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Dry mein at Sam Sato’s
Photo by Bill Addison

The 23 Essential Maui Restaurants

Where to eat and drink in one of the most beautiful places on earth

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Dry mein at Sam Sato’s
| Photo by Bill Addison

Everything you’ve heard about Maui’s radical beauty is true: the undulation of the mountains and the lowlands, the cream-toned beaches that yield seamlessly to sea and sky, the volcanic rocks slicing through the million shades of green. Maui is larger than O‘ahu, though the forested reserves bookending its eastern and western points mean that its more populous towns are concentrated toward the island’s center — ideal for short, scenic road trips between restaurant-hopping.

Scores of dining rooms take advantage of the natural splendor, overlooking beaches or sitting along foothills or high perches ideal for watching pyrotechnic sunsets. But just as often, seeking out the most righteous meals in Maui means venturing to a plain-faced strip mall. A concise cross section of options defines this list: a handful of tourist destinations worthy of their popularity, a few locals’ hangouts for variations on traditional Hawaiian fare, and a requisite pit stop for pineapple-macadamia nut pie.

Update, Spring 2021: Maui’s post-pandemic restaurant scene is a mixed bag. During 2020’s near-complete shutdown of tourism, many favorite spots changed hands, downsized, or permanently closed their doors. Restaurants barely stayed afloat, often thanks to owners who filled every role from host to line cook to dishwasher. But a surprising number of new places opened too, some from laid-off kitchen staff who seized the opportunity to launch their own businesses. The “eat local” trend blossomed during the shutdown as well, resulting in new relationships between restaurants and island farmers, and a plethora of Maui-made products on menus and in grocery stores.

Note: Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, restaurants are currently running at 50 percent capacity. Do yourself a favor and book far in advance, especially if you want that sunset-splashed table.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:

$ = Less than $10

$$ = $10 - $20

$$$ = $20 - $40

$$$$ = More than $40

Shannon Wianecki writes about food, culture, and native ecosystems for publications including BBC, Smithsonian, and Hana Hou — the Hawaiian Airlines magazine. Growing up in Hawai’i her favorite snack was raw opihi (limpet) fresh off the rocks.

Part of the Eater Guide to Hawai‘i

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Star Noodle

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1285 Front St
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 667-5400
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This fan favorite has a new oceanfront address and is as popular as ever, so reserve a table far in advance. While Top Chef star Sheldon Simeon has moved on, his crowd-pleasing Hawai‘i-style recipes remain. The fiddlehead fern salad features crunchy, earthy polohe ferns, a local delicacy you won’t find elsewhere. The extra smoky broth in the hapa ramen is rendered from pigs roasted whole in the traditional Hawaiian īmu (underground oven) at the lū‘au next door. The ‘ahi avo is simplicity itself: cubes of ruby red tuna and ripe avocado kissed by lemon, pressed olive oil, and extra-delicate soy sauce. The bar also turns out refreshing libations like Asian pear with vodka, muddled calamansi lime with gin, and watermelon sours — all perfect pairings with the salty breeze. [$$]

A heaping plate of thin noodles topped with strands of scallion
Garlic noodles at Star Noodle
Star Noodle [official]

2. Moku Roots

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335 Keawe St #211
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 214-5106
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Everyone raves about this restaurant’s wrapping: Sandwiches come swaddled in ti leaves tied with banana-fiber twine, and drinks are delivered in refillable mason jars. But what’s inside the ecofriendly containers deserves equal praise. Try the vegetarian Rueben — brined eggplant, sauerkraut, and vegan cheese melted on rye — or the kabocha kale salad tossed in cardamom vinaigrette. Even the bar menu tilts toward the healthy, featuring a vegan colada with fresh macadamia milk and organic cane sugar. Co-owner Alexa Caskey harvests menu ingredients from her own farm down the road, Mala ‘Akala. If you plan on cooking later, pick up a farm box packed with a stellar assortment of fruits and vegetables for just $35. [$$]

A burger stacked high with taro patty, coconut bacon, avocado, cabbage, lettuce, tomato, red and green bell peppers
Vegan taro burger at Moku Roots
Moku Roots [official]

3. Sale Pepe

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878 Front St #7, 8
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 667-7667
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The restaurant’s motto, “This too shall pasta,” is perfectly apt for unpredictable times and for chef Michele di Bari’s menu. Most diners who find their way to this inconspicuous eatery on the backside of Front Street order the wood-fired pizza, and you can’t go wrong with the Bianca topped with sausage made in-house from Malama Farm’s Kurobuta pork. But it’s the pasta that tugs at the heartstrings: hand-twisted strozzapreti, wide ribbons of pappardelle, and tantalizing spaghetti neri studded with fresh clams and smears of spicy Calabrian ’nduja. Start your meal with an Aperol spritz, and you might just think you’re in Milan, the chef’s hometown. Dine in or order online. [$$-$$$]

A small stone bowl full of noodles in tomato sauce topped with shredded cheese on a dark countertop
Noodles from Sale Pepe
Sale Pepe [official]

