This is the part where we’re supposed to launch into yet another explanation of how things are tough, and set to get tougher as September arrives and all the tourists leave. But you know what? You’ve heard it before, and frankly we don’t blame you for not wanting to hear it again.

So let’s cut to the chase. September, even in the midst of a recession, doesn’t just mean collective belt-tightening—it also means deals at restaurants ranging from the high-end joint with the linen tablecloths to the shave ice shack on the corner. To help you make the most of these cash-saving, belly-filling opportunities, we’ve highlighted 25 especially enticing bargains (some for kama‘aina only, others for everyone) and augmented that with a not-comprehensive-but-still-pretty-expansive list of establishments that are offering deals of one kind or another.
Dig in.

Write-ups by: Jen Russo, Jacob Shafer & Anu Yagi

505 Front St., Lahaina, 661-8422
The deal: Half off entrees for Kama’aina daily in September
How to work it: Remember, you’re dining at the brainchild of Best of Maui-winning Chef James McDonald. This restaurant is one of a few that features the fresh produce of the house farm in Kula. Dishes escape normal conventions with names like scallops ala bondage—scallops wrapped tight in a blanket of bacon and fresh herbs, gracing your plate alongside ponzu cream sauce and Japanese eggplant puree. This fantastic play on surf and turf will mirror your oceanside dining experience. [JR]
Gian Don’s Italian Bistro
1445 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 874-4041
The deal: Pay by the time of night, Thurs., 4:30-9:30pm
How to work it: A neat take on the early bird special, prices start at just $4.50 at 4:30pm. Prices increase 50 cents every half-hour until 9:30pm, meaning the earlier you get your booty to Gian Don’s, the better. With two choices made available for this deal, plain pizza or pasta primavera, the best way to maximize the offer is to go with a friend and split one of each. [AY]

Pacific Whale Foundation
300 Maalaea Rd. #211, Maalaea, 249-8811
The deal: Half-price sunset dinner cruises every Sun. through Nov.
How to work it: It’s whales at sunset—what more do you need? If you answered live music, drinks and a three-course meal, you’re in luck. Chances are this’ll be the night you splurge and get a sitter, but if you want to bring the keiki along, kids under two ride free. [JS]

Lahaina Grill
127 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina, 667-5117
The deal: Half-price entrees every Mon. in Sept., 6pm-close
How to work it: This is one of those tough-to-go-wrong places, where you could toss a dart at the menu and be guaranteed to hit something ono (probably why Maui Time readers voted it Best Restaurant this year). But for our money, the surprisingly tender, juicy kalua duck flies to the head of the flock. [JS]

Diamonds Ice Bar and Grill
1279 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 879-9299
The deal: Buy one, get one half off
How to work it: This is a new bar, so it’s your chance the to try out the menu and the surroundings. Their frost bar chills your drink perfectly, so don’t be afraid to pair your selections with one of the eight beers they serve on draft. Last time I was there, the LC was in for lunch and gave the thumbs up on the alfredo. Next time I’m in, I’ll be having a rueben on rye. [JR]
Matteos Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant
100 Ike Drive, Wailea, 874-1234
The deal: Half off pizza and wine by the glass
How to work it: This is a dream come true for pizza lovers. Their high-quality pies come hand tossed or thick crust and the topping choices are endless. How about the pesto shrimp, or barbecue chicken? Of course their famous Quattro is always a winner: artichoke hearts, proscuitto, black olives and mushrooms. Add the gorgeous outdoor patio that overlooks Wailea and half-price glasses of vino and enjoy. [JR]
S&Q’s Coffee & Shave Ice Shack
Rainbow Mall, 2439 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 344-6598
The deal: Buy any drink over $4 and get a free breakfast sandwich, Mon. & Thurs., 7am-12pm
How to work it: The list of reasons I love S&Q’s is as long as their menu. At first glance, their impressive inventory of offerings might seem daunting—they serve everything (and then some) you think a coffee and shave ice shack might, all out of a surprisingly itsy bitsy space. Breakfast sandwiches are made nearly any way you like them—on English muffins, croissants or rolls—with egg, cheese and a choice of meat. I’d opt for the bacon and egg on an English muffin and wash it down with the drink that got me the deal (my choice: the banana-and-chocolate Maui Mocha Monkey). So eat, wait 30 minutes, hit the beach, and then head back to S&Q’s for an afternoon snack—the money you save more than enough to cover their signature shave ice (and bless them for offering azuki beans). [AY]

