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Jun 16, 2009 07:49 AM

Dining on Maui and Lanai

The girlfriend and I will be going to Maui and Lanai in August for 3/4 nights each Staying at the Four Seasons on both islands. Any suggestions for restaurants on either island? I have read some very helpful posts so far just want to make sure I cover all the bases. We are looking for traditional Hawaiian food as well as anything super high quality across just about any type of cuisine.



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  1. Matt, I live on the island of Lanai, but will cover Maui first. It all depends on what your idea of Hawaiian food is. Real Hawaiian food is difficult to find on Maui and nonexistant on Lanai. Real Hawaiian food is Kahula pig, lomilomi salmon, poi and laulau. To try these, either go to a Luau or go to "DaKitchen". DaKitchen is a restaurant in Kahalulu at "triangle square" behind Krispy Kremes before the airport. The servings are huge, might want to share something. There is a smaller DaKitchen in Kihei (near Dennys) and another smaller one at the warf in Lahaina.

    Good quality food which is really fresh would be at Mamma's Fish House in Paaia (it's expensive, but the view is outstanding as well as the food and service, make reservations). Also excellent for dining is Sansei in either Kihei or Kapalua which is regional pacific food and sushi. Make reservations. Spago in the Four Seasons in Wailea also has excellent food and the service is excellent, the view is superb and make reservations and go before sunset.
    The Plantation restraunt in Kapalua is the best place for breakfast, and I'm sure the other meals are just as good.

    Now for Lanai, there is no real Hawaiian food on the island. In town to eat would be either Pele's other Garden which is little Itallian bistro at night and deli lunches (the best sandwiches) for lunch. Barbara and Mark are the owners and make reservations, its where we all go . The Ocean Grill at Manele Bay (not sure if you will be at Koele or Manele) has a great view,it's by the pool, food isn't bad. Food at the clubhouse for lunch at either is good.
    Hotel Lanai is in town and they have the Lanai City Grill open for dinner. It was redone and the place is really nice, they have music on Friday nights. Acclaimed chef Bev Gannon consults on the menu, many people love the food there, I m not sure it's that great, but you might want to try it.

    Have a great trip, enjoy Hawaii.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kaila


      It's been a while for us, since we last visited your island. I still have wonderufl memories and we hope to be back sooner, rather than later.

      I have a few questions, especially as the Four Seasons was not a presence back then. In Lanai City, the Lanai City Grill that you mention - is it still run by two brothers from Westwego, Louisiana (IIRC, or maybe Gretna)? While the two higher-end meals at both Koele and Manele were great, and the less-formal dining at Manele was very good, we really enjoyed the Lanai City Grill. That night, the chef brother (the other ran the FOH) was working on a praline recipe. His brother out front recognized my wife's accent, and began talking to her. In short order, she was consulting on the pralines in the kitchen. This was some time before Chef Gannon was involved. The chef brother had wonderful spirit and was cooking with great passion. The meal was great.

      Also, as you so aptly point out, there was not a true Hawaiian restaurant on the island. There was actually more influence from Portugal, but that should be expected, given the recent history.

      Friends from O`ahu, who had their honeymoon on Lanai, told us that we were spending too much time there - six days. They missed that boat. We could have spent ten and not missed a beat. The food, the service, golf and tennis were great, although a bit different than other islands and sides of islands. Still, we must go back, even if we just hang out and eat for 10 days. In the end, an absolutely fantastic vacation, that was too long ago.

      To Mmreinbold, I hope that you are taking the ferry over from Lahaina. That alone is worth the effort and the greeting at the dock was wonderful.

      Enjoy and much aloha,


    2. Hi Matt. Was just on Lanai last week at Four Seasons and it was amazing! We had plans to venture to the town, but ended up staying at the hotel for all of our meals - glad we did, it was great! If you're looking for Hawaiian food, go to the restaurant at Manele called Hulopoe Court. I wouldn't say it's traditional, but more of a "fusion" type of menu. If you're not Hawaiian, or from Hawaii, your palette may not enjoy the traditional Hawaiian food anyway. The Italian food was excellent at the restaurant across the lobby and we had a great lunch at the golf club up the road - try the mahimahi fish tacos or the shrimp BLT! Food is a little on the pricey side, but so worth it. You can't go wrong with Four Seasons! Have a great trip, I'm sure you'll score big points with the GF for this one!