4. Gerard's Restaurant

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174 Lahainaluna Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 661-8939
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Gerard Reversade began cooking under the tutelage of master French chefs at age 14. He immigrated to Maui, where he opened this charming restaurant on the lanai of the Plantation Inn in 1982. Rarely on the radar of trend-seeking food critics, Gerard’s is one of Maui’s most romantic dinner spots. Paired with a crisp Alsatian wine, chilled cucumber soup with mint and tomato sorbet is a sense-awakening start. The roasted snapper with ginger-orange emulsion represents the perfect marriage of French technique and fresh Hawaiian seafood. Reversade is a skilled pastry chef too; anything on the menu involving pastry (the French onion soup and the mille-feuille, for example) should be prioritized. [$$$]

From above, a pot of stew dotted with fish, peppers, and herbs
Marmitako (Basque ahi stew)
Gerard’s Restaurant [Facebook]

5. Papa'aina

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658 Wharf St
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 661-3636
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Chef Lee Anne Wong earned a fan club for her sophisticated, Hawai‘i-style brunch at Koko Head Café on O‘ahu. In 2019 she moved to Maui to found a harbor-front venue that matches the charm of her cuisine, setting up shop in the Pioneer Inn, which was once the haunt of whalers and Hawaiian royals. Traditional breakfast dishes get a gourmet upgrade: Fish benedicts come on sourdough muffins with miso-mustard hollandaise and striped marlin reeled in across the street. Breakfast ramen is a warm-your-soul bowl of chewy noodles, poached organic egg, and bacon. Toast bygone pirates with a pineapple mimosa, or get Miso Smashed — a bourbon cocktail with a spoonful of miso-honey, yuzu, and mint. Dine on the shaded, open-air lanai or order online, and be sure to check the website for special culinary events. [$$]

From above, a table laden with dishes like dutch baby pancake, a sandwich, a bowl of ramen, and a fruit bowl, with a bright plant for a centerpiece
Breakfast at Papa’aina
Papa’aina [official]

6. Fond

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5095 Napilihau St suite 115
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 856-0225
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Owners Jojo and Eliza Vasquez pour their hearts into this laid-back eatery tucked away in a Napili strip mall. For lunch there are bentos and burgers, and for dinner, flavor-packed roast pork and lentil cassoulet served in a cast iron pan. The Wednesday special, the FFC (Fond fried chicken) bucket, is truly finger-lickin’ good. But the real magic happens on Sunday night, when a five-course dinner doubles as a cooking class. Reserve one of the few seats at the chef’s counter to watch as chef Jojo shows off his brand of molecular gastronomy. For an amuse bouche, he might whip vichyssoise into a pillowy foam sprinkled with crumbled biscuit and caviar, then follow it with fresh Perigord truffle shaved onto caramelized scallops. Even at $120 a seat, it’s a steal. [$$-$$$$]

Takeout containers on a wood table, including a large bucket of fried chicken, a small cake, a vegetable rice dish, and steamed veggies
Fond family chicken bucket
Fond [Facebook]

7. Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

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820 Olowalu Village Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 662-3600
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Situated just inland along the island’s western fringe, this all-day restaurant puts extra consideration into American standards: French toast with coconut crème anglaise and local eggs for breakfast, with salads, sandwiches, burgers, and potpies for later in the day. Really, though, it’s the individual pies — flaky of crust and generous of filling — that make Leoda’s worth pulling off the road for. Ubiquitous apple-crumb or berry variations round out the selection, but home in on the flavors that evoke the place: coconut cream, pineapple-macadamia nut, and Olowalu lime. [$- $$]

Olowalu Lime Pie at Leoda’s Pie House
Photo: Leoda’s Pie House / Facebook

8. Café o Lei at the Mill House

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1670 Honoapiilani Hwy
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 270-0333
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The Mill House’s setting in the Waikapū Valley is so picturesque that it borders on comical. The patio perches on the brink of a pond, with the jagged West Maui Mountains rising in the distance. The restaurant is part of the Maui Tropical Plantation, a 60-acre facility showcasing the island’s agricultural diversity; the dining room displays evidence of Maui’s plantation past, with massive mill gears and two steam engines. Dinner standards such as lamb shank and polenta are satisfying, but it’s best to come for happy hour, when the valley is lit with glowing pastels and craft cocktails are just $6. Try the Plantation Mule with tart liliko‘i and Pau vodka. [$$$$]

Beef ragu
Bill Addison

9. Ichiban Okazuya

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2133 Kaohu St
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 244-7276

One of Maui’s few remaining mom-and-pop shops, Ichiban Okazuya didn’t just survive the pandemic; it expanded its hours. The plantation-era menu, which was perfect, remains unchanged, but the beloved local lunch spot now stays open until sunset, and customers can order from a takeout window instead of smashing in like sardines to the one-room kitchen. Plate lunches come with your choice of entree, side dish, and a scoop of rice. The chicken katsu might be Maui’s best, and the sauteed opakapaka (snapper) could sell for three times the price in a resort setting. Nourishing sides — nishime, wakame salad, and chow fun noodles — are even better topped with a few tempura shrimp. [$-$$]

