Though “Hawaiian cuisine” may conjure images of coconut shrimp and mai tais, a new generation of Maui chefs have done well to challenge the culinary cliché, with innovative menus that celebrate local ingredients and bold flavours. Want even more Hawaiian hot spots? Visit in October during theHawai’i Food and Wine Festival Maui, when the foodie fervour is at its peak, and check out westernliving.ca for our full list of fave restaurants.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
No beach view here, but serving up coconut-crusted French toast (with house-baked bread) and mini-macadamia nut pies, the no-fuss counter-service room is an essential brunch stop while you’re on the island.
Within the chic modern Andaz Maui (which somehow rocks a boutique vibe despite being a Hyatt property), chef Isaac Bancaco focuses on the local with island-to-table family-style dishes that take simple ingredients to wildly inventive heights. The ahi tuna tataki with burrata sounds insane, but trust us: it’s life-changing.
Specialty ingredients are imported directly from Italy (flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fennel-and-Chianti-infused Tuscan salami and fresh mozzarella) and paired with seasonal produce and some solid pasta-making technique: the hand-twisted strozzapreti tossed with kale and sausage is a fine example.
Mala Ocean Tavern / Honu / Frida’s
These three Mark Ellman spots are all on the same block and all great in their own way. Mala leans toward Hawaiian classics—ceviche, ahi tartare and plenty of coconut—but the small plates are elegantly executed with quality organic-when-possible ingredients. Down the street, the bright and airy Honu makes seafood the focus (try the grilled Spanish octopus, served alongside edamame hummus and tomato beurre blanc), while the newest of the lot, Frida’s, is an exploration of South American tastes in a tropical-cool setting: think decadent grilled panela cheese and warm tortillas, and hip palm-print wallpaper.