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Jun 7, 2010 08:19 PM

Another Maui report, May 2010

Our only true fine dining meal of the trip was at Merriman’s, which I reviewed separately in another post. Mostly we ate takeout lunches and did happy hour apps and drinks. We tried Mai Tais at many restaurants both fancy and modest and our favorite Mai Tai was at the South Shore Tiki Lounge in Kihei. Their food was not bad for casual tropical bar food, either. We were disappointed in the Mai Tai (and the service in the bar) at the Ritz Carlton and it was expensive.

One great find was Bruddah Hut’s BBQ in Hana. Its just past town on the left as you are headed on to the Oheo Gulch pools. This is just a guy with a BBQ and grill set up in his front yard, so its literally street food. There are some plastic tables and chairs and food is served on paper plates. He has pork, beef and fish, grilled or BBQ’d, as plate lunch or in tacos. We got the pork tacos and took them to Hamoa beach and devoured them with a couple cans of Maui Brewing Company Blonde Ale. They were delicious tropical tacos, tender and moist shredded pork in a tortilla (choose flour or corn), shredded cabbage, and a sweet and tangy grilled tropical salsa. The salsa had capers (not too many) which gave it an unexpected twist and some of the fruit and peppers were grilled before being chopped up, so it was a very good homemade salsa. Bruddah Hut had a mild and a spicy version of his salsa. I love finding great food in unexpected places. We stopped on a whim and were glad we did.

Honolua General Store was surprisingly good. It’s very inexpensive for the quality of food they are serving, all the more surprising because its on the grounds of the Kapalua resort and seems to be a part of the resort. We had the grilled Mahi Mahi sandwiches. They were encrusted in furikake and served with a (too salty and too garlic-y) pesto mayo (or maybe it was the furikake+pesto which made it too salty?). If they’d tone down the pesto a bit, this would have been fantastic. A good quality roll, greens and tomato rounded out the sandwich nicely. It was a nice twist on the mostly ordinary Mahi Mahi sandwiches we had elsewhere.

We had a couple rather ordinary, (relatively) inexpensive lunches at the Lahaina Fish Company (good lunchtime Mai Tai special!) and Duke’s in Lahaina, not bad, not great, but tasty enough for a casual quick lunch by the ocean.

We didn’t go out to breakfast at all, even though we were right next to the Gazebo, because we had a kitchen in our condo at Honokeana Cove with a wonderful view from our lanai. So I made macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup every day. We had pineapple and mangoes that we bought at the fruit stand in Olowalu, which were high quality but overpriced (pineapples $10-15, mangoes 3 for $5) compared to other more out-of-the-way fruit stands on the island we found (like Ono Farms fruit stand in Hana). Still the fruit was excellent and it was convenient to stop right off the highway. Chez Paul has closed, it was all boarded up. Try the smoothies at the Olowalu General Store, they were pretty good, at least they hit the spot on a warm afternoon after the beach!

We bought fish to cook ourselves from The Fish Market Maui in Honokowai. It was pricey, but super-fresh. We actually got some fresh Mahi Mahi from the Napili Market grocery store and it was also very good for a lot less money.

We did a takeout lunch from the Paia Fish Market. My ahi sashimi was just fine, but my wife loved her fish tacos because instead of a hunk of fried or grilled fish, they shredded the cooked fish and blended it with the salsa and the cabbage, so all the flavors were evenly distributed. The prices are good there, as well.

On the road to Hana, we stopped at Halfway to Hana for banana bread because we had read it was so good. Well, it was mediocre banana bread, not moist, and we soon found out that banana bread on the road to Hana is available about every 4 miles or so! Further down the road, when we saw the homemade sign that read “Now this is the banana bread you’ve been looking for” we laughed and resigned ourselves to not getting the awesome banana bread of Hana. Oh well.

We had appetizers and drinks at the Paniolo Lounge in the Hotel Hana. Its such a pretty setting there. The food and drink is at typical resort prices but good quality. We had a pizza with mushrooms, carmelized onions, parmesan and blue cheese. It was a thin rather crispy crust which was OK. We felt there were too many strong flavors on the pizza. It was supposed to have fresh basil, but came out instead with a few flakes of thyme. I think the thyme was a better match with the mushrooms and onions than basil would have been, but there was not enough thyme to make an impression and this pizza would have been better without the blue cheese. I liked their tropical drinks made from quality juices and they were serving some local beers (a passion fruit wheat beer) that I had not seen elsewhere. The setting is really what makes this spot great, just extremely lush and tropical, sunny and breezy and very quiet and relaxing. And we were there too early for the live Hawaiian music, that would’ve made it even better!

Paia Fish Market
100 Hana Hwy, Paia, HI 96779

Ritz Carlton
Maui, HI, Maui, HI

Fish Market Maui
3600 Lower Honoapiilani Rd Ste Ha, Lahaina, HI 96761

Honolua Store
502 Office Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761

South Shore Tiki Lounge
1913 S Kihei Rd Ste L, Kihei, HI 96753

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  1. A great review, and a mahalo nui loa!

    Have not been to Hana in far, far too long, so I greatly appreciate the recs.

    Now, off to find your Merriman's review, as we loved it on two visits, and enjoyed it on the third, though not quite at the level of the first two visits.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Bill, you already read my Merriman's review a few days ago, as you already replied!

