Top 20 Favorite Maui Restaurants
When I travel, I like to know where “the locals” eat, don’t you? When you see a restaurant full of local residents, you know it’s got to be good! So, as a Maui resident, I’m sharing my “go to” favorite Maui restaurants list. These are places where I (and my local friends) love to eat. Places I can confidently recommend to my visiting friends and family.
- These restaurants are listed by region, and the order does not indicate any particular ranking.
- Many of these places are VERY busy, so reservations are recommended. But you also might get lucky with a walk-in, so don’t give up hope.
- This is not a definitive list of every good restaurant on Maui. There are many more. In fact, a few of my favorite Maui restaurants have gotten so popular, I can’t even get in anymore—so over time they have dropped off my “favorites” list. I find myself migrating to the following restaurants over and over again because they are consistently good. So, try some of these, but remember, there’s a LOT of great food on this island so get out there and discover your own favorites!
COVID NOTE: This blog was updated and accurate as of January 2021, but COVID-19 restrictions continue to deeply impact restaurant operations on Maui. As long as the pandemic continues, some of the restaurants mentioned in this blog might temporarily reduce hours of operation or offer more limited menus than usual. Please check with these restaurants directly to verify their operating status and hours. Mahalo!
FAVORITE MAUI RESTAURANTS
CAFE O’LEI AT THE MILL HOUSE: One of my favorite Maui restaurants, The Mill House, closed in 2020 due to the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic. Sad face. But in January 2o21, this location was reinvented and reopened under new management as Cafe O’Lei At The Mill House. Happy face! Same gorgeous dining room, trendy bar, and outdoor patio overlooking serene mountains and lagoons. But the restaurant’s concept and menu is completely new. Cafe O’Lei restaurants (see others below) have long been known on Maui for their good food. At Cafe O’Lei At The Mill House, they have introduced a menu that is a step up from their usual fare—more creative, more upscale, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious. I am so pleased to welcome this great new reincarnation of one of my favorite restaurants and am happy to report it is still on my “favorites” list! Located at Maui Tropical Plantation, Waikapu
SIXTYTWO MARCKET: This yummy new restaurant, owned by Chef Marc McDowell, made its debut just before COVID hit us, and — hooray! — they survived the shutdown and are back in operation. Open for breakfast and lunch, this little place serves up delicious and creative comfort food! (Pictured are two of my favorite breakfast choices–Stuffed Brioche French Toast and Bacon & Cheddar Bubble Waffle.) The menu at SixtyTwo MarcKet is updated every 62 days to capitalize on whatever fresh local products are in season. Located on Market Street in Wailuku
CAFE O’ LEI DUNES: This bustling restaurant, set on a golf course, has a solid reputation for good food, a comfortable setting, and excellent value. At lunch (which tends to be very busy), you’ll see a mix of business people, golfers, visitors, and locals lunching with friends. The menu of salads, sandwiches, and island-style entrees suits everyone. I am hooked on the Shrimp & Papaya Salad. Cafe O’Lei Dunes is located at The Dunes Golf Course, Kahului (Cafe O’Lei operates a similar restaurant in Kihei — see below.)
