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Oct 20, 2012 10:34 AM

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Hello chowhounders! I have read several Maui threads from the past 4 years and also scanned some other recs from a moms' message board I frequent and would love feedback from more current experts.

First, some background. DH and I have 2 kids who will be 4 and 7 when we go to Maui in August 2013 (yes, I'm a Type A planner who likes to research early). I recognize things may change between now and then, but I'm excited to return to Maui. DH and I went to Maui 7 years ago before our eldest was born and we loved Hali'imaile General Store. Everything else was ok (Waterfront, Mama's, a plate lunch place in Kihei whose name I've forgotten but was next door to the condo we rented, ribs from Azeka's, which I think has since closed). We also did a wild goose chase hunting down malasadas as many places were closed during that December trip and ultimately found them at a tiny drive-in place tucked in some out-of-the-way area.

This time around, we have our girls, but I'm hoping if we do an early dinner (say right at opening) we can get away with bringing them to the fancier places. Plus, since lots of Maui tourists bring kids, I'm hoping I'll feel more comfortable with having them there than in a typical high-end restaurant near our home. The girls are well-behaved and eat a wide variety of foods (other than the younger one's peanut allergy). We don't need a kids' menu as they eat fish, too.

We're from SF so we have plenty of good ethnic food here so I'd prefer to focus on what Maui does best: local seafood, Asian fusion, and the classic plate lunch. Spam musubi always tastes better in Hawaii!

This is a short trip, so we have only 4 dinners, 4 breakfasts, and 4 lunches. I imagine we will want to eat in our condo at some meals, since eating out at every meal is a bit rich. We're staying in Wailea this time, so hopefully a nicer experience than the budget condo in Kihei was. We will have a rental car and we don't mind driving for good food.

So here's my list of potential prospects.

FANCY places:

- Plantation House (maybe breakfast or lunch instead of dinner because of my kids)
- Pacific 'O (can't tell if this is kid-friendly at all--maybe not?)

Other slightly expensive options that seem very kid-friendly from website research:
- Nick's Fish Market (the keiki menu link goes to the adult menu but the fact that the have one means kids won't be as uncomfortable)
- Haili'Maile General Store (we LOVED this last trip and I see a kids' menu, too)
- Monkeypod Kitchen

"local"/casual eats:
- either Gazebo or Kihei Caffe for breakfast. Latter will be closer to us, but Gazebo has had many rave reviews here for their mac nut pancakes and fried rice.
- Tasty Crust instead of Aloha Mix Plate. Some have panned Aloha Mix Plate, but others rave so I have both on the list still.
- Sam Sato's
- Da Kitchen (maybe on the way from the airport since we arrive around noon Hawaiian time and will only have had bad airline food)
- Star Noodle for the garlic noodles (my girls love noodles)
- Paia Fish Market (on the way to/from airport?)
- Ululani's Shave Ice (we missed this on our last trip and I only faintly recall Matsumoto's from North Shore 15+ years ago)
- Malasadas from Komoda (someone here panned Homemaid Bakery--any other recs?)
- Not sure yet if we want to use a meal on fish tacos, but Jawz and Coconut's Fish Tacos have received some recs

Produce to buy for snacking at our condo: avocados, apple bananas, fresh lychee, pink dragon fruit, mangoes, guavas, local oranges, Maui Gold pineapples (not sure if it's worth going to a farmer's market or just buying from closest roadside stand?)

Any and all recs are greatly appreciated! I haven't decided the order of the meals or time of day (e.g., breakfast/lunch/dinner) but I'm going to let the food dictate our schedule and find activities nearby once we figure out the restaurant itinerary.

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  1. Plantation House at Kapalua for breakfast is one of the best kept secrets, since Maui for breakfast can be nuts in wait time of over an hour... no wait, excellent food, views and reasonable too.
    Gazebo is a must and bring the beach gear since this is one of my faves to swim...Mac nut pancakes are really good...lines move quick.
    I would add Hula Grill for lunch or happy hour with feet in the sand oceanfront..
    Sea House in Napili is a fave. Lahaina for lunch or dinner.
    General store is good and maybe Mama's for.lunch..pricey.
    Jawz food truck at Makena beach or Maui Tacos.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Beach Chick

      Awesome, thanks for your suggestions, Beach Chick. I didn't realize Gazebo was next to a good beach, as it seems a few people suggested to order it to go to bring back to a hotel/condo. Great idea! I wonder if DH can take the girls to play while I wait in line and then call him when we get a table or even as late as when our food arrives (if they don't require the whole party be there to be seated)?

      I've read about a few places that offer happy hour, but hadn't looked at the actual specials until you mentioned it. This might be a great way to get a pre-dinner snack given the time difference (6 pm Hawaii time is actually bedtime for my girls and since it's a short trip I don't want to shift them too much!). Thanks for the tip. I hadn't added Hula Grill because I read some mixed reviews on it for lunch/dinner but happy hour is more budget-friendly! I could only find an Aloha Hour menu on their website that lists some drink specials but it's definitely worth adding to my list! I also found Sea House's Happy Hour and that menu looks great. Kimo's only listed drink specials and said to ask the server re: pupu specials. Do you know if they have a good happy hour?