      I think the road to Hana is easier than it was 30 years ago when I first went. Still, next time I'd stay overnight, because it takes some energy to get there. The whole vibe of the Hotel Hana is relaxing and sophisticated like the high-end spa resort it is. Their art gallery is superb. Seems like a great place to stay. Their dinner restaurant looks pretty high end and I'd guess that like Kapalua, as manomin noted, the produce and foodstuffs in Hana must be really fresh and easy to get because it seems like there are a lot of farms and ranches in Hana.

      Thanks for your comments. I'd love to hear what others think of Bruddah Hut's BBQ, it was my second favorite meal of the trip behind Merriman's, it was that good to me. You gotta be OK with street food, though.

      1. re: mwest9

        After I commented, and found it, I realized that I had. At my advanced age, it's tough to know what I had for lunch... [big frown inserted here]

        We have never overnighted in Hana, but think that you are correct. Going back many years, we undertook it, in some kind of little Suzuki jeep-thing. I had been at Kapalua for a few days, and read the local papers. The Letters to the Editor were filled with complaints about "tourists clogging the Road to Hana, and how bad it was." Well, I was not that long away from racing my XKE in SCCA, and I took that as a challenge. I fired up the little Suzuki and from the point that we hit the official Hana Hwy, it took 41 mins. to get to Hana. That little thing was steaming, and the tires were extremely hot, but not one "local" was ever in my rear-view mirror for more than a moment. Actually, not sure that I could have beaten that time by much, if the road was closed, just for me, and I was in the Jag. Now, my poor wife might not have enjoyed it, but there were no letters to the editor about slow tourists that day, except for the ones that I passed.

        Now, the trip back was much more enjoyable for the wife, but I do agree - stay and dine there, spend a day past Hana, hike and explore, then back to Hana. Gotta' check out the cuisine in Hana nowadays. It was a bit bleak then, but it's been so very long.

        Mahalo for your insightful and well-detailed reports,


    2. One of the reasons Honolua has such great food is they source from the Kapalua farms.

      1. mwest,

        The timing of your post was perfect. I'm taking my family of four to Maui in 6 weeks, and we'll be staying one week in Hana and the one week at Honokeana Cove, so I've got a few questions to ask you. The wife & I have been to Maui (Hana & Napili Bay) before, so these are more specific, rather than general, questions:

        Hana side:
        1. I'm guessing Bruddah is a 'cash-only' place...what price range should I expect for a family of four? Did they happen to mention the hours they were open? Lunch and dinner, or just whenever he feels like it?
        2. Can you give me a guess about the prices at Ono Farms stand? Cash-only?

        Honokeana Cove:
        1. Where did you buy the mac pancake & coconut syrup? The Napili grocery store?
        2. How is the snorkeling in the Cove at Honokeana? Are there really turtles there, or should we expect to walk over to Napili, Kapalua, etc for good snorkeling?

        Thanks for your help on this.

        2 Replies
        1. re: TTPFred


          Bruddah Hut's is cash only. I don't know for sure, but I'd imagine its daytime hours only, not sure how late into the afternoon. Its just a roadside food stand, really, so very casual. Most plates were about $8-$12. Two large tacos were $8. Plate lunches with your choice of meat/fish were $12-$14. I think he had some cans of juice and soda for sale, too. I loved this place!

          At Ono Farms stand in Hana we got a tomato, onion, mini-bananas, some ginger and a couple mangoes for $5. Cash only again. They had some interesting and unusual fruits, there, too. Good stuff. I think their pineapples were $7. They were selling Kihei mangos in May because they ripen earlier in the year, but Hana mangos should be ripe when you go, I'd guess.

          We did shop at the Napili Grocery store and prices seemed about the same as other grocery stores in Lahaina and Honokowai. I just bought pancake mix, crushed up some macadamia nuts and stirred them in to the batter. Coconut syrup is in all the grocery stores. Nothing fancy, but it was delicious to me. I'm crazy for coconut syrup. I even put it in my coffee because we forgot to buy sugar!

          Yes, Honokeana Cove has sea turtles. You can see them coming up for air from your lanai. Awesome. No need to go elsewhere, IMO. Our favorite snorkel spot we found. Honolua is pretty from above water, but not that many fish or coral and no turtles.

          I think a week in Napili and a week in Hana is a great idea, I'm envious. In Hana will you be doing a lot of cooking at your lodgings? Not too many restaurants out there that I saw. Maybe you will discover some more spots that I didn't have time to find. A week in Hana should be very relaxing and laid back.

          Have a great trip and let us know how your food was when you get back!

          1. re: mwest9

            I really appreciate your reply and comments.

            I'll be cooking in Hana and Honokeana Cove (it relaxes me). I've been reading about a lady who cooks Thai in Hana, Bruddah Hut's and the Pianola Bar, so that's 3 "nights" of food we can squirrel away. I'm hoping to buy fresh fish in Hana--I'll check daily--but we'll bring rice, Portuguese sausage (which we can't get here in Texas) and stuff for spaghetti just in case. In the Napili area, I'll probably be heading to Safeway, Napili Grocery or the Fish Market next door to the take-out place.

            We'll cook breakfast, lunch in both areas will consist primarily of fruit and sandwiches we'll make and take wherever we go. Last go around, we pretty much ended up returning to the condo at 3pm, which gave me plenty of time to make cocktails, cook, and watch the sun set.

            Yee's Orchard--with his "Golden Glow" mangos--were a high point of our trip last time, and we ate them dang near every morning and evening. I don't know if I'm going to make the trip out to Kihei this year, but maybe I'll have to...that or the farmer's market.

            We're excited about staying at Honokeana Cove. Was there coral there, too? If so, I can see us really hanging there for most of the trip...which would make it even more relaxing.