10. Esters Fair Prospect

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2050 Main St STE 1B
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 868-0056
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Two friends launched this tiny tiki bar far off the tourist path in Wailuku. After a stroll around town to see the street murals, take a seat on the patio and sip on a tropical libation served in a ceramic mermaid cup. The Surf and Go Naked is a liquid slingshot of gin, liliko‘i juice, and IPA caramel, while Mercury in Retrograde mixes mezcal with absinthe and a pineapple-coconut shrub. Hit up happy hour, when the barkeeps pour classic daiquiris straight up for $7. Tasty bar snacks include fresh guacamole and charcuterie with prosciutto, triple cream, and pineapple jam. [$-$$]

A ribbed glass with a cocktail over crushed ice, with a bright flower for garnish, sitting on a serving tray decorated with spindly branches, in front of wood slats blurred in the background
Mai tai at Esters Fair Prospect
Esters Fair Prospect [Facebook]

11. Sam Sato's

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1750 Wili Pa Loop
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 244-7124

Locals outnumber tourists at this Maui institution, an always-busy diner run by the same family since 1933. Among affordable plate lunches headlined by beef teriyaki and pork spare ribs, the menu’s uncontested star is the dry mein, a satisfying variation on saimin (noodle soup) that’s been a specialty of the restaurant since the 1960s. Thick, yielding noodles, boiled and seasoned with soy sauce, come garnished with strips of char siu pork, scallions, bean sprouts, and a cup of dashi on the side. While paying at the register, order a few turnovers (or the round variation, called manju) filled with pineapple or coconut or azuki bean. [$$]

Dry mein at Sam Sato’s
Photo by Bill Addison

12. Tight Tacos Maui

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349 Hanakai St
Kahului, HI 96732
(808) 707-1221
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Reggie Ballesteros helped open two street taco shops in Portland before returning home to Hawai‘i, where his tiny walk-up window in Kahului’s industrial sector is busy from the moment it slides open at 11 a.m. to just after sundown. Tucked into hand-pressed corn tortillas, the rajas melt in the mouth, and the carnitas are fatty in the best, most flavorful sense. Make sure your order includes a scoop of esquites, and keep an eye out for specials like $3 taco Tuesday and the sloppy, celebratory plato de birria: three crispy tortillas stuffed with braised beef and melted cheese, served with consomme. [$]

Three crispy tortillas filled with juicy meat, stacked on a paper plate beside a disposable cup of consomme
Plato di birria
Tight Tacos [official]

13. Broth at Alive and Well

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340 Hana Hwy
Kahului, HI 96732
(808) 877-4950
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Inside a small health food store, the chefs at Broth ladle out wonderful bowls of ramen loaded with enoki mushrooms, broccolini, and char siu pork dyed pink with beet rather than typical food coloring. The ramen, along with banh mi and green bowls, is served until 5 p.m., but if you arrive before noon you can order avocado toast with lox, miso tahini, or curried chicken. The kitchen spotlights vegetables grown on nearby farms and happily accommodates paleo and vegan substitutions. The drink menu deserves careful consideration: It’s tough to decide between the matcha smoothie, fresh-pressed dragon fruit lemonade, and indulgent bulletproof nitro coffee fortified with coconut cream, almond butter, cacao nibs, and a coconut-based supplement called Brain Octane. Takeout only. [$-$$]

A bowl of brightly colored ramen in broth, with grilled kimchi, seaweed, soft boiled egg, and other fixins
Kalbi kimchi ramen
Alive and Well [Facebook]

14. Kitoko Maui

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Piikea Ave
Kihei, HI 96753
(808) 214-7582
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At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, French-trained pastry chef Cole Hinueber left Spago to open this miniature five-star restaurant on wheels in a Kīhei parking lot. In a monogrammed chef’s coat, Hinueber toasts wakame-flecked focaccia on a binchotan grill for the base of an open-faced ‘ahi Reuben. His bentos are edible jewel boxes packed with braised beef, seared swordfish, or tofu alongside nori-wrapped rice, market-fresh vegetables, and dollops of wasabi-pea puree. Don’t skip dessert here: Rich cacao sorbet comes in a hollowed-out cacao pod. It’s best paired with the financier topped with liliko‘i sauce, toasted meringue teardrops, and Thai basil from the chef’s garden. [$$]

15. Tin Roof

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360 Papa Pl y
Kahului, HI 96732
(808) 868-0753
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Top Chef alum Sheldon Simeon and his wife, Janice, opened their daytime noodle shop in spring 2016, and lines have been snaking out the door ever since. They serve highly customizable bowls with a base of white rice, brown rice, or garlic noodles (the clear winner), crowned with fried chicken thighs, garlic shrimp, poke, or pork belly. Check the board by the register (or Tin Roof’s Instagram) for daily specials, which frequently reflect Simeon’s Filipino heritage, like sarciado, a fish dish that includes egg and tomato. The restaurant is takeout only; take your goodies over to the picnic benches at nearby Kanaha Beach. [$$]

“Seldon’s Go-To Meal” with pork belly and garlic noodles at Tin Roof
Photo by Bill Addison

