Five Favorite Artisan Foods on Maui – HOP to it

Whether you live on Maui or are just visiting, Maui’s artisan food purveyors make treats that you can enjoy and feel good about. Using local ingredients and hiring local residents, artisan goods are a boon to the local economy. The five companies listed here make products that are good now, but they also make excellent gifts for friends and relatives on the mainland. They all travel well in a suitcase, or they can be ordered online and shipped. We only listed five companies, but there are numerous local companies who display their wares at farmers markets all over the island.

Waikapu Pickles
These pickles, made from Maui-grown cucumbers, are fully made by hand, down to the slicing. Just two years old, Waikapu Pickles have taken Maui by storm. While regularly available at the Upcountry Farmers Market, they can also be found at natural food stores like Mana Foods in Paia and Down to Earth in Kahului. They currently bottle four varieties of pickles, with the Hawaiian Chili Pepper being our favorite. (Waikapu Pickles)

Adoboloco Hot Sauce
What started as a homeschool project has grown into a wonderful little sauce company. Bottling chili waters, hot sauces and marinades, this family run business shows that the family that works together, stays together. Adoboloco Hot Sauces can be found at Foodland, Whole Foods and many other retail establishments. Popular breakfast spot Kihei Caffe has it available to use on your meals, if you wish to try it. (Adoboloco)

Maui Fruit Jewels
Made in Wailuku, these vegan, gluten-free candies are made with over 50% fresh, local fruit. Excellent for eating here on island or for taking off-island, Maui Fruit Jewels are a perfect gift. Featuring local fruits like mango, pineapple, lilikoi, other flavors include herb and spiced wine and tumeric. Here on Maui, Maui Fruit Jewels can be found at Whole Foods, Foodland and assorted gift shops. (Maui Fruit Jewels)

Maui Olive Oil
Using olives grown upcountry in Kula, Maui Olive Company presses and makes this olive oil here on Maui. After six years of waiting for their olive trees to bear fruit, the company pressed their first olive oil in 2015. They sell out fast, but if you head to the Upcountry Farmers Market early on Saturday mornings, you may be able to find some. If you do, you’ll be in for a real treat! (Maui Olive Company)

Maui Crisps
A beef jerky unlike any beef jerky you’ve ever had, Maui Crisps are more like potato chips in texture. You can literally snap them and crumble them with your fingers. How do they manage to make preservative-free smoked beef into a chip? With paper thin slices of beef, smoked just right. Maui Crisps really need to be tried to understand the novelty of the product. For non-meat eaters, they are now packaging pineapple crisps. Tracking them down isn’t so easy. You can either purchase them from the website, or from the Shell gas station on Kaahumanu Ave. near the Queen Kaahumanu shopping center. (Maui Crisps)

Tell us your favorite local companies on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject or leave a comment below. Thanks!

Best Packaged Cookies on Maui – HOP to it

Best Packaged Cookies on Maui – HOP to it

On Maui, the best cookies aren’t always “bakery fresh.” We are blessed with packaged cookies that travel well in the car to Hana, the beach or just about anywhere. For visitors, these cookies are great to take back as gifts for friends and family. Whether you like your cookies crispy, soft, plain or fancy, you can find a cookie that’s right for you. Here then are our five favorite packaged cookies, listed alphabetically.

Big Island Delights
Not all that easy to find on Maui, but when you spot them, jump on the Mac nut snowballs. A Hawaiian take on the classic Russian Tea Cookie so popular during the holidays, these little balls of heaven melt in your mouth. It’s almost like they’re daring you to stop at one cookie. You won’t, so don’t even try. Long’s Drugs is typically where we find this brand. Everything Big Island Delights makes is good, but these snowballs are great. (Big Island Delights)

Cook Kwees
The original Maui pre-packaged cookie, Cook Kwees are still one of the best. Found in ABC Stores and most grocery stores, Cook Kwees have always been popular with locals and visitors alike. Everyone has their own favorite flavor, but if pressed, our two favorites are the macadamia nut cookies and the peanut butter. Prior to moving to Maui, our first and last purchases upon visiting Maui were these cookies. We’d munch on them all vacation, then take as many as we could fit in our suitcase for ourselves and as gifts for friends. (Cook Kwees)

