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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Getting there is half—well, maybe a quarter—of the fun. Tucked in the back corner of a covered parking garage, Tokyo Tei is worth seeking out for wonderful Japanese food. At lunch you'll rub elbows with bankers and construction workers; at dinner, three generations might be celebrating Tutu's (grandma's) birthday at the next table. This is a bona fide local institution where for more than six decades people have come for the food and the comfort of familiarity. You'll find the freshest sashimi, feather-light yet crispy shrimp and vegetable tempura, and local-style bentos and plate lunches. www.tokyotei.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch Sun.
The name of the restaurant comes from the three young chefs who met working at a Wailea restaurant, only to decide in 2010 to strike out on their own. Each has a distinctive style (Hawaiian, Southwestern, and Pacific Rim), but somehow it all works. The food is good, with a large selection of salads, burgers, and flatbreads for lunch; fresh fish and steaks are served at dinner. There's also a raw bar, sushi, ceviche, and poke. The space is as big as the menu with three separate dining areas, plus an outdoor patio. www.threesbarandgrill.com.. closed for breakfast Mondays and Tuesdays.
Executive chef Tom Muromoto is a local boy who loves to cook modern, upscale Hawaiian food. He augments the various fresh fish dishes on his menu with items influenced by Hawaii's ethnic mix. This casual, open-air restaurant is the only place on Maui—maybe in Hawaii—where you can have a Native Hawaiian combination plate that is as healthful as it is authentic. Sunday brunch, complete with strolling Hawaiian musicians and hula dancers, is renowned here; and if you're around for any holiday, chow down at the amazing holiday brunch buffets. www.kbhmaui.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Fragrant tea and coconut-ginger chicken soup begin a satisfying meal at this excellent Thai restaurant, set unassumingly in the middle of a shopping mall. The care and expense that goes into the decor—glittering Buddhist shrines, elaborate hardwood facades, fancy napkin folds, and matching blue china—also applies to the cuisine. Take an exotic journey with the fantastic pad Thai, special house noodles, curries, and crispy fried chicken. Can't decide? Try the family dinners for two or four. The fried bananas with ice cream are wonderful. There's a second location in Kahului's Maui Mall, a perfect choice before or after a movie at the megaplex. www.thailandcuisinemaui.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch Sun.
In a very short time this wonderful spot has become one of Maui's best restaurants. It's way up above the highway in a light industrial park, but don't be discouraged by the location. Take the drive and you'll find a hip place and a welcoming staff that knows the meaning of "aloha." There's a communal table in the center of the room, smaller tables around the perimeter, and comfortable stools for those who like to eat at a bar. Menu musts include the Ahi Avo, pan-roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and kim chee purée, and really any of the noodle dishes, especially the Lahaina fried soup (fat chow fun, pork, bean sprouts). The cocktail list is fabulous and the lychee martinis served here may be the best on Maui. www.starnoodle.com. Credit cards accepted.
Come on, how can you come to Hawaii and not go to a tiki bar? And this one—tucked into Kihei KalamaVillage—is consistently voted "Best Bar" by the readers of Maui Time Weekly. During the day, sit on the shaded lanai to enjoy a burger, sandwich, or, better yet, one of their delicious specialty pizzas, crafted from scratch with sauces made from fresh Roma tomatoes and Maui herbs. Their pies have been voted "Best Local Pizza" by those same Maui Time Weekly readers for three years running. Seven nights a week, the tiny bar area lights up with a lively crowd, as DJs spin dance tunes under the glowing red eyes of the lounge's namesake tiki. And you can order food right up until midnight. www.southshoretikilounge.com. Credit cards accepted.
It's a marriage made in Hawaii heaven. The California cuisine of celebrity-chef Wolfgang Puck is combined with Maui flavors and served lobby level and oceanfront at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort. Try the spicy ahi tuna poke in sesame-miso cones to start, and then see what the chefs-in-residence can do with some of Maui's fantastic local fishes. Finish with a little wild lilikoi (passion fruit) crème brûlée with white chocolate-macadamia nut biscotti. Oh, it'll cost you, but the service is spot-on and the smooth, Asian-inspired decor allows the food to claim the spotlight. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
If you're celebrating a special occasion and want to splurge, this just might be the place for you. You'll descend a grand staircase into an amber-lighted dining room with soaring ceilings and a massive artificial lagoon complete with swans, waterfalls, and tropical gardens. Must-haves on Chef Geno Sarmiento's contemporary, Mediterranean-influenced menu include ahi saltimbocca; goat-cheese ravioli with Kula corn, edamame, and Hamakua mushrooms; and grilled beef tenderloin marinated in coffee and served with Parmesan-garlic fries. The restaurant claims the largest wine cellar in Hawaii with 3,000 bottles. www.sonzmaui.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
This is Central Maui's hidden jewel for reasonably priced, local-style lunches that are good for you. The menu is not only diabetic-friendly, it's also high in fiber; low in salt, sugar, and fat; and seasoned with fresh herbs under the expert guidance of chef Joe Wilkinson. Besides veggie options, local favorites include ground turkey chow fun, hot-and-sour soup, and baked fish with ginger lime sauce. All entrées come with sweet potatoes, brown rice, taro, and salad or any combination of the above. Simply Healthy can be hard to find; ask for the Cameron Center building between Maui Memorial Hospital and the main Wailuku police station. www.hnkop.org. No credit cards. No dinner. Closed weekends and holidays.
A good choice for a seafood lunch, the Maui Ocean Center's signature restaurant (aquarium admission is not required to dine here) offers harbor views from its open-air perch. The restaurant promotes heart-healthy cuisine, using sustainable seafood and trans-fat-free items. Lunch-size salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish tacos, teriyaki tofu, fish-and-chips, chicken, ribs, and a full kids' menu are on offer. There's something for everyone here, and the view isn't bad either. www.mauioceancenter.com. Credit cards accepted. No dinner.
As suggested by our Facebook fans:
Oahu: Hau Tree Lanai
Maui: Mama's Fish House
Kauai: The Beach House