By Jen Russo
It doesn’t take a University of Chicago-trained economist to recognize that Maui’s economy is down. September is traditionally a quiet time on the island; the kids are back in school, and most mainland families won’t even think about travel for another three months. For hotels and restaurants across Maui, that means a lot more empty tables, which means the residents who work in said hotels and restaurants will take home a lot less pay.
As we do every year, we’ve compiled as many special restaurant deals as we could find. These establishments need to put `okoles in the seats, and if they have to do specials for locals (and sometimes, even the visitors who are still here), then they’ll do it. Sometimes they’ll offer those of us with Hawaii identification cards a 10 or 25 percent discount off our tabs, but other times, they’ll go all out with half-off dining specials that are difficult to ignore.
So here’s the deal: Check out the following guide to the island’s best restaurant deals, decide what looks good, and then get out of the house for a change. Times may be tough, but that doesn’t mean good eating has to be.
* * *
Joe’s Bar & Grill
131 Wailea Ike Pl.
The Deal: Buy one entree, get the second entree of equal or lesser value free. Every day, 5:30-6:30pm
How to Work It: In the mood for a luscious meal, great wine and terrific ambiance? I thought so. Joe’s likes to say that you save on food so you can spend it on wine, and that is a beautiful thing. Go with it.
3900 Wailea Alanui Dr.
The Deal: Buy one entree, get one free. Every day, all day.
How to Work It: Chef Cameron Lewark is very hands-on and the cuisine is Wolfgang Puck genius. Your server can direct you to the flavors that most interest you, but I love the ahi cones and fish entrees (their lamb and pork are amazing, too). They aren’t afraid to give the kamaaina what they want—a great free entree (with valid Hawaii ID). The Four Seasons offers the same buy-one-get-one deal at their other restaurants, Ferraro’s and Duo’s.
505 Front St., Lahaina
The Deal: Half price entrees (in the bar and dining room) on Monday through Thursday; Half price
How to Work It: I’o works the synergy with its own O’o farm. You can order veggies picked that very day with Chef James McDonald’s special touches added, and voila—there is more than one winner at work here. The menu rethinks cuisine, with cocktails crafted to match.
Round Table Pizza
207 Piikea Ave., Kihei; 2580 Kekaa Dr., Kaanapali
The Deal: Any pizza half price for kamaaina (no delivery). Monday in September
How to Work It: Look at the calendar. Aww, the weekend is over and it’s Monday… This is actually a good thing: pick up the phone and call the closest Round Table and order a pie with all your favorite toppings. You’ll get it for half price with your Hawaii ID. Now that feels better, right?
Mala Wailea & Mala Ocean Tavern
3700 Wailea Alanui Dr.;
1307 Front St., Lahaina
The Deal: All food half price, every day, 8-9:30pm (Mala Wailea); 10 percent off all food, every day, open to close (Mala Ocean Tavern)
How to Work It: Mala Wailea has this incredible lounge with sofas and cushy chairs. For something different, we grabbed our excellent Mala cuisine family-style and had a blast. But if you prefer their open air lanai with gorgeous views, I wouldn’t hold it against you. If you can’t make it to Wailea, stop in at their ocean-side Front Street location for a still-solid 10 percent off deal.
Kai Sushi Restaurant
1 Ritz-Carlton Dr.,Kapalua
The Deal: Half price food for kamaaina with valid ID. Daily except Tuesday and Wednesday, 5:30-6:30pm
How to Work It: The valet parking is free, so just swoop in with your Maui Cruiser. No shame—these valets are the best team ever. Then head over to the half-price menu which includes some incredible short rib potstickers, mu shu pork and ahi tataki salad. Then it’s time for magnificent sushi cradled in the Asian aesthetic of the Ritz’s lovely dining room. A sake flight completes it.
