“I had gotten Molly and James first version of this book for our initial visit to Maui. It was a god-send in steering us in the right direction for food decisions both good places to hit and the “misses” to avoid. I had heard due to family health issues (of parents) that an updated version probably wouldn’t happen. Imagine my pleasure and surprise when just a couple weeks before our departure for a return visit to both Maui and Hawaii (the big island, which isn’t covered) I got the announcement of the release of the 2010 version of this foodie’s “bible for eating”. Since I found their calls and assesments in their original book so dead-on I didn’t even attempt any of the restaurants they had less than good reviews on with our recent visit. I was surprised there was a couple places we missed on our first visit which had gotten hearty recommendations that had fallen off the cliff, in that they were no longer rated well by James and Molly. So we simply avoided those. We were budget traveling and needed to keep the cost of our meals in control. If you’re a first time visitor to Maui, you may be surprised at general restaurant prices in Maui, where, for instance a pizza (14″ medium) can easily run in the mid $30 range. (we stayed in Lahaina, which has MANY food options and is a lovely walking town to get to many of the local spots).b Since our accomdations had a kitchenette, I walked to one of the recommended local grocery stores (also supplied in this book) and picked up items for breakfasts and snacks during our stay. Did we splurge on food? Absolutely. Selectively and with the guidance of this clearly written and laid out book. We attended “The Feast at Lele” and enjoyed every moment of both the private table service (no buffet lines, here) and show. Also Molly and James have strong positive recommendations to a meal/show combination that simply can’t be beat. We attended Ulalena and ate at Ruth’s Chris. As they say in their book, trying to describe the show is futile. It is something that simply MUST be experienced and any explanation of it makes it less than the sum of what it is. (As a note, I URGE you to pick up the pamphlet at the front counter of the theatre. It contains a breakdown of the various scenes that you will soon experience.) Simply SPECTACULAR. The meal at Ruth’s Chris did not disappoint. There is a “show combination” menu one can choose from, or there are “upgrades” where one pays the difference for more eating options. The experience? Exactly what one would expect from Ruth’s Chris. We also found out about an “early bird special” at Son’z at Swan Court. Located only a few minutes drive north of our place in Lahaina. Fortunately we can say our experience was much better than James & Molly’s. Maybe because we were there for their early eaters special (I believe it starts at 5:00pm, but check to be sure) the service was attentive and not over-attentive like the experiences that our guides expressed in the book. The food was wonderfully prepared and pleased both myself and my lovely dining partner (my mom). The price was amazing for both the view and the food. Maybe those that run Son’z have read and taken to heart the reviews of Molly and James. I hope our most pleasant experience wasn’t a fluke and others have a similar “nirvana experience” that is easy on the wallet. As I said, we were on a budget. So along with our splurges, we needed to find places that served good food that fit our taste buds that were more budget friendly. Upon our arrival to the island after flying in from LA we knew we’d be hungry. We’re in Hawaii! What is more Hawaiian than seafood? My first instinct was to go to Momma’s Fish House for lunch. But even lunches are pricey there. With the guidance of Top Maui Restaurants I easily located another option near the airport in the town of Paia. Fancy? Nope. Great food? Absolutely! Mom thought burgers had to be “burgers” (ground beef made into patties). So she was a bit put-off when she saw on their chalk-board menu the various fish burgers. I assured her that my “close personal friends” Molly and James recommended the Ono burger. After a long flight, I assure you there is nothing that will put a smile on your face like making your first stop in Paia (think of it as a “hippie town” with the Hawaiian vibe)… Very cool, very kicked back and this fish joint will please your wallet and your tummy! When we were through there we walked across the street for desert. Taking Molly’s advice we each got a small gelato after we each sampled several flavors to make that difficult decision. They provide “generous” samples, so one is able to get a whole mouth taste of each taster. I love mexican food, my lovely traveling companion (mom) doesn’t. I wanted to find something we could both enjoy. Again with the aid of Top Maui Restaurants 2010, we were once again pointed exactly in the right direction. There is a place very near “Cool Catz” that was rated well by our intrepid guides that serves local “plates”. I asked our server if we could split a plate (some places won’t allow it, others will with a separate plate charge). She smiled and said “absolutely!” With that we ordered an app of musubi and their house lunch plate with a couple Kona beers. With two sharing the plate, there was still food left over when our bellies cried surrender. There was a rice noodle soup, pork lau lau and kalua pork, along with the requisite two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. With the quality and quantity of food provided, this became mom’s “go to lunch spot” The variety they offered also ensured one would never get bored “eating the same old thing”. One day I was severely craving some mexican, so since there was a well rated mexican joint literally upstairs from mom’s new favorite eatery, we parted company and I experienced a family owned mexican place that fixed my craving and put a huge smile on my face. As Molly and James say “the food was made with lots of “love”. After I finished I rejoined mom as she was wrapping up her meal (she’s a slow eater LOL) Without the assistance and guidance from Molly and James, we probably wouldn’t have found either of these places and certainly I wouldn’t have dropped off mom one place to eat and then wandered off to get my “fix” of my mexican food. I guess that’s really what it comes down to. After reading their Top Maui Restaurants I feel like Molly and James are “good friends” that try really hard not to lead one astray. Have we met? hehehe, no. Though I see we missed their first Mai Tai party of the year by about one month. Not only will they guide you thoughtfully and safely through the mine-field of eateries regardless of your budget or food tastes, they will provide you with many worthwhile tips that will make your stay on Maui a better experience. Where to get the best poke or want to know where you can pick up some Maui Cattle Co. beef? It’s in there. Want to travel the world famous “road to Hana”? and like me wanted to experience it and enjoy the views rather than get frazzled while making the drive? That too is in their book. After our second visit to the island of Maui, with Molly & James guiding us much of the way, I can truly say their book is invaluable
Mahalo, Molly and James & Aloha”