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Hang & Eat: Must Eats in Maui, a Romantic Food Paradise

By Kristie Hang

Oct. 24, 2019
Maui sunset next to the best dishes to eat in Maui
The best places to eat in Maui

When traveling to Maui, Hawaii, don’t miss out on the best and most authentic places to eat.

Of all the Hawaiian islands, Maui has the reputation as the most romantic. Many honeymooners and vacationers choose Maui as their destination of choice, making it one of the most visited places in the world. But in between enjoying fun in the sun, dipping your toes in the sand and chasing waterfalls, Maui is also a foodie’s paradise. Maui chefs, farmers and restaurants are at the forefront of creating cuisines inspired by the melting pot of cultures that made Hawaii what it is today. Maui’s rich soil and ideal growing climate make the island a prime location for delicious eats and also an example for eating locally and valuing sustainability. There are also many farms that double as on-site restaurants where diners can truly experience farm-to-table freshness.

1. O'o Farm

O'o Farm takes the farm-to-table experience to the next level. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that produces its own coffee, and O'o Farm is an organic farm that not only roasts their own coffee on-site from bean to cup, but also grows over 60 varieties of local ingredients that their chef uses to make extravagant breakfasts and lunches for visitors. The 8.5-acre farm is one of the most unique dining experiences on Maui.

Dish from O'o Farm
Every ingredient from O'o Farm dishes is harvested on Maui

Guests can physically see where all the eggs, produce and coffee are sourced from at the farm. Every single ingredient is harvested, raised and caught right on Maui. Visitors are able to tour the farm and learn about all the various local plants and other ingredients. A guide encourages visitors to eat flowers and leaves straight off the plants to learn more about the local produce. In between learning about the produce, (which will be used in the breakfast or lunch), guests can sample different kinds of coffee produced from beans that are grown and roasted on-site, learn about the coffee-making process, and are treated to a three-course meal with coffee and fresh juice also made from ingredients from the farm.

Waiter from O'o Farm
Frittata made in 1,000-degree wood-fired oven

A recent breakfast included: frittata with freshly picked red peppers, eggplant, squash, and oyster mushrooms cooked in a 1,000-degree wood-fired oven; coffee cherry Hawaiian hot sauce; coffee cherry sweet buns; locally made apple and peach jam; ruby red grapefruit marmalade; a fresh fruit platter filled with mango, Maui Gold pineapple, star fruit, apple bananas and wood-fired vegetables; two extravagant salads; and fresh juice and coffee.

Visitors enjoy the ultimate experience of eating a meal that was made with produce grown just a few feet away, with the most beautiful panoramic views of the island from 3,500 feet up on the slopes of Haleakala.

651 Waipoli Rd, Kula, HI 96790

2. Donut Dynamite

Find you someone who looks at you the same way Madame Donut looks and talks about her donuts. Madame Donut is so crazy about donuts that she legally changed her name to Madame Donut. If you think donuts are junk food, think again! Madame Donut creates art with her donuts at Donut Dynamite. The trained pastry chef has worked at cult-favorite Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and creates bespoke brioche donuts from scratch using fresh and local Maui ingredients.

The donuts are soft and flaky. The flavors change daily depending on what local ingredients she can get her hands on. Many times Madame Donut’s friends and neighbors like to share their bounty with her, which then inspires her to create new donut flavors.

Madam Donut from DonutDynamite
Madam Donut from Donut Dynamite

The store sells out nearly every single day, which is why dedicated fans line up outside the door before the store even opens to get the best selection. Popular flavors include: Molokai Sweet Potato Poi, Banana MacNut Crunch filled with banana cream, Cinnamon Toasty Crunchy, Samoa Kine, Strawberry Rose, Calamansi Ginger Mint, Lilikoi Malasada, Honey Goat Cheese Walnut and Brown Butter, among others.

1246 Lower Main St, Wailuku, HI 96793

3. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

Ululani's is arguably the most well-known and tastiest shave ice in Maui. People can tell if you are a Hawaiian local or not depending on if you call it shave ice or shaved ice. What makes Ululani's shave ice stand out from all the other shops is that they use natural fruit juices and extracts, premium purees and 100 percent pure cane sugar to make all of their own syrups, as opposed to the artificial sweeteners and syrups many other shops use. They also make their ice using filtered, then ultra-purified water, which ensures a super smooth, velvety, icy bite.

Ululani's Hawaiian shave ice
Ululani's Hawaiian shave ice

There are infinite flavors and combinations to choose from. You can create your own flavor combo or pick from a list of preset combos like the "Haleakala," which is leche and coconut topped with sweet condensed milk; the “Party in the Mouth,” which has tamarind, passion fruit and calamansi; or the “POG,” which is made up of passion fruit, orange and guava that is layered together. You can also add macadamia nut or vanilla ice cream, toasted coconut, condensed milk, mochi, or li hing mui (salty dried plum) to your shave ice.

