Favorite Maui Restaurants

Maui Restaurants are some of the best in the world. Hawaii has an amazing variety of food from all over the world. They range from unique creations made with island flair to the simple plate lunch.

Hawaii has long been known as "the melting pot", because there are so many different cultures here. In turn, local chefs have done some very creative things with their menus. When you add this local flair to such things as fresh seafood, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fruits, and vegetables, you get some incredible cuisine.

This unique taste of Hawaii has emerged with a name of its own--Hawaii Regional Cuisine. It includes such novelties as rack of lamb with macadamia nuts or fresh ahi (tuna) with spicy wasabi sauce.

Many Maui restaurants use fresh produce from local growers, and this does make a difference. For example, Maui Onions are known to be unbelievably sweet. Try biting into one...Seriously!

Enjoy this video of Maui chef James McDonald...

Get ready for a truly mouth-watering experience... Here are my favorite Hawaiian Restaurants on Maui.

Best Expensive Maui Restaurants

Note--By expensive, I mean it will cost at least $20 per adult. This does not include drinks, appetizers, dessert, or taxes & tip.

My favorite expensive Maui restaurant is Mama's Fish House in Paia. It is about a 40-minute drive from Wailea, an hour from Kaanapali, and an hour and fifteen minutes from Kapalua.

If you want some fresh island fish, this is the place to go. Mama's menu actually names the fishermen who catch the fresh fish of the day. That's pretty cool! It is definitely a nice touch like everything else here...and they have a great spot on the ocean so get there before sunset.

How does mahimahi baked with a macadamia nut crust (pictured) sound? I loved the fish cooked in coconut milk and mango. It simply melted in my mouth! Reservations are required, call (808) 579-8488.

Note--Mama's is very expensive...we're talking at least $50 per person for just the entree. If you add a soup, salad, beverage, or dessert, you are looking at $75 to $100 per person. If you want to try Mama's for less, go for lunch. Mama's is for those that love and appreciate fresh seafood. There are other choices on the menu, but I don't think it's worth it to pay those prices for them.

If you don't like fish, there are plenty of other great Maui restaurants. Here are a few others I recommend...

    Maui Restaurants | Lahaina Grill

  • Lahaina Grill (formerly David Paul's Lahaina Grill)
  • --The Lahaina Grill was voted "Best Maui Restaurant" for the 15th consecutive year in Honolulu Magazine's annual "Hale Aina Awards". It is located in the historic Lahaina Inn in Lahaina between the Honoapiilani Hwy and Front Street.

    Lahaina Grill Chile Relleno

    Chef Jurg Munch prepares foodie delights like Kalua duck and Kona coffee roasted rack of lamb. Or how about crispy blue corn chile relleno stuffed with Hawaiian prawns, scallops and Monterey cheese, served on corn relish with avocados and salsa (pictured). Sound good? It is! Entrees start at $30. Reservations are recommended. Dinner only (808) 667-5117

    Pacific'O Maui Restaurant

  • I'O and Pacific'O
  • --These are two Maui restaurants located side by side in the 505 mall on Front Street in Lahaina. Click here to read more...

  • Roy's Kahana Bar & Grill and Roy's Kihei
  • --While in Hawaii, be sure to try one of chef Roy Yamaguchi's restaurants. He basically started the "Hawaii Regional Cuisine" or "Pacific Rim Cuisine" movements. Close your eyes and taste charbroiled short ribs of beef...okay now open your eyes and see what it looks like...

    Roy's has two Maui restaurants...one in the Piilani Shopping Center in Kihei and the other in the Kahana Gateway Shopping Center 10 minutes north of Kaanapali...both "shoppping centers" are actually strip malls. Food and service is always good at Roy's, but one thing both Maui locations lack is ambiance...so don't go expecting your typical $30 per entree atmosphere.

    Both Roy's Maui restaurants are open only for dinner. Reservations are recommended. Kahana (808) 669-6999; Kihei (808) 891-1120

  • The Waterfront at Maalaea
  • --This family owned Maui restaurant has been a favorite of visitors and locals for years. It is located on Maalaea Harbor just north of Kihei and south of Lahaina.

