[Story on Teddy’s Bigger Burger]
The old adage “everybody must eat” must be working in the food and beverage industry because there have been some fearless restauranteurs in 2011 and an incredible number of new openings compared to closings. Chef Peter Merriman opened Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea with an amazing selection of beer, Vineyard Food Company headed by Chef Giles in Wailuku opened and then expanded into the space next door, Chef Sheldon Simeon and the Ho Aloha Na Eha Crew busted out Leoda’s the picturesque destination dining in Oluwalu, and Chef Mark Ellman opened Honu Seafood and Pizza Restaurant that brings us the best seafood cocktails, po boys and pizza next to Mala Ocean Tavern on Front Street.
Food trucks were a predicted trend from 2010 and Maui still delivered, popular food truck food popped up everywhere in lots of flavors. The newest being the bento trunk appearing at the Kahului Boat Landing Unofficial Food Truck Food Court, the Puerto Rican Food truck (find out where they are at on twitter @daPRFT), and My Office at Park Plaza in Kihei’s Tech Park. With changing destinations, sellout menus, and weekly specials, lunches have become new and exciting again for foodies chasing food trucks.
The buzz words for Maui foodies in 2011 were ‘Eat Local’ turning Farm to Table into the mantra for Chefs. I’o and Pacifico were some of the restaurants ahead of the curve having their own O’o Farm up in Kula. Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao was also one of the restaurants that developed their menu around seasonal locally acquired foods from the beginning. Meanwhile Executive Chefs from our major resorts began their own on property gardens and added farmers to their speed dial lists. Chef Alan Wong, who plans to open a restaurant in the Grand Wailea in 2012 is fond of quoting the Hawaii Department of Agriculture study that says if we can replace just 10 percent of foods we import with locally grow and manufactured foods we could generate $94 million for farmers in our local economy. Kanu Hawaii (@kanuhi) is a website that urges a growing corporate and individual following in to publicly make eat local goals like “I will source one meal daily from local protein and produce.” Destinations like Tedeschi Winery, the Ali’i Kula Lavendar Farm and the Surfing Goat Dairy are part of a new push for tours that involve local food production and agriculture. Eat Local has become a catch phrase for shopping at farmers markets, ag tourism, and now dining out.
The cocktail renaissance may yet reach us on Maui. Pretentious wax mustachioed tie and suspender wearing speakeasy bartender mixologists may abound in the metro mainland but here that would never fly with the Mai Tai happy hour sun seeking tropical beach bar clientele here. However, Mauians can still hold their drink, and locals in know go to great lengths to search out the best cocktail menus. Liquor sales continued to grow in our county, the $236 million in gross liquor sales reported by the LC in 2010 was up from the year before, and 2011 is on the same trajectory. Highlights in local liquor however go to our distilleries who continue to turn out quality adult beverage products and garner national attention. Haliimaile Distillery and master distiller Mark Nigbur perhaps made the biggest splash with their launch of Sammy Hagar’s new Beach Bar Rum available exclusively in Maui for the moment. Haleakala Distillery‘s exotic Okolehao is coveted on the mainland, and they now have a pineapple rum that you can try only at The Westin Maui. Wine Dinners, wine festivals, film festivals foodie events, bartender competitions, red carpet revels, and the Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival are helping us all shake off that 80’s pre-mix stupor and step into the twenty first century of handcrafted cocktails.
In 2011 the Unites States Government Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services blew American minds with their updated dietary guidelines for 2010 (they update every 5 years). Three main points were groundbreaking suggestions from their last update: one, eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat free and low fat dairy products and seafood; two, eat less sugar, salt, cholesterol, trans fats and refined grains like white flour; three, balance consumption of calories with exercise. The catch? No recommendations for the corporate food producers to stop filling our super markets with hostess treats and other packaged foods filled with salt, sugar, and refined grains. No recommendations for large fast food conglomerates to cease marketing meals full of transfats and sodium. The result, little change in the way America eats. In fact a new study by the University of Michigan suggests obesity may be one of the unintended side effects of our free market policies.
In 2011 chefs and restaurants became interactive and more accessible with twitter, Facebook, blogs and the ever adapting world of social networking. Static websites have become archaic. Food enthusiasts are online booking reservations through Open Table and critiquing food and service with sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon. They are sharing food pictures in instagram, foodspotting, and following each other’s digital gastronomic adventures like never before.
Buzz’s Wharf: Over 40 years serving food on Maui
Casanova turned 25
Lahaina Grill: Open Table’s top 10 Hawaii Restaurants
Mama’s Fish House: Open Table’s top 10 Hawaii Restaurants, open since 1973
New Restaurants of 2011
Spanky’s Riptide, 505 Front St.
Fabiani’s, Lipoa Center
Bistro Manila, Wakea St.
Four Sisters Restaurant, Vineyard St.
Monkeypod Kitchen, Wailea
Da Office at Lahaina Cafe, Wainee St.
Royal Lahaina’s Barefoot Bar, Kaanapali
Lilikoi Cafe, Haiku
Jay’s Place, Wharf
Guava Gouda & Caviar, Kihei
My Office, Kihei
Sweet Paradise Chocolate, Wailea
Teddy’s Bigger Burger, Lahaina
Yum Yum, Wailuku
Captain Jacks, Lahaina
Choice Health Bar, Lahaina
Da Sushi Bar and Nai’s Place, Kahului
Rodeo General Store, Kihei
Paukukalo Store – original owners came back and reopened with their $1.50 Pakuz Burgers
Melting Pot – Closed their doors in October and reopened Dec 20 with a new menu, plus the same great fondue party, and a new wine concept
Taco Del Mar, Kahului – A new owner, that was a fan of the restaurant under the old owners, came in and gave Kahului the $6 Mondo burrito again
Blue Lagoon, Lahaina
Da Kitchen, Wharf
About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.