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Best bets for dining in Maui

Best bets for dining in Maui: (tel. ): Fasten your seat belts food fans: This is one of the hottest, most creative chefs to come to Hawaii in decades. Australian Chef Antony Scholtmeyer, operating out of the , is dishing out a blend of flavors and textures like crispy-skin moi (the Hawaiian fish of royalty) or honey-roasted duck breast.
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The Banyan Tree Restaurant (tel. 808/669-6200): Fasten your seat belts food fans: This is one of the hottest, most creative chefs to come to Hawaii in decades. Australian Chef Antony Scholtmeyer, operating out of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, is dishing out a blend of flavors and textures like crispy-skin moi (the Hawaiian fish of royalty) or honey-roasted duck breast.

Mañana Garage (tel. 808/873-0220): It's great fun dining here, and the food is fantastic, too. Tuck into fabulous arepas (cornmeal-cheese griddle cakes with smoked salmon), fried green tomatoes, excellent ceviche, and a host of new flavors in an ambience of spirited color and industrial edge. You'll dine among vertical garage doors, hubcap table bases, cobalt walls, and chrome accents, with Buena Vista Social Club on the sound system and very hip servers who will bring you the best desserts in this neck of the woods -- Kahului, of all places! The chef, Tom Lelli, came here from Haliimaile General Store.

A Saigon Cafe (tel. 808/243-9560): Jennifer Nguyen's unmarked dining room in an odd corner of Wailuku is always packed, a tribute to her clean, crisp Vietnamese cuisine -- and the Maui grapevine. Grab a round of rice paper and wrap your own Vietnamese "burrito" of tofu, noodles, and vegetables.

AK's Café (808/244-8774; Chef Elaine Rothermel has a winner with this tiny cafe in the industrial district of Wailuku. It may be slightly off the tourist path, and the decor isn't much to look at, but it is well worth the effort to find this delicious eatery, with creative cuisine coming out of the kitchen -- most of it healthy. Prices are so eye-poppingly cheap, you might find yourself wandering back here again during your vacation.

Café O'Lei (tel. 808/661-9491): The delicious, creative cuisine of Dana Pastula, who managed fancy restaurants on Lanai and in Wailea before opening her own, has two restaurants serving her fresh, healthy cuisine: Café O'Lei Lahaina and the Ma'alaea Grill. For reasonably priced, interesting, and memorable meals, don't miss the chance to eat at the O'Leis.

David Paul's Lahaina Grill (tel. 808/667-5117): Tirelessly popular and universally appreciated for its high quality, David Paul's is still most folks' favorite Maui eatery -- even without David Paul. No one seems to tire of the Kalua duck he turned into a Maui institution, or the Kona coffee-roasted rack of lamb, or the much-imitated tequila shrimp. The menu changes often, but thank goodness the room doesn't; its pressed-tin ceilings and 1890s decor continue to intrigue.

Old Lahaina Luau (tel. 800/248-5828 or 808/667-1998): It's not exactly a restaurant, but it's certainly an unforgettable dining experience. Maui's best luau serves top-quality food that's as much Pacific Rim as authentically Hawaiian, served from an open-air thatched structure. It's one-third entertainment, one-third good food, and one-third ambience.

Gerard's (tel. 808/661-8939): Proving that French is fabulous, particularly in the land of sushi and sashimi, Gerard Reversade is the Gallic gastronome who delivers ecstasy with every bite. From the rack of lamb to the spinach salad and oyster mushrooms in puff pastry, every meal is memorable. The fairy lights on the veranda in the balmy outdoor Lahaina setting are the icing on the gâteau.

Swan Court (tel. 808/661-1234): For a romantic setting with candlelight, a Japanese garden, and swans gliding by serenely, this is the ticket. It isn't often that I find a fine dining experience in a hotel that is terrific, but this is the exception to the rule. In addition to excellent seafood, impeccable service, and a dreamy ocean view, Swan Court is a wonderful change of pace, a year-round Valentine dinner where you can dress up and impress your date.