16. Poi by the Pound

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430 Kele St
Kahului, HI 96732
(808) 283-9381
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Less than two miles from Kahului Airport and hidden in a strip mall ringed by car dealerships, Poi by the Pound serves definitive versions of casual Hawaiian classics: loco moco, saimin, kālua pork with cabbage. Breakfast veers into pancake and omelet territory; a grilled ribeye, with sides of kimchi and sweet rolls, will tempt at dinnertime. The restaurant’s centerpiece is its Hawaiian Plate, a feast of kālua pork, pork laulau (wrapped in fragrant taro leaves), chicken long rice in a gingery broth, tomato-laced lomi salmon, the requisite rice and macaroni salad, and, per the restaurant’s name, a cup of unusually creamy poi. [$$$]

Hawaiian Plate at Poi By The Pound
Photo by Bill Addison

17. Ka‘ana Kitchen

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3550 Wailea Alanui Dr
Wailea, HI 96753
(808) 573-1234
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At this standout among the island’s hundreds of hotel restaurants, Maui native Isaac Bancaco deftly channels Hawaiian flavors into modern American plates: ‘Ahi tataki meets caprese salad in a clever synthesis that includes tomatoes, burrata, and liliko‘i. Squares of fried mochi and a cornflake coating add textural dimensions to crackly fried chicken. Beer, wine, and cocktails receive equally thoughtful attention. Come early, though, for a drink on the nearby terrace bar; the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, where the restaurant resides, offers spectacular sunset views. [$$$$]

Ahi tuna with plums at Ka’ana Kitchen
Photo by Bill Addison

18. Akamai Coffee

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116 Wailea Ike Dr
Kihei, HI 96753
(808) 868-0003
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Akamai (which means “smart” or “clever” in Hawaiian) offers 100 percent Maui-grown and roasted coffee, including the award-winning Maui Mokka varietal. You can taste the quality in the cup, and baristas know their business. In addition to perfectly foamy cappuccinos and lattes with decorative art, they offer New Orleans-style cold brew with chicory and seasonal espresso drinks spiked with macadamia nut and butterscotch. To nosh on, try the sophisticated avocado toast sprinkled with microgreens or the Belgian waffle with berry compote. Bags of whole roasted beans are pricey but worth it. Beyond the brick-and-mortar cafés, Akamai operates two drive-up windows, one in Kīhei and another in Kahului. [$-$$]

A latte filled to the brim of a coffee mug decorated with the cafe’s name in cursive script
Coffee at Akamai
Akamai Coffee [Facebook]

19. The Market

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10 Wailea Gateway Pl B-106
Kihei, HI 96753
(808) 879-2433
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On an island nearly devoid of decent sandwiches, the Market Wailea comes to the rescue with a seared ‘ahi melt on a brioche bun featuring locally caught fish, and the Proper BLT featuring crispy pork belly, wild greens, and tomato on sourdough. For breakfast, the Green Eggs & Kale panini is a delicious mess of melted provolone and whole grain mustard. In addition to the deli, the grocery stocks gourmet kitchen staples and local microbrews. [$$]

A cafe dining room, where two women sit at a high top table, with a cart full of packaged food nearby
Inside the Market
The Market [official]

20. Only Ono BBQ

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401 Baldwin Ave
Paia, HI 96779
(808) 777-9026
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Every Saturday, Only Ono BBQ hosts a dim sum drive-in at the Heritage Hall in Pā‘ia. Just text in your order by Friday night, arrive at your chosen time slot, and pay via Venmo or cash in a sealed envelope. Your food is brought to your car. The set menu for two costs $30 and includes a half-pound of what might be the crispiest, most decadent roast pork outside of China, plump and juicy siu mai, spicy eggplant, lo mai gai (chicken sticky rice), and four egg tarts so creamy they’re worth fighting over. Luckily you can order extra sides, including the tarts and the amazing pineapple jam-stuffed bolo bao. [$$]

A takeout container packed with chopped roast pork with very crispy skin on top
Crispy roast pork from Only Ono
Only Ono BBQ [Facebook]

21. Mama’s Fish House

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799 Poho Pl
Paia, HI 96779
(808) 579-8488
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Frankly, at first glance, Mama’s comes across as a tourist snare: idyllic beachside location, tiki hut motif, entrees with a median price hovering around $54. But the kitchen’s consistent, confidently restrained technique, honed by Maui-born executive chef Perry Bateman, justifies its international reputation (book lunch or dinner reservations as far in advance as possible). The Traditional Hawaiian — which includes fish and wild boar slow-cooked in a ti leaf, with sides of octopus lū‘au, poke, and breadfruit — is one of the state’s most elegant riffs on staple dishes. [$$$$]

Traditional Hawaiian Platter at Mama’s Fish House
Photo by Bill Addison

22. Nuka

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780 Haiku Rd
Haiku, HI 96708
(808) 575-2939
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The owners of Nuka turned an old Hā‘iku auto supply into a wonderfully modern izakaya and sushi bar. Order a few small plates to start: spicy edamame, miso eggplant, and kinpira gobo (slivered burdock and carrot dressed in sake). Then dive into a sashimi platter, where the supply of fresh tuna and snapper is bolstered by the owner’s own fishing boat. Or for a simple, satiating meal, try a Nuka bowl: fresh herbs and veggies piled atop rice and topped with ‘ahi katsu, blackened tofu, or shio koji salmon. Patience is necessary here; they don’t take reservations, and the wait is often long. [$$]