275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului, 248-7829
The deal: Buy one entrée, get one free
How to work it: You’re in a ’50s-style diner with red vinyl booths and Patti Page piping through the speakers. How can you not order a pair of big, juicy cheeseburgers? Add a maraschino cherry-topped milk shake with two straws and pretend you’re on the way to the big sock hop. [JS]

Mulligan’s on the Blue
100 Kaukahi St., Wailea, 874-1131.
The deal: 2 for 1 pupus and half-off drinks, daily, 4-6pm
How to work it: Their baby back ribs are a not-to-be-missed house specialty—dry rubbed with a homemade apple BBQ sauce. But, with Mulligan’s list of tasty pupu offerings, I find it tricky to pick what to pair with it. Cajun seared ahi with pickled ginger? Fried ahi poke served with sweet chili and wasabi aioli? Firecracker shrimp with citrus curry Asian slaw? Whatever you choose, be sure to double your order of Mulligan’s garlic fries and wash it down with an Irish ale. [AY]

Pho Saigon 808
Wharf Center, 658 Front St., Lahaina, 661-6628
The deal: Buy one special entree, get the second half off, Tues. & Sat.
How to work it: Vietnamese cuisine specializes in plenty of fresh vegetables and rice noodles. If you happen to be vegan or a wheat product-avoider gravitate here. You can never go wrong with pad Thai and curry. [JR]
1881 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 879-0004
The deal: Half-price sushi, Sun.-Mon., 5-6pm for kama‘aina; twenty-five percent off sushi, Tues.-Sat., 5:30-6pm
How to work it: The first step is to get in line—because there will be a line. After that, it’s just a matter of picking something off the expansive menu, which features choices to suit everyone from the sushi novice to the hard-core raw fish aficionado. A personal favorite: the nessei combo—ahi, yellowtail, shiromi, shrimp, salmon, tamago and tako sushi with a California or spicy tuna roll. [JS]

Polli’s Mexican Restaurant
1202 Makawao Ave., Makawao, 572-7808
The deal: Buy one taco plate or burrito supreme, get one half-off
How to work it: An Upcountry mainstay, Polli’s over-the-door sign has long proclaimed the survival mentality, “Come in and eat or we’ll both starve.” It’s easy to work a deal that works for you, as I usually order their burrito supreme anyway. With a date, it shaves down the tab enough for another margarita, but without a partner I’d get that second, half-off burrito anyhow, and take it home for later. Unless you’re loco, don’t miss out on a basket (or two, or three) of their famous chips and salsa. [AY]

Dog and Duck
1913 S Kihei Rd, Kihei 875-9669
The deal: Buy one entrée, get one half off; buy three appetizers, get one free
How to work it: If you haven’t been to Dog and Duck to try some of Chef Simon Jones’s Best of Maui-winning dishes, this is your chance. Get hearty homecooked meals, served up by their gorgeous staff, without lifting a finger. Corned beef and cabbage and bangers and mash are just a couple of my favorites. Their late night pupu menu is a fine way to soak up the weekend buzz, but with buy three get one free it’s a complete late night meal. [JR]
RB Steakhouse
4465 Honoapiilani Highway, Lahaina, 669-8889
The deal: Half price pupus, $2 drafts, $3 cocktails, 3-6pm daily
How to work it: Start with a $2 draft of Widmere Heffewizen and pair it with the escargot—expertly prepared in garlic butter and bearnaise—for $4.50. Please, don’t be one of those food sissies who say they don’t eat snails; the French really know what’s up. After that you can easily cruise through the $3 cocktails or a glass of wine with the lobster artichoke fritters, a shrimp cocktail or the half-pound clams—or simply more beer. [JR]
Big Wave Café
1215 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 891-8688
The deal: Buy one, get one free daily, 5-6:30pm
How to work it: The name Raul Bermudez is synonymous with culinary excellence, and his laid-back Kihei outpost is certainly no exception. To maximize flavor and variety, pair up the crab stuffed snapper with the rib eye steak. Budget friendly bonus: keiki eat free on Tuesdays. [JS]

Ruth’s Chris Steak House
The Shops at Wailea, 874-8880; 900 Front St., Lahaina, 661-8815
The deal: Twenty-five percent off ala carte menu Sun.-Mon.
How to work it: One word: meat. Yes, steak isn’t the only thing on the menu—but come on. We’re talking juicy beef seared to your own personal version of perfection; add a fork, knife and your mouth and indulge your inner carnivore. [JS]