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Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar (tel. 808/661-VINO): Probably the best Italian food on Maui is served at this exquisite restaurant, overlooking the rolling hills of the Kapalua Golf Course. The surprise is that it's run by two Japanese guys -- D. K. Kodama, chef and owner of Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, and master sommelier Chuck Furuya. The two teamed up to create this culinary adventure for foodies. Every dish is perfectly paired with wine (the wine list alone features more than 150 selections, many of them estate wines exclusive to Vino). The menu changes constantly but always has homemade pastas and seafood masterpieces.

Sansei Seafood Restaurant (tel. 808/669-6286 in Kapalua and 808/879-0004 in Kihei): Relentlessly popular, Sansei serves sushi and then some: hand rolls warm and cold, udon and ramen, and the signature Asian rock-shrimp cake with the oh-so-complex lime chili butter and cilantro pesto. This Kapalua choice is flavor central -- simplicity is not the strong suit, so be prepared for some busy tasting. Another branch has opened in Kihei.

Plantation House Restaurant (tel. 808/669-6299): At Plantation House, there are teak tables, a fireplace, open sides, mountain and ocean views, and chef Alex Stanislaw's love for Mediterranean flavors and preparations. It's a friendly, comfortable restaurant with great food from a breakfast of sublime eggs Mediterranean to polenta, crab cakes, several preparations of fish, pork tenderloin, filet mignon, and other delights at dinner. The ambience is superb.

Joe's Bar & Grill (tel. 808/875-7767; The impressive view spans the Wailea golf course, tennis courts, ocean, and Haleakala -- a worthy setting for Beverly Gannon's style of American home cooking with a regional twist (also see "Haliimaile General Store"). The hearty staples include excellent mashed potatoes, lobster, fresh fish, and filet mignon, but the meatloaf (a whole loaf, like Mom used to make) seems to upstage them all.

Moana Bakery & Cafe (tel. 808/579-9999): In the unlikely location of Paia, the Moana gets high marks for its stylish concrete floors, high ceilings, booths and cafe tables, and fabulous food. Don Ritchey, formerly a chef at Haliimaile General Store, has created the perfect Paia eatery, a casual bakery-cafe that highlights his stellar skills. It may not look like much from the outside, but don't be fooled. This innovative eatery serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers live entertainment at night.

Haliimaile General Store (tel. 808/572-2666): More than a decade later, Bev Gannon, one of the 12 original Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs, is still going strong at her foodie haven in the pineapple fields. You'll dine at tables set on old wood floors under high ceilings. The food, a blend of eclectic American with ethnic touches, bridges Hawaii with Gannon's Texas roots and puts an innovative spin on Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Examples include sashimi napoleon and the house salad -- island greens with mandarin oranges, onions, toasted walnuts, and blue-cheese crumble.

Casanova Italian Restaurant (tel. 808/572-0220): Yes, I still love Casanova in upcountry Makawao, and for more than one reason: garlic spinach topped with Parmesan and pine nuts, polenta with radicchio, tiramisu, and the spaghetti fradiavolo. This is pasta heaven and the center of nightlife on this half of the island.

Henry Clay's Rotisserie (Hotel Lanai, Lanai City; tel. 808/565-7211): Henry Clay Richardson, a New Orleans native, has made some welcome changes to Lanai's dining landscape with his rustic inn in the middle of Lanai City. The menu focuses on French country fare: fresh meats, seafood, and local produce in assertive preparations. The decor consists of plates on the pine-paneled walls, chintz curtains, peach tablecloths and hunter-green napkins, and a roaring fireplace.

Pele's Other Garden (tel. 808/565-9628): You do not have to spend a fortune at the high-priced eateries at the two resorts on Lanai; this charming bistro in the heart of Lanai City has a full-scale New York deli (yummy pizzas), and you can also get box lunches and picnic baskets to go. Dinner is now served on china on cloth-covered tables -- a real dining room!

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.

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