Aloha Mixed Plate is a Maui institution. The turquoise-walled, tin-roofed restaurant lounges on the waterfront in Lahaina with one of the best views on the island. The gentle lapping of the water, the boats coming and going, and the sunset view make for an idyllic scene. The only problem with this scene? No alcohol this close to the water … you have to sit in the bar for the Happy Hour specials (from 2pm to 6pm beers are $1.75 and Mai Tais are $3).
The restaurant takes its name from the Hawaiian tradition of “plate lunch” or “mixed plate,” which comes from the days when sugar plantations carpeted the islands and workers of several nationalities shared their food with each other on lunch breaks. Chinese workers brought noodle dishes like chow fun, Japanese brought their teriyaki and rice, and Filipinos brought adobo or slow-simmered pork.
Koreans brought ribs, and the Hawaiians contributed their kalua pig. Plates were passed and each worker would take a portion from each dish, ending up with the “mixed plate” that perfectly reflects the melting pot that is Hawaii. At Aloha Mixed Plate, you can get all of the above dishes in many different plate lunch combinations — mini and full portions — plus coconut prawns, Hawaiian classics like the salty lomi lomi salmon and the silky poi, kalua pig sandwiches, and teriyaki burgers, all at very reasonable prices.
Rice and macaroni salad (two scoops rice, one scoop macaroni) always come on the plate to fill in the spaces. The noodles in the chow fun look fun and chow mein dishes are made in house and served with crunchy bean sprouts and snap peas in a Chinese take-out box. This is good food at great prices, but two signature dishes are a guilty addiction for many fans: the furikake garlic fries and the banana cheesecake lumpia, a multi-cultural confection in the spirit of the bygone plantation era. East coast cheesecake is slathered in caramel, wrapped in Filipino pastry, deep fried, and dusted in cinnamon.
The prices and fun, island-style atmosphere are key to this joint’s attraction. There is nowhere else that serves fair-priced plate lunch and has an oceanfront location and offers tableside service and serves drinks (for $5.50, you might not mind that the mai tai features a lot of pineapple juice); you get a good value given the outstanding location. Servers tend to take your happiness for granted; they’re gracious but not particularly attentive. We’re usually looking out at the ocean anyway, and the restaurant’s laid-back vibe is definitely Maui.
Address: 1285 Front St., Lahaina, West Maui
Location: Next to Old Lahaina Lu’au and across from Lahaina Cannery Mall
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Hours: Daily 8am-10pm, Happy Hour 2-6pm
Parking: Parking lot.