Those looking for fine dining on Molokai will be disappointed, but if you just want something fresh and hearty to eat, Kaunakakai has more than a week’s worth of options, all inexpensive. For lunch, try Maka’s Corner, 35 Mohala St. (tel. 808/553-8058), which has a handful of outdoor tables and serves rib-sticking, local-style plate lunches (try the mahi) and satisfying burgers. Two doors down, at the same address, is Tiki’s Coffee Shack Corner (tel. 808/553-5488), which provides free Wi-Fi along with tasty panini, baked goodies, espresso drinks, and fresh-squeezed juices; order the kale smoothie if available. The lunch counter at Outpost Natural Foods, 70 Makaena Place, behind Kalama’s Service Station (tel. 808/553-3377), also serves juices, plus vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and burritos.
Consider balancing all that healthful fare with an ice cream cone from Kamoi Snack-N-Go , 28 Kamoi St. (tel. 808/553-3742); it serves more than 31 flavors of Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream from Honolulu, including local favorites such as kulolo (taro-coconut custard), haupia (coconut pudding), and ube (purple yam). Or wait till after dinner to go on a “hot bread run” to Kanemitsu's Bakery, 79 Ala Malama St. (tel. 808/553-5585). The newly remodeled bakery churns out pies, pastries, and cookies as well as sweet and savory breads. Kanemitsu’s in-house restaurant also serves basic breakfast and lunch items, with local touches such as kim chee fried rice with eggs ($8.75) and a half of local organic papaya (a steal at just $1).
Locals often suggest the cash-only Molokai Pizza Cafe, 15 Kaunakakai Place, off Wharf Road (tel. 808/553-3288), perhaps because it’s the only place to get a pizza, plus it’s open late (till 11pm Fri–Sat; till 10pm otherwise). We prefer nearby Molokai Burger , Highway 460 at Kaunakakai Place (tel. 808/553-3533), which prepares its burgers with island-raised beef; order the Kapakahi burger if you’re a meatloaf fan. It also offers dinner plates ($14) such as salmon, fried chicken, or kalbi ribs. Closed Sunday, the bright-white dining room is open till 9pm the rest of the week. At Elsa’s Kitchen, 17 Ala Malama (tel. 808/553-9068), home-style Filipino and local fare are the draw three meals a day (closed Sun); check out the pancit (noodle) specials.
Note: Paddler’s Inn is the only restaurant that serves alcohol (including draft beer) while the Hotel Molokai’s Hula Shores restaurant awaits remodeling, although you can order basic grilled fare with your cocktails from the popular Hula Shores bar from 4 to 8pm.
Elsewhere on the Island
Outside of Kaunakakai, the Kualapuu Cookhouse , Farrington Road and Uwao Street, Kualapuu (tel. 808/567-9655), serves a near-gourmet dinner, with entrees like prime rib or sautéed ono in lilikoi butter ($11–$30; cash only); still, service is leisurely, even for Molokai, with plastic chairs inside and picnic tables outside. (Note that the restaurant was up for sale at press time.) The Essence of Ohana espresso bar at Coffees of Hawaii, 1630 Farrington Ave., Kualapuu (tel. 808/567-9499), serves a decent breakfast and lunch 7am to 4:30pm (closed Sun), with daily sandwich or plate specials. On the East End, the takeout counter at Manae Goodz N Grindz, 8615 Kamehameha V Hwy., Pukoo, near mile marker 16 (tel. 808/558-8498), is the area’s lone dining option, which may make its burgers and lunch plates taste a little better than they really are.
The Hot Bread Run
When people on Molokai mention “hot bread,” they’re talking about the signature item of Kanemitsu’s Bakery an iconic island experience. First you have to find the bakery’s back door: Head up the Hotel Street alley past the bakery and turn left at the white awning; walk 10 yards past a few benches and turn left again; the window counter is just ahead. You can order loaves of hot (or warm) white bread and a few select pastries from 8 to about 11pm. Ask for butter, jelly, cinnamon, or cream cheese ($7 for two fillings, $8 for the works), and the bakers will cut the hot loaves down the middle and slather on fillings so they melt in the bread—perfect for dessert, breakfast, and several snacks, if you don’t mind the carbs.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.