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Jun 12, 2009 04:30 PM

Maui - three week report - Longish

We are just home from our annual Maui trip. This year the island was the emptiest we've seen it, other than the period after 9/11. That meant that restaurants were half-full at best which is good for the diner but bad for the operator.

In no particular order:

Honokowai Okazuya. This is what fast food should be. Cooked to order and full of flavor. The place lacks charm but as a takeway to the beach it is hard to beat. We have come here for years and find them remarkably consistent.

Mala Ocean Tavern. Found ourselves here for one lunch, one happy hour and two dinners. Not fine dining, but honest, well-prepared food. Fresh fish too, we were there when they carried them in fresh off the boat. We first went to this location when it was a BBQ restaurant. This is a 'keeper' in our book.

David Paul's Island Grill. They'd been open about three weeks when we were there. Nice room and an interesting front and back patio setup. Some of the menu items are carried over from the Lahaina Grill menu. One nice feature was that most of the entrees are available as a full or a taster portion. That's good if you are trying to economize or are just not that hungry. Given that the restaurant is so new it is not fair to rate them until several months have passed. For us, the food was very good but not outstanding, and the service was inept. The location struck us a being difficult - a bit off of the Front St circuit.

Gerard's. Tied with Haliimaile for our best meal and service. This was our second time at Gerard's and they did not disappoint. Well, one thing -.they are a French restaurant but they do not offer French wines by the glass. I'm the wine lover, my wife does not drink. No view, just good food. Not busy the night we went but if you go I would suggest a reservation. Dinner only.

Haliimaile General Store. Went up the hill for a late weekday lunch. The restaurant was half occupied at best. BTW: No reservations taken for lunch unless you are a party of six or more. Nice wine list. The food and service were superb.

Main Street Bistro in Wailuku. Went here twice, lunch, and tapas which begins at 3p. They are closed on weekends I believe. Interesting place, a single chef in the kitchen and one or two servers, the night we went for tapas there was the same chef doing everything. What a grind he has. The food was very good, the service was on island time. We liked it but it may be too much of a casual, locals place for some folks.

A Saigon Cafe. Tricky to find in Wailuku. It has no name on the outside and the building is a bit of a dump in appearance. The dining room is also a dowdy, unattractive space. But the food makes it worth it! Just wonderful. Oh, the service is good but odd. You'll either love it or hate it.

Sam Sato's - This is an institution. All the locals know this place for its plate lunches, Saimin and hearty breakfasts. You want to eat with a local? Go here.

The Gazebo - great breakfast with a view.

The Sea House at Napili Kai. We stay at this resort and have seen the food improve over the years. Beautiful location on the water at Napili Bay. Suggest you avoid going for dinner, but do lunch or pupus on the deck next to the restaurant.

Haliimaile General Store
900 Haliimaile Rd, Makawao, HI 96768

Gazebo Restaurant
5315 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761

Honokowai Okazuya & Deli
3600 Lower Honoapiilani Rd Ste D, Lahaina, HI 96761

Gerard's Restaurant
174 Lahainaluna Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761

Sam Sato's
1750 Wili PA Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793

A Saigon Cafe
1792 Main St, Wailuku, HI 96793

Mala Ocean Tavern
1307 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761

David Paul's Island Grill
900 Front Street, Lahaina, HI 96761

Main Street Bistro
2051 Main St, Wailuku, HI 96793

Sea House Restaurant
5900 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761

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  1. Thank you for the reviews and the full report.

    I also weigh the wines, whether B-T-G, or half-bottles, as it's so often just the two of us dining. Luckily, at Gerard's, we did a bottle of a nice white Burg and then a PN. We had the opportunity to share our wines with another diner, a local chef and his wife, and took advantage of this situation. Otherwise, we would have left wines for the staff with our compliments.

    We also appreciate the smaller portions, and it's usually to allow one to actually order more courses. That was our rub on MĀLA Ocean Tavern. The appetizer portions were too large for us to have two, plus mains. It is my understanding that they now offer smaller appetizer plates, which is a good thing in my book. We just love "chef's tastings," with appropriately sized portions. More, in the sense of variety, is usually better than more of one dish, however great it might be. If I really want more of something, I can order another.

    Hope to do David Paul's new restaurant in the Fall, and also do the Lahaina Grill as a counter-point to it. Loved Chef Paul's fare in the past, and have done the Lahaina Grill since his departure (whether I knew it, or not), so a comparison would be in order.



    1. Thanks DriverPhil!

      You've reinforced my need to go to Gerard's next February. You, Bill Hunt, and some freinds of ours have all given excellent reviews - now I must go!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cookiefiend

        Shortly after my review, there was a local review done after dining with some friends (from France, IIRC). While our meal, and their's were at opposite ends of the dining spectrum, you might look that one up for a reference. Seems that it was done in late Dec, '08, or Jan, '09. This would be for balance.

        Enjoy, and please report.


        PS Not sure that one could really paint a romantic picture of dining overlooking a fairly busy street, but we found the lanai seating to be wonderful - no ocean view, obviously, but still lovely on a lovely evening.