Life-altering fish tacos, poke by the pound, a kimchi Bloody Mary, and more of our favorite things to eat and drink in Maui.Less
The Kaohu Store has arguably the best poke in Maui and brings us back to the days when poke was found mostly in Hawai‘i’s grocery stores and markets. Inside this convenience store, you’ll find kids getting slushies, daily specials like hamachi kama or Japanese curry, and a refrigerated case of incredibly fresh tuna sashimi and poke by the pound. The chile pepper poke is a classic, and if they have it, try the lipoa poke, made with a less common local seaweed that tastes like cucumbers.
You might not expect to find one of Maui’s best lunch counters in a strip mall next to an auto parts store, but that’s exactly how Hawai‘i works. Tin Roof’s Kau Kau Tins are a nod to Hawai‘i’s plate lunches and come with options like pork belly, garlic shrimp, and mochiko chicken on top of rice, kale, or garlic noodles. Order online to bypass the line.
If you spent the morning hiking and swimming at Iao Valley State Park, then what you really did was spend the morning thinking about when you could have lunch at Sam Sato’s. This family-owned restaurant that’s about a 10-minute drive from the park opened in 1933 and only does breakfast and lunch. The main draw is the dry mein, a combination of wavy saimin noodles, char siu pork, and bean sprouts served with a side of dashi for dipping.
Saimin and burgers are an old-school Hawai‘i pairing, and Havens does an excellent version of that combination. Choose between wagyu chow fun, smashburgers, and spicy tuna and garlic crab handrolls, but know the portions are hefty. We prefer the Kihei brick-and-mortar location that’s inside of a gas station convenience store, but it’s also worth checking out their food truck in Kahului that’s in a parking lot across from a Costco.
Make a reservation for an outdoor table right on the beach at Pacific’o to watch the sunset. Your best move is to order any of the locally-caught fish, like the blackened catch of the day with kimchi gribiche or the mahi mahi wellington with lobster. If you’re looking for a beachfront mai tai—which, of course you are—this is one of the best places on the island to get it.
A true Maui landmark, Mama’s Fish House has been serving seafood in this same location since 1973. Their menu is so local that it’s updated daily with the name of the fisherman, the location where the fish was caught, and what it likes to do on the weekends (OK, maybe not that last one). This place is located steps from the sand at Kuau Cove, so it’s about as beachfront as it gets. And despite the bamboo walls and thatched roof, Mama’s Fish House is a pretty upscale and intimate place.
Star Noodle’s new oceanfront spot makes it the best noodle house with a view in Maui. They serve housemade noodle bowls and shareable dishes like steamed pork buns, adobo ribs, and the Hot N Sour ramen, which has a chile-lime dashi and smoked prosciutto. Star Noodle also pours sake and specialty cocktails like the Miso Buzzin’ with gin, Aperol, miso, honey, yuzu, and shiro shoyu.
For almost 20 years, Tiffany’s was a mainstay in Wailuku. The part-dive, part-sports bar had a menu of over 100 dishes that included sushi, honey walnut shrimp, and bibimbap. New ownership recently took over and the menu’s been slimmed down to “just” 50 or so items—many of the favorites are still there, alongside new additions like the drunk-food-but-make-it-fancy crinkle-cut fries topped with truffle, parmesan, and hot dog chips.
Sure, Marlow feels like a spot you could find in Northern California or Italy, but this place, located in Upcountry where the weather’s cooler, highlights some of the things that we love most about Maui, from the quiet rural setting to the fruits and vegetables grown nearby that’ll have you dreaming of buying your own place. The menu includes fantastic Neapolitan-style pizzas, local prawns roasted in their wood-fired oven, and fresh salads with greens that were plucked from nearby farms.
Papa‘aina’s wide veranda that overlooks Lahaina harbor is one of the best places to have brunch in Maui. While you can feel the history of the place (the restaurant is on the ground floor of Pioneer Inn, which was built in 1901), the menu is very much in the now, with dishes like mapo tofu loco moco and breakfast ramen topped with ham and bacon, american cheese, and miso coffee butter. Order the seasonal tropical fruit plate, which might include spiky rambutan or poha berries.