we considering?

In an ideal world, we would have gone to Gannons. However, Gannons is still closed. We hope one day soon that will change.

Mulligans on the Blue was a serious contender for an early dinner to enjoy sunset. And I was favoring the Maui Brewing Company for happy hour. Both solid choices.

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Kihei food truck court

I have a confession to make – I’m a bit of a food truck snob. Maybe snob isn’t the right word. Maybe it would be better to say I have a bit of a phobia of food trucks. On one hand they intrigue me, on the other…. I wonder about food safety and hygiene. After all, how big can their water tank really be? I like hand washing.

Regardless, Sig is away this week and I didn’t feel like cooking, so we went to check out the food truck court in Central Kihei. It’s a neat place. It’s set up on an empty lot behind Azeka mauka, near Fork and Salad, Roasted Chilies, Coconuts Fish Cafe etc. I figured, these food trucks have been here for at least a year or more, surely they’d have been shut down if there were a problem. Right?

I was pleasantly surprised. We picked up a few items from a few food trucks. I think the best part was the variety of choices. Fish, burgers, local food, vegetarian, shave ice and deserts, and of course coffee.

What did we order?

We ended up picking up pulled pork and a fish taco from Da Nani Pirates and hurricane fries from Vidad’s Local Kine Grindz. They were delicious. Okay, maybe that wasn’t so scary after all. And I did see a lot of other items I want to try.

Here’s a little video of the food truck court.

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Malasadas

Our family likes to celebrate special days with freshly made warm malasadas. One of us recently celebrated a birthday, so I got up early to pick up a dozen from a local diner.

My kid didn’t want a birthday cake, so I stuck a candle in one of the cream-filled malasadas. A good compromise, though I still would have liked chocolate cake.

What are malasadas?

Malasadas are a Portuguese donut – essentially they are large donut-holes: deep-fried yeast balls, coated with sugar, sometimes cinnamon, and sometimes filled with custard or guava jam.

In Kihei there are two places to pick up malasadas. Our go-to place is the Home Maid Cafe in Azeka Plaza. They open at 6AM and will make either ‘sugar’ or ‘cream-filled’ malasadas to order before 10AM. The Sugar Beach Bakery in North Kihei also sell them, but I believe they stop making them at 9AM.

Early morning malasadas pick up at the Home Maid Cafe in Kihei. There are always several roosters to entertain in the parking lot.

Our family always gets a dozen (for about $15), half and half (half cream-filled and half sugar). It used to be the kids preferred the sugar ones, now it seems they prefer the cream (custard really) malasadas. There’s motivation to come get them!

Note: best to eat these fresh and warm. Once they cool they just aren’t as good.

What’s the Portuguese connection?

Did you know, in the 1800s sugar cane plantations on Hawaii were in need of workers. Plantation owners started bringing immigrants from around the world to Hawaii to work. Some of these immigrants came from Portugal, while others came from China, Japan and the Philippines. Here is an interesting article about this sugar cane immigration. These immigrants brought many of their own cultural traditions, beliefs, foods to Maui.

On Maui, you can check out the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens at the beginning of Iao Valley (before you get to the State Park). While the gardens themselves are in disrepair, the signs tell the interesting Maui-specific story.

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Treats from Komoda’s Bakery

Yesterday my son had another cross country race. This one was at an upcountry high school. As we drove up Haleakala Hwy, he asked – Mom, can you pick up Komoda’s for the team?

Komoda’s is a family run bakery in Makawao that celebrated its 100th anniversary a few years ago. Yes, it’s a hole in the wall. But it is one of our family’s favorite treat places. In particular the kids like the stick donuts. Five sugar glazed mini donuts on a stick. What’s not to love?

The thing with Komoda’s is – they open at 7AM. For best selection, you have to be there at 7AM or even earlier to get a parking spot and get in line. Mornings there is a line out the door and if you arrive much later, they won’t have much left. Komoda’s closes once they’re sold out (sometimes by 2pm). And they are closed Wednesdays and Sundays and sometimes in September when the family takes time off.

They are best known for their cream puffs and cocoa puffs. I however prefer their Coconut Danish.

Yes, I caved, I picked up 20 stick donuts for the team, a bag of dinner rolls for company we had last night. And a Coconut Danish for me.

Surprise

The best part was surprising my son with a shopping bag of stick donuts when he was only expecting a few for him and his friends. They ran 3 miles (plus their warm up miles). They worked for it.

upcountry
and they’re off – Maui’s high school boys’ track and field event

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My favorite restaurant

We recently went out for lunch for my birthday. I love celebrating birthdays. My favorite lunch restaurant is this wonderful place called Gannons.

Unless you are a golfer, it is possible that Gannons is off your radar. It is located in the club house of the Emerald and Gold Golf Courses in Wailea. You come up their long private driveway, past two of the nicer golf courses on Maui to an impressive white stucco building. There is ample parking (though sometimes you have to walk a little). Then you come in the doors, across a large courtyard and the restaurant is on the left (across from the pro shop).

Gannons

Gannons is one of two restaurants belonging to Bev Gannon – the other being the Hali’imaile General Store (also worth checking out).

