Day 2: West Maui – Lahaina on foot

Photo of bricks in artist plaza in Lahaina

Photo of bricks in artist plaza in Lahaina

The photo above is of bricks in an artist plaza in Lahaina.  The “A.P.” Green is this guy, a 19th Century missionary named Alan Percival Green.  Just a little random factoid from the Google.  The bricks are the type of little things that are easier to notice on foot.  So we decided to leave our car behind today.  No car. Seriously, we decided not to bother with our car today. Got up, had a lazy breakfast, followed by Jaylin-fueled boot camp, crashy waves and now, off to peruse Lahaina on foot.  The town is 1/4 mile away at most (I think, based on the drive in) and we aim to experience it without a car.  Then tomorrow my hope is to find a bike shop in Makawao and catch Upcountry on bike.

Enormous and detailed map of west Maui provided by our cool condo owners

Enormous and detailed map of west Maui provided by our cool condo owners

I wrote the intro to this before we set out on foot from Lahaina Roads and everything below after.  Turns out Lahaina is a bit more than 1/4 mile. It took us 23 minutes, ambling fairly slowly, to get to the edge of town where Warren & Annabelle’s magic show was (we didn’t see the show this time, but it’s a convenient landmark). Still, this was way better than driving. Along the way I happened upon this.

Flood control structure under a bridge on our walk into Lahaina

Flood control structure under a bridge on our walk into Lahaina

It turns out I really am not great yet at shutting down the whole work thing. But how cities choose to deal with building, maintaining and paying for municipal infrastructure interests me, so there you have it. After a nice workout and a long walk we were ready to eat, so we drifted from place to place and settled in on Kimo’s restaurant on Front Street.

The sign out in front of Kimo's

The sign out in front of Kimo’s

First thing as we hit the door, the hostess Sam spots my Blind Lady Ale House shirt and tells me how she just moved from Normal Heights in San Diego a few months ago, misses it a little but is enjoying island life. I use this connection as a window to ask about social dynamics on Maui. Sam told me most people on Maui she encounters are friendly, but the cliques of who is from Maui versus who is not do exist…and working in the industry she points out that the small town feel is amplified within her circles. She was super friendly and that’s always a good start to a meal.  So is this

Pretty self-explanatory I think

Pretty self-explanatory I think

Yep, that is tropical vacation in a glass. Everything you might expect to be true of that photo was true. Sunshine was everywhere, but only accompanied by mild temperatures. Even the pineapple was fresh, which I suppose is expected in Hawaii. Our server Amy, a Lewiston, Idaho transplant, was pleasant and had lots of recommendations. She mentioned lots of good facts for us about the area, talked about how she didn’t make it to other parts of the island that often.  She was helpful and liked to chat–our kind of server to be sure. The discussion was good and we took her advice on a few food items.

It was the right lead in to this

Calamari steak pieces at Kimo's

Calamari steak pieces at Kimo’s

Having fresh calamari steak makes those chewy rings you get at most places seem like a very second tier food item. This was something I’d definitely recommend if looking over the app menu on a trip to Kimo’s. It’s fried, so that’s not great, but if you can look past that part, it’s a splendid start. We followed that up with a share plate of this salad

Very good and fresh roasted beet and goat cheese salad with grilled shrimp

Very good and fresh roasted beet and goat cheese salad with grilled shrimp

Surfing Goat Dairy is on the island, which we visited  on our last trip. The cheese, the varied roasted beets and the shrimp were perfect. Heck, even that crostini, often just tossed in for the heck of it, was bathed in fresh garlic and butter and charred to a nice crunch.  I am skipping the half a hamburger (the “paniolo burger”) both because it looks like any other burger you might see anywhere and because, to be honest, it was mediocre. It was well done (bleh, I do NOT mean done well), made with a pretzel roll (salty bleh), and not particularly flavorful (again, bleh, I tell you). What’s odd about this part of the experience is despite not caring for the burger and being disappointed I didn’t take Wife’s advice on the Kalua Pig sandwich, I still really liked Kimo’s. Maybe it was Sam from San Diego giving props to BLAH.  Maybe it was Amy’s funny story about how her $500/month apartment got electricity. I think, incidentally, the first two courses more than made up for a suspect burger. Honestly, in my normal burger world, they are competing with the likes of Jayne’s Gastropub, the original Linkery burger and more than a few off Erin Jackson’s massive compilation of burgers, so your average over-cooked unoriginal burger just wasn’t going to cut it. I don’t blame Kimo’s, they aren’t aiming for a great burger I don’t think, so I can’t be mad that it was, in the end, not great.