    They have great daily fish specials, any of which can be prepared nine different ways. My favorite is their "island style" way of preparation (sauteed with lemon grass, ginger, and coconut milk). Of course, they have different recommendations according to the type of fish you order. They also have many other choices besides fresh fish. Their Osso Bucco and Filet Diane sound scrumptuous! (808) 244-9028

Best Moderately Priced Maui Restaurants

Note--Moderately priced means it will cost between $10-$20 per adult. This does not include drinks, appetizers, dessert, taxes & tip.

June 2007 Update--Vino's, my favorite moderately priced Maui restaurant is now closed...I now have to find a new favorite on Maui.

Mala Ocean Tavern

2008 Update--I now have a new favorite mid-priced Maui restaurant...Mala Ocean Tavern. I didn't even know this place existed until 2007...I was shocked to be reading my mom's Honolulu Advertiser and see this place that I had never heard of voted "2006 Ilima Award Winner - Best Maui Restaurant: Critics' Choice". So off I went to investigate...Click here to read more....

Here are some other great moderately priced Maui restaurants...

    Maui Thai Restaurant

  • Maui Thai Restaurant (formerly Thai Chef Restaurant)--This great Thai Maui restaurant is located in the Rainbow Mall in Kihei.

    I know I need to try different things when I go to Thai restaurants, but it is almost automatic for me...Thai spring rolls, Thai curry (red, yellow, or green), and Thai iced tea.

    Tip--If you are going to Maui before May 31, 2008, go to their website at mauithai.com to print out a coupon for 15% off your bill of $25 or more.

  • Café O'Lei Kihei
  • --This Maui restaurant is owned by Mike & Dana Pastula, who have managed some top Hawaii restaurants before opening their own place. It is located on the second floor of the Rainbow Mall in Kihei.

    Maui restaurants -- Cafe O Lei

    MaMacadamia nut crusted breast of chicken with a lemon-butter caper sauce and asparagus mushroom linguine...mmmm

    I've only had lunch there and it is true bargain...their daily "plate lunch special" was only $6.95. The "Tempura Mahi-Mahi & Chips" was also very good. Dinner will cost about $20 per person...they are known for their Macadamia nut crusted breast of chicken with a lemon-butter caper sauce and asparagus mushroom linguine (pictured). At dinner, they also have a sushi bar.

    The Pastula's also own the Ma'alaea Grill, Fish & Poi. Although I have not eaten at any of their other Maui restaurants, I would think they would be very good also. Reservations are recommended (808) 891-1368

  • Stella Blues Cafe
  • --This Maui restaurant is located in Kihei. It used to be known mainly for breakfast and lunch, which is when we went. They have since become quite popular for dinner as well.

    It's a great place for the kids as well. They also have beef, fish, and vegetarian dishes. Their pizzas are cooked in a Kiawe (local wood great for cooking) wood buring oven like many other Hawaiian restaurants. It gives food a great flavor! (808) 874-3779

  • Kimo's
  • --This place is owned by the same people who own the very popular Duke's Hawaii Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. I never did get the story on why this place is named Kimo's...they have great burgers, sandwiches, and fresh fish.

    Kimo's Hula Pie

    They have a great location on the water in Lahaina. It is another great place for a sunset dinner with stunning views of Lanai and Molokai. Like their other locations, live music is a given and their "Hula Pie" dessert (pictured) is almost a legend. (808) 661-4811

  • A Saigon Café
  • --This Maui restaurant in Wailuku is extremely popular with locals. It is hard to find because there is no sign, but it is still crowded. If you enjoy going where the locals go instead of the popular tourist eateries, this is the place to go. Nothing fancy...just great Vietnamese food with some other choices as well. Don't forget to try Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk...ono (tasty)! (808) 243-9560

Best Cheap Maui Restaurant

Note--By "cheap", I mean a meal and a drink should be under $10.