Honolulu Cookie Company
The classic “Hawaiian Shortbread” cookie, Honolulu Cookie Company has shops in Wailea and Ka’anapali. These little pre-packaged, pineapple-shaped nuggets of goodness are easy to pack as gifts (our go-to gift when going back to the mainland) and taste great. With a variety of flavor options and coverings, there’s a cookie for everyone. The old standby, though, is the chocolate covered shortbread cookie. A perfect size, with the just right amount of chocolate frosting-to-cookie ratio, so as not to overwhelm the taste of the cookie. (Honolulu Cookie Company)

From this entire list, if we were on a deserted island, the one cookie we would take with us is the Peanut Butter Dream by Manjookie. This melt-in-the-mouth, yet somehow crisp cookie is simply incredible. It’s easily the best store bought cookie we’ve ever had. EVER. For something a little different, try the peanut butter Manjookie-style cookie. It’s a manju crossed with a cookie, filled with creamy peanut butter. We prefer the peanut butter cookie, but the manjookie is also very good. Not that easy to find, but they have a small retail outlet in Kahului. If the door is locked during business hours just ring the bell and they’ll let you in. They are also available at most Tamura’s markets. (Manjookie)

Maui Cookie Lady
Business is booming for the Maui Cookie Lady. Recently selected to sell her cookies at the International Marketplace at Saks Fifth Avenue in Waikiki, you can also find Maui Cookie Lady cookies at the Maui Brewery in Kihei and select retail locations. These cookies aren’t dainty little things. They are big, chunky and full of flavor. One cookie should fill you up nicely, though you probably won’t want to stop at just one. (Maui Cookie Lady)

Tell us your favorite cookies in the comments below or on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Maui’s Best Greasy Spoon Diners – HOP To It

Maui’s Best Greasy Spoon Diners – HOP To It

Maui has some of the best high-end foods in all of Hawai’i. From Hali’Maile General Store to The Millhouse to Morimoto’s, if you want a wonderful, romantic meal, Maui has you covered. But sometimes, you just want greasy comfort food. It’s OK. We totally get it! For greasy spoon diner food, Maui once again has you covered. It’s somewhat telling that only one of the locations listed here has a website. Here are five greasy spoons, listed alphabetically, that we recommend you try if you just want a quick, tasty breakfast with no hassle or pretense.

CJ’s Deli and Diner (Ka’anapali)
A classic diner, CJ’s is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Tucked away in the Fairway Shops at Ka’anapali, CJ’s also provides boxed lunches, in a cooler, if you’re having a beach day or driving to Hana. But, CJ’s is known for their breakfasts. Serving everything from “All-American” plates with eggs, pancakes and bacon or sausage to loco moco with a half-pound hamburger patty (quite the gut bomb for breakfast!) to Hawaiian sweet bread French toast. Plus they have an assortment of fruit plates and healthier fare. Unusual for a greasy spoon diner, they also have gluten-free and vegetarian menus. (CJ’s Deli and Diner)

Jack’s Inn (Kahului)
Back in the day, we wouldn’t eat at Jack’s more than a couple of times a year due to the ever-present cigarette smoke. It was that kind of place. Now, however, with no smoking ordinances in place, we eat at Jack’s at least once a month. The loco moco over fried rice is to die for. Jack’s is the ultimate, old-school Maui breakfast joint. Beyond breakfast, it’s known for its oxtail soup and saimin. If you want one last taste of classic Hawaii before headed off the island, we recommend you swing by Jack’s Inn. It’s less than 10 minutes from the airport. Open from 5:30 AM – 2:00 PM Monday – Saturday, closed on Sunday. (Jack’s Inn)