SEASCAPE: Love the serene ambiance and ocean view (pictured) from this comfy open-air restaurant overlooking Maalaea boat harbor. Located adjacent to (and operated by) the Maui Ocean Center aquarium, Seascape is within walking distance to all Maalaea condos. Awesome view, friendly staff, good food, plus Seascape gets bonus points for being a Platinum Certified “Ocean Friendly Restaurant,” serving a menu that is healthy, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Seascape is located at Maalaea Harbor Shops, Central/South Maui
5 PALMS BEACH GRILL: The view from the beachfront 5 Palms Restaurant is stunning, as you dine overlooking Keawakapu Beach. Consistently good food and service for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but this place really shines for its location. If you are looking to dine ON THE BEACH in Kihei, this is the place. For breakfast, try the Baked Pancake with carmelized bananas, macadamia nuts, and coconut butter. Delish! Located at Mana Kai Maui Resort, Kihei
MONKEYPOD KITCHEN BY MERRIMAN: Trendy vibe, with excellent food and dozens of craft brews on tap from around the world. Great appetizers and small plates to share, kiawe wood oven pizza, fresh fish perfectly prepared, burgers, steaks…and Monkeypod’s cream pies are legendary. This is a great place to order a Mai Tai (pictured)—they top it with honey lilikoi (passion fruit) foam. Monkeypod Kitchen is located at Wailea Gateway Center (Places to stay nearby in Wailea)
MAUI BREWING COMPANY: Hawaii’s largest craft brewery, this company has operated a small restaurant in Kahana (West Maui) for many years (and they still do), but in 2018 they opened a large new signature restaurant at their brewery headquarters in Kihei. It’s a winner! Love the design of this family-friendly restaurant, surrounded by the gleaming tubes and vats of their brewery; love the fun ambiance, the menu, the large bar area, and the vast selection of beers. Maui Brewing Company is located in Kihei
KO: A shining example of “Hawaii Regional Cuisine,” this restaurant is one of my favorite fine dining choices. An exquisite open-air pool-side setting is combined with a truly unique menu. The cuisine is “plantation-inspired,” meaning the chef has taken traditional multi-ethnic dishes from Hawaii’s sugar plantation days and added a sophisticated twist for modern-day diners. Locals love this restaurant for its sense of nostalgia–familiar favorites are reinvented and rediscovered. It’s “local food” gone fancy! Ko is located at Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, Wailea
NALU’S SOUTH SHORE GRILL: Let me just start with 3 words: Apple Brie Burger. It is delicious and served with homemade truffle chips. Nalu’s is a good choice for a casual breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For breakfast, try the Cornflake Crusted French Toast (made with Hawaiian sweet bread) or the Fried Chicken & Waffle (served all day). And order the Malasadas for dessert—five or six fat little malasadas in a buttery caramel sauce. Located at Azeka Makai Shopping Center, Kihei
(NOTE: At the time of the January 2021 blog update, Nalu’s was still closed due to the impacts of COVID. Stay tuned for the reopening! You’ll find updates here.)
SANSEI: Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar has, since it opened in 1996, set the gold standard for sushi on the island. The original restaurant is still in Kapalua (see West Maui below), with a second Maui location in Kihei. Featuring a vast menu of Asian-inspired dishes and contemporary sushi, Sansei goes way beyond a ho-hum California Roll with creative combinations of fresh ingredients and delicious seasonings and sauces. Sansei ranks in the top 10 of pretty much everyone’s list of great sushi restaurants in Hawaii. Located at Kukui Mall, Kihei
Reminder: don’t forget Cafe O’ Lei Kihei, the South Maui counterpart to the Dunes restaurant (see above under Central Maui). Some menu items are the same at both locations, but the Kihei restaurant has a more expanded dinner menu. Good food, good value, plenty of free parking. Rainbow Mall, Kihei (Great selection of nearby Kihei condos)
THE SEA HOUSE: Okay, just take a moment to look at that setting. Need I say more? Probably not, but I will anyway. Directly-on-the-beach restaurants are a rarity on Maui—but when you step out of the Sea House your feet are literally in the sand. This landmark restaurant has been on Napili Bay for over 50 years, but it keeps renewing and reinventing itself. Best known for its great breakfasts and sunset dining (no surprise there!) people forget the Sea House is open all day for other meals, as well. Good food, easygoing ambiance, incredible setting. My breakfast favorites: Molokai Sweet Potato Frittata, Homemade Macadamia Nut Cinnamon Roll (made with a flaky pastry crust), Pele’s Potatoes, and the fabulous Haleakala Pancake. Located at Napili Kai Beach Resort (Photo by David Watersun; courtesy of Napili Kai Beach Resort)
LAHAINA GRILL: One of the most acclaimed restaurants on Maui, and rightly so. Lahaina Grill does not offer a view, but the restaurant makes up for that by consistently serving up a truly extraordinary dining experience. Every time I have dined here, the food and service have been absolute perfection from start to finish. Fine dining at its best on Maui. Pricey, but worth every penny. Open for dinner nightly. Located in Lahaina town (Photo by Polihane Photography) (Stay at a nearby Lahaina B&B)
(NOTE: At the time of the January 2021 blog update, Lahaina Grill was still closed due to the impacts of COVID and planning for a February reopening. You’ll find updates here.)