A plate of several pairs of fish and shrimp nigiri, and a maki roll
Nigiri at Nuka
Nuka [official]

23. Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread

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210 Keanae Rd
Haiku, HI 96708
(808) 248-7448

To make use of the island’s surplus of bananas, a cottage industry of stalls that sell banana bread thrive throughout Maui. On the road to Hāna (an extraordinarily beautiful drive that will melt the cynicism of even the most jaded traveler), Aunty Sandy’s sits at a jut in the road near Ke‘anae Point — happily, at the precise location in the winding drive where a snack seems especially appealing, so it’s little wonder the business has thrived for more than 30 years. Bakers pull fresh loaves from the oven throughout the day, so chances are high that your banana bread will still be warm. The stand also sells drinks and shave ice. [$]

Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread
Photo by Bill Addison

1. Star Noodle

1285 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
A heaping plate of thin noodles topped with strands of scallion
Garlic noodles at Star Noodle
Star Noodle [official]

This fan favorite has a new oceanfront address and is as popular as ever, so reserve a table far in advance. While Top Chef star Sheldon Simeon has moved on, his crowd-pleasing Hawai‘i-style recipes remain. The fiddlehead fern salad features crunchy, earthy polohe ferns, a local delicacy you won’t find elsewhere. The extra smoky broth in the hapa ramen is rendered from pigs roasted whole in the traditional Hawaiian īmu (underground oven) at the lū‘au next door. The ‘ahi avo is simplicity itself: cubes of ruby red tuna and ripe avocado kissed by lemon, pressed olive oil, and extra-delicate soy sauce. The bar also turns out refreshing libations like Asian pear with vodka, muddled calamansi lime with gin, and watermelon sours — all perfect pairings with the salty breeze. [$$]

1285 Front St
Lahaina, HI 96761

2. Moku Roots

335 Keawe St #211, Lahaina, HI 96761
A burger stacked high with taro patty, coconut bacon, avocado, cabbage, lettuce, tomato, red and green bell peppers
Vegan taro burger at Moku Roots
Moku Roots [official]

Everyone raves about this restaurant’s wrapping: Sandwiches come swaddled in ti leaves tied with banana-fiber twine, and drinks are delivered in refillable mason jars. But what’s inside the ecofriendly containers deserves equal praise. Try the vegetarian Rueben — brined eggplant, sauerkraut, and vegan cheese melted on rye — or the kabocha kale salad tossed in cardamom vinaigrette. Even the bar menu tilts toward the healthy, featuring a vegan colada with fresh macadamia milk and organic cane sugar. Co-owner Alexa Caskey harvests menu ingredients from her own farm down the road, Mala ‘Akala. If you plan on cooking later, pick up a farm box packed with a stellar assortment of fruits and vegetables for just $35. [$$]

335 Keawe St #211
Lahaina, HI 96761

3. Sale Pepe

878 Front St #7, 8, Lahaina, HI 96761
A small stone bowl full of noodles in tomato sauce topped with shredded cheese on a dark countertop
Noodles from Sale Pepe
Sale Pepe [official]

The restaurant’s motto, “This too shall pasta,” is perfectly apt for unpredictable times and for chef Michele di Bari’s menu. Most diners who find their way to this inconspicuous eatery on the backside of Front Street order the wood-fired pizza, and you can’t go wrong with the Bianca topped with sausage made in-house from Malama Farm’s Kurobuta pork. But it’s the pasta that tugs at the heartstrings: hand-twisted strozzapreti, wide ribbons of pappardelle, and tantalizing spaghetti neri studded with fresh clams and smears of spicy Calabrian ’nduja. Start your meal with an Aperol spritz, and you might just think you’re in Milan, the chef’s hometown. Dine in or order online. [$$-$$$]

878 Front St #7, 8
Lahaina, HI 96761

4. Gerard's Restaurant

174 Lahainaluna Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761
From above, a pot of stew dotted with fish, peppers, and herbs
Marmitako (Basque ahi stew)
Gerard’s Restaurant [Facebook]

Gerard Reversade began cooking under the tutelage of master French chefs at age 14. He immigrated to Maui, where he opened this charming restaurant on the lanai of the Plantation Inn in 1982. Rarely on the radar of trend-seeking food critics, Gerard’s is one of Maui’s most romantic dinner spots. Paired with a crisp Alsatian wine, chilled cucumber soup with mint and tomato sorbet is a sense-awakening start. The roasted snapper with ginger-orange emulsion represents the perfect marriage of French technique and fresh Hawaiian seafood. Reversade is a skilled pastry chef too; anything on the menu involving pastry (the French onion soup and the mille-feuille, for example) should be prioritized. [$$$]

174 Lahainaluna Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761

5. Papa'aina

658 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761
From above, a table laden with dishes like dutch baby pancake, a sandwich, a bowl of ramen, and a fruit bowl, with a bright plant for a centerpiece
Breakfast at Papa’aina
Papa’aina [official]

