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Where to Eat on Molokai

Gourmands looking for fine dining will be disappointed on Molokai, but with a little strategizing you can eat well. Plan on cooking most of your meals if you are staying any distance from Kaunakakai. Note: If you arrive on a Sunday, bring snacks! Most restaurants and groceries are only open Monday through Saturday. 

Kaunakakai

The new restaurant at Hotel Molokai, Hiro’s Ohana Grill (808/660-3400), is a family affair, with several generations stepping in to serve local dishes with a little flair. The locally sourced fish entrees, fresh pesto chicken sandwiches and the banana lumpia Foster’s dessert have already won diners’ devotion. Paddlers’ Inn ★ (see “Molokai Nightlife”) is the only other restaurant in town that serves alcohol (including draft beer), which explains its popularity. It has an eclectic menu—beef noodle soup, kalua pork sliders, salads with local greens—and free Wi-Fi. At night, it’s noisy and packed.

On the corner of Hwy. 450 and Ala Malama Avenue, Molokai Burger ★ (www.molokaiburger.com; 808/553-3533) offers burgers and dinner plates ($14) such as fried chicken or kalbi ribs. It’s open Monday to Saturday until 9pm, with egg dishes and pancakes available 7 to 10:30am Saturday and free Wi-Fi. Next door, Molokai Pizza Cafe ★, 15 Kaunakakai Place, off Wharf Road (808/553-3288) serves standard pizza, salads, and burgers in a 1950s diner setting and is one of the few places that stays open late (until 11pm Fri–Sat, otherwise 10pm). Locals flock to Maka’s Korner ★, 35 Mohala St. (808/553-8058) for plate lunches (try the mahimahi) and more burgers. It has a handful of outdoor tables with counter service for breakfast, lunch, and dinner weekdays (breakfast and lunch only weekends). The quaint Store House ★, 145 Puali St. (808/553-5222), has an array of tropical lemonades, smoothies, pastries, salads, and sandwiches. (check the specials). It’s a great place to stock up before heading out on an East End adventure. Open 7am to 5pm weekdays and 9am to 5pm on weekends.

Sweets lovers have many temptations. At Kamoi Snack-n-Go ★, 28 Kamoi St. (808/553-3742), choose from 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). You can’t miss the lime green storefront of Kanemitsu’s Bakery ★, 79 Ala Malama Ave. (808/553-5585), a throwback to the 1960s that churns out pies, pastries, and cookies as well as sweet and savory breads. During breakfast and lunch hours, the attached restaurant serves typical American fare with local touches such as kimchi fried rice with eggs ($9) and local organic papaya (for just $1).

Groceries, Markets & edibles

Nearly every storefront in Kaunakakai sells groceries of some sort and you’ll want to visit several to stock up on specialty items. Start at Friendly’s Market, 90 Ala Malama Ave. (808/553-5595), which has a variety of dry goods and a small produce section. A few doors down, Misaki’s Store (78 Ala Malama Ave.; 808/553-5505) features fresh poke (seasoned, raw fish) and a few more vegetables. Across the street, tiny C. Pascua Store, 109 Ala Malama Ave., (808/553-5443), often has ripe fruit and jumbo frozen prawns farm-raised on Oahu—perfect for pairing with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Molokai Wines N Spirits, 77 Ala Malama Ave. (808/553-5009). Aside from an excellent array of adult beverages, you’ll also find gourmet cheeses and crackers here. For organic and health-food brands, head to The Planter Box, 145 Puali St. (808/560-0010). Nearly everything is shuttered on Sundays, with the exception of Molokai Minimart, 35 Mohala St. (808/553-4447), helpfully open until 11pm daily.

If you can, try to coordinate your shopping with the Saturday morning farmer's market in Kaunakakai (8am–noon). Several vendors sell homegrown fruits and vegetables. Otherwise, head to Kumu Farms ★★, 9 Hua Ai Road, 1 mile south of Highway 460, near the airport (808/351-3326). Famed for luscious papayas, the farm stand also sells organic herbs, vegetables, pesto, banana bread, and other treats. It's open Tuesday through Friday, 9am to 4pm.

Grocery shopping is very limited outside of Kaunakakai. On the West End, the Maunaloa General Store ★, 200 Maunaloa Hwy., Maunaloa (808/552-2346), has staples and occasional plate lunches for sale; it’s open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm, Sunday 9am to noon. Thirsty beachgoers will be glad to discover A Touch of Molokai (808/552-0133), inside the otherwise-empty Kaluakoi Hotel. It’s open 9 to 5 daily, with snacks, sodas, and microwaveable fare. On the East End, the “Goods” (convenience store) half of Manae Goods & Grindz, 8615 Kamehameha V Hwy., Pukoo, near mile marker 16 (808/558-8498), is open weekdays 8am to 6pm (until 5pm weekends). At mile marker 25, the Puu O Hoku Ranch Store ★★ (888/573-7775) sells organic produce, honey, fresh herbs, frozen awa, and free-range organic beef—all produced at the ranch. In the central uplands, Kualapuu Market, 311 Farrington Rd. (Hwy. 480) at Uwao Street, Kualapuu (808/567-6243), is handy for picking up a ready-to-grill steak (Mon–Sat 8:30am–6pm).

Elsewhere on the Island

Outside of Kaunakakai, the Kualapuu Cookhouse ★, 102 Farrington Road and Uwao Street, Kualapuu (808/567-9655), serves gourmet diner fare, with entrees ($11–$33) such as spicy crusted ahi with lime cilantro sauce and a Thursday prime-rib special that’s a local favorite. Breakfast and lunch menus are less ambitious but still tasty; sit amid cheery plantation-style decor inside or at covered picnic tables outside. On the East End, the takeout counter at Manae Goods & Grindz, 8615 Kamehameha V Hwy., Pukoo, near mile marker 16 (808/558-8498), is the area’s lone dining option. Smiling faces serve simple tuna sandwiches, burgers, and acai bowls for breakfast through the counter window. It’s open from 6:30am to 6pm weekdays and 7:30am to 4:30pm on weekends.

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.