TIE: Moana Bakery & Cafe, Maui Brewing Co.
Check, check. One, two. I love ties. It means more winners! And, in the case of this category, more opportunities to express, well, whatever it is you’re intent on expressing (I chuckled at one vote for “anyplace you can cut the sound off, if need be”). Whether its Wednesday on the West side or Tuesday night on the North Shore, there’s an open mic waiting for you. The format for open mic night is pretty standard wherever you go, so it’s the mood of a place that makes it meritorious. Moana Bakery & Cafe is a Baldwin Avenue mainstay that’s all colorful coziness and, frankly, I need but say “brew pub” to get the point across for Maui Brew Co. Both locales lend themselves to the acts being paid attention to, with sound systems that aren’t overpowering and a welcoming, neighborhood feel. Moana: 71 Baldwin Ave., Paia, 579-9999; Maui Brew Co., 4405 Honoapiilani Hwy. #217, Lahaina, 669-3474, mauibrewingco.com @anuheayagi
Runner-Up: Life’s a Beach, Kihei