I have been lucky enough to call Maui home for the past 20 years. We have always lived on the west side of Maui in the quaint, oceanfront town of Lahaina.
Lahaina town is rich in history. In the early nineteenth century, Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It was also a historic whaling town in the mid-1800s. The central point of Lahaina is Front Street, which was recently named one of the “Top Ten Greatest Streets” by the American Planning Association.
One of the best reasons to live in Lahaina is the close proximity to delicious food. If you live close, you can ride your bike or drive your golf cart and park in town and you have a wide variety of great food. From the island’s best shave ice to fine dining, there is something for everyone. I would love to share some of my favorite places in my favorite beach town. Let’s start with the best meal of the day, dessert.
Ululani’s: The Best Way to Cool Off
The literal translation for Lahaina is cruel sun. This means it can be hot in Lahaina, especially in the late summer and early fall. So it’s no surprise Front Street has an assortment of ice cream, gelato and shave ice places to cool off. But there is only one place to go. Well, Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice actually has two locations in Lahaina town (790 Front St. & 626 Front St.). I’m not sure how they do it, but their shave ice has a fluffy, snowy, smooth texture that sets it apart from any other shave ice. They make all their own syrups from real, natural ingredients. I am not exaggerating when I say that Ululani’s is the best.
Papa’Aina: Breakfast with a Famous Chef
One of Lahaina’s newest restaurants, Papa’Aina, is located at the historic Pioneer Inn (658 Wharf St.). Lee Anne Wong, of “Top Chef” fame, is the owner and Executive Chef. Offering just breakfast, lunch and brunch, Papa’Aina is quickly becoming a favorite with the locals. Their menu is always changing and features tons of fresh and local Maui ingredients. On occasion, Chef Wong will host special Friday night dinners focused on a different ethnic cuisine. She also will offer classes, like an upcoming dumpling making class. My absolute favorite thing on the menu is the breakfast ramen (ham, bacon, american cheese, shiitake, 63c egg, miso coffee butter, shoyu dashi broth). OMG is it good!
Mala Ocean Tavern: The Best View for Lunch
Mala Ocean Tavern (1307 Front St.) hands down has the best views in Lahaina. You can sit so close to the ocean, you will often see a turtle pop his head out to say hello. Recently, Mala has extended their patio for ample seating. But Mala is so much more than the views, the food is delicious too. They have a wide range of foods, and offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, brunch and even a late night menu. There is usually live music for happy hour too! I love their greek salad for lunch, but you haven’t lived until you have had their ahi bruschetta (flaxseed toast, edamame, ahi, tomato and balsamic). Take my advice, get the large!
Sale Pepe: Italian in Maui? Si!
When you travel to Maui, you usually think about eating tropical fruit or heading to a luau. Italian food is usually not the type of cuisine you plan on eating. However, if you are going to be in Lahaina town, you need to make plans to eat at Sale Pepe. Located just off Front Street (878 Front St., Units 7 & 8), Sale Pepe is a warm, beautiful space filled with a friendly staff and delicious food. Owned by a married super couple, Qiana and Michele DiBari, they have brought Michele’s hometown of Milan to Lahaina. Michele’s food is lovingly created with many of mother’s recipes. He makes the pasta, dough, mozzarella and more fresh daily and uses local and fresh ingredients from Maui. If you go and a truffle dish is on the menu, order it! All of their pasta dishes are incredible. A favorite is Rigatoni con Speck, Funghi e Zafferano (short pasta tossed with speck, mushrooms, and saffron). Authentic, delicious, creative, modern and filled with aloha, this is Sale Pepe.
These are just a few of my favorites. I am lucky to live close enough to ride my bike to town and enjoy these local establishments regularly. I am happy to share recommendations anytime. I love my Lahaina Life!