HULA GRILL: Love the beachy vibe at this restaurant overlooking Kaanapali Beach. You can dine in the open-air dining room or at the Barefoot Bar — with your feet literally in the sand. Salads, sandwiches, pizzas (my favorite is the goat cheese version), and fresh fish preparations (“dock to dish”). Leave room for dessert. Hula Grill is famous for their Hula Pie, a massive slab of ice cream pie with chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge, toasted macadamia nuts, and whipped cream. Woohooooo!!! Located at Whalers Village Shopping Center (Great places to stay in Kaanapali)
MALA, HONU & FRIDA’S: I’m giving you 3-for-1 here. These three restaurants are located all in a row, oceanfront in Lahaina. They all offer good food and AWESOME direct ocean and sunset views (pictured, a table at Honu).
Each of these restaurants has its own culinary character:
Mala Ocean Tavern has an eclectic menu emphasizing local island ingredients.
Honu features seafood and brick oven pizzas.
Frida’s Beach House offers unique Mexican/South American cuisine.
All good, so take your pick! Located on Front Street (just behind the Safeway store) in Lahaina. (Take a look at these nearby Lahaina condos)
SALE PEPE: This cozy little Italian restaurant is tucked away off-the-beaten-path in Lahaina, but it is a gem and well worth seeking out. Great traditional Italian food and pizzas (the owner/chef is from Italy, so you can’t get more authentic than that). Menus change often to take advantage of seasonal fresh local ingredients. Awesome cheesecakes, too, but they are not always available so consider yourself lucky if you get to sample one! Sale Pepe is open for dinner nightly, except Sundays. Located at Old Lahaina Center in the heart of Lahaina town
TEDDY’S BIGGER BURGERS: These are not your typical fast-food burgers; a great deal of care goes into these delicious flame-broiled burgers, made to order exactly to your specifications. Teddy’s offers a comfortable old-fashioned diner atmosphere and awesome burgers, sandwiches, and extra thick shakes. Choose the size of your burger (“Big,” “Bigger,” or “Biggest”), sauces, toppings, and type of bun. You’ll get your own custom-made burger. Located in Lahaina Gateway Shopping Center
Note: Don’t overlook Sansei in Kapalua, the West Maui counterpart to the Kihei restaurant mentioned above. Sushi doesn’t get any better than this!
And check out these nearby Kapalua condos.
MAMA’S FISH HOUSE: An institution on Maui’s north shore since 1973, this is truly a one-of-a-kind restaurant. Set on idyllic Kuau Cove (pictured), Mama’s Polynesian-style ambiance is incredibly peaceful and beautiful. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a more gracious era of hospitality. You are never rushed, the food is delicious, the service impeccable, and everything is beautifully presented. Mama’s is not for those on a shoestring budget…it is unquestionably one of the most expensive restaurants on the island, for lunch OR dinner. But well worth the splurge. It’s not just a meal, it’s a truly memorable experience. Located just off the highway, north of Paia (North Shore accommodations)
CAFE DES AMIS: This charming cafe specializes in crepes and wraps, as well as curries, for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. The combination of Mediterranean flavors and Indian curries provide plenty of choices to suit all tastes. Try the Ham and Gruyere Cheese crepe or the Brie & Avocado crepe with Apple and Black Pepper. Or the Shrimp and Coconut Curry wrap. And of course the dessert crepes are scrumptious! Cafe Des Amis is located in Paia Town
THE FLATBREAD COMPANY: Wood-fired flatbread pizzas and organic salads. The flatbreads boast all natural ingredients (nitrate-fee, hormone-free, sulfate-free, free-range…you get the gist. It’s Paia.), with or without tomato sauce. Good stuff! Try Mopsy’s Kalua Pork, Punctuated Equilibrium, or create your own ingredient combination. Flatbread Company is located in Paia Town
KULA BISTRO: Yummy food, reeaaally large servings, and a tantalizing array of pastries, pies, and cheesecakes for dessert. Oh, and reasonably priced, too. No wonder this unassuming cafe is so popular with the local crowd. My favorites: Crab Cake Benedict for breakfast, Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Pesto Aioli on Focaccia for lunch, Chicken Parmesan for dinner…but really everything is good here. (Photo: No view from the restaurant, but this is the view of Central and West Maui from Kula Bistro‘s parking lot! Wow.) Located in Kula
Honorable Mentions for Upcountry dining:
La Provence in Kula is delightful. A small bakery with classic French pastries, and an outdoor garden cafe featuring a variety of crepes, eggs benedicts, and sandwiches on fresh-baked bread.
