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The menu is a little neurotic—in a good way—featuring Mediterranean and Indian dishes, but the food is fresh and tasty. This budget-friendly café offers flavors and preparations not easily obtainable at other Island eateries, with a nice selection of sweet and savory crepes, Indian wraps, and salads. All in all, you get delicious, good-value food, as well as excellent peope watching from the umbrella-shaded tables outside. No credit cards.
Paia is one of Maui's most interesting food towns, and this Mediterranean-inspired joint is right in the thick of things. It's kind of frenetic in every way, from the menu to the decor and the service. But the food is good and well priced, and the people-watching is fascinating. The husband-and-wife owners, from England and Spain respectively, decorated the place with Moroccan clay pieces; teak and coconut-wood tables are set in the middle of benches with Middle Eastern pillows. The menu goes all over the place, too, with all-American burgers, island fish, Moroccan tagines, Spanish tapas, and paella. www.cafemambomaui.com. Credit cards accepted.
Its proximity to the harbor and a good surf spot means that this place is always jumping. The decor is funky, beach-y, and kitschy. There's a killer cocktail list and drinks are prepared by experienced, excellent bartenders. But the draw here is definitely the barbecue—ribs, chicken, and prime rib, all smoked on-site. The sweet potato fries drizzled with honey are an obvious must. Credit cards accepted.
The location of this Mediterranean restaurant is smack-dab in the middle of Kahului, making it a convenient choice for lunch or dinner. The menu features everything from salads and crepes (both savory and sweet) to pastas and simple fish and meat preparations. A tapas menu—available after 3 pm—changes weekly and always has an excellent selection of dishes. If you're flying out on a red-eye, this is a perfect place for dinner before heading to the airport. www.bistrocasanova.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
The setting is sublime, the atmosphere serene, and the service elegant at this signature restaurant of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Drink in views of the Pailolo Channel and Molokai while enjoying perfectly prepared Island cuisine full of worldly influences. The dukka (Middle Eastern spice mixture) delivered with your bread is just a hint of the delights to come. Chef JoJo Vasquez's recent seasonal offerings have included raw hamachi in Vietnamese marinade, grilled Colorado lamb with eggplant puree, and Maui-made Surfing Goat Dairy goat cheese tart. www.ritzcarlton.com/kapalua. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch.
It's easy to miss Bangkok Cuisine, nestled in the center of a strip of nondescript shops and offices on Dairy Road, but keep your eyes peeled. This little place, with just a few tables and lots of burgundy linen and gilt trim, turns out what is arguably the best pad thai on Maui. You can also expect to find curries, satays, and hot-and-spicy soups. The stuffed chicken wings are particularly good, as is the Cornish game hen. If you're coming from or going to the airport, this is a good place to stop. www.bangkokcuisinemaui.com. Credit cards accepted.
It began as a French-Vietnamese bakery on Oahu and has branched into popular small restaurants sprinkled throughout the Islands. Some are kiosks in malls; others are stand-alones with some picnic tables out front, as is the case at this location, which is one of four on Maui. Vietnamese pho (the famous soups laden with seafood or rare beef, fresh basil, bean sprouts, and lime) share menu space with local-style saimin; plates of barbecue or spicy chicken, beef, or pork with jasmine rice; and sandwiches. There are a slew of tapioca flavors for dessert. www.ba-le.com. Credit cards accepted.
This restaurant in Wailuku's Millyard (a light industrial area) is the best choice for Vietnamese food on Maui. Owner Jason Chau grows his own Hawaiian chili peppers, mint, basil, chives, lemongrass, and green onions around the perimeter of the parking lot, and these seasonings add robust and concentrated flavors to his dishes. Try the lemongrass chicken or tofu, the garlic beef or green papaya salad, the crispy sesame or orange beef, the clay pots with crunchy, charred rice bits on the bottom, and the bun, bowls brimming with cold vermicelli noodles and topped with chicken. Credit cards accepted.
From the wonderful folks who bring you Maui's best luau—the Old Lahaina Luau—comes this extremely casual, oceanfront eatery, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you've yet to indulge in a local-style "plate lunch," this is a good place to try it. A consistent award winner in local magazine and newspaper polls, each plate combines foods representative of Hawaii's ethnic mix. Take a plate of your Chinese chow mein noodles, marinated and grilled Korean kalbi ribs, Japanese teriyaki beef, and, of course, the requisite macaroni salad and two scoops of rice to a table so close to the ocean you just might get wet. Want to go whole hog? Try the Alii Plate of traditional Hawaiian foods: laulau (taro-leaf-wrapped bundles of meats and fish), lomilomi salmon (a cold salad of raw salmon, tomatoes, onions), poi, rice, and haupia (luscious coconut pudding). Oh, and don't forget the mai tai! www.AlohaMixedPlate.com. Credit cards accepted.
Nearly hidden between auto-body shops and karaoke bars is this wonderful, bright café serving good island fare. Chef-owner Elaine Nakashima not only knows how to make everything taste delicious, she knows how to make local flavors more healthful, too. Her Thai chicken, local fish preparations, roast turkey plate, and even her sweet potatoes (either steamed or fried) are excellent. Elaine's crab cakes are so good—some say the best on Maui—that retail markets around the island stock them in their freezers and their prepared-food sections. The place takes on a lovely warm glow at dinnertime, and impromptu contemporary Hawaiian music is not uncommon. www.akscafe.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed weekends.
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