Every year I wait to post about where to eat on Maui for Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years until after I find out what the restaurants have planned. Unfortunately, restaurants don’t necessarily reveal their plans far enough ahead of time for me to pass them on to you. (Island time is a real phenomenon.)
This morning I received the following plea, and I suspect more like it will arrive in the next months. So I am pre-emptively posting holiday ideas.
(I suppose I am not really all that early, considering I am calling Whole Foods today to place my Thanksgiving turkey order.)
Here’s what showed up in my email inbox:
Ask Molly Message:
Aloha Molly, and thank you for your book. It’s been so helpful so far in planning our trip to Maui.
My husband and I are coming to Maui on Christmas day and staying over New years this year. Do you have any specific recommendations for where to eat for Christmas night, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day? I greatly appreciate your response!!!
Thank you, Missy Shelter
Thank YOU, Missy, for prompting me to get into gear!
The biggest weeks of the year for visitors happen to be Thanksgiving week and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Just about everyone in the restaurant business finds a way to have a special meal, but not all are created equal. Here are our personal favorite ideas for celebrating the holidays on Maui:
If you are looking for a big to-do, all-inclusive buffets, and over-the-top festive decorations, you probably want to visit a resort for your special meal. Just about everybody on this list has a fabulous buffet on holidays, and usually offer several seatings (how many depends upon how booked the resort is that year). I recommend calling now and talking to a concierge about what they are offering this year. Reservations are often full weeks in advance…
(NB: for those who want a really “romantic” meal, feel uncomfortable in crowds, or shudder at the sight and sound of small children dressed to the nines … consider the other options below.)
The Makena Resort (Makena) This resort’s Sunday champagne brunches are legendary for their combination of traditional roasts, sides, breads, staggering numbers of desserts, crab legs … but also for their carefully selected and well-prepared inclusion of local and Japanese dishes. It’s far from everywhere, and the dining room isn’t open-air, but it features beautiful views and is slightly less expensive than other resorts. Call 808-874-1111 to inquire about holiday meals and make reservations.
The Grand Wailea (Wailea) Dining in the Grand Dining Room and looking out over the stunning resort grounds makes me feel like royalty. You just can’t help but feel thankful when that view is on display. The buffet is typically very good and quite complete, and they make the best malasadas on the island (yes, really). Call 800-888-6100 to find out what they’re doing for the holiday season and to make reservations.
Duo at the Four Seasons (Wailea) makes one of our favorite brunches on the island, and we make a point of heading here at least once a year for a special holiday occasion. Despite the poolside location and lack of a sweeping view (except what you can see through holes in the cabana curtains), the food is delicious, and service is Four-Seasons-impeccable. Call 808-874-8000 to make your plans.
The Ritz Carlton (Kapalua) The Ritz is one of our favorite places for a big holiday feast. Call 808-665-7089 to find out what they have on their schedule and to make reservations.
Question: Hey! Why don’t you include more west-side buffets?
Answer: Because we write the book Top Maui Restaurants, not “All Maui Restaurants.” If it’s not on the list …
Most of these restaurants do either a fixed price or special menu on holidays. They are some of our very favorite restaurants in general, and provide a more intimate ambiance than a buffet typically does. They also tend to get crowded at holiday time, so be forewarned: what you gain by being able to order your own meal you might lose in service.
Cafe O’Lei at the Dunes (Wailuku) Cafe O’Lei’s Central Maui location has beautiful golf course views, lots of Aloha, and a good buffet. 808-877-0073
David Paul’s Island Grill (Lahaina) features dishes with beautiful, fresh, bold flavor profiles, as many local ingredients as possible, and gorgeous views of the Lahaina Harbor. 808-662-3000
Spago (Wailea) usually serves a special meal at the holidays, in addition to their dependably delicious regular menu. 808-879-2999
Capische? (Wailea) Love. It. You can make a feast of their regular menu any day, but they usually do coursed fixed price meals on holidays, too. 808-879-2224
Banyan Tree (Kapalua) This is one of our very favorite restaurants, especially now that Chef Jojo is back in the kitchen after working so extensively with the exacting Iron Chef Morimoto. Our refresh meal here was perfect from first to last bite. Well worth checking out for a holiday meal. 808-7089.
Have a condo? Smart … and possibly the best way to go, although be prepared for sticker shock when you’re in any grocery store. We pay to live in paradise …
Check in with Maui Prime if you’re on the West side of Maui. Lovely steaks, fish, and lots of gourmet goodies.
A little further down the coast you’ll find Aina Gourmet Market, Chef James McDonald’s delicious oasis for quick foods and takeout. They usually have lots of holiday dishes you can buy for two to twenty.
Whole Foods in Kahului is taking orders for fresh-never-frozen turkeys starting November 1 … and while you may think they’re expensive on the mainland, their prices are usually better than other grocery chains here on Maui.
You can always find wonderful food at Mana Foods in Paia.
Don’t Forget Lana’i
Taking a ferry ride over to Lana’i is just plain fun, and visiting the Four Seasons resorts at Manele Bay and Koele when they are decked out for the holidays is heartwarming.
By the way, the formal dining room at the Lodge at Koele is the best restaurant in the county, and tea in their grand lobby is one of our all-time favorite foodie adventures.
I just started salivating remembering the homemade preserves and scones. And oh, the lemon curd. I eat it with a spoon.
Four Seasons Manele Bay (Lana’i) Call 808-565-2000 for reservations
Four Seasons Lodge at Koele (Lana’i) Call 808-565-4000 for reservations
Ferry reservations can be booked here: Expeditions Ferry