Sheik’s (Kahului)
Sheik’s opened in 1968 and has been serving up greasy spoon classics like hamburgers, fried chicken and hot dogs since day one. Beyond the classics, though, Sheik’s serves up surprisingly good Hawaiian plates. The breaded teriyaki is probably the best on all of Maui. The saimin and chow fun are also quite good. As for breakfast, it’s not an expansive menu, but they serve typical breakfast plates plus a 4-scoop serving of excellent fried rice. With linoleum tables and vinyl booths, Sheik’s certainly plays the part of the beloved greasy spoon diner. (Sheik’s)

Sunrise Cafe (Lahaina)
On Front Street, where it seems like everything is aimed at deep-pocketed visitors, Sunrise Cafe stands out. It’s our favorite hole-in-the-wall diner in Lahaina. The menu is expansive and affordable and the food is good and plentiful. Sunrise Cafe is known for its loco moco. Considering the time difference here on Maui, we’re a little surprised more places don’t open early for breakfast, but Sunrise opens its doors at 6:00 AM. Sunrise Cafe is cash only. (Sunrise Cafe)

Tasty Crust (Wailuku)
Seen from the outside, it screams “old school diner!” Seen from the inside, it screams it even louder. Tasty Crust would be right at home in a Quentin Tarantino movie. It has greasy spoon roots and is proud of it. The service is fast and friendly and the food is filling and, well, tastes OK. Look, it’s not going to blow your socks off, but if you want breakfast done right, Tasty Crust delivers. They are open for breakfast at 6:00 AM every day and remain open all day for dinner except for Monday, when they close at 3:00 PM. Cash only. (Tasty Crust)

What is your favorite greasy spoon diner on Maui? Leave a comment below or tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: Where to Eat

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: Where to Eat

On a day trip to Hana, you will probably be on the road for at least 10 hours. During this time, you’ll probably want to stop for at least one “big” meal, as well as for snacks. Here are our recommendations on where to eat on the Road to Hana.

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: What to pack
Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: 12 scenic spots to visit

Huelo Lookout (Midway between mile markers 4 and 5)
Huelo Town is called “the little Hawaiian village forgotten by time.” A former sugar plantation community, it is now a quiet town with cattle ranches and smaller farms dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables. But the reason to stop here is for the Huelo Lookout fruit and smoothie stand. If you skip Twin Falls, it’s the first place to get drinks and snacks for the road.

Ka Haku Smoke Shack (Just past mile marker 10)
The shack, basically a tarp, serves up some mean barbecue. We wish we could recommend something, but the menu changes depending on what fresh produce and meats the owner, Chef Chewie, has on hand. Everything is farm to table, served on natural plates (bamboo plates lined with banana leaves.) Only open Monday – Friday until late afternoon or when Chef Chewie runs out of food.

Garden Gourmet (Halfway between mile markers 10 and 11, at the entrance to Garden of Eden) A food truck with picnic table seating, Garden Gourmet serves fresh, farm-to-table meals, with much of the produce grown nearby. All the food is prepared made-to-order, so if you’re in a hurry, this probably isn’t the place for you. But if you go, we think you’ll be happy with your meal. You do NOT have to pay to enter the Garden of Eden to eat here.

Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread (Between mile markers 16 and 17)
If there’s one food item you can buy on the Road to Hana, it’s banana bread. But if you want the best banana bread, stop by Aunt Sandy’s. It’s moist on the inside and somewhat crisp on the outside, creating a really nice texture for which your mouth will thank you. The grilled hot dogs also hit the mark. If your car mates won’t mind, we also recommend the chili dog. But, again, you should ask the other folks in the car if this is OK!

Nahiku Marketplace (Mile marker 28)
Whether you want fresh juices, coconut water, snacks or souvenirs, this little marketplace has grown from its original two vendors to now offering more places to eat than Hana Town. You’ll find food trucks and stalls of all kinds, from Thai to barbecue and everything in between. You will also find vendors selling the world famous coconut candy.

Thai Food by Pranee (Hana)
A little shack in Hana, Thai Food by Pranee serves authentic Thai cuisine. The food tends to fall on the “sweet” side, rather than spicy, but don’t despair, if you order it spicy, it’s definitely, spicy. The other thing to note is you’re eating outdoors. In Hana, this means there will be flies and mosquitos. But, since you read our What to pack for Hana guide you’re set with the bug repellent, right? Back to the food. Thai Food by Pranee is in the running for best Thai food on Maui. People seem to be aware of this because the lines can get long, and it can take, literally, an hour to get your food when it’s busy. We recommend you ask how long it will take, so you can set your expectations.

Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill (Hana)
It’s unfortunate for those of us who don’t live in Hana that the best barbecue on Maui is in Hana. Whether you’re craving barbecued chicken, pulled pork, ribs, steak or even fish tacos, Braddah Hutts has you covered. The portions are big and prices are reasonable, for Maui, anyway. Don’t be scared off by the lines, unlike most things around these parts, it actually moves pretty quick.

Hasegawawa General Store (Hana)
Take a step back in time and enter the Hasegawa General Store to load up on snacks and drinks for the long drive back. Here you’ll find a little of everything, from locally grown vegetables to fishing gear to clothing. This is a mom and pop store that would make your mom and pop proud.

Hana Burger Food Truck (Hana)
The Hana Ranch runs the Hana Burger Food Truck. So obviously, the burgers are fresh and about as local as you can get. Beyond the burgers, though, all the veggies are also grown on location, and the fish is all caught locally. Even the ketchup is made on location using ingredients from their organic farm. Generally speaking we prefer Heinz ketchup above all others, but this ketchup is actually really good. Service is fast and there are plenty of covered picnic tables. The house-made ginger beer (non-alcoholic) is a real treat. As a bonus, as you’re enjoying your meal, you’ll be staring out at the Pacific Ocean. Hana Burger Food Truck is only open Monday – Friday from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: What to pack
Hana Day Trip Planning Guide: 12 scenic spots to visit

Best Malasadas on Maui – HOP To It

Best Malasadas on Maui – HOP To It

There are so many good malasadas on Maui, it’s hard to narrow the list down to just five, but after weeks of agonizing research, we think we’ve come up with the definitive list. But first, the ground rules. We’re sticking with bakeries and shops that serve malasadas “to go.” So this removes sit down restaurants where you can order “fancy” malasadas for dessert (sorry Star Noodle). The malasadas also have to come from places that are open most of the week, with regular hours (sorry Aloha Malasadas by Tanya). OK, with these rules in place, here is our alphabetical list of the best malasadas on Maui.

Home Maid Bakery (Wailuku)
Home Maid Bakery is known for many things. But since 1960, this venerable Wailuki bakery has been cranking out piping hot, delicious malasadas to the local community. The malasadas here are not overly greasy and are even somewhat light, comparatively speaking. Plus, they’re the cheapest we know of at just $.89 a piece or $9.69 a dozen. For the freshest malasadas, visit between 5:00 AM and 10:00 AM and again between 4:00 PM and 10:00 PM, when they have the fryer bubbling with new malasadas. Even if you miss those windows, before noon, the malasadas are still somewhat fresh. Besides, if they’re out of malasadas, they have loads of other great baked goods to nosh on. (Home Maid Bakery)

Home Maid Cafe (Kihei)
Though there’s no affiliation to the Home Maid Bakery, Home Maid Cafe also produces excellent malasadas. Baked every morning and sold in quantities of three, we recommend either calling in an order or getting there early. We’ve witnessed many people doing the “we’re sold out” walk of shame out the door. Because, frankly, the rest of the food offered at the cafe is decidedly mediocre. If the malasadas are gone and you’re hankering for something sweet, walk around the corner to Maui Pie, or drive a couple miles down the road to the Sugar Beach Bake Shop (listed below). Open Monday – Saturday, 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM. (Home Maid Cafe)

Simply Sweets Bakery (Wailuku)
After a bit of a hiatus, the Simply Sweets Bakery re-opened in Wailuku in 2014. Since then, they’ve been cranking out fresh malasadas, or as they like to call them, Mauisadas, and cream puffs to residents and vistors alike. Baked to order, with many different fillings, Simply Sweets has quietly emerged as a true contender for Best Malasada on Maui. Open Tuesday – Friday, 7:00 AM – 3:30 PM and at the big Kahului Swap Meet every Saturday morning. (Simply Sweets Bakery)

