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Some questions for my Maui trip

I'll be in Maui for about a week staying all over the island (West, Central, East and South) during the Christmas holidays. So my restaurant choices have a lot to do with where I'll be staying at the moment as I don't like to drive long distances. As I stated in my other post looking for chow in Oahu, my preference is to have a mix of casual and fancy meals and to eat foods that aren't as common in my hometown of NYC (eg. no Gerard's). This is what I have so far:

Breakfasts (and/or snacks, depending on how you look at it)
Fresh fruit
T Komoda Store and Bakery -- donut on a stick; cream puffs
Tasaka guri guri in kahlalui -- sherbet
Real Fruit Ice Cream -- W. Maui

Lunches
Lahaina Farms in W. Maui -- for poke and fixins for a beach lunch
Takamiya Market in C. Maui -- for food to eat later at Haleakala National Park
Mama's Fish Market in C. Maui -- am curious to see what side I'm on
Da Kitchen -- probably at Kahului location as I heard it was better and the menu is expanded
Eskimo Candy in S. Maui
Sam Sato's in C. Maui-- for their dry saimin

Dinners
Honokowei Ozakya Deli in W. Maui -- a bit more casual than I would have preferred for dinner, but would love to check this place out, especially as I've read the former owner used to be at Mama's Fish House and the new owner is still using many of the recipes; was planning on bringing the food back to my hotel and eating it on the lanai
Merriman's in W. Maui
Hali'maile General Store in C. Maui
Spago in S. Maui
Cafe O'Lei in S. Maui

1. In my hasty planning, I made the mistake of driving to and staying at Hana on Christmas Day. The banana bread guy told me he was going to be open on Christmas. Is there a market that will be open in Kahului on Christmas Day, or will I have to pick my groceries up the day before as I plan on cooking dinner at Hana?

2. For W. Maui, I've got Merriman's as my "fancy" meal. One of the reasons I picked it is because they have these signature platters where one can try many different dishes. Yet I read mixed reports on this place. But I also keep reading mixed reports on other places out there as well -- Lahaina Grill, Mala, Pineapple Grill, Plantation House, etc. What would be your choice for your fancy meal in W. Maui?

3. Any recommendations for stands on the road from Hana the day after Christmas?

4. I will be at Spago and have read many recommendations for the tasting menu. Does this need to be ordered in advance? And how much food is it? I'm a little concerned because we'll be away for two weeks and our regular diet is worlds away from this richer one we plan to do in Hawaii. I'm afraid that we'll end up feeling pretty shitty by the end of our trip. So I'm trying not to overstuff myself (though it will be hard as I'll be surrounded by a lot of temptation!).

5. Any other recommendations for light breakfasts/snacky type of foods?

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  1. Just a quick note about Mama's - it didn't appear to be a take-out sort of place. The restaurant itself sort of looks like a tiki bar, but it's right on the ocean, so there is a nice view during the day. The food is pricey and it's fish heavy, which might not travel very well. If you like raw fish, try the Tahitian style raw fish with coconut cream (poisson cru). YUM.

    When you're in Hana, check out the Ono Organic Farms fruit stand for some fun drinks (you have to power the blender by riding the bike!) and some really nice jams/jellies (I got pomelo marmalade when we visited). http://www.onofarms.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: akq

      Thanks for the info on Mama's. Yeah, I realized it was more of a sit-down place and have budgeted the time for it. I'll be dining at Mama's on my way to Hana on Christmas Day (it's open!). I keep reading that the drive to Hana is not about the destination but the journey. I'm hoping that Mama's will enrich that journey.

      And the Ono Ogranic Farms is a great tip! I noticed that they have papaya jam for sale. My MIL is a papaya freak and think she'll love it!

    2. For West Maui, I agree with Merriman's as the choice for your "fancy" meal. It would not call it extraordinary, but it was good, and the best in West Maui, with a fantastic setting. Be there at sunset if you can.

