the tastes of maui

You know you are getting old when the food you ate is one of the highlights of your trip.  Oh, but it was.

It was all so delicious … fresh, local, great flavor … and we indulged.

One of my friends commented that it was nice to see everyone eating again after months of getting our bodies Maui-ready! Eat, we did. A lot of it.

Here are some highlights of our meals, with a few recipes at the end.

Hula Grill, Kaanapali

We dined in the barefoot bar – a sandy floor with tables under grass hut roofs. Great atmosphere with live music and very friendly staff. The dinner was amazing, but so was the dessert.

{coconut creme brulee, tropical sorbet, macadamia nut brownie ice cream sandwich}

Definitely a must-try if you are on Maui.

Mama’s Fish House, Maui North Shore

We had heard many things about Mama’s Fish House – from “best meal of my life” to “not worth the hype” – but my best friend and her husband were up to it, so we spent one evening indulging in the Polynesian experience.

{my grilled fish with rice and bok choy}

Although it was expensive, I will say this was the best collective meal I have ever enjoyed.  The appetizers were amazing {my first time trying tuna sashimi}, our entrees were perfect and the best part was dessert. We tried a variety and each one was the best thing I had ever tasted.

This is a great restaurant for an indulgent date night.

Haliimaile General Store, upcountry

If you find yourself in Maui, be sure to take a drive through the upcountry {Paia, especially}. If/when we return, we’d love to find a bed & breakfast and stay here.  Sugarcane plantations, local farms and ranches surround the area with amazing views of the ocean – it is so tropical and beautiful. My aunt’s favorite restaurant on the island is the Haliimaile General Store located in this upcountry area so we just had to try it. The food was excellent and my coconut & lime blended drink was the best. They used toasted coconut to rim the glass – I’m stealing that idea someday.

Five Palms Restaurant, Kihei

{crab cake eggs benedict}

On our last full day, Ryan and I took a long walk along the beach then stopped for a late breakfast at the Five Palms Restaurant.  I have a thing for crab cakes and eggs benedict and when I saw the two combined on the menu, I knew I was in heaven. So over-the-top but amazingly delicious. Best breakfast of my life.

Because we were in the island spirit, on the night we hosted our friends for a bbq, we decided to take ques from the food we had already tried.

Ryan grilled flank steak and pineapple {so delicious grilled}, a friend made a traditional pico but added finely chopped pineapple and I put together my new favorite salad.

Tropical Salad

mixed spring greens
red onion, finely diced
avocado, chopped
navel orange, segmented
sliced almonds
toasted coconut

Just throw it all together in a big salad bowl and serve. You don’t even need dressing, but a light citrus vinaigrette would be delicious on it.  You could grill chicken and add that on top for a full meal.


At breakfast one morning there was coconut syrup. I love anything coconut, so I poured a little on my fresh fruit and sprinkled on toasted coconut. What a treat! This would also be great on pancakes.

Coconut Syrup {from allrecipes.com}

1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Whisk together the coconut milk and cornstarch in a saucepan until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour in the corn syrup, sugar, and coconut; bring to a boil, stirring continually. As soon as the mixture comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Mine, too.

22 Responses to the tastes of maui

  1. Just Jaime May 14, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Thanks for the recommnedations! I’m going to Maui this summer so I pinned this for later reference.

  2. Jill S. May 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Came across your blog after doing a search on redoing kids bathrooms…and your outfit pictures caught my eye (thinking wow this reminds me of what I wore last week). After reading instead of looking at pretty pictures I realized that is what you wore on your trip to Maui last week. My hubby and I were there last week too!! and am having major withdrawls ;-)
    And can I say I love that you tried the local food and ventured out to the un-touristy places! I lived in honolulu and visited the outer islands several times so this wasn’t my first time in Maui – but I noticed this time people ordering hamburgers and fries at restaurants – drives me nuts! You can have all that american food at home!!
    Next time you go you’ll have to try a local plate lunch (I ate my weight in plate lunches last week).

  3. Alison Woods May 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Sooo fun, we just got back from Maui too… our trips probably overlapped! And I tried some of the same fabulous places that you did. I was sooo excited to see the recipe for the coconut syrup because we ate at the Gazebo Restaurant and had a fabulous breakfast of pineapple, banana, and macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup. I wanted to re-create the breakfast when I got home, except I didn’t have the syrup, but now I know how to make my own, so thak you!!