Sugar Beach Bake Shop (Kihei)
Located in a sleepy part of North Kihei, nestled in between an ABC Store and its business partner, Ululani’s Shave Ice, Sugar Beach Bake Shop is a wonderful little bakery that serves fresh malasadas and baked goods. Lines develop, but the wait is worth it. The malasadas are made to order and best eaten hot, from 6:00 AM – 9:00 AM. Beyond the excellent malasadas, we also recommend the spicy spam musubi and the key lime lilikoi pie. At this time, it’s our favorite malasada on Maui. Sugar Beach Bake Shop is open daily from 6:00 AM – 4:00 PM. (Sugar Beach Bake Shop)

T. Komoda Store and Bakery (Makawao)
Serving Makawao for over 100 years(!), Komoda’s makes fresh malasadas every morning they’re open. At $1 a piece, they’re a real bargain. If they’re sold out, and they may be by the time you drive up there, the donuts and other pastries are also outstanding. Open from 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM on Saturday (closed on Wednesday and Sunday,) you need to get there by 9:00 for a decent selection. They tend to sell out of their malasadas by mid-morning. (T. Komoda Store and Bakery)

You’ve seen our list of favorite malasada shops on Maui. Now tell us yours in the comments below…

Best Farmers Markets on Maui – HOP to it

Best Farmers Markets on Maui – HOP to it

The state of Hawai’i imports roughly 85% – 90% (by most estimates) of its food. This leaves Maui in a somewhat precarious situation. First, if for some reason we were cut off from the mainland, it wouldn’t take long for there to be massive food shortages. Second, when the cost of shipping is factored in, the food here is really expensive. Well, this is where Maui’s burgeoning organic, local farm industry is stepping in. Maui’s fertile soils produces amazing fruits and vegetables. While most of it can be found in local grocery stores and shops, the best way to access it is by the old standby, farmers markets. Thankfully, Maui has a robust farmers market scene. Every town has their own version. No matter where you are on Maui, you aren’t too far from a farmers market. Here is a list of our favorite markets.

Maui Swap Meet (Wailuku)
Saturday, 7:00 AM – 1:00 PM
University of Hawaii Maui

Since 1981, the Maui Swap Meet has been the biggest and most celebrated farmers market on the island. With over 200 vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, baked goods and just about every knickknack you can imagine, if you visit just one farmers market on Maui, this is the one. There are also plenty of food trucks and vendors serving hot food, too, if you don’t want to wait to get home to cook up the fresh veggies you just purchased. There’s a nominal $.50 fee to enter. Children under 12 are free. [Maui Swap Meet]

Upcountry Farmers Market (Kula)
Saturday, 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Kula Malu Shopping Center

The most refined farmers market on Maui, here you’ll find the freshest vegetables you’re likely to come across. With all of the farming upcountry, it’s no surprise that the market is laden with vegetables, fruits, flowers and craftier items like honey, kombucha, pickles and food vendors selling raw and vegan items. [Upcountry Farmers Market]

Napili Farmers Market (Napili)
Wednesday and Saturday, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
4900 Honoapiilani Highway

Usually sporting 15 – 20 vendors, you can find a little bit of everything, but the focus is on locally grown, non-GMO produce and locally made products. Among the more interesting vendors you may see are Lahaina Organics, who make reef safe sunscreens and freshly made kimchi by Napili Flo Farm. [Napili Farmers Market]

Kumu Farms Market (Waikapu)
Monday – Saturday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Maui Tropical Plantation

A true farmers market, everything sold at this stand was grown on the Kumu Farms. The fully organic, non-GMO farm, sits on 60 acres of fertile land in the shadow of the West Maui Mountains. Depending on the season, you’re likely to find everything from parsley and mint to macadamia nuts and pineapples to avocados and apple bananas. There are 35 different crops in all. If you’re hunting for bargains, on Saturdays many of the prices are reduced. [Kumu Farms Market]

Hana Fresh Farm Stand (Hana)
Daily, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Hana Highway between mile markers 34 and 35

