Top 20 Favorite Maui Restaurants – ALL ABOUT MAUI Dining Tips
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. (Photo above: Sea House Restaurant by David Watersun, courtesy of Napili Kai Beach Resort)
Other great resources for “local-approved” restaurants here on Maui include the annual Best of Maui awards in MauiTime newspaper and ‘Aipono Awards in Maui No Ka Oi magazine. The Hale ‘Aina Awards are also presented annually to top Maui restaurants by Honolulu Magazine. These awards were skipped in 2021 as the preceding year didn’t offer a true testament to what the restaurants on Maui are capable of — all were busy navigating the challenges of the pandemic and just trying to stay afloat!
- 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!
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 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! Two of my favorite breakfast choices are 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
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
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. One of the first restaurants to mix up the Mai Tai classic by using egg whites, Monkeypod tops their cocktail with honey lilikoi (passion fruit) foam. Monkeypod Kitchen is located at Wailea Gateway Center (Note: there is a second location in Ka’anapali in Whaler’s Village as well)
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
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
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 (Note: there is a second location Kapalua on the West side of Maui)
PINT AND CORK: The focal point of The Pint & Cork Gastropub is the really swanky bar with dark wood fixtures and cozy bar bites. This is the spot to watch a sports game or catch up over a drink with friends. There is no view, but the atmosphere makes up for that. Located at The Shops of Wailea. (Places to stay nearby in Wailea)
Luxury dining honorable mentions:
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a: Named after the Hawaii state fish, this high-end restaurant at the luxurious Grand Wailea resort offers a very special experience. Humu (for short) is a consistent recipient of Gold and Silver ‘Aipono Awards from Maui No Ka Oi Magazine for honors in Pacific Region Cuisine and Innovation. Executive Chef Ryan Fox and his team offer artfully crafted Hawaiian cuisine set in an unforgettable beachfront lagoon setting. Open for breakfast everyday and dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Located on Grand Wailea’s resort ground in Wailea
The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea: For those interested in a luxury multi-course meal that delights your tastebuds, get a reservation at The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea — ranked in the “Top 10 Best Restaurants in Hawaii” by Open Table’s Diners’ Choice Awards. Located in a garden bungalow setting with bohemian-style canvas and wood decor and lush green surroundings, each dish at The Restaurant is artistically and intentionally prepared to provide a beautiful culinary journey through the island’s unique offerings and flavors. If you’re looking for an exceptional, unique experience, I recommend trying The Restaurant for your next dinner splurge! Located inside Hotel Wailea in Wailea
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. This is my go-to for Happy Hour with reasonably-priced dishes and free entertainment (the beach and people-watching). 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
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. This restaurant constantly wins the top awards for Best Maui Restaurant, Restaurant of the Year, Best Steak, and Best Fine Dining — to name just a few. 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 (Stay at a nearby Lahaina B&B)
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. During lunch, get salads, sandwiches, pizzas (my favorite is the goat cheese version), and fresh fish preparations (“dock to dish”). The evening menu offers specialty fresh-caught fish preparations (the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi is to die for) and steak/surf and turf options. 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 OCEAN TAVERN: This restaurant has an eclectic menu emphasizing local island ingredients. With a Mediterranean take on Hawaiian regional cuisine, coupled with a beautiful oceanfront view, this is a great spot for anyone! I appreciate the intimate size of Mala Ocean Tavern, where you can sit indoors or outdoors on their new lanai (patio) area! In December 2020, Alvin Savella, also known as the “Kitchen Assassin,” became Executive Chef of Mala and sister restaurants. He was honored with the ‘Aipono award for Maui Chef of the Year in 2018, with experience in famed kitchens like Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, The Banyan Tree at the Ritz-Carlton, and various Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Villa restaurants. 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
PLANTATION HOUSE: This restaurant would make my list of favorites just for the fantastic view alone! Nestled on a world-class golf course, the restaurant sits high up on the hill for a panoramic view of the ocean. I highly recommend this restaurant for breakfast or lunch, while there is still daylight. The food is lovely and the prices are very approachable, especially with such a nice view! Located in Kapalua (Check out these nearby Kapalua condos)
Honorable mentions for healthy lunch alternatives:
On the West side, my top favorites include: Choice Health Bar, Moku Roots, and A’a Roots. Read more about these restaurants and other heathy options in our blog How Your Maui Vacation Can Make You Healthier!
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
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
RESTAURANT MARLOW & MAHALO ALEWORKS: Born out of the 2020 pandemic shut down, husband-and-wife-team Jeff and Kaili created Marlow Restaurant, opening in mid 2021. This new restaurant has quickly become very popular with the locals! Marlow specializes in Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza with locally sourced meats and produce. Local tip: get a pizza to go from Marlow and head next door to Mahalo Aleworks for a beer and amazing view! Located in the Kulamalu Town Center in Pukalani
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. This restaurant was voted Best Restaurant in 2019 by Maui residents in MauiTimes’ Best of Maui. 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
KULA LODGE: A favorite of mine, simply due to its fabulous view of the island from the Garden Terrace (pictured). The food at Kula Lodge is not particularly exceptional (although the wood-fired oven pizzas are great), but the view is unbeatable. One of my favorite lunch stops when I’m spending time upcountry
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.
The Maui Cookie Lady (Makawao Town) – You will love ALL of her outrageously delicious cookies, now available (after years of mail-order only) at an adorable new fairytale-themed retail shop on Baldwin Ave in Makawao. But “Da Half Baked” cookie (pictured, cut in half) is truly phenomenal: a giant chocolate chip cookie stuffed with (are you ready for this?) a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Snickers bar, and Oreo Cookie. Oh. My. Gawd.
FAVORITE LOCAL “FAST FOOD” & SUPER-CASUAL EATERIES
Find many more options on our blog Cheap Eats on Maui.
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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