Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those Grinchly, “how to avoid the holidays altogether because they’re just an orgy of consumption and gluttony” pieces. Sure, there’s plenty to get cranky about this time of year, but there’s also a lot to love—like the emphasis on eating. How often are you presented with a ready-made, airtight three-month-long excuse to stuff your face? But turkey and trimmings, good as they are, only go so far. Why not expand your seasonal culinary options? A great starting point is this South Maui joint, which serves fresh, tasty Mediterranean fare. Correct me if I’m wrong, but they also may be the only place on-island to get a gyro.
Kihei & Kapalua
Probably no food (other than, I guess, raw broccoli and room temp tap water) deviates further from the gravy-soaked heaviness of the traditional holiday meal than sushi. Maui is home to a number of fine options, but you’ll find few lists that don’t put Sansei at or near the top. And if your Yuletide companion doesn’t roll with the roll, they offer pasta, pork chops and some dangerously delicious desserts.
I’ve had several people engage me in the “is flatbread really pizza?” debate. You know what? I don’t care. What I do care about is that this place dishes some seriously tasty whatever-you-want-to-call-ems. Order a few 16-inchers and have them served with half-and-half toppings to get the most out of the menu’s palate-pleasing array of combinations. (Two personal favorites that go well together: the kalua pork and the “coevolution,” which features Kalamata olives, onions, rosemary, garlic, red peppers, mozzarella and goat cheese…I’m hungry.) Plus, the big stone oven’s always got a fire blazing to lend that subtle touch of holiday charm.
Meat is central to any good holiday feast, and that’s what they’ve got at Beach Bum’s. Steak, chicken, pulled pork, Spam—you name it, all served fresh from the impressive industrial strength smoker they’ve installed out back. Their sides—slaw, baked beans, potato mac salad—are also noteworthy, as is the made-on-site BBQ sauce that comes in sweet and spicy and makes everything taste better.
Kahului & Kihei
We’ve told you before and we’ll tell you again. Big. Huge. Gigantic. Portions. What more do you need to know? If you’re looking to feed a small holiday army and don’t feel like doing dishes ‘til Groundhog Day, head to Maui’s signature local eatery and grind until your belly’s like Santa’s. Ho ho ho. MTW