Eat till you sleep
Getting in early? Da Kitchen in Kahului is a good bet for a first stop right off the plane, and Da Kitchen’s Polynesian Paralysis plate is literally awesome not only for its size, but for its monster helpings of value-added local food, at $17.99. The 2-pound (estimated) plate includes fried rice, kalua pig and two eggs, topped with gravy, fried onions, mushrooms and green onions — plenty, yeah? But that’s not all. Two hefty pieces of fresh fish tempura make this plate one of a kind.
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays- Saturdays; 425 Koloa St. No. 104, Kahului; 871-7782; dakitchen.com
‘Healthy food can taste good’
I have one single favorite stop: the deli and salad bar at Mana Market in Paia, offering uber-healthy, often organic entrees, sides and pupu at a fair price. Among the finds: “sushi” made with turkey; salad made with pohole (fiddlehead) fern shoots plucked on the island; and roasted, free-range chicken seasoned with rosemary. Fresh sushi and sandwiches made to order are offered every day.
The gleaming deli, set inside Mana’s cozy, hometown grocery, was revamped last year, making more room for the steady stream of customers. Most items are $8.99 per pound, making the ready-to-eat food a relative bargain. “Healthy food can taste good,” says deli manager Colin Howard. “We’re 90 percent organic, I would say 50 percent local. We have a Thai chef, we have an Italian chef, we have a Romanian chef, so we have unique flavors from around the world. If you can’t find something to eat here, you can’t find something to eat.”
Open 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily; 49 Baldwin Ave., Paia; 579-8078; manafoodsmaui.com
If you’re stopping off at Hali‘imaile General Store for the first time, prepare to be wowed. The restaurant’s appeal is well known — tour groups regularly stop here, and chef Beverly Gannon has repeatedly been proclaimed best chef by readers of the Maui News — but Gannon’s magical ability to sate appetites with a savvy blend of island ingredients and cross-cultural flavors remains a revelation. Try the Sashimi Pizza: ahi layered with edamame hummus and red cabbage, topped with toasted sesame seeds, sesame soy aioli, crisp onion strings and tobiko, and big enough to be a meal at $18.
Open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. weekdays, 5-9 p.m. nightly; 900 Haliimaile Road, Makawao; 572-2666; hgsmaui.com
Get baked (goods)
Baked on Maui feels like a hideaway, but it’s no longer a secret; the small cafe has built a strong following in its more than four years of operation, offering baked goods, raw food, outstanding breakfast fare and lunches. It’s rare to drop in without finding tables full of patrons in the rustic, surfer-filled setting, drawn by attractions like Da Bomb, a raw-food cookie made with “superfoods” including goji berries and chocolate; sandwiches made with locally caught fish or grass-fed beef; and ultrasmooth, cold Nitro Coffee. Find it in a corner of the Pauwela Cannery building in Haiku. With most seating outdoors at dog-friendly picnic tables, and most customers sporting happy expressions and golden tans, Baked on Maui will likely leave you feeling pretty wowie, too.
Open 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays; 375 Kuiaha Road, Haiku; 575-7836