Chef Lee Anne Wong earned a fan club for her sophisticated, Hawai‘i-style brunch at Koko Head Café on O‘ahu. In 2019 she moved to Maui to found a harbor-front venue that matches the charm of her cuisine, setting up shop in the Pioneer Inn, which was once the haunt of whalers and Hawaiian royals. Traditional breakfast dishes get a gourmet upgrade: Fish benedicts come on sourdough muffins with miso-mustard hollandaise and striped marlin reeled in across the street. Breakfast ramen is a warm-your-soul bowl of chewy noodles, poached organic egg, and bacon. Toast bygone pirates with a pineapple mimosa, or get Miso Smashed — a bourbon cocktail with a spoonful of miso-honey, yuzu, and mint. Dine on the shaded, open-air lanai or order online, and be sure to check the website for special culinary events. [$$]

658 Wharf St
Lahaina, HI 96761

6. Fond

5095 Napilihau St suite 115, Lahaina, HI 96761
Takeout containers on a wood table, including a large bucket of fried chicken, a small cake, a vegetable rice dish, and steamed veggies
Fond family chicken bucket
Fond [Facebook]

Owners Jojo and Eliza Vasquez pour their hearts into this laid-back eatery tucked away in a Napili strip mall. For lunch there are bentos and burgers, and for dinner, flavor-packed roast pork and lentil cassoulet served in a cast iron pan. The Wednesday special, the FFC (Fond fried chicken) bucket, is truly finger-lickin’ good. But the real magic happens on Sunday night, when a five-course dinner doubles as a cooking class. Reserve one of the few seats at the chef’s counter to watch as chef Jojo shows off his brand of molecular gastronomy. For an amuse bouche, he might whip vichyssoise into a pillowy foam sprinkled with crumbled biscuit and caviar, then follow it with fresh Perigord truffle shaved onto caramelized scallops. Even at $120 a seat, it’s a steal. [$$-$$$$]

5095 Napilihau St suite 115
Lahaina, HI 96761

7. Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

820 Olowalu Village Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761
Olowalu Lime Pie at Leoda’s Pie House
Photo: Leoda’s Pie House / Facebook

Situated just inland along the island’s western fringe, this all-day restaurant puts extra consideration into American standards: French toast with coconut crème anglaise and local eggs for breakfast, with salads, sandwiches, burgers, and potpies for later in the day. Really, though, it’s the individual pies — flaky of crust and generous of filling — that make Leoda’s worth pulling off the road for. Ubiquitous apple-crumb or berry variations round out the selection, but home in on the flavors that evoke the place: coconut cream, pineapple-macadamia nut, and Olowalu lime. [$- $$]

820 Olowalu Village Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761

8. Café o Lei at the Mill House

1670 Honoapiilani Hwy, Wailuku, HI 96793
Beef ragu
Bill Addison

The Mill House’s setting in the Waikapū Valley is so picturesque that it borders on comical. The patio perches on the brink of a pond, with the jagged West Maui Mountains rising in the distance. The restaurant is part of the Maui Tropical Plantation, a 60-acre facility showcasing the island’s agricultural diversity; the dining room displays evidence of Maui’s plantation past, with massive mill gears and two steam engines. Dinner standards such as lamb shank and polenta are satisfying, but it’s best to come for happy hour, when the valley is lit with glowing pastels and craft cocktails are just $6. Try the Plantation Mule with tart liliko‘i and Pau vodka. [$$$$]

1670 Honoapiilani Hwy
Wailuku, HI 96793

9. Ichiban Okazuya

2133 Kaohu St, Wailuku, HI 96793

One of Maui’s few remaining mom-and-pop shops, Ichiban Okazuya didn’t just survive the pandemic; it expanded its hours. The plantation-era menu, which was perfect, remains unchanged, but the beloved local lunch spot now stays open until sunset, and customers can order from a takeout window instead of smashing in like sardines to the one-room kitchen. Plate lunches come with your choice of entree, side dish, and a scoop of rice. The chicken katsu might be Maui’s best, and the sauteed opakapaka (snapper) could sell for three times the price in a resort setting. Nourishing sides — nishime, wakame salad, and chow fun noodles — are even better topped with a few tempura shrimp. [$-$$]

2133 Kaohu St
Wailuku, HI 96793

10. Esters Fair Prospect

2050 Main St STE 1B, Wailuku, HI 96793
A ribbed glass with a cocktail over crushed ice, with a bright flower for garnish, sitting on a serving tray decorated with spindly branches, in front of wood slats blurred in the background
Mai tai at Esters Fair Prospect
Esters Fair Prospect [Facebook]

Two friends launched this tiny tiki bar far off the tourist path in Wailuku. After a stroll around town to see the street murals, take a seat on the patio and sip on a tropical libation served in a ceramic mermaid cup. The Surf and Go Naked is a liquid slingshot of gin, liliko‘i juice, and IPA caramel, while Mercury in Retrograde mixes mezcal with absinthe and a pineapple-coconut shrub. Hit up happy hour, when the barkeeps pour classic daiquiris straight up for $7. Tasty bar snacks include fresh guacamole and charcuterie with prosciutto, triple cream, and pineapple jam. [$-$$]

2050 Main St STE 1B
Wailuku, HI 96793

11. Sam Sato's

1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793
Dry mein at Sam Sato’s
Photo by Bill Addison

