Our honeymoon began with me breaking my tooth on the airplane. A gaping hole where only a small sliver of my lower front tooth remained.
Thankfully, there was no pain, except the emotional embarrassment that I vaguely resembled a gap-tooth jack’o lantern.
Not the best of situations aesthetically, but it could have been far worst. I learned to not smile too broadly to hide my stub of a tooth and also became an expert at chewing first with my molars (a lot harder than it seemed).
Then two days into our vacation, a local dentist expertly repaired my tooth and the serious eating could commence.
To celebrate we drove up to Lahaina, an old whaling town and stopped at Local Foods (which is now sadly closed), which was housed in the parking lot of a strip mall. This is where Mustafa was properly introduced to the glory that is the plate lunch.
Outward appearances may be deceiving, but what comes out of that tiny booth is pure magic. A single older woman who manages the whole operation, creates local dishes like loco moco that are the definition of Hawaiian comfort food.
Loco moco is what I dream of when I crave Hawaiian food. It’s a multi-cultural masterpiece that borrows from both the Asian and North American influences on the Island. At Local Foods, the gravy is perfectly seasoned and generously poured over hamburger patties, a fried egg and white sticky rice. The macaroni salad had the perfect ratio of mayo to noodles and was perfectly seasoned as well.
This is what loco moco dreams are made of folks.
Lahaina itself was too touristy for me, with its rows of souvenir shops lining the main drag. The Lahaina Jodo Mission, that is just outside the main streets, offered us a few moments of quiet as we walked around the grounds admiring the temples and the giant Buddha.
Since it was my duty to introduce Mustafa to all things edible in Hawaii, shaved ice was an important first. I was a little hesitant to try the li hing mui (salted dried plum) flavor at Ululani’s, but it turned out to be delicious.
With the exception of Lahaina, most of our days were spent on the beach, getting as much vitamin D as possible and eating a picnic lunch of poke and sushi from nearby Foodland.
Why We Chose Maui
The Valley Isle was the ideal middle ground between metropolitan Oahu and the more remote Kauai. Also, there were towns like Kihei and Kahului that promised good local eats.
We stayed at the Grand Wailea because when it’s your honeymoon you should always choose the resort with the most waterslides. This location in Wailea also gave us easy access to the beach town of Kihei, which felt a lot less touristy and was where we ate most of our meals.
Geste Shrimp Truck
Our first stop off the plane was this food truck, but unfortunately it’s closed on Mondays. A very sad day for this shrimp enthusiast. I hear though that the shrimp plate lunches are worth every minute spent tracking down this sometimes elusive truck.
Specializing in local comfort food with a twist. The food was good, but beware the giant portions and plan accordingly. I swear my kalua pork was like an impenetrable mountain and was way too much for someone of my petite size.
A local supermarket known for its fresh poke and fish and the perfect place to pick-up picnic foods for the beach.
Café@ La Plage
Cute French café with delicious breakfast bagels with local flavors like pineapple and Maui onion.
Coconuts Fish Café
I liked my fish tacos, but it wasn’t love. It might have been because there was a lot of cheese and hot sauce involved, but I included it because a lot of people will disagree.
Paia’s Fish Market
This is where Kihei redeemed its fish tacos for me. Local fish like ono, mahi mahi and ahi tuna are also served as a full-on meal with addictive roasted potato sides.
A local café that serves highlights like banana macadamia nut French toast and breakfast burritos.
Our last night we decided to splurge a bit and treat ourselves to this restaurant that is known for its outstanding seafood dishes. I still cannot stop thinking about the kalua pig potstickers and Mustafa says his Hawaiian Opah was the best dish on this trip. Reservations recommended.
The shaved ice here is butter smooth and the flavors (and toppings) are extensive. There are also local flavors to try if you feel like venturing out of the regular tropical fruit selection. Branches are located all around Maui.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
A diner right outside of Lahaina, where we picked up a decadent banana cream pie. Their savory pies also looked good too.
I went here last time I was in Maui, and still hear people talking about it years later. I had the saimen (a local noodle soup), but there are plenty of other Asian-inspired noodle dishes that looked hard to pass up. Reservations are recommended.