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Where to stay on Maui - does Wailea area have good dining or should a foodie stay in the West?

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We've been to Maui once before, a couple of years ago, and stayed in Kaanapali. I grearly enjoyed the food, from casual lunch plates of kahula pig, to fine dining at Merriman's, to the Feast at Lele luau. I want to go again, and I was thinking about staying in the resort area on the South of the island to mix things up. But is the South a culinary wasteland? I've read a bunch of reviews that mention restaurants in Maui, and it seems like they are all on the west side (other than Mama's Fish House and HGS), and that's where we did most of our dining last trip (aside from HGS). I know that the Four Seasons in Wailea has a Spago, but that's not of much interest to me since I'm coming from L.A., what I'm looking for is great Hawaiian and Pacific Rim influenced food, food I can't get at home. Does this exist on the South (Wailea area), or do I have to stay near Lahaina to be near the good food? And if there is good food to be had near Wailea, recs for both casual and fine dining would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. I think you'll have plenty of options when staying in Wailea. Some of our favorites are Ferraro's, Ko, Nick's, Tommy Bahama, MonkeyPod Kitchen, Amasia, Buzz's Wharf, The Waterfront (they are opening in their new location next week in the Ma'alaea Harbor), Gannon's, HumuHumu, Five Palms (for breakfast) and Bistro Molokini (for lunch). And the lobby lounges at both the Four Seasons and Kea Lani are nice with plenty of good food options if you want something more casual. Other favorites are Mama's and Hali'imaile General Store which aren't too far of a trek. Matteo's is fine for a change of pace and the Waterfront Deli in the Whaler's General Store in the Shops at Wailea has good sandwiches or box lunches for the beach. There's a new-ish cheese shop at the Wailea Gateway that has picnic boxes and charcuterie, but I haven't tried it yet. And in the same center is Pita Paradise for more casual fare.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Juji

      Definately no shortage of foodie options in Wailea. I would strongly second the recommendation for Ko (in the Fairmont Kea Lani) for Pacific Rim/Polynesian influenced food. I would add the restaurant in the Marriott Hotel and the restaurant at the Tennis Club to the above list. Plus, the Safeway in Kihei has everything you could want.

      1. re: Juji

        What do you like at Amasia? There aren't many reviews on CH yet.

        1. re: kathryn

          We went a few days before the grand opening, so I think some menu items have changed, but we really liked the tomato salad, potstickers, chicken salad, sweet potato dish and a lamb skewer. I know there were a few more things we tried, but I can't recall what they are and they aren't on the online menu. I tried an albacore or yellowtail roll but it was just ok. We really liked the Asian tapas style which let everyone try a lot of different bites.

      2. Nicole,

        A great question. We usually have stayed in the Lahaina, Ka`anapali, Kapalua area, and have found some of the same restaurants, as you have.

        That said, the Wailea Area has some great restaurants right there. We have done two of Bev Gannon's offerings, but missed Spago, due to timing. Still, a very trusted source tells me great things. Sorry that we missed it.

        Now, Upcountry is something else. Mama's Fish House made such a hit with us, that we passed on three nights at the Kapalua Ritz-Carlton (for free), to stay at the Inn at Mama's Fish House, just to finally delve deeply into their wine list, and not have to drive anywhere. We had the cottage, about 15' from Mama's front door, and I managed to stagger to my cottage. Also, Bev Gannon's General Store, just down the road, is well worth the drive.

        We're looking at a trip to the Grand Wailia Waldorf-Astoria, then the last few nights up at the Inn at Mama's Fish House. We hope to finally hit the Wailia area restaurants, that are only open at dinner - to test "my source." [Grin].

        Enjoy!

        Hunt

        1. Kihei Caffe, Eskimo Candy, and the new location of Ululani's should be on your radar as well.

          1. Thank you for all the great feedback! I just booked the four seasons in wailea and look forward to exploring many of your recommendations! Will report back after our trip, which is not til September.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Nicole

              I just made several reservations, based on this and other chowhound threads. In south maui, plan on going to nicks fish house, spago, duo, Amasia, and monkeypod kitchen. Also have reservations for feast of lele luau and mamas fish house. We also plan on visiting more casual restaurants, but going to play that by ear a bit. just thought I'd share my reservation list in case it's helpful to others planning a Maui trip.

              1. re: Nicole

                Nicole,

                Sounds great. Just drive safely (you might not be so inclined to drink copious quantities of wine, as we are), on the way back from a few of those.

                Enjoy and much aloha,

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Thanks, Hunt! We're not copious drinkers so I think we'll be okay. :) Actually, we plan to go to mamas fish house directly from the airport, and possibly again our way back to the airport, to minimize driving in general, although we won't be drinking much.

                2. re: Nicole

                  Nicole, be sure to try the MonkeyPod Mai Tai with lilikoi foam...mmm...!
                  Just curious,did you book the 4S through one of the "preferred partners" for free breakfast and room upgrade? If so, hope you will share your impression of the breakfast.

                  1. re: terijoy

                    Mm, that Mai tai sounds delicious! Thanks for the rec!

                    I considered booking through travel store, one of their "preferred partners," but the price was several hundred dollars higher than through Travelocity, which had the lowest price for my itinerary (I priced it every way possible). I called the four seasons and the free breakfast is the buffet at duo, which is $35 pp at regular price. So basically we would have to eat the free breakfast every single day to make up the price difference...miss it just once and it is a bad deal. So we decided to just go ahead and pay for the breakfast when we want it, assuming we'd eat there some but not all days. Long story short, the "preferred partners" thing was not a good deal for our itinerary, but we'll still eat the breakfast it includes, and report back.

                    1. re: Nicole

                      take a stroll to kea lani one morning. they have nice food/wine/gelato/pastry/ shop that does bfast sandwiches pastry and coffees etc

                      1. re: Bellachefa

                        Thanks for the tip!

                        1. re: Nicole

                          this is it

                          http://www.fairmont.com/kea-lani-maui...

              2. We got back a couple of weeks ago, and wow, did we eat well! I posted a detailed review on another thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/871859
                Thanks again for all your guidance, hounds!