Ululani's has multiple locations throughout Maui.

4. The Mill House

Another prime example of a restaurant that embraces the farm-to-table mindset is The Mill House. The restaurant sits on 1800 acres of land, where over 40 different crops are grown. The menu changes regularly depending on seasonality and the ingredients available. The Mill House makes it a point to use as much of their ingredients from the grounds or purchase other ingredients directly from local farmers. The food is inspired by the area’s plantation past. The chefs put innovative, modern twists to the food that honor the cultures of those who emigrated from Japan, China, Korea, Spain, Portugal, and other countries that went to work in Maui’s sugarcane industry more than a century ago.

Inside The Mill House
Inside The Mill House

Two railroad cars, which date back to the Hawaiian monarchy, serve as The Mill House’s main decorations, along with other plantation-era relics that have been saved, repurposed and used as decor to honor the workers that helped make Hawaii what it is today. The open-air kitchen lets customers watch their food and drink be prepared right in front of them. For those who want to enjoy the scenery, The Mill House has an incredible view surrounded by the beautiful Waikapū Valley mountainside.

Inside The Mill House
The food from The Mill House is inspired by the area's plantation past

Menu highlights: Fresh roasted beets with soft farm cheese, chickpea panisse, Kauai prawn and fish coconut curry, taro leaf risotto, and deconstructed pork musubi, among others.

1670 Honoapi’ilani Hwy #1, Wailuku, HI 96793

5. Ka'ana Kitchen

Ka'ana Kitchen, located in the Andaz Maui, concentrates on farm-to-table cooking, with most of their ingredients sourced from local farms. In the morning, Ka'ana Kitchen serves as a breakfast buffet filled with local favorites, but it’s their dinner options that will wow you.

Dish from Ka'ana Kitchen
Locally sourced ingredients of Ka'ana Kitchen dishes

Chef Isaac Bancaco oversees the dining experience. The well-known chef has worked with celeb chef Ming Tsai at Blue Ginger in Massachusetts, as well as at other notable Hawaiian restaurants. There’s an exclusive dining experience known as the Chef’s Table Tasting, with limited reservations each evening. Ka'ana Kitchen’s Chef’s Table features a six-course customized menu with optional wine pairings selected by the resort’s sommelier. For those who would rather do a cocktail pairing, that can be customized as well. Over the course of three-plus hours, guests dine on courses indicative of Hawaii’s culture that feature touches of Polynesian, European and Asian cuisines.

Chef Isaac Bancaco from Ka'ana Kitchen
Chef Isaac Bancaco from Ka'ana Kitchen

The food is inventive and delicious. The immersive experience lets diners feel like they are sitting in the chef's personal kitchen. Of course, some of the dishes available as part of the Chef’s Table can also be found at the restaurant. Favorites include the grilled octopus salad served with watercress and chevre from the Big Island. The kona kampachi and the scallop risotto with house made XO sauce with saikyo miso and shiitake mushroom are also popular. Dishes constantly change depending on the seasonality of the ingredients.

3550 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753

6. Surfing Goat Dairy

Surfing Goat Dairy is a dairy farm with a restaurant located on the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala Crater. The farm produces many award-winning gourmet goat cheeses. The owners, Thomas and Eva Kafsack, believe in using natural and sustainable approaches. No pesticides or herbicides are ever used on the farm. Their goats produce more than two dozen different kinds of goat cheeses. Although the farm concentrates on tours that allow visitors to feed and milk the goats, the food at their on-site restaurant is truly the highlight and should not be missed.

Food from Surfing Goat Dairy
The Surfing Goat Dairy farm produces many award-winning gourmet goat cheeses

Not only is the menu reasonably priced, the restaurant offers sandwiches like the curry goat cheese sandwich with apples and bananas, as well as cheese platters and paninis that feature their extensive varieties of cheese. Those who have a hard time deciding can order a cheese flight that comes with six choices of cheese and crackers. Fan favorites of the fresh goat cheeses include the Black Dragon (mustard seed flavor), O Sole Mio (pizza flavor), and the Men's Challenge (horseradish and cayenne pepper). The farm also uses their own goat cheese to handmake over 30 varieties of chocolate truffles filled with dark chocolate ganache, as well as gelatos made using their goat's milk.

3651 Omaopio Rd, Kula, HI 96790

Hang & Eat with our food blogger Kristie Hang as she explores the latest East West food trends.

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