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The Sea House restaurant recently celebrated its 50th anniversary on Napili Bay, which led me to wonder: What makes a classic Maui restaurant?
To find the answer, I established a couple of criteria.
I decided that Maui’s classic eateries should be at least 15 years old. You can count on them to feed you through thick and thin.
I also focused on eateries enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. With that in mind, I got feedback from some savvy Maui diners who know a good thing when they taste it.
Here are my results, an appetizing list of ten Maui culinary landmarks with longevity.
CasanovaSince its 1986 beginnings, this Italian mainstay has held forth in the quaint cowboy town of Makawao. The linguine pescatore, a local favorite, is swimming in fresh seafood. A wood-burning oven turns out yummy pizzas.www.casanovamakawao.com
Gerard’s at Plantation InnFor more than 25 years in Lahaina, Gerard Reversade has treated diners to dishes from his native France crafted with Maui products. Hamakua oyster mushrooms and prosciutto in puff pastry are a must-taste.www.gerardsmaui.com
Haliimaile General StoreThis culinary hub has showcased the talents of top island chef Bev Gannon since 1988. Supplies to plantation workers were once sold out of this same structure. Now it’s a source of gems like kalua pork and goat cheese wontons.www.bevgannonrestaurants.com/haliimaile
Honolua General StoreAnother 1920s plantation store-turned-eatery, this casual Kapalua stop sells groceries, coffee drinks and deli food. Try one of its Hawaiian-style plate lunches, like kalbi ribs. Dine on the porch or carry out a picnic.www.kapalua.com/dining/honolua-store
Kimo’sThis Lahaina cornerstone prepares fresh fish either baked, citrus herb-grilled, coconut-crusted or lobster-topped. Steaks, pork and chicken round out the entrees. Finish with hula pie, a chocolate macadamia nut ice cream confection.www.kimosmaui.com
Kula LodgeFor decades, views from 3,200 feet have whetted appetites here. Meals are inspired by the surroundings, such as waffles with local strawberries, burgers with caramelized Kula onions and mango barbecued baby back ribs.www.kulalodge.com
Lahaina GrillOpen since 1990, this acclaimed bistro serves New American cuisine with local ingredients. Try signature dishes like warm pecan-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad. Maui onion seared ahi is a perennial hit.www.lahainagrill.com
Paia Fish MarketDating back to 1989, this small-town legend majors in seafood. It’s worth waiting in line for charbroiled, Cajun or sauteed fish and side dishes like hand-cut slaw. Sit at a communal picnic table and make friends over exceptional food.www.paiafishmarket.com
Mama's Fish HouseThis family-owned restaurant has been a Paia classic since 1973. Fresh fish preparations range from pure and simple — like sashimi — to ono, mahi and ahi in Panang curry and coconut milk. You know it’s a local treasure when you see wild boar and poi on the menu.www.mamasfishhouse.com
Sea House at Napili Kai Beach ResortDating back to 1963, this beachfront gem draws praise for its ocean views. The macadamia crusted fresh fish with pineapple rum sauce and fruit salsa is a perfect example of what makes this a classic Maui restaurant.www.seahousemaui.com