Everything sold from this stand is from the Hana Fresh Farm. Hana Fresh is a key component to the Hana Health initiative, a health and wellness center in Hana dedicated to helping the local community, in particular native Hawai’ians who may not otherwise be offered healthcare due to financial, cultural and/or geographical reasons. The farm is seven acres and organically grows over 100 different crops. Proceeds from the sales go towards supporting Hana Health programs and services. [Hana Fresh Farm Stand]

Do you have a favorite farmers market on Maui? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Best Food Trucks on Maui – HOP to it

Best Food Trucks on Maui – HOP to it

Food trucks keep sprouting up on Maui and we couldn’t be happier. The quality of food at the trucks listed below rival anything you’ll eat at high end restaurants. While you’ll find classic Hawaiian dishes like poke, you can also find ethnic foods that are generally underserved here, like gyros and authentic Mexican food. This list could easily run 20 deep, so expect to see another list in the near future.

  1. Maui Fresh Streatery (check the Facebook page)
    The menu changes every two weeks at Maui Fresh Streatery, but we’ve never been disappointed, so we can give this truck a hearty recommendation even if we can’t recommend any single dish. Serving only fresh, Maui-sourced food, this truck embraces a farm-to-table ethic. (Maui Fresh Streatery)
  2. Thai Mee Up (Kahului)
    Open for lunch M – F and dinner on Wednesday’s until 8:00, Thai Mee Up is located in the food truck round-up across from Costco. They feature some amazing curries, we especially love the panang curry, and great pad thai. It can sometimes take 15 – 20 minutes to get your food (they will warn you), so we always use that time to cross the street and get gas at Costco. Thai Mee Up was featured on the hit Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives”. (Thai Mee Up)
  3. Like Poke? (Kahului)
    Like Poke? uses only fresh caught fish, meaning if the fishermen come up dry, no poke for you! While that can be frustrating, we give mad props to this truck for sticking to their ideals. The other maddening thing about Like Poke? They’re only open until they run out of food. Usually, that’s pretty early. Generally open from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, we recommend getting there by 11:00. OK, so what should you order? For starters, try the poke. It’s some of the best on the island. Then, venture out and try something like the ahi katsu (if it’s available on the day you visit) and the fried poke. (Like Poke?)
  4. Ono Tacos (Lahaina)
    This tiny trailer dishes up some big Mexican flavors. Well known for their tacos, Ono Tacos also serves tortas, burritos, quesadillas and even hot dogs. There’s a self-serve condiment area with everything you could want to put on a taco, plus a few different salsas. Call us old fashioned, but we always order a plate of tacos carnitas (steak) with rice and beans. The steak is grilled to perfection. Nope, nothing fancy there, but it hits the spot. (Ono Tacos)
  5. Mediterranean Grill (Haiku)
    Serving Lebanese-style Mediterranean food, the Mediterranean Grill food truck absolutely kills it with its lamb gyro. Easily the best gyro we’ve eaten on Maui, the lamb is always perfectly grilled and the yogurt sauce has just enough bite to taste it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the dish. Located in a food truck round-up in Haiku, if you’re upcountry, we recommend you swing by. (Mediterranean Grill)

Do you have a favorite food truck on Maui? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Best Asian Noodle Joints on Maui – HOP to it

Best Asian Noodle Joints on Maui – HOP to it

Noodle dishes and bowls come in all shapes and sizes. While Oahu may have some of the best ramen restaurants in the world, Maui definitely doesn’t. But ramen isn’t the only noodle dish in town. Maui does have excellent saimin, a local noodle soup, a bit like ramen, with a simple, cleaner broth. You can find saimin at most “local” food joints. Maui also has good Thai and Vietnamese food, if you know where to look. Finally, Maui features the single best dry mein noodles in the state. Some of our favorite places are off the beaten path, but if you seek them out, you’ll be rewarded.

