24 Perfect Pupu

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Lahaina Grill, 127 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, (808) 667-5117.

Tired of messing around with chopsticks over namby-pamby sashimi plates? We found a hunk of ahi you can sink a fork into at the Lahaina Grill. The Seared Ahi and Foie Gras ($29) takes a slab of seared tuna and tops it with a nicely browned slice of foie gras over a bed of wilted spinach, for a bite as smooth (and rich) as butter. The Maui onion and duck sauce add another layer of umami, while the fig compote is a sweet contrast. Dinner nightly from 6 p.m.  www.lahainagrill.com.

A mini hamburger is on the appetizer menu, but it would be perfect for children as an entree.

Photo by Ryan Siphers


Main Street Bistro, 2051 Main St., Wailuku, (808) 244-6816.

The Mini Hamburger ($3) on the appetizer menu at Main Street Bistro seem to delight both children and the young-at-heart. The hand-sized bun contains quality beef, with tomato, onion and lettuce —and yes, you can ask for cheese to be added. “Why isn’t McDonald’s this good?” our dining companion asked. “This was fast, cheap and so much better than a Big Mac.”  Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,  First Fridays, until 10 p.m. www.msbmaui.com.


Now you can't get this in Des Moines—the Seared Beef Polynesian from Mama's Fish House.

Photo courtesy of Tony Novak-Clifford


Mama’s Fish House, 799 Poho Place, Paia, (808) 579-8488.

As we were watching plate after plate of crab cakes march out of the kitchen, not one but two waiters leaned in to whisper that the Seared Beef Polynesian ($18) was their favorite pupu on the menu. Boy, were we glad we took the hint. Bite-size strips of warm, peppery beef come tossed with tomato, cucumber and Maui onion in mouth-puckering lime juice and garlic, all served in a grilled ripe papaya. We loved how the combination of flavor and texture opposites—chewy-crunchy-soft, meaty-tangy-sweet—came together in each bite. Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; light menu 2:15 to 4:15 p.m.; dinner 4:15 to 9:15 p.m. www.mamasfishhouse.com.



Spago, The Four Seasons Resort Maui, 3900 Wailea Alanui, WaiLea, (808) 879-2999.

Imagine if fresh, cool, raw fish were a kind of ice cream, served in a thin, scrumptious crunchy cone. We can’t think of a better way to describe Spago’s Spicy Ahi Tuna “Poke” in Sesame Miso Cones, $25. Rounding out the flavors are chili aioli, Tosa soy, green onions, pickled ginger and tobikko. Another reason Maui no ka oi?—this is the only Spago where this Wolfgang Puck creation can be found. Dinner nightly 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.