      Did you mean Mama's Fish House or Mama's BBQ? If the former, I've eaten there twice and found it lackluster given the high prices. I know it gets some love here, but I personally consider it a glorified tourist trap--worth going for the view but the food is only worth 1/2 the price in my opinion.

      Not sure yet if we're up for fish tacos. We don't generally order them, even out here in CA, but I may consider it for a between-meals snack.

      Thanks again!

      1. re: smiles33

        I've swam while others have waited in line..Gazebo is a great little gem.
        Hula Grill is one of my faves for HH..mai tais and the calamari are excellent.
        Dukes too for HH.
        Mamas Fish House for lunch but pricey.
        Outback has HH in the bar with some great deals and was kid friendly.
        Have a great time and report back.

    2. Go to Kihei Caffe for their cinnamon roll French toast, weekends only I think. Also very friendly service. Small, cozy, mom and pop feel.

      There are 3 Ululani's branches now, Lahaina, Kahului, and Kihei, the Kihei one will be closest to you but you could also hit the Kahului one up on the way to or from the airport and Wailea.

      Da Kitchen in Kihei has a smaller menu than the others. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for their rotating daily specials.

      If you want amazing mangoes, go to Yee's Orchard (a roadside stand) and buy Golden Glow mangoes. Closed Mon and Fri. Only open 11-5. Easy to miss as it is literally a small hut at Kihei Road and Nohokai St. It is on the east side of the street.

      I don't see Eskimo Candy in Kihei on your list for poke takeout. Closed weekends.

      1. Aloha Mixed Plate has had decidedly mixed quality food when I have visited, but the setting is very pretty and family friendly. Did you know that they recently closed for a few weeks while revamping their menu and service? The reviews I have seen since reopening this month have not been positive. I plan to keep an eye on it and see if it's worth a try again when we go back in January. I am hopeful since I believe the chef of Star Noodle is supposed to be behind the makeover. Anyway, their happy hour starts at 2:00.
        For a good happy hour in South Maui we love MonkeyPod. Apps are half price and their wonderful culinary cocktails are $8. Live music and family friendly too. Don't miss the MonkeyPod mai tai with lilikoi foam... perfect!
        We also plan to try Coconuts Fish Cafe after hearing so many raves. They do have more than fish tacos.
        Pacific'O is a place we always eat on Maui. I wouldn't hesitate to sit beach-side with your girls there, especially for lunch. We fell in love with it our first trip to Maui and it's not always quite as wonderful for us now, but still worth a stop. On our trip last year we did the O'o Farm Lunch Tour, at Pacific'O's chef James MacDonalds upcountry farm. Would your family enjoy trying those delicious Maui fruits and vegetables right where they're grown? We loved it.
        And really, don't miss Ululani's! I thought shave ice was not worth eating until trying this... so good...get the li hing mui powder on top! Have fun planning!

        1. Sam Sato's has great noodles, they'll do OK for kids as they have an american breakfast menu as well. They also have good homemade fruit turnovers. I also really enjoy breakfast at Longei's in Lahaina

          Komoda's has very good cream (actually custard filled) puffs plus they have killer dinner rolls. Believe me you'll eat the bag before you reach your condo,

          For a fun burger, Cheeseburger in Paradise in Lahina is good and Kimo's is a destination, have a piece of hula pie which one piece is enough to feed 4 people.

          Some great places in Paia, there's a good fish taco place, forgot the name.

          Haili'Maile General Store, one of Bev Gannon's places is excellent, a must. There are some good old school places in Wailuku for happy hour and reasonable prices.

          Ululani's Shave Ice, yes a must.

          I'm not a fan of Pacific O's but, that's just me.

          4 Replies
          1. re: cstr

            I am always surprised when someone recommends Cheeseburger in Paradise. Ask any local, from the captain of your snorkel cruise to your surf instructor, what restaurant to avoid and the universal answer is Cheeseburger in Paradise. If you are in Lahaina and in the mood for a burger, try Kool Cats. Penne Pasta, also in Lahaina, is a good spot for pizza and pasta. It's also very kid friendly. Local Boyz, located just a block or so from Kool Cats, gets our vote for shave ice.

            1. re: Mimi

              We plan to avoid typical fare like burgers/pasta, unless I can get a spam and egg burger. Thanks, though, for the warning re: CIP.

            2. re: cstr

              Can you tell me why you dont like Pacific O? Food is uninspired? Service poor? I've read several rave reviews for them, which is why I'm intrigued.

              1. re: smiles33

                It has been so long, that it's probably no longer relevant. Still, on our last visit there, and one before that, the food and service were very good. My wife wants to fit it back into the Maui rotation, if on the West Side.


            3. P.S. Just found a link to my TR from our 2004 trip in the archives!