      Re Spago, yes definitely do the tasting menu. (Several of the recommendations you read are probably mine.) No, it doesn't need to be ordered in advance. They call it 9 courses, but it's really only 8. The portions are reasonable. I did it twice last month, and I didn't have to be rolled out. Make them pace it. This will be your best meal of the trip.

      1. Plantation House at Kapalua Golf course for breakfast is the place to dine..ahi benedict with a wasabi hollandaise is stellar with stunning views, no hour+ waits and this was by far our go to place almost daily..only breakfast!
        The Gazebo in Napili for breakfast but you'll have long waits but we go swimming since its oceanfront.
        On the back west side is my favorite fruit guy and he will give you a beer and watch tv and get the best papaya's and mangoes..
        We stock up at Costco across from the OGG airport..cocktails, breakfast muffins, pineapples.
        Be aware that getting to Hana is an all day event..from Kapalua, leaving at 7am and just driving to and from was over 11 hours and that was with a half hour break at seven pools..
        Up country has Tedeschi winery and some speciality snacks and lotions.
        Merriman's or Mama's Fish House would be my choices for the fancy..
        From Mama's to Hana is an all day drive event..so keep that in mind if you are dining late..
        Sansei has great sushi and they have a good happy hour.
        Mahalo and report back!

        1. I think the little farm stands in Hana will be open. I know a few don't open on Sundays but Christmas day, like most retails, places tend to be open if for shorter hours.

          You don't have to call ahead for tasting @ Spago but if you have dietary restrictions, it's a good idea to let them know well ahead. If you want ocean facing tables, arrive a bit earlier and request that and be willing to wait. As for portion, if you exercise self control with their bread trays that come along every so often, you'll be fine but will definitely not leave feeling hungry.

          1. Thanks all! Oh boy. I've got Da Kitchen (known for large portions) on my itinerary for lunch before my Spago meal. Perhaps I should just share one meal with my husband if I'm going to do the tasting. Good to hear that the Spago tasting menu isn't so huge.

            If I'm going to have room in my stomach to do tasting meals at Spago, I do think I'll have to cut back on the breakfasts. So I probably wouldn't be able to do huge meals like Plantation House or The Gazebo. But I have had my eye on The Gazebo for their macadamia nut pancakes. Wish they could sell me a kiddie portion, and I'll be there!

            Beach Chick, what do you mean by the "back west side" fruit guy? Back of the gazebo? We're definitely looking for some good fruit on this trip.

            We'll be staying overnight at Hana to make it a bit easier on us. Driving for over 10 hours a day is not my idea of fun.

            And great to know that the stands on the road to Hana will be open on Christmas.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              Miss Needle, a different and certainly more fun perspective: What you need to do is use breakfast to *expand* your stomach so you have room for the tasting menus!

              1. re: Miss Needle

                aloha..
                first of all the breakfast at Plantation house for the ahi benedict is that with a small side of pots..its not that large and really is outstanding.
                Gazebo..I've ordered a kids order of mac nut pancakes..or split them..they are outstanding!
                When you drive past Kapalua and keep going on the back side of the island to Wailuku is a very narrow road with stunning views and there is a guy that has been selling fruit with a tv and he is very well known..has the best fruit and word is he was a famous singer in O'ahu back in the 50's..
                He's about a half hour before Wailuku.
                Have a great time!

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Mnadel, that is certainly an interesting perspective! Though I wonder if I'll have an issue fitting into my clothes by the end of the trip if I used that tactic.

                  Ok, Beach Chick, you twisted my arm. : ) I'll try to fit either Plantation House or Gazebo in my trip. I really only have one breakfast free as the other mornings are occupied by things. I'm leaning towards Gazebo because

                  1. I've wanted to try the macadamia pancakes at Boots & Kimo in Oahu, but couldn't due to scheduling issues.
                  2. It has a great ocean view.
                  3. It is less expensive

                  But I may not be in the mood to wait in the line after a long flight. So I'll see how I feel on that day.

                  Thanks everybody. And I will definitely be posting a trip report when I get back.