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Restaurant recs on Maui and Big Island???

I'm going to the Big Island for 4 days and Maui for 4 days the week of Thanksgiving. We are staying at Waikoloa Beach Marriot Resort & Spa on the Big Island and Sheraton Maui Resort in Maui. I've scoured the boards for restaurants but am still VERY confused as to how far the drive is to the places i've found. So - can anyone please recommend good lunch and dinner places within 30 min drive of my hotels? I don't have any dietary restrictions and no budget either. We like all types of food (except heavily fried). Also need some recs for good places to get a cocktail (the artisian kind- not those sugary appletini messes, lol) Any recs would help me so much!!!!

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  1. Big Island: Holuakoa Cafe is excellent, Merriman's is excellent, Beach Tree at the Four Seasons, Hualalai is very good, Jackie Rey's is very nice, Kenichi is very good, Bangkok House is excellent,

    Holuakoa Cafe
    76-5901 Mamalahoa Hwy, Holualoa, HI 96725

    Bangkok Houses
    75-5626 Kuakini Hwy Ste 5, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

    68-1330 Mauna Lani Dr Ste 111, Kamuela, HI 96743

    4 Replies
    1. re: holualoa farmer

      Did Beach Tree replace the Alan Wong restaurant there?

      We did greatly enjoy Pahu i`a, and I'd go back, just to dine there. http://www.fourseasons.com/hualalai/d...


      Alan Wong's Restaurant
      1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Hunt; my understanding is that the Alan Wong restaurant (The Grill at Hualalai) is closed for remodeling. The Beach Tree is the casual place on the beach, I believe.

        I also have enjoyed Pahu'i;a in the past; very much a special occasion place. Ate there the first night of my marriage (ten years ago). :-)

      2. re: holualoa farmer

        I have to say, I was really looking forward to dinner at Huluakoa Cafe, but my dinner there last night was very disappointing, certainly at least by mainland standards (I happen to think that Big Island dining in general does not live up to the potential of the ingredients,so will cut them a bit of slack for that. However, it was quite pricey for a place that overcooked my mahi mahi ($32) to medium or medium-well, even after I asked for it rare. Grrr.). Will give a more complete report when I get around to Part III of my Hawaii report...

        HF: I am curious as to how long ago you last ate at Kenichi? I have eaten there twice on past visits, and really liked it a lot both times, but I've read a lot of downhill reports since then that have made me wonder if it is worth going back....or are you referring to the one in Waimea, not the one in Keahou?

        For the OP: All of the restaurants in the following report are within thirty minutes of the Sheraton Maui, except for Mike's Chinese Bistro in Kahului, which wasn't a highlight anyway. Don't miss Star Noodle:


        By the way, it would be pushing it to get to Holuakoa Cafe, Jackie Rey's or Kenichi (Keahou) in 30 minutes from the Waikoloa Beach Marriott. More like 45 minutes if you aren't familiar with the road, and you could hit traffic.

        Holuakoa Cafe
        76-5901 Mamalahoa Hwy, Holualoa, HI 96725

        Star Noodle
        286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761

        1. re: susancinsf

          To clarify my last post: Tasty Crust is also more than 30 minutes from the Sheraton Maui, though I didn't try it. I'd try it on the way to or from the airport, though.

          Tasty Crust Restaurant
          1770 Mill St, Wailuku, HI 96793

      3. Well within that time frame, I would recommend the following on Maui:

        Peter Merriman's Kapalua: http://www.merrimanshawaii.com/merrim...
        Lahaina Grill: http://www.lahainagrill.com/
        I`O, in Lahaina: http://www.iomaui.com/
        Gerrard's in Lahaina: http://www.gerardsmaui.com/cms/index.php

        All are upscale, with perhaps Gerrard's being the more formal of the group, and Peter Merriman's just below. All were great on our last two trips, and I found very, very little to complain about. For us, I`O was the "new kid on the block," but we happened to meet the exec. chef of I`O, while he and his lovely wife were celebrating her birthday at Gerrard's. He said all the correct things, and on our next trip, I put him to the test. Though his sommelier did not have a particular Montrachet on the wine list, he, and his staff, made up for that one little faux pas. We have dined at several over the years, and all my recent experiences indicate that they are still "on their game."