Why is this place my favorite restaurant? Three reasons really:

  • the amazing restaurant space
  • the wonderful food
  • the beautiful view across the golf course at the ocean and Molokini

You just can’t beat it.

Gannons is open for lunch, happy hour and dinner. Brunch/lunch items range from $15 to $28 or so. Happy hour is also great with 20+ entree items, priced from $13-18 (they are smaller portions, so you may want to share a couple depending on your appetite). You do need to specify that you are here for happy hour at the Red Bar. Basically you want to sit at any table with an orange candle (otherwise you order from the dinner menu which is much pricier). I’m sure dinner is lovely – but quite pricey. And really, part of the attraction is the view, so come and eat during the day!

I do recommend making reservations, particularly for happy hour.

Gannons
Sig and I waiting for my birthday lunch at Gannons

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Tin Roof take-out lunch

What is your favorite take-out food? Are you a fast-food kind of person, or do you prefer better quality? Sometimes our lives are so busy, we don’t have time to sit down and eat a decent meal. Maui’s own Top Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof restaurant is the answer to that problem when on Maui.

Sheldon Simeon had already had a few other restaurants going on Maui – Star Noodle in Lahaina, and then a restaurant at the Andaz -when he started his own mom and pop shop, Tin Roof, over 2 years ago. It’s simple good quality take-out food at affordable prices.

Tin Roof is located in a Kahului strip mall along Dairy Road. They are open only between 10AM and 2PM. There are several restaurants in this strip mall, so know that parking is difficult to find. It’s probably easiest to send one person in to grab the food while the others stay in the car and circle around the block.

To reiterate, the Tin Roof is a take-out place with only a few seats should you need to wait for your food. It’s tight and crowded inside. Again, it’s easiest when only one person runs in to grab the food. But trust me, the food is amazing.

Here is how best to order lunch. Go on their website (super easy on your phone) and check out their menu. There are a 4-5 entrees and a chefs special, a few add-ons, and some ‘other grinds’ (grinds being food). Select what you want, additional options (such as rice, add-ons etc), add to cart, select the time you want to pick up and pay right on your phone. Then at your designated time, go to their restaurant and pick it up from the counter. Yum!

Yesterday I picked up an order of mochiko chicken on hapa (half white half brown) rice with an add-on of pickled onions. My $10.42 meal was ready to pick up when I got there.

By the way, this summer Sheldon Simeon opened another restaurant at the Shops at Wailea ~ Lineage. It’s located at the top of the shops, next to the grocery store, close to Lulu Lemon and Louis Vuitton.

Rachel Ray’s U’i Gallery

While in the neighborhood I stopped at my acquaintance Rachel’s art gallery – the U’i Gallery – which is right next door to Tin Roof. I needed a few more of her beautiful calendars and mugs! If you’re shopping for souvenirs or gifts, do check it out! Rachel’s younger daughter Kahalau was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. Since then they have been fighting for her life. They have been working on a reduced schedule, but I believe are open daily from 11-2 or so. 

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Random foods

Recently I was sorting through pictures on my phone and found various random food photos. Pictures I’d taken with intention of blogging about them. Life has been busy and as you may have noticed, my blogging has slowed down. So, instead of four blog entries, I thought I’d just post them all together.

Fabianis

Fabiani’s is a cute little Italian restaurant with two locations – the main one (which includes an amazing bakery) in Kihei, the second in Wailea Gateway Plaza (same shopping center as Monkey Pod). I can’t remember anymore which pizza this was, perhaps the Kula Fields? Vegetarian nonetheless, and so good.

Fabianis

Monkey Pod

The Monkey Pod is a very popular Wailea restaurant. Personally, I’m not that taken by it, but have heard about their lilikoi foam mai tais from several people. Naturally I had to try it. It was good. Yum. By the way – lilikoi is a passion fruit!

lilikoi foam mai tai

 

Eskimo Candy

Poke is popular in Hawaii – raw marinated fish (often ahi). A poke bowl is poke served over hot rice. Eskimo Candy is a small take-out place tucked into industrial Kihei, across from NAPA Auto Parts. Their poke bowl is one of the best – I love that there are four different varieties plus a scoop of seaweed salad over rice. It is truly yummy and with the rice quite filling.

Eskimo Candy’s poke bowl

 

Bistro Molokini

We’ve eaten pupu (appetizer) and dinner here a few times. Slightly more casual restaurant at the Grand Wailea, right next to one of their pools. We’ve had several items on their menu, the poke nachos, the steak (so good), scallops and this is the ahi. Delicious.

Togarashi Seared Ahi

Brigit and Bernard’s

Maui’s only German/Swiss restaurant, this favorite is located in industrial Kahului. Brigit and Bernard’s lanai (patio) is loud with local traffic, but if you must have German food, you go anyway. Service is friendly and the food is good. I had the Wednesday chicken special – it was so good! Every week day they have 3-4 specials – go and check their board, they don’t update their website or facebook regularly. Oh, and they throw Oktoberfest parties all October!

Wednesday chicken special with roesti

Mystery slider

I wish I could remember where we had this – just looking at the picture, my mouth is watering. If you’ve ordered this, let me know. I’m guessing maybe Gannons Red Bar or Manoli’s, but…. I honestly don’t remember.

pork slider – sadly I can’t remember where we had this

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