Splurge: A midday meal at O’o Farm in Kula gives food enthusiasts the unusual opportunity to see their lunch’s origins before savoring the meal in an all-natural setting. First, guests are served appetizers while they meet and chat with the chef in the kitchen. Then they head out on a farm tour with a culinary specialist, who describes indigenous plants and helps them choose the ingredients—herbs, strawberries, mulberries, Maui onions, leeks, red beets and marigolds, among many others—that will be used to create their meals. They can even select the fresh fish to be used in their entrées. Finally, surrounded by farmland on the cool Kula slopes, they will sit down for their meal at a rustic picnic table (pacificomaui.com).
Steal: If you want great fish for a few (ahem) clams, head to Alexander’s Fish, Chicken and Chips, a local haunt located next to the outdoor market in Kihei (there are also locations in Lahaina and Kahului). These unpretentious, laid-back outposts’ motto is “great food fast at fast-food-prices.” Everything here, from the onion rings to the tempura batter, is made from scratch daily, and only top-notch ingredients are used. After your meal, shop for more bargains at the market (840 Wainee St.;alexandersfish.com).
Splurge: You haven’t done “I’m a tourist in Hawaii” until you’ve been to a luau, and the one to lust after is the award-winning Old Lahaina Luau. Set in an oceanfront area just a 10-minute walk from the harbor, this three-hour feast features amazing Polynesian food—everything from pork roasted in an imu (an oven in a below-ground pit) to haupia (coconut custard), all served at long wooden picnic tables on the sand. The torch-lit entertainment includes beautiful male and female dancers, in grass skirts and vibrant handmade costumes, who “tell,” through dance, the traditional stories of Hawaii, such as how the ancient Tahitians migrated to the Hawaiian Islands in canoes. It’s quite a show, with the Tahitian tamure, a rapid dance that is performed to pounding drums, one of the sexiest spectacles you will ever see (1251 Front St.; oldlahainaluau.com).
Steal: Saigon Café in Wailuku is a huge hit with locals. It’s even attracted a few celebs, including Barbra Streisand, Woody Harrelson and Clint Eastwood, who show up to enjoy delectable Vietnamese cuisine, cooked by owner and chef Jennifer Nguyen. Favorite menu items include grilled shrimp pops on a skewer, served in thin rice paper and complemented with fresh cilantro, carrots, cucumber and mint, and Buddha rolls, a delicious blend of jicama (a vegetable similar to celery), tofu, roasted peanuts, basil, Maui onions and carrots, wrapped in rice paper and served with a tasty peanut dipping sauce. To find the café, remember to look for the big star on top of the building—it doesn’t have a sign (1792 Main St.; 808-243-9560).