Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
820 Olowalu Village Rd., Lahaina
One of our first stops after landing on Maui is always Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop on the west coast. Everything is fresh and expertly prepared, and there’s a range of lunch options, whether healthy (mixed hydroponic greens with local herbs and tomatoes) or marginally gluttonous (a silky, rich coconut cream pie). The height of lunch hour can get crushingly busy, so come on the later or earlier side to avoid crowds. If you do have to wait in line (which sometimes stretches out the door), we promise that it’ll be well worth it.
Da Poke Shack
76-6246 Alii Dr., Kailua-Kona
This tiny and long-standing Kailua-Kona joint offers endless poke varietals—sweet, spicy, shoyu, Hawaiian, mixed with avocado—all delicious, all incredibly fresh. which are all surpre hit all the high notes at this long-standing Kailua-Kona joint. The sides are also stand-out, including a traditional wakame seaweed salad, kimchee mussels, and a standard Hawaiian potato salad. It's a perfect lunch for a picnic at the beach.
Two Ladies Kitchen
274 Kilauea Ave., Hilo
People drive from all over the Big Island for the now world famous mochi that have been made here for the past 25 years (keep in mind that they're not open on Sundays or Mondays). Helmed by Nora Uchida and her aunt, Tomi Tokeshi, they make mochi as Uchida's grandmother did, preserving not only the recipe but the culture of the Japanese in Hawaii, too. The treats are delicious and beautiful, and as one would expect, the flavors are a mix of local and far-flung: You'll find lilikoi (passionfruit), pineapple, persimmons, ginger, etc.; they also stuff the traditional white rice flour with fresh strawberries, which sadly can't be transported to the mainland.
Umeke’s Fish Market Bar & Grill
74-5563 Kaiwi St., Kailua-Kona
There is an on-island rivalry between Umeke's and Da Poke Shack, the two poke mainstays in Kailua-Kona. Umeke's has an expanded restaurant, and also an expanded menu, offering more than sashimi-style fish for pickier eaters (chicken katsu, grilled cheese, and other eclectic offerings). But the takeout counter is the main thing: White or brown rice, a seaweed or edamame side, plus a scoop of poke of your choice to go.
45-690 Pakalana St., Honokaa
For about 50-odd years, Tex Drive-In has been serving traditional Hawaiian food (loco moco's abound on the menu, which are typically rice, hamburger, fried egg, and gravy), but that's not why tourists flock to this joint. They are famous for their malasadas, the island version of the donut, typically dusted in sugar and filled with anything from coconut cream to guava to Bavarian cream. You can even watch the malasada production through a big window in the cafe.
3617 Baldwin Ave., Paia
Now three locations strong, this Paia stronghold is the place to go on the island when you not only want a really good latte, but you want it to be matcha. The menu of teas and coffees is massive—if not overwhelming—but it's all good, as are the pastries. (Get the coffee cake.) As one would expect, there's also an ample smoothie and juice offering.
49 Baldwin Ave., Paia
In search of organic almond milk or gluten-free pasta? This health-centric grocery store—open since the '80s—offers an extensive array of pantry items that you'll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere on the island, plus really beautiful produce that's been sourced from more than 400 local purveyors. What's more? They use compostable and biodegradable packaging at all their counters, including the deli and butcher shop.
Wailua Shave Ice
4-1306 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa
Now with locations in San Diego and Portland, the OG Wailua is still in Kapaa. There you'll find the inventive combinations that they're now known for, like an Almond Joy (Nutella, coconut milk, almonds coconut flakes) and Lava Flow, which includes strawberry puree, coconut foam, and pineapple juice.
Shave Ice Tege Tege
4-1620 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa
Done in the Japanese style (Shave Ice Tege Tege's owner brought his hand-crank ice machine from Japan when he set up shop in Kauai), this popular stand—just across the street from the main beach in Kapaa, is all organic. Using a condensed milk base, you can have everything from dragon fruit to mango mixed in. It's in the same food court parking lot as Al Pastor Tacos, which makes it a perfect pit-stop for a quick lunch.
3540 Koloa Rd., Kalaheo
Occupying a former glass factory in Lawai, this sweet community center is home to food trucks and stands like Roots in Culture (healthy comfort food), Chipwrecked (Hawaiian nachos), The Fresh Shave (shave ice), and Dark Roost Coffee. There are also a handful of cute, local boutiques offering everything from shell jewelry to bathing suits and stationery. They also do storytime for little kids, offer a farmer's market on Friday, and host community events like live music.
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