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Small, rural and unpretentious, Hana, Maui serves up a dining scene all its own.
The east-side destination is geographically removed from the rest of the island, so it focuses heavily on local ingredients in its cuisine. For diners, that means the freshest of fish, meats, fruits and vegetables prepared with creativity and love. With two exceptions, the town's best places to eat aren't restaurants, but actually food trucks and stands.
The following suggestions are pleasing the palates of visitors hungering for a genuine taste of Hana, Maui.
Farm StandsHana’s rich soil, year-round warmth and generous rain and sunshine translate into prolific farms. Travelers can savor their products at roadside kiosks selling a variety of luscious produce, jams, candies and sauces with a sense of place.
Hana Farms’ outdoor market, for instance, showcases fruits and veggies, exotic sweets, preserves and picnic lunch fare. Insiders drive from miles away for a loaf of its homemade banana bread.
Likewise, Ono Farms’ stand delights clients with a cornucopia of organic produce, sourced from a 50-acre spread. Passersby can sample and buy what’s just picked along with chocolate and coffee products.
Food TrucksAt lunchtime, visitors can follow the locals to Hana’s food trucks, some of which are located near the town’s storied Hasegawa General Store.
Among them is Braddah Hutts, known for its heaping plate lunches of barbecued pork, chicken or short ribs with scoops of macaroni salad and rice; and Da Fish Shack, featuring the day’s catch in tacos, burgers, sandwiches or with greens. Its shrimp po’boy is a winner.
Thai Food by Pranee, across from Hana Ballpark, has earned a steadfast clientele with its bright, spicy Asian cuisine. Menu highlights include pad thai, seared ono curry and smooth Thai iced tea.
Hana Ranch RestaurantFor lunch and dinner, this laid-back eatery serves Hana-style comfort food. Guests can gather on the covered, alfresco patio or sit indoors by big windows with views straight out to the ocean.
Starters often include tender ahi poke, crispy calamari and coconut shrimp. Sandwiches honor their surroundings, from the half-pound Hana burger to the slow-roasted kalua pork with Hawaiian barbeque sauce. Entrees spotlight gifts from land and sea, such as regional ribeye steak and fresh catch of the day.
Before and after the meal, the restaurant’s wall of ukuleles provides a unique spot to pose for photos.
Shaka PopsParked next to the Ono Farms stand, this charming mobile tricycle sells frozen treats in a mind-blowing array of tropical flavors.
Working with ingredients from local farmers and producers, the owners dream up mouthwatering concoctions based on what’s in season. Refreshing favorites run the gamut, such as coconut lime, pomegranate mojito, lava flow and Kona coffee, plus limited-edition inspirations such as tangerine cream and papaya passion.
Then there are the holiday specials, such as spiked eggnog, caramel pumpkin spice and the patriotic red-white-and-blueberry pops. It’s a great indulgence after a Hana hike, bike ride or trip to the beach.
The Preserve Kitchen + BarHana’s answer to fine dining awaits at Travaasa Hana, the town’s upscale hotel. Boasting an open-air setting and low-key elegance, The Preserve presents creative dishes that promote the region’s agricultural bounty to the hilt.
Chefs tweak the brunch and dinner menus to keep pace with what’s fresh. Depending on seasonal availability, meals might be enhanced by such delicacies as pohole (fiddlehead ferns) and sweet Maui onions. Signature cocktails feature local fruit and honey.
In the evenings, live music and hula by longtime members of the community remind diners that they’re not just in Hawaii but in Hana, a tasty destination in its own right.