      On Maui, I suggest Mama's Fish House in Paia for great food and views (very romantic); David Pauls in Lahaina - I had the best lamb chops there. They have decent Hawaiian food at the Old Lahaina Luau, but very commercial and kind of touristy. Plantation House in Kapalua is also good for the views and the food is pretty good.

      4 Replies
      1. re: mummum

        David Paul's has been gone for many years. I suspect you meant Lahaina Grill

        1. re: DriverPhil

          Well, this is a post from 2009....

          1. re: kathryn

            David Paul has a new place on Front St called Island Grill. That's probably the one the 2009 poster was referring to

      2. Aloha,
        Staying 2 nights at the FS Manele Bay Lana'i and being this thread is 5 years old, anything new and good to check out?

        16 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick

          These spots look pretty good... this is from a friend's blog:

          1. re: kathryn

            OMG..I'm drooling from the poke pics!
            I could eat that morning, noon and night with some cold Hinano's..
            I like the poke bowls with some mac salad in there too.

            1. re: Beach Chick

              That was my go to place the last few times on Lanai. Can't beat good poke. Also, can't remember what day it was, but there was a very small farmer's market on the lawn by Hotel Lanai. They sold good homemade filipino food. Check with one of the hotels for the days the set up.

          2. re: Beach Chick

            There have been a lot of "renovations" to the Four Seasons Manele Bay Resort over the past year. The "west" wing of the resort is currently undergoing a major renovation. You should check which restaurants will be open when you are staying there. There is a Nobu but I am not sure if it will be open. (currently it is closed for renovations). All the rest at Manele have new names now. The "Views" at the Challenge at Manele Golf course is now open until 11 am until 6pm with afternoon/happy hour specials. Food is excellent there and a wonderful place for sunset.
            One Forty is the steak/seafood place at the hotel, there is an Italian rest by the pool which is also open for lunch with a more continental style for lunch.
            FS at Koele also has good food , their breakfast is excellent.
            Lanai City Grill is in town ( owned by Mary Charles).

            Pele's other Garden is in Lanai City and is NY style deli during the day, Italian Bistro at night. Food is good there, we call it the "Cheers" of Lanai.

            For more "local Lanai" style, Blue Ginger Cafe in town is open for breakfast , lunch and dinner.

            1. re: kaila

              I hate to stay in pricey 5* resorts when renovations are going on..especially, when there is no deduction of price for the noise/construction, etc.

              Maybe the FS Lodge is the way to go and shuttle down to Manele bay FS to eat at Nobu and One Forty..
              The Ahi poke shop in Lana'i City looks like my kind of place.

              Going in September..

              Aloha and lots of Mahalo

              1. re: Beach Chick

                You should be warned that gone are the days when you could enjoy full amenities at both resorts. Since Mr Larry bought the island guests at Koele are no longer allowed to use Manele's pool. This is a deal breaker for us since our two visits, one pre four seasons and one post we preferred staying at the Lodge, strolling to Lanai City and talking story over breakfast, lounging by the Manele pool in between snorkling in the bay. Heading back to the Lodge to play Executive golf putting or crochet and just wandering the beautiful grounds. I'm willing to bet that Manele guests are allowed to participate in lawn games, so this new separation of hotel guest privileges will keep us from returning. I don't want to be treated as a second class guest because I prefer the Lodge for our lodging. Our first trip I had booked two nights and two nights, but after touring a Manele Room we decided to stay put upcountry for our sleeps.

                1. re: Bellachefa

                  Had to cancel the Lodge at the FS because pool privelges at FS Manele Bay are not reciporacal..only dining..this is per the concierge and we do what you have done in the past..snorkel, pool, lunch, shuttle back to the Lodge upcountry, no problem..
                  Big problem now..
                  Changes the whole dynamics..
                  Not spending that kind of $$ and loyal customer with FS to be jacked around.

                  Aloha and Mahalo

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    I have been monitoring this thread. I had a similar issue happen when the 4S took over a few years ago and half the restaurants were closed. I never would have known if I wasnt' a compulsive trip planner. They offered me a $50 a day supplement. At the time, Island Air graciously allowed us to change our flights and instead of heading to Lanai with first timer friends we ended up at KeaLani. We eventually returned, but honestly loved our first visit with the Starwood Group to the 4S stay. Although both were wonderful.

