Despite all of the dreary economic indicators for Maui county plenty of restaurateurs decided to give it a go. After all, everyone must eat! I say bravo to the brave food and beverage entrepreneurs whose spirits weren’t dampened by locations that have yet to hold a successful eatery despite other attempts, or the daunting liquor commission and planning commission hoops to jump through.
1. Best Ethnic Cuisine on the Scene
As of 2009 we have two indian cuisine places in Maui, not just one! Maui’s history with Indian food has been a bit sketchy. A curry place here, a Taj Mahalo there, nothing lasting long, definitely not over two years. For 2009 we officially have two choices, a more casual take out option with Maui Masala in Dolphin Plaza and in north Kihei the sit down ocean views of Monsoon India in the Menehune Shores. I am hoping this will spur some Indian food appreciators on the island. This is what Maui Time Weekly’s Nancy Kanyuk had to say about it a few weeks ago:
This is a place where a yogurt drink is a lassi, which is nothing like a smoothie. And it’s also a place where any misconceptions you may have about curry are put to rest. In India curry is a common term, used to describe any entrée with a sauce. But that certainly doesn’t mean they all taste the same, says manager Hari Reddy. In fact, he and Monsoon’s Chef Bindeshor insist nothing is further from the truth. So they offer six different curries with names like Vindaloo, Saag and Kadhai, served with any of nine meat, vegetarian or seafood choices.
2395 S. Kihei Rd. #110, Kihei, HI 96753
Wed.-Mon., 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-8pm
760 South Kihei Road, Unit 109, Kihei, HI 96753
Open 5-9pm daily for dinner, 11:30am-2:30pm Mon.-Sat. for lunch, and 11:30am-3pm for Sunday brunch
2. Most Needed in Central Maui
Bistro Casanova came into the Kahului dining scene like an old friend, doing the lunches that we had dreamed of but were never offered. Delectable housemade bread rolls and bread sticks to snack on while you wait, sandwiches, crepes and salad washed down with strawberry ice tea, or cocktails if its that kind of lunch. More recently they began serving dinner that has a collection of Italian, Spanish, Mediterranean, and French dishes. I loved their tasty filet, but especially the Antipasto di Mare, a seafood salad that has muscles, calamari and shrimp. Another plus for the Bistro, a stylish getaway for the going out crowd, try the Mohito’s by the carafe and tapas menu.Bistro Casanova 33 Lono Ave. Ste. 150, Kahului, 873-3650 Tues.-Sat. 11am-close; Mon. lunch only 3. Finally: Pizza Delivery and Quick Food in Haiku John and Cristina Graziano are new to the restaurant world but so dedicated! Opening one restaurant in one of the most rural enclaves of Maui was not enough for them. They are busting their butts out there in Haiku stirring it all up with their sit down dinner restaurant Max, and morning and lunch take out with Max to Go. Maui Time’s Jacob Shafer had this to say during his last visit:
The selection is a pared-down version of what’s offered at the main restaurant—breakfast options, sandwiches, soups, pizza etc. I opted for the tuna salad sandwich, a heaping dollop of tuna on a sliced baguette with lettuce and tomato. My dining companion got the excellent veggie sandwich (and by excellent I mean even for staunch carnivores), which comes piled with lettuce, tomato, shredded carrot, cucumber, avocado, red onion, grilled eggplant and a pesto spread and perfectly exemplifies one of Max’s winningest traits: fresh ingredients. Add a basket of well-seasoned garlic fries (and some cheese pizza for the keiki in our trio) and it was all we could do to clear our plates.My last visit I had soup and salad on the way to the park, but most times I pick up a ham and pineapple pizza, the family favorite. Max Haiku Town Center 575-2629 Max To Go
Haiku Town Center
Open Tues.-Fri., 7am-5pm
4. Big Reputations on the West Side If reputations precede you then does that give you an edge on the competition? With the opening of David Paul’s Island Grill, Chef David Paul comes back to Lahaina about 19 years after opening and selling the Lahaina Grill on Lahainaluna Rd. David Paul’s Island Grill reinvents Chef David with a modern look, fresh ideas and good food. His attention to fresh island products and innovative creations spawned the princess and the pea, a seared scallop on the most amazing pea cake, one of the best things I put in my mouth this year.
Also entering the dining fray on the west side with a big rep is T S Restaurant’s Duke’s Beach House. T S Restaurant’s will now have 4 out of their 13 restaurants on Maui, and that is no accident. All 4 reside on the west side with fabulous ocean views. The controversial development of North Beach notwithstanding, they have opened a gorgeous Duke Kahanamoku themed place with complete with Hawaiian artifacts and the signature Duke’s style.Honua Kai Resort
130 Kai Malina Parkway
Lahaina HI 96761
BREAKFAST – 6:30 AM to 10:30 AM DAILY
LUNCH – 11:00 AM TO 3:00 PM DAILY
DINNER – 5:00 PM TO 10:00 PM DAILY
5. Food, Drinks and Live Music
I have got to hand it to Diamond’s Ice Bar and Grill for opening their club and supporting live music on Maui with their Friday Night Live series. A different live band has played there every Friday night. You can expect a fun and eclectic crowd. This is one place that makes a great Martini bringing back my faith in mixology, and the bartender doesn’t roll their eyes if you order one. Dress up, come out, and if you get hungry their menu goes till the wee hours. More recently I checked out Big Mike’s Throwback Thursday night where he spins quality 80’s and 90’s dance tunes. Don’t act, you know you totally want to dance.
6. The One that Got Away
I wouldn’t be human without missing something. My big regret is not getting over to Tiajuana’s Beach Cantina and Donovan Frankenreiter’s Margarita House in Kaanapali. I hope they are missing me! I have sent emails saying hello but have not heard back, but now I know the end of the year is near and I am going to have to close 2009 without checking this place out. Ouch! I hate regrets.
The sad farewells of 2009. Wow, we had a lot of closing restaurants in 2009, and I mourn a bit for each one. Heres our goodbye’s: Santa Fe Cantina, Rusty Harpoon, Henry’s, Maui Bake Shop, Pauwela Cafe, Unisan, Rosa’s Cantina & Rosa’s Taco Cart, Greek Bistro, Roy’s Kihei, Kujo’s, Compadres, and Bernard’s Bento & Banquets.
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.