Stopwatch Sports Bar & Grill
1127 Makawao Ave., Makawao, 572-1380
The deal: Buy one entrée, get one half-off, Wed.-Thurs., 5-8:45pm
How to work it: The décor alone is worth a sit-down at this Upcountry tavern—the walls cluttered with a variety of interesting paintings, everything from bright florals to a whole section of topless beach beauties to a suited-up knight seated at a throne. And with several flat screens, it’s a great place to catch the game or just catch up with old friends. Entrees like New York steak ($18.50) or the golden fried chicken are good bets for this deal, and come served with a choice of rice, their popular French fries or garlic mashed potatoes. [AY]

Mala Ocean Tavern
1307 Front Street, Lahaina, 667-9394
The deal: Half off food nightly, 8-10pm for Kama’aina
How to work it: This deal translates into an oceanfront Lahaina feast fit for kings—but one that us paupers can afford. Dishes range from Indonesian to Mediterranean and a whole lot in between; the hardest part is making a decision. Is it the Gado Gado salad with coconut peanut sauce, sugar snap peas and tofu? Perhaps The fresh catch mahi mahi ceviche with lime and cilantro? Basically, you can’t go wrong. [JR]
Stella Blues Cafe
1279 S. Kihei Rd. #201, Kihei, 874-3779
The deal: Twenty percent off daily, 7:30-8:30am, 5-6pm
How to work it: During the breakfast hour, order a stack of some of the best mac nut pancakes on-island (which is saying something). For dinner, get your fingers dirty on the baby back ribs (the skillet corn bread that comes on the side is excellent). [JS]

Kau Kau Tin
2102 W. Vineyard St., Wailuku, HI 96793.
The deal: Call for daily deals
How to work it: Kau Kau Tin is new to the scene, but in a familiar location (old Unisan). Aiming to bring authentic Japanese home style cooking to Maui, Kau Kau Tin’s menu changes daily, subject to what’s fresh. Even the rice has that great home cooked flavor, topped with the tiniest flecks of petite chopped green onion. A sucker for sashimi, I dig their fresh, flavorful slices with steamed tako, and love their coleslaw side, which is crisp, sweet and features big chunks of tomato and a healthy amount of crab. [AY]

Kahului Ale House
355 E. Kamehameha Ave., Kahului, 877-9001
The deal: Half price beer-battered fish and chips all day Fri.
How to work it: This one’s pretty foolproof: check the calendar to make sure it’s Friday, walk in, order the beer-battered fish and chips and eat them. (A side dish of beer is recommended.) [JS]

Maui Coffee Roasters
444 Hana Hwy, Kahului, 877-2877
The deal: $1 cappucinos after 2pm
How to work it: Hitting an afternoon slump at the office? Here’s your answer. On your way to do some dreaded shopping and errands in Kahului? Again, here’s your answer. The Happy Cappy hour will turn that midday frown upside down and, more importantly, elevate that energy level. [JR]
Santa Fe Cantina
900 Front St., Lahaina, 667-7805
The deal: Half-price entrees every Sun. in Sept.
How to work it: Don’t know the difference between Mexican and New Mexican (or Southwestern) cuisine? Didn’t even know there was a difference? Educate yourself with the pork al pastor tacos, sweetened by pineapple and lightly spiced with red chile. (Wash ’em down with a glass of sangria during the 3-6pm happy hour.) [JS]

4405 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, 669-6999
The deal: Buy one, get one free
How to work it: Roy’s is a rare instance where the cool stuff from Oahu came over to Maui. Roy Yamaguchi put Pacific rim dining on the map, and his dishes and recipes are world famous. Plan to eat seafood prepared to perfection and served with remarkable sauces and accompaniments. The famous melting chocolate soufflé is a must-try meal capper. [JR]

The Melting Pot
Lahaina Gateway Center, Keawe St., Lahaina, 661-6181
The deal: Four-course menu for $35 per person (minimum 2 people)
How to work it: From a boisterous party with all your crew to an intimate rendezvous for two, submerging bite-sized morsels into a vat of dripping deliciousness is an activity best enjoyed with others. Nearly half off the regular cost, their special four-course menu includes Caribbean cheese fondue, an entrée with filet mignon, pot stickers, chicken and shrimp, plus salad and a pure chocolate dessert dipper of your choice. [AY]