  1. Star Noodle (Lahaina)
    Because of its fantastic food, fair prices, west side location and national buzz, Star Noodle has quickly risen to the top of the tourist food destination list on Maui. If you dismiss it because it’s too trendy, you would be making a big mistake. Our two favorite noodle dishes are the Singapore Noodles, a spicy, curry noodle dish with lots of shrimp and chicken and the simple, yet flavorful garlic noodles. No matter what time you go, we recommend you make reservations. (Star Noodle)
  2. Sam Sato’s (Wailuku)
    The best single noodle dish on Maui is Sam Sato’s dry mein. Though it’s served in a ramen bowl, it’s called “dry” because the saimin noodles are presented with no broth. The noodles are combined with a mixture of shoyu (soy sauce), oil, spices, char siu (pork), sprouts and green onions. No matter what time you go to Sam Sato’s, you’ll probably run into a line. They are only open from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM. (Sam Sato)
  3. Thai Mee Up (Kahului)
    This food truck, open for lunch M – F across from Costco, makes simple, yet delicious pad thai. Though this article is about noodles, we would be remiss not to mention the panang curry with either chicken or shrimp. It’s really good. The owner/chef Tom Sribura cooked at Mama’s Fish House for 20 years before he ventured out on his own. Thai Mee Up was featured on the hit Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives”. (Thai Mee Up)
  4. Matsu Restaurant (Kahului)
    Serving authentic Japanese food from what is, ostensibly, a double-wide trailer, Matsu may not look like much, but the food is spot on. For noodles, we absolutely love the tempura udon. The noodles are nice and thick, the broth light and flavorful and the tempura shrimp is perfectly crisp. A favorite amongst locals for over 30 years, we’re starting to see more visitors, especially from the nearby cruise ship. (Matsu Restaurant)
  5. Ramen Ya (Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, Kahului)
    If you must get a cheap bowl of ramen on Maui, Ramen Ya is the best of the bunch. While the pork-based ramens are not very flavorful, the spicy ramen has a serious kick. The shoyu ramen is also OK. Given their name, it’s not the ramen where Ramen Ya shines. Instead, it’s the seafood crispy noodles that really stand out. It’s a massive plate of noodles and seafood that you’ll be taking home for leftovers. Located in the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, Ramen Ya does tend to fill up fast at lunchtime. Don’t be surprised to find yourself waiting for a table. (Ramen Ya)

Do you have a favorite noodle dish on Maui? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Best Coffee Shops on Maui – HOP to it

Best Coffee Shops on Maui – HOP to it

A good coffee shop is somewhere you want to nest, a place where you can do anything from check your email to chat with friends. For this list, we aren’t talking about the best coffee. Instead, we are talking about are the best places to enjoy coffee. Of course, the coffee at these places is actually really good. Hawaii is the only state in the nation that produces coffee for mass consumption. While Kona is famous for its coffee (as it should be), Maui-grown coffee is also excellent. Whether you’re talking story with friends, catching up the latest news using free wi-fi, or enjoying a nice breakfast or lunch, here are the Maui coffee shops we recommend, listed alphabetically.

Akamai Coffee Co. (Kihei)
Using 100% Maui grown coffee and roasting their own coffee, Akamai has two locations. The Kihei location is a beautiful, modern space with plenty of room and very clean. While not necessarily charming, it does have the feel of high-end showroom, like an Apple Store for coffee. The “living wall,” where flowers seem to grow straight out of the wall, is really neat. (Akamai Coffee Co.)

The Coffee Store (Napili)
Located in a small strip mall, the unassuming Coffee Store in Napili serves up excellent coffee in a nice, down home atmosphere. The staff is super friendly and you never feel rushed. Serving fresh pastries, bagels, acai bowls and both breakfast and lunch sandwiches, if you need more than coffee to get you going, The Coffee Store has you covered. (The Coffee Store)

Grandma’s Coffee House (Kula)
Using handpicked beans from the Haleakala mountainside, Grandma’s then hulls and roasts them right there at the shop. They’ve been doing this since 1918, making it, to our knowledge, the oldest coffee house on Maui. They serve a full menu of wonderful breakfast and lunch plates. If you’re coming down from Haleakala, there’s no better place to stop. (Grandma’s Coffee House)

