Everything you’ve heard about Maui’s radical beauty is true: the waves of the mountains and lowlands, the cream-colored beaches that blend seamlessly with the sea and sky, the volcanic rocks that cut through the millions of shades of green. Maui is larger than O’ahu, though the forested reserves that make up its eastern and western points mean that the more populous cities are concentrated in the center of the island – great for short, scenic road trips between restaurant hopping.
Numerous dining rooms take advantage of the natural splendor overlooking the beaches or sit at the foot or on high perches, ideal for watching pyrotechnic sunsets. But just as often, finding the fairest meals in Maui means venturing into a mall with a simple face. A succinct cross-section of options defines this list: a handful of tourist destinations worthy of popularity, a few locals’ hangouts for variations on traditional Hawaiian dishes, and a required pit stop for pine macadamia nut cakes.
Update, spring 2021: Maui’s post-pandemic dining scene is mixed. During the almost complete shutdown of tourism in 2020, many favorite places changed hands, downsized, or closed their doors permanently. The restaurants hardly stayed afloat, often thanks to the owners, who filled every role from host to line cook to dishwasher. But a surprising number of new venues also opened, some by laid-off kitchen workers who took the opportunity to start their own businesses. The “eat locally” trend also blossomed during the shutdown, creating new relationships between restaurants and island builders and a wide variety of Maui products on menus and in grocery stores.
Note: Due to the security guidelines of COVID-19, restaurants are currently 50 percent full. Do yourself a favor and book well in advance, especially if you want that sunset-splattered table.
Prices per person without alcohol:
$ = Less than $ 10
$$ = $ 10- $ 20
$$$ = $ 20- $ 40
$$$$ = More than $ 40
Shannon Wianecki writes about food, culture and indigenous ecosystems for publications such as BBC, Smithsonian, and Hana Hou – the Hawaiian Airlines magazine. Growing up in Hawaii, her favorite snack was raw opihi (limpets), fresh from the rocks.
Part of that Eater guide for Hawaii