For organization sake, I'll do this by areas of the island.
It's only fitting to start with my most favorite place (we went twice - and I easily could have eaten there EVERY day), Choice Health Bar, which was recommended by friend and blog reader Mariko (THANK YOU!). Right off Honoapiilani Highway in Lahaina, this little gem offers organic fresh food, vegan soups, smoothies, and the MOST INCREDIBLE acai bowls you'll ever have.
And while I didn't get any pictures (#fail), we also had a delicious meal at Star Noodle. I'm not sure if we didn't order the right things or if it was an "off" night for us, but I was expecting more based on friends' experiences (one of our readers ate there 3 times in one week). That being said, I would definitely try it for yourself. You can tell it's a local favorite. Although these are my only two spots in this part of town, Lahaina Grill, Mala Ocean Tavern, and Honu Seafood also came highly recommended by trusted sources.
Coming in close behind Choice was The Gazebo. Right down the beach from us on the other end of Napili Bay, this Hawaiian equivalent of a diner (but my kind of diner) has an eclectic atmosphere (you're literally eating in an open-air gazebo), efficient service, incredible views, and mind-blowing pancakes. I mean life-altering Pineapple, macadamia nuts, bananas, you name it. And did I mention the coconut whipped cream they put on top! I had an omelet and half a papaya both days (stealing bites of Dr. B's of course) which were the perfect way to start the day. They're also known for their fried rice, which we did not try. Beware, there's usually a line (they only have 30 seats), but they offer free coffee while you wait...and truth be told, there's not a better view for waiting in line.
Our nicest and most delicious dinner was a short walk down the street at The Montage. You may remember from this post that our cousin is the executive chef at The Montage in Laguna. They just took over the property about a year ago and not only are the grounds impeccable, but the food and service at Cane & Canoe were superb - as you'd expect.
I started out with goat cheese tempura with roasted beets, lilikoi (passion fruit), arugla, and orange. I'm not a fan of queso, but if liquid cheese was like this all of the time, sign me up. It was truly sensational. Dr. B started the meal with a kula strawberry panzanella (bread salad) with burrata, crispy basil, braised walnuts, and pickled fennel. While his was delicious, mine definitely was the big cheese (hah hah, get it ).
We both went vegetarian for our entrees. I had the buckwheat soba noodles with kumu kale, hamakua mushrooms, grilled pumpkin, tamari, and a fried egg. They had me at fried egg. While this dish was incredibly simple, the earthy flavors from the vegetables paired with the soba noodles were perfection. Brian had braised turnip "scallops" with oatmeal verde, kabochoa squash, and porcini tea. Even up close these "scallops" looked like the real deal. Add in brussels sprouts with macadamia nuts and horseradish and kula corn with chili pepper and cotiija cheese, and you had to roll us out of there. Thankfully, I've always got room for dessert - and in this case, I'm glad I did. This goes down in the dessert hall of fame. Without the recommendation of the waitress, who said it was the best she's ever had, I wouldn't have gone this route (give me chocolate, or give me death). But not much compares to this vanilla panna cotta and lilikoi gelee with basil "caviar", macadamia nut shortbread, and coconut espuma. If I could have, I would have licked the glass. And you think I'm kidding...
Also within walking distance to Napili Kai (as in right next door) is Merriman's (you can also find them on the Big Island and Kuai). Overlooking Kapalua Bay, there's no better place to watch a sunset.
We had drinks and appetizers one night and went back for our "last supper" before getting on the red eye home. The food was very good, but for me it was all about the cocktails. The No Ka Oi is hands down the best cocktail I've ever had. Ocean vodka, thai basil, lime, and honey lilikoi foam (are you sensing my obsession with passion fruit) come together to make a spirit sensation. They went down way too easy! Also worth the mention (thank you if you're still reading, I know this is long) was the molten waialua chocolate purse....molten and chocolate...need i say more?
Before I wrap up (if I'm tired of writing, you're most certainly tired of reading), a few others of note.
Morimoto - We had a great dinner with friends here in Wailea. We're not huge seafood/raw sushi eaters, so are probably not the target audience, but our friends who are LOVE it.
Da Kitchen - If you find yourself in need of a good casual meal in Kahalui (where the airport is), this is a great spot. Definitely a local favorite, this is the spot for traditional Hawaiian cuisine (with huge portions). I had a very gluttonous basket of mahi mahi fish and chips.
Mama's Fish House - There isn't one person that didn't tell me to eat here...and we didn't. We weren't in the area at the right time (the location is unbeatable). Now we've got something to save for our next trip along with Hali' imaile General Store in the same area.
Hungry yet? Stay tuned next week for more on Maui!