        For the Big Island, it has just been too long, since we were last there. Chefs change, restaurants go through bad times. The only rec. that I can offer is Peter Merriman's, well within the 30 min. of Waikoloa. Maybe do a comparison?

        While we are fans of Chef Roy Yamaguchi, his Roy's at Waikoloa has almost become a "sports bar," and the ambient noise level finally drove us away. Maybe it's changed?

        I do not have many middle, or lower-end recs., as we normally do breakfast, and then a really big meal with tons of wines in the evening. Others can help at other levels.



        Lahaina Grill
        127 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina Maui, HI 96761

        Merriman's Kapalua
        , Lahaina, HI 96761

        1. We're also going to Big Island and Maui, spending a week in each. We leave tomorrow, actually!

          First time to the Big Island, so I don't have much to say (yet) but we've been recommended Brown's Beach House, Pahu i a, also Merrimans on the Kona side. We're keeping it more low key on the big-island, and saving all the splurge meals mostly for Maui. I should be able to report back during the week as I hopefully will have free internet access. We're staying in Waikoloa too.

          Although we've been to Maui before, and I second everyone's recs of Merrimans. Also in Lahaina/Kaanapali area, we liked Lahaina Grill. If you could drive, you could check out Mama's Fish House. All those recs are high end places. We also really liked Haliimaile General Store, but that is upcountry, requiring a drive.
          This time, we're going to go back to Mama's, and we're trying Class Act, which is the fine dining establishment of the Maui Culinary Academy. A 4-course lunch for 30 bucks, BYOB too. Can't beat that, plus I heard it's fabulous.
          We're also hoping to try Star Noodle in Lahaina as it's been generating some great buzz. I hope I won't be sick of Pacific Rim cuisine before the 2 weeks is up!!

          Hope you have fun and I'll try to report back on a few places that stood out.

          Lahaina Grill
          127 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina Maui, HI 96761

          Haliimaile General Store
          900 Haliimaile Rd, Makawao, HI 96768

          Mama's Fish House
          Paia HI, Paia, HI

          Beach House Restaurant
          5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

          Star Noodle
          286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tifa2276

            Now, I second Mama's Fish House. We were so impressed by several lunches there, that we turned down free nights at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, just to stay at the Inn at Mama's Fish House, to dine there for three nights and three lunches.

            As we are normally in Ka`anapali, or Kapalua, Mama's is too much of a drive (considering their wine list), for us. That is why we booked - just a few steps from the restaurant, though I almost got lost one night.

            Mama's is great in our book, and worth all efforts,


            Mama's Fish House
            Paia HI, Paia, HI

            1. re: Tifa2276

              I would definitely second the idea of eating on Maui and keeping it lower key on the Big Island (and of going to Star Noodle), even though I do not fall into the pro-Mama's Fish House Camp.

              Star Noodle
              286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761

            2. Here's a link to a map of the places we've been. While it isn't all inclusive of everything we've done there is is definitely a post of places we really enjoyed. I much prefer using Google maps to figure this stuff out because I do enjoy my booze at dinner. Driving in the pitch black night from Hali' imaile General Store is hard enough stone sober.


              1. Also, if there's anything of note, upscale or otherwise, that has opened in the last two years do tell. We'll be going back at the end of January!

                1. Wow- thank you so much everyone for all the recommendations. I was worried that no one would reply so I didn't check back for a couple of days. Star Noodle looks delish on the Big Island....I think I will take the recommendation to eat the more expensive meals on Maui and go more loca/ low key on the Big Island. I hate the pay big bucks to be dissapointed- coming from Houston,TX my hubby and I dine out to upscale restaurants weekly so I think my expectations are quite high. All being said I am printing out this thread and will hit these places up. Will report back after Thanksgiving trip. Chow on!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ryu707

                    Star Noodle is on Maui, not the Big Island, just to clarify. In the industrial part of Lahaina Town, but easy to find.