Locals outnumber tourists at this Maui institution, an always-busy diner run by the same family since 1933. Among affordable plate lunches headlined by beef teriyaki and pork spare ribs, the menu’s uncontested star is the dry mein, a satisfying variation on saimin (noodle soup) that’s been a specialty of the restaurant since the 1960s. Thick, yielding noodles, boiled and seasoned with soy sauce, come garnished with strips of char siu pork, scallions, bean sprouts, and a cup of dashi on the side. While paying at the register, order a few turnovers (or the round variation, called manju) filled with pineapple or coconut or azuki bean. [$$]

1750 Wili Pa Loop
Wailuku, HI 96793

12. Tight Tacos Maui

349 Hanakai St, Kahului, HI 96732
Three crispy tortillas filled with juicy meat, stacked on a paper plate beside a disposable cup of consomme
Plato di birria
Tight Tacos [official]

Reggie Ballesteros helped open two street taco shops in Portland before returning home to Hawai‘i, where his tiny walk-up window in Kahului’s industrial sector is busy from the moment it slides open at 11 a.m. to just after sundown. Tucked into hand-pressed corn tortillas, the rajas melt in the mouth, and the carnitas are fatty in the best, most flavorful sense. Make sure your order includes a scoop of esquites, and keep an eye out for specials like $3 taco Tuesday and the sloppy, celebratory plato de birria: three crispy tortillas stuffed with braised beef and melted cheese, served with consomme. [$]

349 Hanakai St
Kahului, HI 96732

13. Broth at Alive and Well

340 Hana Hwy, Kahului, HI 96732
A bowl of brightly colored ramen in broth, with grilled kimchi, seaweed, soft boiled egg, and other fixins
Kalbi kimchi ramen
Alive and Well [Facebook]

Inside a small health food store, the chefs at Broth ladle out wonderful bowls of ramen loaded with enoki mushrooms, broccolini, and char siu pork dyed pink with beet rather than typical food coloring. The ramen, along with banh mi and green bowls, is served until 5 p.m., but if you arrive before noon you can order avocado toast with lox, miso tahini, or curried chicken. The kitchen spotlights vegetables grown on nearby farms and happily accommodates paleo and vegan substitutions. The drink menu deserves careful consideration: It’s tough to decide between the matcha smoothie, fresh-pressed dragon fruit lemonade, and indulgent bulletproof nitro coffee fortified with coconut cream, almond butter, cacao nibs, and a coconut-based supplement called Brain Octane. Takeout only. [$-$$]

340 Hana Hwy
Kahului, HI 96732

14. Kitoko Maui

Piikea Ave, Kihei, HI 96753

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, French-trained pastry chef Cole Hinueber left Spago to open this miniature five-star restaurant on wheels in a Kīhei parking lot. In a monogrammed chef’s coat, Hinueber toasts wakame-flecked focaccia on a binchotan grill for the base of an open-faced ‘ahi Reuben. His bentos are edible jewel boxes packed with braised beef, seared swordfish, or tofu alongside nori-wrapped rice, market-fresh vegetables, and dollops of wasabi-pea puree. Don’t skip dessert here: Rich cacao sorbet comes in a hollowed-out cacao pod. It’s best paired with the financier topped with liliko‘i sauce, toasted meringue teardrops, and Thai basil from the chef’s garden. [$$]

Piikea Ave
Kihei, HI 96753

15. Tin Roof

360 Papa Pl y, Kahului, HI 96732
“Seldon’s Go-To Meal” with pork belly and garlic noodles at Tin Roof
Photo by Bill Addison

Top Chef alum Sheldon Simeon and his wife, Janice, opened their daytime noodle shop in spring 2016, and lines have been snaking out the door ever since. They serve highly customizable bowls with a base of white rice, brown rice, or garlic noodles (the clear winner), crowned with fried chicken thighs, garlic shrimp, poke, or pork belly. Check the board by the register (or Tin Roof’s Instagram) for daily specials, which frequently reflect Simeon’s Filipino heritage, like sarciado, a fish dish that includes egg and tomato. The restaurant is takeout only; take your goodies over to the picnic benches at nearby Kanaha Beach. [$$]

360 Papa Pl y
Kahului, HI 96732

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16. Poi by the Pound

430 Kele St, Kahului, HI 96732
Hawaiian Plate at Poi By The Pound
Photo by Bill Addison

Less than two miles from Kahului Airport and hidden in a strip mall ringed by car dealerships, Poi by the Pound serves definitive versions of casual Hawaiian classics: loco moco, saimin, kālua pork with cabbage. Breakfast veers into pancake and omelet territory; a grilled ribeye, with sides of kimchi and sweet rolls, will tempt at dinnertime. The restaurant’s centerpiece is its Hawaiian Plate, a feast of kālua pork, pork laulau (wrapped in fragrant taro leaves), chicken long rice in a gingery broth, tomato-laced lomi salmon, the requisite rice and macaroni salad, and, per the restaurant’s name, a cup of unusually creamy poi. [$$$]

430 Kele St
Kahului, HI 96732

17. Ka‘ana Kitchen

3550 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753
Ahi tuna with plums at Ka’ana Kitchen
Photo by Bill Addison