Putting a bow on lunch, we ambled back out on to the street to enjoy the many reasons Front St was given one of these.

APA Great Streets award for Front Street in Lahaina, Maui

APA Great Streets award for Front Street in Lahaina, Maui

This Great Streets award is given by the American Planning Association and described here.  The crazy thing about Front Street is that it felt very safe and inviting as a pedestrian, even though there were bikes and cars and people everywhere. My sense is the narrow streets slowed the cars a bit. That, and who really wants to get in an accident on vacation, right? So people seemed pretty vigilant about letting the non-motorized traveler have our way. My friends Sam of Bike San Diego and Kate of Walk San Diego would be proud. In fact, we saw plenty of these

Bikes on the street in Lahaina

Bikes on the street in Lahaina

Funny thing, slowing down the business district didn’t actually drive (pun intended) people away. It’s not fair, of course, to compare downtown Lahaina to massively less touristy spots like North Park or similar communities. But the point is worth noting. This massive Banyan tree surely didn’t hurt in creating shade and areas to have public chilling.

Massive Banyan Tree in town center that is surrounded by historic courthouses and other buildings

Massive Banyan Tree in town center that is surrounded by historic courthouses and other buildings

There’s a little market that opens here on Sundays, and a few historical buildings sprinkled about.  There is plenty of stuff to do to while away an afternoon.  Having completed our circuit of main street Lahaina, a jewelry store caught Wife’s eye and one more stop was needed.  Wife picked up some interesting jewelry in this shop called Sand People. According to the clerk (a St. Louis transplant), the jewelry we bought was made by a woman who was born and raised on the island and was native Hawaiian. I suppose this matters to me because so many of the apparently native Hawaiians are doing subsistence wage jobs, trimming trees and bussing and maintenance. All honorable jobs of course, but the point is I didn’t mind that we overspent on a couple things because it seemed like a more direct way to make the dollars count. I’d love a mobile app that let me sort otherwise equal retailers on things like how well they pay employees or how earth friendly they are. This would make buying decisions easier. All this random philosophizing made me hungry, but we had some time to kill before dinner.  A 45 minute walk and some relaxation under our belts, it was time to turn and head for Honu

CAM00767

This was my kind of place. Shorter walk than to Urban Solace back home for us, and just as much concern for supporting quality practices. As I mentioned in this post, values matter, but I don’t even get in your restaurant–at least not more than once–unless your food delivers, too. Given our previous experience at Chef Mark Ellman’s other restaurant (Mala), I was feeling good about our chances.  Here’s how Honu went down

Nice Mobius Cabernet we enjoyed

Nice Mobius Cabernet we enjoyed

Honu had a surprisingly good and broad bottled beer list and a decent wine list, too.  This was a bottle of a nice Möbius Cabernet Savignon. We started the meal off with these

The dim light was great for ambiance, bad for my photos, but here they are

The dim light was great for ambiance, bad for my photos, but here they are

This was the half order, which was a bit pricy at $7, but really a diverse set of flavors that we both enjoyed. (MORE ABOUT THIS DISH). We also shared this collection of macadamia raisin toast, goat cheese and greens that was just outstanding. The bread really made this one. A mildly toasted, salty backdrop from the nuts with sweet from the raisin was a nice vehicle for serving up the goat cheese’s strong flavor.  We shared a crab Mac and cheese, which was good but not great. It was big enough for more than two people to share and we brought most of it back to the condo.

Grilled mahi mahi in lemo caper sauce at Honu

Grilled mahi mahi in lemon caper sauce at Honu

The star of the show tonight was the grilled Mahi Mahi on a bed of red quinoa in a lemon caper sauce with fresh local vegetables. Unlike Sea House, here the fish was properly cooked and didn’t require any additional seasoning to bring out the natural flavors.  The entire meal had a fantastic diverse flavor profile and was really a dish I’d order again in a moment.  One of the things we’d really hoped we’d get quite a bit of on the island was fresh fish in interesting preparations.  This was both.  Nice job, Honu.  Day two ended exactly as I’d hoped.  Click HERE to return to the index and HERE for day 3. Thanks for reading

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s