  4. Tom @ Tall Clover Farm May 6, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Uh, wow Emily. I just pinterested my way to your site, and must say it really stands out. Each page so elegantly simple, and your voice, verve and generous nature make it really something special. In this post I love your unabashed food love and the joy you bring to each experience. Well done Miss Emily, well done.

  5. Emily @ Peck Life May 3, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    I go on vacation primarily to eat so this post made me really happy. I love Paia and the up country….so so beautiful! My sis in law lived in Kula for a few years so it was wonderful to visit!

  6. Meredith May 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    You must try a coconut latte at Starbucks. It’s not on the menu, but since the mocha coconut Frappuccinos are back, they will make a coconut latte if you ask. My husband and I were in Hawaii last year and my very favorite thing was starting the day with a Nutty Hawaiian Latte (macadamia and coconut syrup from a local coffee shop). Strabuck’s version is pretty close! So glad you got to enjoy Hawaiian paradise :)

    • emily May 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

      I had a coconut latte at the airport leaving maui. I will definitely try it {tomorrow morning, maybe?!}

  7. Tracy May 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    I LOVE momma’s fish house and coconut syrup! Glad you had such a great trip. And can I just say… your husband look just like a Ryan I went to Junior high with…..I wonder….

  8. kasey May 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    We love Mama’s. We’ve been going there for 15 years….it keeps getting more expensive but the dinners are amazing. Glad you got to try it.

  9. MMK May 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Loved reading your post….. I think I could live in a tent on the beach in Paia and be perfectly happy!!! Next time you are there try Milagros for Mexican, sooo good!

  10. Lisa May 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    No wonder your children are so beautiful! Just look at you two!!

  11. pam May 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    another suggestion…. the pineapple grill in kapalua. phenomenal. one of my favorites restaurants EVER. we married in lahaina 5 years ago and had our wedding dinner there. thanks for sharing your maui memories… always brings back great memories of my own. pam

  12. Jen @ Darling Notes May 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    My husband and I were in Maui last week! We dined at Haliimaile General Store, too (last Thursday!) It was delicious :)

  13. Lindsay May 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Food is always the best part!!!! Thanks for sharing Emily – I definitely have to take a trip here now. I always joke that so much of my happiness and mood depends on the food I eat and this seems like my happy place :)

  14. Rachel May 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Oh my goodness! This trip looks heavenly!! It is our 10 year anniversary trip this year as well. My husband and I have been trying to decide where to go. Hawaii has never been on the top of my list, but these posts are definitely changing my mind. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Jen May 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Yum! My mouth is watering! My brother and his family have lived on Maui for about eight years and we’ve been to visit a couple of times (why aren’t we going more?!?). They lived in Paia for several years and it’s an amazing little town with the cutest little shops and a very funky vibe. Our absolute, hands-down best meal we’ve ever eaten on Maui was at the Paia Fish Market (also my “local” brother and sis-in-law’s favorite). Best fish tacos and Mahi burgers ever. It’s a small corner joint with well-worn picnic tables, no shirts or shoes required and locals everywhere. It’s the first restaurant we hit when we get there and we always return as many times as possible during our stay. I should have suggested it before you went (don’t you hate coming home from a vacation and everyone tells you where you SHOULD have gone?) but it on your list for your next visit!

    • emily May 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

      my best friend ate lunch there one day … I’ll have to ask her how it was. Love Paia!

  16. Mandy Stonehocker May 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    WooHoo! My friends and I are headed to Maui in about 3 weeks, this blog post is perfect timing!!! Thanks so much for the info, glad you had a great trip!

  17. Colleen Augustine May 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    We just got back from Maui in November from our 2nd trip. We ate at Mama’s the first time we went and it was amazing! We also loved the little village of Paia. Did y’all stop there? It was more of a hippy town, and they had the best fish tacos!!

  18. Olivia May 3, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    We ate at Mama’s Fish House on our honeymoon 6 years ago and it was a wonderful experience! So glad you enjoyed it!

  19. Heidi May 3, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    Ohhhh, reading your posts this week makes me want to go back to Maui! We were there six years ago for our honeymoon. The food is incredible and you listed some of our favorites! I still think Mama’s Fish House is the best meal I’ve ever had. And we had to restrain ourselves from The Hula Grill’s Barefoot Bar – we practically went every day for lunch!

  20. Kathleen Leonard May 3, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    It all looks and sounds soo good. I love mama’s fish house by the way. When my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Maui we happened upon them after driving back in the pouring rain from Hana. Best meal we have ever had. More importantly a very memorable meal. I love those . Looks like you a fantastic time. Xo

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