Malasadas in Makawao: Maui Upcountry Road Trip

Leaving Lumeria, I pulled my rental car out onto Baldwin Avenue, the two-lane road that runs from Maui's beach-oriented North Shore to the more agricultural island interior. The journey passes sugar cane fields of waving grass, with sloping hillsides up to Haleakala on one side and sweeping vistas down to the Pacific on the other. My next stop: Makawao and the T. Komoda Store & Bakery, the Upcountry place to come for malasadas, a Portuguese dessert made of fried dough.

Once known for its paniolos (cowboys), Makawao has reinvented itself as an arts destination, with trendy boutiques, galleries and restaurants popping up in its renovated plantation-style buildings. Drawn by the colorful giclees of island life propped up near the door, I stopped at the Kirsten Bunney Gallery, one of several art galleries along Makawao's main street.

Road Trip Starting Point:
Exploring Maui's Upcountry

Inside, a golden retriever named Jazzy snoozed in the middle of the floor as I chatted with Kirsten's husband, Scott. He told that me that while Makawao might seem like an off-the-beaten-track location, the town is one of the few places on the island where artists can still make a living, as high rents have pushed locals out of Lahaina. The concentration of artists has its benefits, he said, as Makawao now has enough critical mass to sponsor a third Friday art walk celebration, as well as an organic farmers market on Wednesdays.

Such gentrification can rejuvenate a community. But I was more interested in a Makawao institution that's been around for nearly 100 years. The T. Komoda Store & Bakery looks nondescript on the outside, with a Coca-Cola sign that's ragged around the edges. Skip the crowded aisles as your eyes adjust to the dim light inside the grocery and go straight to the old-fashioned glass case that's filled with several dozen varieties of baked goods.

I had read good reviews of the doughnuts, stacked five to six deep on a wooden stick, as well as the signature cream puffs. You can only consume so many calories, however, and I had mine reserved for the malasadas. At Komoda, these sweet treats are tossed in sugar and filled with custard or fruit; top choices include guava and coconut, which win raves for their freshness. I chose the latter, enjoying the flavors as they melded with the cinnamon-sweet dough. Some cravings are worth the wait.

Maui Upcountry Road Trip Stop Three: Lavender and Lunch near Kula >>
<< Previous Stop: Starting Healthy at Lumeria Sanctuary

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