Many places serve what is known as a plate lunch. The plate lunch is an island staple consisting of two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni or tossed salad, and your choice of an entree such as:

  • Teriyaki chicken or beef
  • Hamburger steak with brown gravy
  • Chicken Katsu (battered and served with a sweet sauce similar to BBQ sauce)
  • Breaded Chicken with brown gravy

  • Roast Pork with brown gravy
  • Breaded Chicken with brown gravy (pictured)
  • Lemon chicken
  • Mahi Mahi (fish)
  • Beef stew
  • Curry stew

Of course, if you can't choose just one entree, you can do what I do and get a "mixed plate". They range in price from $5-$8. Many places offer "mini" versions that are even less. These "minis" are more than enough for my wife.

My favorite cheap Maui restaurant is Honokowai Okazuya in Honokowai. Click here to read more...

Honokowai Okazuya -- Maui Restaurant

Here are some other great cheap Maui restaurants:

  • Da Kitchen
  • --This place is known for their plate lunches. They also serve sandwiches, salads, and breakfast. They have two locations on Maui (Kihei and Kahului), and one in California. Kihei (808) 875-7782; Kahului (808) 871-7782. Click here to read more...

    Maui Restaurants | Da Kitchen

  • The Gazebo--I was very skeptical when someone told me of a great restaurant in a condo complex...but The Gazebo is a great breakfast spot. Actually, they are only open for breakfast and lunch (until 2:00 p.m.). The Gazebo is located at the Napili Shores Condominiums a few miles north of Ka'anapali. Click here to read more...

  • Restaurant Matsu
  • --This Maui restaurant is located in Kahului near the airport. My favorite is the chicken katsu curry rice. This is basically chicken katsu with curry sauce poured over it. It's probably the best I've ever had...and believe me, I know my curry. Other places sometimes butcher this dish with either bad katsu or runny curry. Their miso butterfish is also excellent. People love their sushi rolls as well. (808) 871-0822

  • Sam Sato's
  • --What Hamura Saimin is to Kauai, Sam Sato's is to Maui...well, almost. This Maui restaurant in Wailuku is known for their saimin (ramen in Hawaii) and their manju (Japanese pastry filled with azuki beans). (808) 244-7124

  • AK's Cafe
  • --This Maui restaurant is known for their healthy and diabetic friendly food. They are located in Wailuku as well. Try the baked chicken prepared with lemon, garlic, and basil. (808) 244-8774

  • Ichiban
  • --This Maui restaurant in Kahului serves great Japanese food at very reasonable prices. I love tonkatsu (pork cutlet) so that is my favorite! (808) 871-6977

Not Exactly Maui Restaurants

Here are two side trips that will take you from "visitor realm" into "local realm"...and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time.

Sometime during your Maui Vacation, try malasadas and guri guri.

    Malasadas photo courtesy of mmm-yoso!!!

  • Malasadas are Portuguese fried pastries coated with sugar...but they are much more than that.

    To me, it's a comfort food that takes me back to when I was a little kid growing up in Hawaii without a worry in the world. Every local has some childhood memory of malasadas...eating them when they're still warm with a ring of sugar around your mouth...or getting them at the local carnivals from the malasada trucks.

    Take a trip to Home Maid Bakery in Wailuku and pick yourself up a dozen malasadas...now you officially have malasada memories. Malasadas are available from 5:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. and again from 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

  • Guri Guri is sherbet that has a creamy taste like ice cream...but it's not ice cream...it's guri guri.

    Guri Guri photo courtesy of mmm-yoso!!!

    I first heard of guri guri right after high school (nobody needs to know how long ago that was) when a bunch of us from Oahu came to Maui for a golf weekend. One of my friends insisted that we had to go straight from the airport to get some guri guri. Needless to say, I was hooked and we made a couple of side trips after that to get our guri guri fix...and took some home with us.

    The only place to get guri guri in all of Hawaii is Tasaka Guri Guri at the Maui Mall in Kahului. It comes in two flavors, pineapple and strawberry. Yum! Enjoy!

Okay, writing this has made me extremely hungry...:) Hopefully, it has done the same for you, and you satisfy that appetite when you get to Maui. Enjoy your culinary adventure in paradise!

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