The Best Restaurants on Maui

The Valley Isle embraces a mélange of food influences, highlighted by an abudance of fresh fish and locally sourced produce; eat like a local at a mom-and-pop noodle house, cool down with a tropical fruit shave ice, and splurge on a dinner with unmatched views.

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.
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.
790 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
Once a delicacy of Japanese royalty, shave ice went mainstream in the 1920s. The refreshing treat then crossed the Pacific with immigrants—workers bound for the sugar plantations and pineapple fields of Hawaii. Now a classic way to cool down in the islands, this sweet is more than a mere snow cone. Ice made from filtered water is shaved instead of ground, so the texture resembles a delicate snowfall in your mouth. Ululani’s goes a step further by using pure cane sugar and premium purees made in-house. Among its most popular blends are the Haleakalā (coconut and Leche topped with cream) and the Sunset Beach (guava, mango, passion fruit, and orange). The chain has six outlets around Maui, including one at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort, and one in Kailua-Kona on Hawai’i Island.
3674 Baldwin Ave, Makawao, HI 96768, USA
Opened in 1916, this Upcountry Maui icon draws hordes of locals and savvy tourists with its racks of sweets, including legendary cream puffs and amazing stick doughnuts. The menu here also features pies, rolls, bread, cookies, cupcakes, turnovers, and irresistible guava malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts), but the bakery is best known for its Long Johns—yeast-risen pastry bars coated with glaze or icing. Go early, as the crowds pick the trays bare by 10 a.m., and be sure to check out the memorabilia of bygone eras tucked among the postcards, pantry staples, and fishing gear for sale.
2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
Located along the Kāʻanapali Boardwalk, this breezy, open-air beach bar celebrates all that’s authentically Hawaiian. The menu is full of freshly caught Hawaii fish, chicken and pork from local ranchers, and produce grown on more than 40 family-owned Maui farms, while the drink list features regional beers and even Lokelani sparkling rosé, made on the slopes of Haleakala at Maui’s only winery. If you’re more of a cocktail person, Leilani’s has those, too, including a mai tai made with freshly squeezed juice and a Paloma with house-made hibiscus syrup. Whatever you choose, don’t leave without trying the original hula pie—a chocolate cookie crust topped with macadamia nut ice cream.
658 Front St #160, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
Front Street, Lahaina, is home to two famous burger joints. One has an oceanfront location and the name of a Jimmy Buffet song, and the other simply has the island’s best burgers. While there’s no denying the popularity of famously-named “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, island locals and visitors in-the-know opt instead for Cool Cat Cafe. The title, really, isn’t all that subjective; Cool Cats has been recognized as having the “best burger on Maui” for an astounding 10 years in a row. This airy diner looking out over the Banyan Tree uses a trademark blend of seasonings and spices in their belt-loosening selection of burgers, and the bar is a colorful collection of boat crew who are cheerily drinking away their tips. For a Hawaiian-themed burger, spring for the “Don Ho” which is covered in a tasty teriyaki and pineapple. For a burger with avocado, the “Luna” features bacon, avocado, and melted Jack cheese, or test your taste buds with a spicy “La Bamba” where the burger is topped with chili, cheddar, and sweet Maui onions. The restaurant has live music seven nights a week and donates to the local community, so if you’re walking down Front Street and get a carnivorous craving, climb the stairs of the Wharf Cinema Center for a taste of what is officially the best burger on Maui.
5900 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
When eating at the Sea House Restaurant, it’s hard to decide what is actually better: the view of Molokaʽi across the water, or the Molokaʽi sweet potatoes used in the frittata. Either way, both combine for a memorable breakfast on the island’s northwestern corner. Opened in 1963 when tourists were just discovering Maui, the Sea House restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013—thereby making it one of the oldest restaurants in West Maui. Even with the history, fame, and ocean views, it’s one of the island’s most affordable restaurants. Most items on the breakfast menu will cost you $12 or less, and when you’re done with your meal, you can splash in the waters of protected Napili Bay. The Sea House sources many of their ingredients from local Hawaiian farmers (such as the Molokaʽi sweet potatoes), and they also follow traditional fishing calendars when choosing their fish for the menu. This is a great option for beginning the day on the island’s northwestern coastline and is a filling starting point for later adventures toward Honolua Bay and beyond. Or, just relax on the sands of Napili beneath the shade of a rustling palm. After all, there are only three hours between the end of breakfast and the start of the Sea House happy hour—an affordable menu that starts at 2 p.m. and has been voted one of the best on Maui.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure