Maui Brewing Company – Good Local Brews

Entry to Maui Brewing Company

Up in West Maui, just off the highway 4 miles north of Kaanapali, is the nondescript Kahana Gateway Shopping Center. Its chief distinction is being home to the only local (and quite successful!) brewery on Maui. There are lots of good beers on the island, but only those made by the Maui Brewing Company are made on Maui. And many of them are very, very good.

Founded in 2005, the Maui Brewing Company has won numerous awards for beers with names like Big Swell IPA, Bikini Blonde, and Coconut Porter. If you like beer, you’re sure to find something that fits your taste at the Maui Brewing Company. We LOVE the Coconut Porter. Check out this list.

Maui Brewing Company Beer List (September 2012)

The ABV column in this list is alcohol by volume  – a pretty objective measure. The IBU column stands for International Bittering Units – a more subjective measure of the effect of hops on beer taste. You can see the brewing vats in action. It’s very casual with lots of TV’s, all playing sports. The food is decent pub grub with efforts toward a Hawaiian twist. We enjoy the variety of sliders at just $4 or $5 each. A slider or two, a side of fries and a home-style brew is well worth our drive from Kihei to Kahana. In fact, we wear our Maui Brewing logo shirts on Wednesdays and get a $3 pint!

If you can’t make it to the brewery, or if you’d perfer a nice Hawaiian view with your suds, ask your bartender what’s on tap from the Maui Brewing Company. Lots of places carry one or more of their brews. Many grocery stores do also, but we prefer it from the tap!

For exciting news about Maui Brewing’s plan to build a brewery and pub in Kihei, click here.

Cafe O’Lei – Highly recommended

Café O’Lei sounds Mexican, but tastes Hawaiian. This restaurant is an easy walk from Maui Vista 2418 and wow is it good! You’ll find it across the street from the Royal Mauian, between Kameole Beach Park I and Kameole Beach Park II. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it is elegant and comfortable. Be aware the lunch hour can be quite loud. Dinner was more subdued.

Cafe O’Lei from South Kihei Road

Although the menu might look a little pricey at first, the delicious portions are generous and include salad, main course, steamed veggies and rice. Kathy’s blackened Mahi Mahi was enough for her dinner and two lunches the next day. Chris managed to finish his seared Ahi which was also worth writing home about. Café O’Lei is known for their coconut/macademia chicken, so we plan to try that next time.

Blackened Mahi Mahi at Cafe O’Lei

Seared Ahi (they’ll cook it the way you like it)

Coconut/Macademia Chicken

The refreshing cocktails are original, yummy and only $7 each. We were too full for dessert.

We highly recommend Cafe O’Lei!

Mama’s Fish House for that Special (or any) Occasion

Got a birthday, anniversary, wedding, graduation, or just the need to treat yourself and friends or loved ones to a great meal in a beautiful setting? Go to Mama’s Fish House. Very pricey, very good; Mama’s is a Maui institution. Unless you order a sandwich (still expensive), expect to pay $50+ per person for lunch and more for dinner. The + is for appetizers, drinks, and desserts. While the word “economical” doesn’t really apply to Mama’s, you could have a very satisfying meal with just appetizers and desserts. Reservations recommended anytime – a must in high season. Mention a special occasion and you just might find an aloha card on your table.

Located on a small beach at 799 Poho Place (1.5 miles east of the stoplight in Paia just off the Hana Highway), the Mama’s Fish House sign (see the picture to the right) is hard to miss. Turn in and turn your car over for free valet parking. Be prepared to stay a while.

One of many exotic floral arrangements

Walk slowly because everything you see from the time you leave your car until you drive away is tastefully done: admire the views, admire the trees, admire the woodwork, admire the floral arrangements. (Admire the restrooms.)  Before you take a bite to eat, admire the presentation of what’s set before you. Of course “tastefully done” uses every sense of the word when applied to food and drinks.

While it’s possible to get something else, Mama’s is known for fish. Even if you normally go for the turf rather than the surf, there’s a fish at Mama’s that just might be the best you’ve ever had. The menu is new every day but there are favorites that are always available. For many of the entrées, the menu tells not only where the fish was caught, but who caught it. The waitstaff is knowledgeable, solicitious and displays just the right amount of friendly.

Kathy and Carol enjoy a libation

If you can, save room for dessert.  We were stuffed, but three of us recently shared a small Liliko’i Crème Brulèe that was amazing. The perfect ending to a splendid meal.

Your wallet will be lighter when you leave, but I predict you won’t be disappointed. It’s not just a meal, it’s a memory.

A Breakfast Favorite – the Kihei Caffe

Kihei Caffe from the south

The Kihei Caffe, located across the street from Kalama Park on South Kihei Road, is a ten minute walk from Maui Vista. We rarely go out for breakfast. We usually sip our coffee and have a light meal on the lanai while listening to the birds and gazing at the ocean through the canopy of monkey pod trees. (See why we stay at home?) However, if we do go out, the Kihei Caffe is our destination of choice. In fact, every time we fly to Maui we ALWAYS go to the Kihei Caffe the first morning. We usually haven’t been to the grocery store (Emergency! No coffee!) and we’re still on west coast time so we’re up early.

