The Best Restaurants in Maui
Maui’s culinary scene is having a moment, as a renewed interest in local ingredients—especially heritage ones—powers the island’s restaurants to new heights. Visitors may come for the sun and surf, but they’re lingering for the innovative food, made from ahi, coffee, coconut, kalo (taro), ulu (breadfruit), Spam, and beef raised by paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys). Forget pineapple on pizza, however delicious. Today’s best chefs are focused on Hawaii Regional Cuisine, a movement that started in 1991 to showcase the archipelago’s diversity. Expect to savor Japanese, Filipino, and Native Hawaiian flavors, often in the same dish.
1246 Lower Main St, Wailuku, HI 96793, USA
Maui’s quiet town of Wailuku is home to some of the world’s most artful doughnuts. The owner of Donut Dynamite!, who goes by her nom de cuisine “Madame Donut,” started the business as a food truck. In 2016, she opened this brick-and-mortar location after she won the “Backyard Barbecue” episode of the Cooking Channel’s Sugar Showdown. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, she brings a high-concept approach to her signature sweets, with standout flavors including bacon-maple, cheesy hammy, and a lush purple number featuring Molokai sweet potato and poi (a Native Hawaiian staple made from taro roots). Don’t miss the legendary Cinnamon Toasty Crunchy, topped with finely diced croutons made in-house, and be sure to get to the shop early—it opens at 6 a.m. and often starts running low on doughnuts by 9 a.m.
3850 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753, USA
At this stunning restaurant in the Grand Wailea Maui, Lahaina-born chef Alvin Savella wows diners with bright flavors and striking plating. Start with appetizers like Cantonese barbecue-style char siu pork belly, squid ink bao, and ulu (breadfruit) risotto with nasturtiums, then move on to impressive mains like lobster ramen in red miso–coconut broth and free-range huli huli chicken with garlic fried rice and charred pineapple relish. Set in a lagoon, the round, thatched-roof restaurant—named for Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa—offers spectacular sunset views, so plan your dinner accordingly.
3550 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753, USA
Expect the unexpected at Ka‘ana Kitchen, set within the funky yet sophisticated Andaz Maui. Here, executive chef Isaac Bancaco draws from the best of the island’s bounty, using local ingredients in a mix of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, French, and Native Hawaiian cuisine. Think breadfruit hush puppies, Kona clams with savory malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts), and ahi tataki with burrata and lilikoi (passion fruit), enhanced only by the restaurant’s sweeping coastal views. You don’t need to change out of casualwear to dine here, but Bancaco has a knack for turning meals into events, inspiring diners to dress up a little.
845 Front St a, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
This airy, oceanfront restaurant can get crowded, so expect a wait whenever you go. It’s worth it, however, for the stellar menu of Hawaiian seafood dishes, plus the tropical cocktails. Pair a ginger mojito or strawberry piña colada with pupus (appetizers) like macadamia-crusted calamari and soy-ginger ahi poke, topped with local Surfing Goat Dairy cheese. Then move on to entrées like citrus-herb grilled fish tacos or the coconut-crusted catch of the day. If you’re not one for seafood, there are also excellent burgers and a teriyaki sirloin on the menu.
3750 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753, USA
Hilo-born Sheldon Simeon realized the appeal of his soulful, heritage-based cooking as a finalist on season 10 of Top Chef. Once back in Hawaii, he opened the upscale Lineage in Wailea, where he’s earned a loyal fan base for dishes like kimchi dip, fried turkey tail adobo, and squid luau with creamed taro leaf. Cocktails here are equally creative, ranging from a mai tai made with banana milk punch, Earl Grey tea, raisins, and coconut to a cucumber vodka number garnished with huli huli chicken skin. Whatever you order, be sure to pair it with the chili pepper water, a condiment and digestive aid that’s served in a take-home flask.
1307 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
A pioneer of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, chef Mark Ellman showcases his thoughtful approach to cooking at Mala Ocean Tavern, a harbor-front eatery with dramatic sunset views. Come here for well-executed fusion fare like ahi bruschetta, whole wok-fried Hawaiian fish, and a vegan mushroom Bolognese pasta with local shiitakes, as well as signature cocktails like the Spa Day (cucumber, vodka, fresh watermelon juice) and the LBC (gin, passion fruit, basil simple syrup, fresh lime, and soda). Party animals will be happy to learn that the restaurant also offers a late happy hour each evening from 10 p.m. to midnight, plus live music and DJs spinning vinyl on Friday nights.
799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779, USA
Foodies from all over flock to Mama’s Fish House for ocean-to-plate dishes in a postcard-perfect setting. At this tiki bar meets restaurant, the fish is delivered daily by local anglers and many dishes showcase regional ingredients like Maui onions, Hawaiian chili pepper, and Hana ginger. As a young couple in California, owners Floyd and Doris Christenson fell in love with Maui while on vacation. In 1960, they sailed back across the Pacific, navigating only by sun and sextant, and anchored back on their dream island, where they eventually opened Mama’s. Today, the hot spot can be crowded and pricey, but few begrudge the premium for the fresh fare and stunning panoramas. Make a reservation well in advance for an ocean-view table.