At this standout among the island’s hundreds of hotel restaurants, Maui native Isaac Bancaco deftly channels Hawaiian flavors into modern American plates: ‘Ahi tataki meets caprese salad in a clever synthesis that includes tomatoes, burrata, and liliko‘i. Squares of fried mochi and a cornflake coating add textural dimensions to crackly fried chicken. Beer, wine, and cocktails receive equally thoughtful attention. Come early, though, for a drink on the nearby terrace bar; the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, where the restaurant resides, offers spectacular sunset views. [$$$$]

3550 Wailea Alanui Dr
Wailea, HI 96753

18. Akamai Coffee

116 Wailea Ike Dr, Kihei, HI 96753
A latte filled to the brim of a coffee mug decorated with the cafe’s name in cursive script
Coffee at Akamai
Akamai Coffee [Facebook]

Akamai (which means “smart” or “clever” in Hawaiian) offers 100 percent Maui-grown and roasted coffee, including the award-winning Maui Mokka varietal. You can taste the quality in the cup, and baristas know their business. In addition to perfectly foamy cappuccinos and lattes with decorative art, they offer New Orleans-style cold brew with chicory and seasonal espresso drinks spiked with macadamia nut and butterscotch. To nosh on, try the sophisticated avocado toast sprinkled with microgreens or the Belgian waffle with berry compote. Bags of whole roasted beans are pricey but worth it. Beyond the brick-and-mortar cafés, Akamai operates two drive-up windows, one in Kīhei and another in Kahului. [$-$$]

116 Wailea Ike Dr
Kihei, HI 96753

19. The Market

10 Wailea Gateway Pl B-106, Kihei, HI 96753
A cafe dining room, where two women sit at a high top table, with a cart full of packaged food nearby
Inside the Market
The Market [official]

On an island nearly devoid of decent sandwiches, the Market Wailea comes to the rescue with a seared ‘ahi melt on a brioche bun featuring locally caught fish, and the Proper BLT featuring crispy pork belly, wild greens, and tomato on sourdough. For breakfast, the Green Eggs & Kale panini is a delicious mess of melted provolone and whole grain mustard. In addition to the deli, the grocery stocks gourmet kitchen staples and local microbrews. [$$]

10 Wailea Gateway Pl B-106
Kihei, HI 96753

20. Only Ono BBQ

401 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779
A takeout container packed with chopped roast pork with very crispy skin on top
Crispy roast pork from Only Ono
Only Ono BBQ [Facebook]

Every Saturday, Only Ono BBQ hosts a dim sum drive-in at the Heritage Hall in Pā‘ia. Just text in your order by Friday night, arrive at your chosen time slot, and pay via Venmo or cash in a sealed envelope. Your food is brought to your car. The set menu for two costs $30 and includes a half-pound of what might be the crispiest, most decadent roast pork outside of China, plump and juicy siu mai, spicy eggplant, lo mai gai (chicken sticky rice), and four egg tarts so creamy they’re worth fighting over. Luckily you can order extra sides, including the tarts and the amazing pineapple jam-stuffed bolo bao. [$$]

401 Baldwin Ave
Paia, HI 96779

21. Mama’s Fish House

799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779
Traditional Hawaiian Platter at Mama’s Fish House
Photo by Bill Addison

Frankly, at first glance, Mama’s comes across as a tourist snare: idyllic beachside location, tiki hut motif, entrees with a median price hovering around $54. But the kitchen’s consistent, confidently restrained technique, honed by Maui-born executive chef Perry Bateman, justifies its international reputation (book lunch or dinner reservations as far in advance as possible). The Traditional Hawaiian — which includes fish and wild boar slow-cooked in a ti leaf, with sides of octopus lū‘au, poke, and breadfruit — is one of the state’s most elegant riffs on staple dishes. [$$$$]

799 Poho Pl
Paia, HI 96779

22. Nuka

780 Haiku Rd, Haiku, HI 96708
A plate of several pairs of fish and shrimp nigiri, and a maki roll
Nigiri at Nuka
Nuka [official]

The owners of Nuka turned an old Hā‘iku auto supply into a wonderfully modern izakaya and sushi bar. Order a few small plates to start: spicy edamame, miso eggplant, and kinpira gobo (slivered burdock and carrot dressed in sake). Then dive into a sashimi platter, where the supply of fresh tuna and snapper is bolstered by the owner’s own fishing boat. Or for a simple, satiating meal, try a Nuka bowl: fresh herbs and veggies piled atop rice and topped with ‘ahi katsu, blackened tofu, or shio koji salmon. Patience is necessary here; they don’t take reservations, and the wait is often long. [$$]

780 Haiku Rd
Haiku, HI 96708

23. Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread

210 Keanae Rd, Haiku, HI 96708
Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread
Photo by Bill Addison

To make use of the island’s surplus of bananas, a cottage industry of stalls that sell banana bread thrive throughout Maui. On the road to Hāna (an extraordinarily beautiful drive that will melt the cynicism of even the most jaded traveler), Aunty Sandy’s sits at a jut in the road near Ke‘anae Point — happily, at the precise location in the winding drive where a snack seems especially appealing, so it’s little wonder the business has thrived for more than 30 years. Bakers pull fresh loaves from the oven throughout the day, so chances are high that your banana bread will still be warm. The stand also sells drinks and shave ice. [$]

210 Keanae Rd
Haiku, HI 96708

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