Getting up early for breakfast at the Kihei Caffe is important. They are EXTREMELY popular in the morning. They open at 5 AM and are generally crowded not long after 7:00. If you want to avoid a long line, get there early or plan to eat late.

To be generous, from the outside the Kihei Caffe does not look upscale. (Ok – it looks like a hole in the wall.) If you want white table cloths in a romantic hand-holding setting, go to Wailea. You can still hold hands at the Kihei Caffe, but you’ll have to bring your own romance.

All seating is outdoors at the Kihei Caffe

You order inside where the line often snakes through a (short) stanchioned pathway like a ride at Disneyland. There is no inside seating. You order and pay then find a table outdoors. We suggest you buy pastries and/or coffee you can take to your table for something to munch/drink while you wait for the rest of your order to arrive. When it’s ready, one of the waitstaff will shout out your name as they carry your breakfast from the kitchen. The portions are large and the food is excellent. We usually split an order (ask for an extra plate) and have a big macademia nut cinnamon roll while we sip our coffee and wait for the main course. Enjoy!

NOTE: Cash only…as in NO credit cards or checks. They do provide an ATM machine, but we assume that carries a fee.

Maui Tacos – Yummy Fast Food

Maui Tacos – now two locations in Kihei to serve you!

Head toward the beach from Maui Vista and turn left on South Kihei Road. A short 10-minute walk brings you to Maui Tacos. Head toward the beach and turn right on South Kihei Road and the same thing happens in the other direction. If you like Mexican food both are good – with the fish tacos being especially yummy.

Both locations serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the menus are about the same. Both are often busy and, since they cook everything to order, consider the “fast” in “fast food” to be measured in island time. With so much the same, what’s to choose between the two?

The Maui Tacos to the south of Maui Vista is at 2411 South Kihei Road at the somewhat ambitiously named “Kameole Beach Center.” The “center” has just a few shops and the Maui Tacos sign is easy to miss. Look for it just after Snorkle Bob’s. This small restaurant has a few inside tables and bench seating but we far prefer to order take-out and go across the street to the grassy area at the south end of Kameole Beach I. There you’ll find picnic tables and a few benches facing the ocean where the view sure beats looking at the parking lot from inside Maui Tacos.

The Maui Tacos to the north of Maui Vista is at 1933 South Kihei Road about a half-block before you get to Foodland. This is the “new” Maui Tacos in Kihei. (For those familiar with the area, the new Maui Tacos occupies the same storefront as the now closed Alexander’s.) The distinguishing feature of this location is ample outdoor seating – much of it shaded. You can also order take-out and walk across the street to enjoy your food in Kalama Park. The picture above is from the “new’ Maui Tacos.

Stillwell’s Bakery & Cafe – a Local Favorite

Stillwell’s Bakery & Cafe at 1740 Kaahumanu Ave, Wailuku has fabulous pastries, cakes, pies, breakfasts and lunches. It’s not handy to Maui Vista, but, if you’re in the Kahului/Wailuku area it’s a great stop for a treat or a morning/mid-day meal. Check out the pastries in the photo!

We’ve never had breakfast there but, if the breakfasts are as good as the lunches, you won’t be disappointed.

Stillwell’s is easy to miss. Look for their sign on the right as you go up the hill to Wailuku – it’s just before the old overpass that I think of as the gateway to Wailuku. After enjoying your lunch or treat, go next door to Mele Ukulele and check out their fine crafted instruments. (See our blog about Mele Ukulele too!)

Cafe Mambo

Paia (pronounced pa-ee-uh) is a fun little town on the north side of Maui – sort of a cross between New Age and Hippie. Very popular with both locals and visitors, Paia has a number of small restaurants and Cafe Mambo is one of our favorites. It’s easy to find – there are only two main streets in Paia. Located at 30 Baldwin Avenue, Cafe Mambo is a short walk from the town’s one and only stop light.

Cafe Mambo (in Paia and now NEW YORK!) boasts “the second best burger on Maui.” To me, their Kalua Pig Burger would be number one anywhere. Kathy loves the fresh fish island burger without the cheese. The fajita plate is huge (and delicious). Nice beer on tap too. We haven’t tried everything, but everything looks great.

Family oriented – including high-chairs for the little ones. Check out the unisex bathroom even if you don’t need it – not another like it in the known universe.

A word to the wise: parking is tricky in Paia. On street parking is a matter of luck. There are two free public parking lots – one as you enter town and another on Baldwin Avenue not far from Cafe Mambo but on the opposite side of the street. Nothing in Paia is far from anything else.

While you’re in Paia, check out the surfers and/or wind surfers at Ho’okipa a few miles down the Hana Highway.