                    Star Noodle
                    286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761

                  2. Your staying at Sheraton at Black Rock and we really enjoy Hula Grill for drinks and app's with feet in the sand oceanfront at Whaler's Village which is a 5 minute walk from your hotel.
                    They have an excellent happy hour too..Duke's is in Whaler's Village too..
                    Breakfast in Maui..our fave's..Plantation House at Kapalua Golf Course for the best breakfast and no wait and wonderful food...reasonable too..love the ahi benedict with wasabi hollandaise for around $13..this is one of the best finds on Maui for great food for breakfast.
                    The Gazebo in Napili is lovely and very popular but the line moves quick and its known for its Macadamia Nut pancakes..
                    Sansei in Kapalua for sushi and Mama's Fish House for lunch or dinner is exquisite.
                    Bev Gannon's General Store is not to be missed either.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      OK, So I've compiled a list of all the recs from this thread. I'm seeing a problem on the Big Island. The closest restaurants are in the 4 Seasons at 9 miles from my hotel (Waikoloa Beach Marriot Resort & Spa ) and then everything else is 20+ miles away. Is there anything closer to my hotel- aka within 10 or so miles?

                      1. re: ryu707

                        Yes, yes, YES! Monstera in the shops at Mauna Lani is no more than about a ten minute drive from the Waikoloa, and it is wonderful! Had a great meal there Monday night that restored my faith in BI restaurants....will be posting a full report in the next day or two, but it is not to be missed.

                        Apart from that, the Brown's Beach House is closer than 20 plus miles, as are all restaurants in the Kings and Queen's Shops which are a longish walk or very short drive from your hotel) and everything at the Shops at Mauna Lani. The Big Island is indeed Big, but for only a few days you will have enough options.

                      2. My favorite spot is the Rapanui Island Cafe in Kailua-Kona. Hard to find but so worth seeking out.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ladybugthepug

                          Thank you- I checked out Monsterra's reviews and it looks good! Good to know the Queens and Kings shops are close. Hard to figure everything out from Texas! Thank you to everyone!

                          1. re: ryu707

                            Hi! Reporting from the Big Island now. We leave for Maui in 2 days.

                            So far, it's been fantastic here. The weather has been warm and sunny. We rented a 4WD and went all over the island, including Hilo, Waimea, and south point. Due to the fact we were just constantly driving around, we chose to eat mostly at local places within each of the towns we just happened to be visiting.

                            We only made reservations at Brown's Beach House for a sunset dinner, which was delicious. I think it's one of the prettiest views on the west side, with cuisine that rivaled the best of Hawaiian pacific rim. I had the lobster with lemon risotto with an uni butter sauce. It was delicious. Even though I wasn't a huge fan of spiny lobster before (more of a maine lobster kind of gal), I think I just haven't had it prepared so well before. DH had the prix fixe dinner with the coconut shrimp (3 huge pieces) app, walu entree (very good), and he had a pumpkin creme brulee as dessert. I had the pie with the kona coffee and mac nut ice cream (can't remember the name of it now) which I have had similar versions at other restaurants, but the Fairmont's version was probably one of the best ever. The sunset prix fixe is 59 I think, but as usual, I ended up ordering outside of it. My lobster entree was 55 alone.

                            For our other meals, we've mostly eaten at local places, if you happen to be driving around and need a place to eat, here are some of the places we went to. Out of our list, I think most meals were under 15 bucks a person and some even less than that with the exception of Sushi Rocks.

                            Hawaiian Style Cafe - Waimea: huge breakfasts, the loco moco was one of the best we've had, probably due to the fact that their beef probably comes from right next door.

                            Village Burger - Waimea: It's fairly new, sort of boutique-y burger place that seems to crop up all over the place now. We thought it would be better than it really was...I felt the burger:bun ratio was a bit off (too much bun) but overall I thought the seasoning should be amped up in the patty. However the parmesean fries were to die for, albeit a bit greasy.