Maui Coffee Attic (Wailuku)
With two levels of comfy chairs and couches and serving a full menu of excellent pastries and food items, entering the Coffee Attic is like entering your grandma’s house… if your grandma can whip up tasty meals and make really good coffee. They serve only Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Co. coffees. One neat thing they do is freezing coffee ice cubes to use in their iced coffees. So instead of getting weaker when the ice melts, your drinks will actually get stronger. The Coffee Attic hosts many events and it’s really popular amongst students. (Maui Coffee Attic)

Maui Coffee Roasters (Kahului)
Located within minutes of the airport, Maui Coffee Roasters is a great place to pick up last minute gifts of freshly roasted Kona coffee for family and friends. It’s also a great place to chill with coffee and pastries or sandwiches before tackling the Road to Hana. With a comfortable, eclectic setting, Maui Coffee Roasters is the best place to stop for coffee in the “city.” (Maui Coffee Roasters)

Where do you like to stop for coffee on Maui? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Best Vegetarian Food Cafes on Maui – HOP to it

Best Vegetarian Food Cafes on Maui – HOP to it

From the cheapest dives to five-star restaurants, most places on Maui have a nice selection of vegetarian dishes. In fact, over the years, we’ve found Maui to be one of the more vegetarian-friendly islands in Hawaii. To be sure, we can eat unhealthy here on Maui (hello loco moco!), but our active lifestyles often call for lighter, cleaner fare. Upcountry, especially, has many vegetarian and vegan options. For this article, we’re focusing on cafes that, while they may offer meat-based dishes, really specialize in vegetarian foods. Here is our list of favorite cafes that cater to vegetarians, listed alphabetically.

Choice Health Bar (Lahaina)
The most popular little health food joint in Lahaina, Choice Health Bar makes smoothies, juices, salads, sandwiches and has kombucha on tap. We appreciate the way Choice sells their cold-pressed juices in fancy bottles with a $2 deposit fee. If you want to keep the bottle as a souvenir, no sweat. But, if you return it, you’ll get your $2 back. This is so environmentally friendly, we recommend all places do this. The Buddha Bowl, which combines a kale salad with a vegan soup and coconut garlic quinoa is our go-to meal at Choice. (Choice Health Bar)

Farmacy (Wailuku and Pukulani)
Pouring a full menu of juices and smoothies, Farmacy also makes killer acai bowls, sandwiches and salads. You may go for the juice, but the excellent sandwiches are available on four different types of bread, including gluten-free, or as a lettuce wrap. Try the Roaster, a punchy little sandwich with spiced eggplant and zucchini. The employees of Farmacy are friendly and create a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. (Farmacy Wailuku, Farmacy Pukulani)

Jini’s Curry (Wailuku)
Located in the Wailuku Promenade Food Court on Main St. in Wailuku, Jini’s dishes up fast, delicious Indian curry’s, both of the vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties, available as plates and bowls. The plates also include a salad and naan and are slightly more expensive. For non-meat eaters, we highly recommend the pumpkin curry. Besides the shop, you are also likely to find Jini’s at the Friday night town parties serving up a limited menu. (Jini’s Curry)

Joy’s Place (Kihei)
Tucked away under a condo across the street from Kalama Park, Joy’s Place is popular by vegetarians in the know. Because it’s not actually facing South Kihei Road, people don’t seem to know it’s there. But once they find it, they keep coming back for both breakfast and lunch. Joy’s Place makes vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches, so everyone in your party will be happy. They also serve live raw and vegan foods. (Joy’s Place)

Veg-Out (Haiku)
Heading up to Haiku and walking into the fully meat-free Veg-Out is kind of like going to a food court, but instead of having to choose from different shops, all the options are available at one place. Veg-Out serves sandwiches, Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern cuisines. They also offer gluten-free pizza crusts and pastas. There’s even a keiki menu with kids’ faves like quesadillas, pizza, nuggets and spaghetti.(Veg-Out)

Did we leave anything out? What is your favorite vegetarian cafe on Maui? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject or leave us a comment below.