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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
There's an "express" location in Kihei, but try the happy, always-crowded Kahului location of Da Kitchen for the mahimahi tempura, the loco moco, Hawaiian plate, and chicken katsu. Everything on the lengthy menu is delicious and the portions are gigantic. The upbeat ambience is reflected in the service as well as the food. www.da-kitchen.com. Closed Sun.
From the nondescript exterior and the location in an old pineapple cannery-cum-strip mall, you'd never anticipate what's inside. Colleen's is one of the most overlooked restaurants on Maui. It's popular with locals for breakfast and lunch, but try it at dinner when the candles come out and it's time for martinis and fresh fish. The food is excellent, in particular the huge salads made with Upcountry's best produce; the fish specials; the burgers; and the simple roast chicken. When eating here, you'll feel like you're at a hip, urban eatery. www.colleensinhaiku.com. Credit cards accepted.
Chef Christian Jorgensen left fancy hotel kitchens behind to open a casual place serving simple, delicious food at reasonable prices. The mango-glazed ribs, burgers, and classic Reuben sandwich are good choices, and the pineapple fried rice is ono (delicious); just order and pick up at the counter, and take your food to a table. If you're traveling to Hana or the Haleakala crater, buy a box lunch and you're set. If you're staying in a condo, the "Chefs to Go" service is a great alternative to picking up (run of the mill and usually lousy) fast food. Everything is prepped and comes with easy cooking instructions. And if you decide, even on the spur of the moment, that Maui is a nice place for a wedding, CJ's can cater it. www.cjsmaui.com. Credit cards accepted.
A Maui institution, this is the place to take your cowboy-size breakfast appetite. Omelets, pancakes, sausage biscuits with country gravy, and giant-size French toast slices lure the customers in. Charley's also serves hearty portions for lunch and dinner, including handmade pizzas and awesome burgers made from local beef. The saloon is open until 1 am every night, so you can rack em up on the pool tables and enjoy a beer or two. If you're lucky, Willie Nelson may just wander in and tune up. www.charleysmaui.com.
An authentic Italian dinner house and nightclub, this place is smack in the middle of Maui's paniolo (cowboy) town of Makawao. The brick wood-burning oven, imported from Italy, has been turning out perfect pies and steaming hot focaccia for more than 20 years. You can pair a pie with a salad (they're all big enough to share) and a couple of glasses of wine without breaking the bank. The daytime deli is fabulous for breakfast, cappuccino, croissants, and people-watching. The place turns positively raucous—in a good way—on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. www.casanovamaui.com. Credit cards accepted.
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. Now, you can have a cocktail, too. All in all, you get delicious, good-value food, as well as excellent peope watching from the umbrella-shaded tables outside. www.cdamaui.com. 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, falafel and hummus, Spanish tapas, and paella. www.cafemambomaui.com. Credit cards accepted.
Its proximity to the harbor and a good surf spot means that this joint is always jumping. The decor is funky, beach-y, and kitschy. There's a major 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. Try the Tuesday night lobster fest or the Wednesday night ribs fest for big portions at low prices. The sweet-potato fries drizzled with honey are an obvious must. There's a new "express" location at the Maui Marketplace food court. 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.
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.
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