1670 Honoapiilani Hwy #1, Wailuku, HI 96793, USA
Located on the grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation, the Mill House sources much of its menu from agricultural tenants on its surrounding 1,800 acres of land. Executive chef Taylor Ponte—who was born and raised in Upcountry Maui and grew up hopping the fences of many of the ranches he now works with—then uses those ingredients in a variety of dishes that honor the men who emigrated from Japan, China, Spain, Korea, Portugal, and other distant countries to work in Maui’s sugarcane industry more than a century ago. Standout options include mushroom croquetas, pork musubi, taro leaf risotto, bean stew, and coffee-glazed rib eye with smoked potato puree. Reserve ahead and consider making a day of your visit. Along with fine dining, the plantation offers farm tours, a boutique selling locally made art and products, and a free, family-friendly park inhabited by wild birds.
1280 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753, USA
When tragedy strikes—like the Paris terrorist attacks or the Parkland mass shooting—Nalu’s South Shore Grill creates mile-long leis from local ti leaves for those affected. Representatives then present the leis to the victims personally, while offering chants for healing. Oftentimes, the restaurant also creates the leis to celebrate accomplishments, like the return of the Hawaiian canoe Hōkūleʻa after its three-year, round-the-world voyage. Aside from being a beacon of humanitarian light, Nalu’s is a favorite for local dishes like poke bowls, island-style beef short ribs, and loco moco (a ground beef patty served over brown rice and topped with eggs, homemade gravy, and black lava salt). If you want to give back, order the roasted beet and goat cheese salad and 50 percent of the purchase price will go to charity.
430 Kele St, Kahului, HI 96732, USA
As its name suggests, this strip mall gem near Kahului Airport celebrates all things poi, a Polynesian staple made by steaming and mashing the cooked stem of a kalo (taro) plant. Come here for takeout or be prepared to wait a bit—the rib-sticking fare is quite popular with locals. Must-try dishes include ramen garnished with green onions, kimchi fried rice, and the lau lau plate featuring pork wrapped in taro leaves and slow steamed to perfection. Most menu items come with poi, but you can also opt to try it in a poke bowl or on its own as a side dish. The setting here may be modest, but nothing beats it for an authentic Hawaiian meal.
133 Prison St, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
Sister restaurant to local favorite Serpico’s in Upcountry, this sweet, welcoming spot serves New Jersey–style pizza in an old plantation-style house in West Maui. Tourists dine here, sure, but Prison Street isn’t overrun with overpriced rum cocktails or macadamia-crusted everything. Instead, the pizzeria keeps things simple with subtle nautical decor—a nod to Lahaina’s past as a whaling port—and thin-crust pies in variations like barbecue chicken, Philly cheesesteak, and the Windmills, a curiously named mix of Italian ingredients like pesto, mozzarella, and roasted red peppers. Also available are subs, salads, and calzones, all of which can be delivered if you need a break from dining out one night.
600 Office Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
Sansei offers what just might be Maui’s best sushi—a hotly contested title on an island with such rich Japanese roots. Housed in a plantation-style building, the restaurant lands on the contemporary side of things, offering creative sushi like panko-crusted ahi sashimi and the famous Kapalua Butterfly roll with salmon, crab, shiromi, and fresh vegetables. Also on offer are entrée-style dishes like shrimp dynamite, crab ramen, and the perenially popular Asian shrimp cake, crusted with crispy Chinese noodles and served with ginger-chili-lime butter and cilantro pesto. It’s food like this that led Bon Appétit to declare Sansei among its favorite Asian restaurants as well as one of the top sushi bars in America.
360 Papa Pl, Kahului, HI 96732, USA
At Tin Roof, diners can witness Top Chef finalist Sheldon Simeon joyously connecting with his Hilo roots. The counter-service spot—run by Simeon and his wife, Janice, a talented artist who designed the restaurant’s distinctive doors—serves traditional Hawaiian dishes made with local ingredients. Order online ahead of time because the lines can get intense, and make sure to get the garlic shrimp and the mochiko chicken (marinated overnight in ginger, sake, and shoyu, then covered in a sweet mochiko batter, fried twice, and topped with house-made su-miso sauce, gochujang aioli, and mochi crunch). For dessert, don’t miss the mango pono pie, which features a breadfruit-thickened custard inside a crumb-style crust with powdered coconut and macadamia nuts.
820 Olowalu Village Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
Some of Maui’s best food lies in a turnout between Kahului Airport and the old whaling town of Lahaina. At Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, the line often trails out the door, but it moves quickly—and everyone agrees it’s worth the wait, especially for the dreamy pies in flavors like pineapple-macadamia, local Olowalu lime, and chocolate-haupia (coconut). Also available are savory hand pies in mushroom, carnitas, and vegetarian versions, as well as salads, hoagies, hot dogs, and even adult beverages (some of which feature Leoda’s famous house-made lemonade).