Kula Lodge is a favorite of mine, simply due to its fabulous view of the island (pictured)! In all honesty, the food is not exceptional (although the wood-fired oven pizzas are great), but the view is unbeatable. And wander downstairs to the cozy little Curtis Wilson Cost gallery – spectacular artwork capturing Upcountry Maui scenes.
BONUS LISTS: SPECIALTY DINING
FAVORITE SUNDAY BRUNCH
KAANAPALI BEACH HOTEL’S SUNDAY BRUNCH: The hands-down local favorite for a Hawaiian-style Sunday Champagne Brunch. This Brunch is an institution on Maui. Local residents love it for its great selection of popular local foods, plus more traditional brunch fare. Moderately priced, all you can eat, table after table of food choices, and live Hawaiian entertainment. This awesome buffet has been named Best Sunday Brunch on Maui numerous times by local publications, and rightly so. (Photo courtesy Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel)
(NOTE: At the time of this update in January 2021, Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s Sunday Brunch had been temporarily suspended due to COVID health and safety protocols. It will be back eventually!)
FAVORITE PLACES FOR SWEET TREATS
Komoda Bakery (Makawao Town) The melt-in-your-mouth cream puffs (pictured) at 100-year-old Komoda Bakery are legendary on Maui, and they offer other delicious baked goods, too. Go early and just hope they don’t run out of cream puffs before you get there! Check their hours before heading up there — hours are limited.
Maui Pie (Azeka Shopping Center, Kihei) – Featuring savory pies (chicken pot pie, quiche), cookies, turnovers, and dessert pies galore. Try the Mango Strawberry, Mountain Berry, or Chocolate Haupia (coconut). AWESOME pies!
Hula Cookies (Maalaea Shops) – Delicious cookies, made fresh daily on Maui. By incorporating local fruits and nuts, they have created some unique flavors like Honey Oatmeal Papaya cookies, Kona Coffee Chocolate Chip, and Pineapple Ginger Macadamia Nut. Love these cookies!
Paia Gelato (Paia Town) – 24 flavors of house-made gelato (Italian-style ice cream) made with fresh island ingredients. Lots of luscious local fruit flavors, plus more decadent choices like my favorite Big Island Macadamia Nut Coffee Crunch.
FAVORITE LOCAL “FAST FOOD” & SUPER-CASUAL EATERIES
Zippy’s (Wailuku) – Zippy’s is an icon in the islands, serving up local food for some 50 years. The restaurant has both a sit-down coffee shop and a fast-food/take-out operation. I prefer the fast-food menu. Zippy’s is best known for its chili (traditionally eaten with steamed white rice in Hawaii). I also like their Fried Noodles. And their bakery items are wonderful—the flakey Napple pastries, in particular.
Maui Tacos (Napili, Lahaina, Kihei, Kahului) – Mexican fast food with an island twist. Tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and huge burritos, with or without sauce. Love this place.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue (Wailuku, Kahului, Kihei, Lahaina, Honokowai) – A landmark Hawaiian fast food chain, decades old, specializing in local food and plate lunches.
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Candy Aluli, Publisher
Questions? Comments? Drop me a line: Blog@MauiAccommodations.com
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