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Maui Trip Report: Hana

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We spent 3 nights in Hana recently. Since restaurants are severely limited in Hana, we stopped for supplies near the airport in Kahului before we made the long drive.

Costco: Prime rib-eye steaks and a few bottles of decent wine, along with a case of bottled water at prices not significantly higher than in Southern California.

Whole Foods Market: We got a great selection of prepared foods such as a whole smoked chicken, brioche bread, grilled vegetables, pasta salads, cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, and fancy soft drinks, along with basics like eggs, bacon, juice. We ate like royalty for most of three days.

Also, we stopped at Whole Foods on our way to the airport on the way home for something to eat on plane. We had lamb loin, grilled asparagus, braised short ribs, macaroni and cheese, and fudge brownies; we were the envy of everyone else on the plane and our meal cost only slightly more than the boxes available for purchase on board.

Paia: We ate at Cafe Des Amis in Paia on the way to and from Hana. The food was very good -- I had the caprese crepe both times because it was so yummy. Huz had a crepe with chicken and avocado once and one with ham and gruyere the next time. Both were delicious and came with a tasty green salad. We shared a banana and chocolate crepe for dessert and were practically licking the plate. It's a very casual, hippie kind of place -- sort of like the town of Paia -- and I would go back again even if I weren't driving to Hana.

Hana: We found Brudda Hutt's on the Hana Highway on the way to Hamoa Beach (pass through Hana and look for it on the left when you get to the stand of pine trees). We had a great plate lunch in this man's front yard for $10 each, cash only. I had pork -- two generous slabs of pork loin in what I think was a mango-based glaze and Huz had salmon. Both were classic Hawaiian plate lunches with two scoops of rice and a scoop of mac salad. It was delicious food and local people stopping in for lunch were very friendly.

The biggest bummer of the trip was our dinner at the Hotel Hana Maui dining room. When we presented ourselves, the hostess asked, "Does the gentleman have a collared shirt?" We were floored. At no time in making the reservation or confirming the reservation was a dress code mentioned, and Hana isn't the sort of place that puts one in mind of a dress code. Don't get me wrong -- I respect dress codes and we always pack a sport coat and tie when we go to New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco, or Charleston and expect to eat in a fine dining establishment. And places with dress codes always mention same at some point during the reservation process. Then she said, "Out of courtesy to our other guests, I can't seat you on the lanai unless you are dressed properly." Pretty condescending -- it's not like he was wearing a "No Fat Chicks" t-shirt. I had on a dress and he was in pressed linen shorts and a crew neck. Whatever. So, we went back home and he changed into a collared shirt and BOY was it all a lot of trouble for nothing. I had an overdressed salad -- entirely forgettable -- and a dried out chicken breast perched atop a pile of chalky mashed purple sweet potatoes in a pool of very sweet creamed corn. Huz had a piece of fish in a very sweet tropical fruit sauce and a pedestrian molten chocolate dessert. The bill with tip was $94. Our personable and professional waiter told us that the dining room was recently purchased by Longhi's and is no longer part of the hotel. He said right now there are lots of rumors about what is going to happen but nobody knows. This could explain a lot.

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Cafe Des Amis
42 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779

Longhi's
888 Front St Ste H, Lahaina, HI 96761

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  1. Thanks for the report! I'm glad others like Brudda Hutt's as much as I did this past May.
    Sorry to hear about the bad experience and bad food at Hotel Hana. I only had drinks and a pizza in the lounge. Pizza was ok, drinks were very good and the view/setting was wonderful. I was hoping the food in the restaurant would be as good as the setting. Hopefully things will get righted there by the time I get to go back.

    1. thanks for the report, I am enjoying your Maui reports. I am going to be in Hana on my 10th anniversary and am facing the dilemna of whether to cook in that night or eat at the Hotel Hana Maui. There will be other eating opportunities elsewhere in Maui (and on the Big Island) during the trip, and we will have a kitchen in Hana (renting a cottage), but still, it's a tough call for me (so I really want to cook on my actual anniversary?).

      The evening in question is a Friday night, which is the Hawaiian show night (where I believe they serve a buffet of traditional Hawaiian foods? If anyone has thoughts about the Friday night dinners at the Hotel Hana Maui, or has updates to report from trips in the next two or so months, I'd love to hear them given the possible changes at the hotel.

      Or, if you think we should have a blowout dinner elsewhere on Maui earlier in the trip, and eat in while in Hana, I'd love your thoughts and suggestions....

      1 Reply
      1. re: susancinsf

        Having just returned from Maui, and with the same reservations about cooking (I am a line cook in a fine dining restaurant, so do I really want to cook on my vacation?) I would save my blowout anniversary dinner for somewhere other than Hana. The hotel dining room is the only game in town and it's just NOT worth the money. If they are under new ownership, it will take a while to get on track and they may not have their act together in the next several weeks.

        Next time we will either put in more provisions and cook every night, or perhaps downscale and just do what mwest9 did -- drinks and snacks in the bar where it won't be so expensive. I checked my receipts and our actual bill at the hotel dining room was $116 for that exceedingly mediocre meal.