                            Big Island Grill - Kona: Diner style local food, huge portions too. But very tasty.

                            Hotel Manago - Captain Cook: stuck in a time warp from the 70's, this place has the best pork chops ever. They also had a sweet and sour seaweed salad that came as part of your meal which was so unusual and so delicious, we ordered an extra side of it.

                            Punalu'u Bake Shop - bet. Pahala and Na’alehu: They are famous for their breads, pastries, etc. We tasted the guava, taro and regular sweet breads and found we like the taro the best. Got a teriyaki burger here and a salad and ate on their patio before heading to the black sand beach. Also got a few desserts and pastries which were quite good.

                            Tex Drive In - Honoka'a: This local stop has really great malasadas (fried donuts) which were really soft and served piping hot with sugar. I think they are better than Leonards on Oahu! We stopped here on the way to Hilo.

                            Nori's Saimin and Snacks - Hilo: We had the saimin here (noodle soup similar to ramen) and it was decent. I prefer Sam Sato's on Maui though.

                            Kona Brewing Co. - Kona: We had a beer flight tasting (the Wailua wheat rocks!) and we weren't really hungry but wanted to munch on something, so we ordered the pizza slice and salad to share (8 bucks!). The pizza is not bad - a bit too thick for me (I'm a NYC thin-crust pizza gal) but the strawberry spinach salad is YUMMY.

                            Sushi Rocks - Hawi: Funky sushi rolls including some which have goat cheese, pine nuts, even seared tendeloin. LOL. It was actually all pretty tasty and in a cute and quaint (but small) space up north. We actually enjoyed our meal here because the owner was so darn friendly and he comped our delicious mac nut pie for dessert.

                            In the Waikoloa Beach resort area, we ate take out once from the Blazin Steaks place in the Kings Shops. It was super cheap - a steak plate for 6 bucks! but you get what you pay for, in that the steaks are not the greatest cuts of beef. However it was filling and the korean sauce you can get on the side was sooo good, I want to douse everything in it. We also got takeout at Queen's Deli in the Queen's Marketplace and they had surprisingly good kalua pork and cabbage. We ate here when we got off the airplane and were too tired to go to a restaurant, so it's nice to know there are decent options in the resort area.

                            Also Sansei Sushi at the Queen's Shops is really good. We went for the Sunday-Monday 50% off deal at 5pm. It was a long line to get in so go there a bit earlier than 5pm if you want to do it. However it was well worth it. The panko crusted ahi roll and the shrimp cakes are completely worth the wait. We ate a LOT of sushi that night too! I think on every other night there is a 25% off if you go before 5:30pm.

                            We're thinking of going to Roy's tomorrow night for our last meal before we leave on Sunday. It's also in the Waikoloa shops. However, it all depends on when we get back to the resort area. The big island is huge so there are so many places we wanted to go to and driving around takes a loooong time. However if we don't make it to Roy's here, there is always Maui :)

                            BTW, gas on the Hilo side as well as Costco seem to be the cheapest on the island. If you have a costco membership, they have moana loa mac nuts and kona coffee for much cheaper if you want to buy them as gifts. Also their poke (hawaiian style ceviche) was really good, we got lots of it and ate it in our condo as quick meals/snacks.

                            Have a great time! Will report back on Maui soon!

                            Kona Brewing Co
                            75-5629 Kuakini Hwy Ste X, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

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

                            Tex Drive In & Restaurant
                            45-690 Pakalana St, Honokaa, HI 96727

                            Big Island Grill
                            75-5702 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

                            Hawaiian Style Cafe
                            65-1290 Kawaihae Rd, Kamuela, HI 96743

                            Sushi Rock
                            55-3435 Akoni Pule Hwy, Waikoloa, HI 96738

                            Blazin Steaks
                            111 E Puainako St Ste 594, Hilo, HI 96720

                            Beach House Restaurant
                            5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

                            Queen's Deli
                            69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr Ste 604, Waikoloa, HI 96738