325 Keawe St., Ste A202, Lahaina
The Deal: Every day: 15 percent off the four-course fondue extravaganza, with valid Hawaii ID; Mondays: three-course dinner, $30
How to Work It: Get out your fondue stick—it’s time to dip it in the pot! Fondues are best done in a group, so gather your gang and come in to let the good times roll. I love the cheese fondues and salads here, and the sangria was a perfect pairing.
1295 Front St., Lahaina
The Deal: 40% off food at bar and chefs bar
How to Work It: The newest restaurant by Mark and Judy Ellman puts the emphasis on seafood but it doesnt stop there. Amazing flatbread, gluten free, stevia, and veggie cuisine are all accomodated. The shrimp roll rocked, the cocktails fab. This is your time to try this menu out.
Haliimaile General Store
900 Haliimaile Rd., Makawao
The Deal: Bring in one non perishable item for the Maui Food Bank, get one entree half off on Mondays
How to Work It: They call it Aloha Mondays, and all you have to do is show some aloha by bringing a non-perishable food item to be donated to the Maui Food Bank. I love this kamaaina deal, since you can enjoy Bev Gannon’s famous Hunan ribs and crab pizza while you pay it forward.
760 S. Kihei Rd.
658 Front St., Lahaina
The Deal: Buy one entree, get second entree of equal or lesser value free. Every Monday-Tuesday
How to Work It: Monsoon now has two locations to impress you with their enticing Indian cuisine. Both are offering this great deal. The South Maui spot offers ocean views, while the Lahaina restaurant has a more casual dining experience.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
600 Office Rd., Kapalua
The Deal: Half price food and sushi for kamaaina, Sun-Mon 5:15-6pm
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Kihei Town Center, 1881 S. Kihei Rd.
The Deal: Half price late-night sushi and appetizers (all guests must be over 21 with proper ID), every Thursday-Sunday, 10pm-1am; 25 percent off food and sushi daily except Sunday-Monday
How to Work It: Sansei makes it easy for us by having two great locations on the island. All you have to do is show up at the right place and time and take advantage of their deal. Lately, I can’t get enough of their panko crusted ahi roll, but you can decide what you can’t live without—it’s half price, after all.
1279 S. Kihei Rd.
The Deal: 20 percent off, 7:30-8:30am and 5-6pm, excluding liquor
How to Work It: Stella’s is so generous this deal is for everyone, not just kamaaina. The menu is family friendly and the portions are huge so there are lots of happy people here. I adore their homemade hummus and spinach salad, to say nothing of their macnut crusted anythings. Meat lovers can rally round the pork chops, meatloaf and ribs.
Three’s Bar and Grill
1945 S Kihei Rd.
The Deal: Buy one entree, get one half off. After 8 pm
How to Work It: Three Chefs do it three ways, so the menu has an eclectic co-mingling of Asian, southwest and Pacific rim influences. Get your appetite going with the half-off special after 8 and enjoy the shiso smeared flat iron, honey glazed salmon or mouthwatering flatbread.
7 Aewa Pl., Pukalani
The Deal: Two slices and a soda for $5
How to Work It: Head up to Pukalani to get real East Coast style pizza that is gonna rock your tastebuds with the perfect pairing of cheese, carbs and the sweet bubbly stuff for just $5.
4405 Honoapiilani Hwy., Lahaina, 669-6999
The Deal: Selected pupus half price at the bar from 5:30-6:30pm and 8:30-9:30pm; selected bottles of wine half price all night Wednesdays
How to Work It: This is the early sesh. So when you’re in the mood to hop, it’s time to groove the pupu hour at Roy’s.
1279 S. Kihei Rd.
The Deal: 20 percent off your entire bill Mon to Fri 3-6 pm in September
How to Work It: Peggy’s has excellent Maui Cattle Company burgers, fries and old fashioned Roselani shakes in their 50’s style diner. In the mood for Americana? Peggy Sue’s menu is all about it.