                    Last I read the renovations at Manele will not be ending for quite sometime. They have plans on expanding the pool, taking up the grassy areas, adding a child friendly pool at the luau pavilion you pass as you head to the beach.

                    I think Ellison may be doing good things but to dismantle the two hotels as seperate entities and plan a third more exclusive property will keep people like you and me from returning to glorious Lanai. I have so many fond memories. And to keep it on topic, I think I had one of the best meatball sandwiches that we got in Lanai City and had as a picnic doing the Munroe Trail.

                    Good luck adjusting your plans.

                    1. re: Bellachefa

                      Oh and another thing that makes this sting more is that certain condo rentals offer a guest pass for Manele for about $300 a week, called The Lanai Club, or something like that, offering full access and discounts.

                      1. re: Bellachefa

                        You have some misinformation about the renovations currently undergoing at the FS Manele Bay Resort. They are NOT planning to expand the pool , take up grassy areas adding another pool at the luau pavilion. Half of the resort is being renovated at a time. All current renovations are scheduled to be completed by Dec. 15th. There are a few phases to the FS Manele renovations, this is phase 1. The " guest pass" you mentioned is for the Island Club when someone rents a condo from a homeowner who lives at either Manele or Koele, it then gives the person access to the hotel pool, island club pool and spas I believe at each resort. But the person who owns the condo has to be an "Island Club " member. These condos are not part of the FS Resort, they are privately owned.
                        There has been discussion about a 3rd FS resort out by the former "Club Lanai" area on the east side of the island, but that is a long way off from happening.
                        Pele's Other Garden in Lanai City is the place for the meatball parm sub. Excellent food there for lunch and dinner, reasonably priced.
                        I don't work for the FS Resort , I just live here on Lanai and attend the meetings they have concerning what is going on here on the island.

                        1. re: kaila

                          Aloha Kaila!
                          How wonderful that you live on Lana'i.
                          Thanks for the info from a local.
                          Where would you suggest to stay/glamping and dine in Lana'i?


                          1. re: kaila

                            Thanks for the update Kaila!
                            Not sure where I read about the revovation plans. He's certainly juggling a lot of ideas I'm glad they scrapped or postponed the pool on the grassy bluff. I did think the childrens pool was a good idea and location.

                            I love your island. If I return to the Lodge, perhaps I could skip Manele pool and buy you lunch and picnic at the community pool! Those meetings must keep you busy and are of great service to the whole community to be involved.

                            From my two visits, I've always thought that Lanai is the Friendly Island. I've talked story with so many people on our visits about the transition of the pines to becoming greens men or hospitality. Housekeeping would stop to chat. So many locals would just stop and chat and inquire where I was visiting from and then tell me a bit about their life. Good times indeed.

                    2. re: Bellachefa

                      Mr Larry has given me another reason to not return. He recently bought the Hotel Lanai, which sounded like a good idea. However implemented recently is a new policy that Hotel Lanai guests can no longer use the Koele to Manele shuttle. Makes no sense to me. Wouldn't you want those guests to come and dine and spend money at the two resorts? I'm feeling less and less optimistic that Mr Larry has the islands best interest. I think many people are not returning due to this seperation of the classes of their guests. He bought the island dirt cheap in a fire sale. The island relies on tourism now. I'm also not impressed with his leadership in Island Air.

                      Why is this relevant? Because taking the shuttle down for a meal is no longer a viable option, even though all three lodging options are owned by Mr Larry

                2. re: Beach Chick

                  Does the third night free not fit into your dates?

                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    The concierge at the FS Lodge offered me the third night free but we decided to just hang in Maui for the week and ferry over for the day..

                    Spent many times at Molokini, snorkeling with the Monk Seals but didn't feel like taking the tri hull boat over..can get really rough and super windy..

                    Aloha bella..

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      watch the surf report, our second passage back to Maui on our original trip was gale force winds. It was hard just standing on the dock, never mind the middle of the channel. At least it is a relatively short ride, if the winds and surf are up. Another 20 minutes, and I wouldn't have made it.