672 Front St., Lahaina
The Deal: Twenty percent off of food everyday
How to Work It: Captain Jack’s sits across the street from the Pioneer Inn and Lahaina Harbor and overlooks Front Street. It’s great for people-watching while you eat. My dad’s had everything on the menu and says it’s all good, but I can’t stop eating the fish tacos (the fish & chips are also really good). Their name suggests badass pirateness and that’s all dandy, but the crew is very nice there—as is their 20-percent-off-food deal for residents.
6 Kai’ Ala Dr., Lahaina
The Deal: All food half price. Thursdays after 8pm
How to Work It: Executive Chef Francios Milliet has taken the time to perfect the flavors in the menu, and now it’s your job to enjoy them for half price on Thursdays after 8pm. Sit next to the koi and indulge in Cappanone Pizza, Hirabara Farms’ greens, Filet Mignon, Veal Parmigiano and the Risotto-Crusted Pesce.
Queen Kaahumanu Center
275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului
The Deal: Free four-piece regular gyoza during happy hour (2pm-5pm) with the purchase of a regular meal
How to Work It: Ramen Ya has a great selection of noodle dishes, but they also offer some incredible Japanese curry, which is like a curry-gravy served with root veggies and meat. The Mochiko chicken and seafood fried noodles are also really good. And all you have to do is show up with your appetite from 2 to 5 pm and they gift you with gyoza. Sweet!
100 Wailea Ike Drive
The Deal: Half off all pizza (limit three toppings), and half off house wines. 5-6pm
How to Work It: People of Maui look forward to this kamaaina special all year. Matteo’s is famous for their authentic brick oven pizza. Offering half off their house wines really seals the deal.
Kalama’s Maui Ocean Grill
Kau Kau Corner
270 Dairy Rd.
The Deal: Buy one breakfast, get one free
How to Work It: You want a free breakfast? Head to Kalama’s and order one of their wonderful plates of eggs, bacon, toast and the works, and then you get one free of equal or lesser value. Sounds like the bomb to me.
2395 S. Kihei Rd.
The Deal: Buy one entree, get a get a vegetarian or chefs choice entree free
How to Work It: We have a new player in the Indian cuisine category. They opened recently across from Kamaole Beach I and right off the bat they are offering some real kamaaina love. That’s reason enough to go by and try it out. Plus you can BYOB, and they have free Wi-Fi.
Mulligan’s on the Blue
100 Kaukahi St., Wailea
The Deal: Half off the Mulligans on the Blue Burger (limit three toppings). Anytime, all September. Also, three-course dinner and Willie K show $55 (show only is $25)
How to Work It: Sometimes you just need a burger, a big one with all the fixings. Mulligans has what you need. You can wash it down with Harp or Guinness. Just sayin’—you are eating a burger, after all. And dinner and show Willie K-style just got a bit sweeter for kamaaina at Mulligans. Is that music to your mouth?
1063 Lower Main St., Wailuku
The Deal: Teishoku just $10.75, Mondays in September
How to Work It: If you’ve never enjoyed Teishoku, shame on you. Better go this coming Monday. This is Japanese pairing; translated it means something like “set meal.” But that doesn’t do it justice. You get meat, rice, sides, pickles and sometimes soup, all served in the proper Japanese way. Then the good part: devour it.
Teddy’s Bigger Burger
Lahaina Gateway Shopping Center
The Deal: Coupon on Page 18: Buy one combo, get the second combo half off. Fridays and Saturdays, bring coupon
How to Work It: Maui’s new burger joint has air-conditioning and fries made five ways (cheesy, garlicky, spicy, regular and tater tot-style). The burgers are big and juicy, with lots of toppings and styles available. You order at the counter, and the kids love the light-up remote that tells you your kamaaina discounted combos are ready.
The Deal: Thirty percent off on Sundays and 50 percent off bouillabaise on Mondays
How to Work It: Buzz’s is offering half off its exquisite, loaded seafood bouillabaisse. The stunning ocean views are simply the best backdrop for indulging in all this seafood.