Planning a trip to Maui and wanna know where the locals grub? Say less! We've got the ultimate list of must-try spots that’ll make your taste buds do the hula. From fresh seafood with killer ocean views to food trucks serving up island classics, here are the 12 best local places to eat in Maui that’ll make your vacay lit.

1. Mama's Fish House

Address: 799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779

Mama's Fish House is an iconic restaurant located on Maui's North Shore in the town of Kuau near Paia. It is renowned for its fresh seafood, stunning oceanfront setting, and authentic Polynesian ambiance. The restaurant sources its fish daily from local fishermen who go out in small boats to catch a variety of fresh fish like mahi-mahi, ono, and ahi. The menu features dishes like mahi-mahi with Hamakua mushrooms, ahi crusted with sesame rice, and Hawaiian kanpachi with lobster and crab in a macadamia nut crust, all prepared with local flavors and ingredients.

The dining experience at Mama's Fish House is truly unique, with an open-air setting that offers breathtaking views of the ocean and beach. The restaurant's decor is inspired by the owners' sailing adventures across the Pacific, featuring wood paneling, bamboo accents, outrigger canoes hanging overhead, and artifacts from various islands. Mama's Fish House has received numerous accolades, including being named one of OpenTable's top 100 restaurants in America and a James Beard Award semifinalist.

2. Coconut's Fish Cafe

Address: 1279 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753

Coconut's Fish Cafe is a beloved fast-casual restaurant with locations in Kihei and Kamaole on Maui. It is known for its wild-caught fish, Hawaiian flavors, family recipes, and healthy options. The menu features a variety of fish tacos, seafood plates, and salads, all made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. The fish tacos, in particular, are a standout, featuring grilled fish, mango salsa, and a creamy coleslaw wrapped in white corn tortillas.

Coconut's Fish Cafe prides itself on delivering an uncompromising level of quality and service, with a dedicated team committed to providing an exceptional dining experience. The restaurant's casual and relaxed atmosphere, combined with its delicious and flavorful dishes, make it a popular choice among both locals and visitors. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a satisfying meal, Coconut's Fish Cafe offers a taste of authentic Hawaiian cuisine.

3. Da Kitchen

Address: 1215 S Kihei Rd suite e, Kihei, HI 96753

Da Kitchen is one of Hawaii's most recognized restaurants, known for its local ethnic cuisine and generous portions served plate lunch style. Located in Kahului and Kihei, Da Kitchen aims to satisfy the hunger pangs of the ever-working Maui community with tasty staples of the Pacific. The menu features a variety of dishes, including the signature mahimahi tempura, loco moco, Hawaiian plate, chicken katsu, and daily mixed bentos.

One of the standout items at Da Kitchen is the fried spam musubi, a local favorite. The restaurant is also famous for its enormous plate lunches, such as the Polynesian paralysis moco, which includes fish tempura, kalua pork, two eggs, onion, mushrooms, and gravy served over fried rice. Da Kitchen's bright, shiny, and comfortable atmosphere, combined with its delicious and authentic local cuisine, make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a taste of Hawaii's diverse culinary heritage.

4. South Maui Fish Company

Address: 1794 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753

South Maui Fish Company is a popular food truck located in Kihei that specializes in serving fresh, locally caught seafood. The menu features a variety of poke bowls, fish tacos, and seafood plates, all made with the daily catch from Hawaiian waters. One of their standout dishes is the poke bowl, which allows customers to choose from an array of fresh fish like ahi tuna, salmon, or marlin, served over rice with an assortment of toppings and sauces.

The fish tacos are another crowd favorite, with options like mahi-mahi, ono, or ahi tuna, served in warm tortillas with cabbage, pico de gallo, and a creamy sauce. For those looking for a heartier meal, the seafood plates offer generous portions of grilled or blackened fish, accompanied by rice and a fresh salad. South Maui Fish Company prides itself on using only the freshest, locally sourced ingredients and adhering to sustainable fishing practices.

5. Kihei Caffe Lahaina

Address: 305 Keawe St, Lahaina, HI 96761

Kihei Caffe Lahaina is a popular breakfast and lunch spot located in the heart of Lahaina. This second location of the beloved Kihei Caffe chain offers the same classic Hawaiian dishes that made the original location a hit, along with some new additions. The menu features a variety of breakfast items, including fluffy pancakes, hearty omelets, and the signature loco moco, a dish consisting of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and smothered in gravy.

For lunch, Kihei Caffe Lahaina serves up plate lunches with options like kalua pork, chicken katsu, and beef teriyaki, all served with rice and macaroni salad. The cafe has also expanded its menu to include new items like fried chicken, which is served for dinner. The relaxed and casual atmosphere, combined with the delicious and authentic Hawaiian cuisine, make Kihei Caffe Lahaina a popular choice for both locals and visitors alike.

6. Leilani's on the Beach

Address: 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761

Leilani's on the Beach is a renowned restaurant located right on the sands of Kaanapali Beach in Lahaina. The restaurant offers a unique dining experience that combines contemporary Hawaiian cuisine with stunning ocean views and a relaxed, beachfront atmosphere. The menu features a variety of fresh seafood dishes, including long-line caught fish delivered daily, as well as all-natural cuts of meat prepared in an island style.

One of the standout dishes at Leilani's is the Hula Pie, a decadent dessert made with macadamia nut ice cream, chocolate cookie crust, and whipped cream. The restaurant also boasts an award-winning beach bar, where guests can enjoy tropical cocktails and pupus (appetizers) while taking in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Leilani's on the Beach is a popular spot for both locals and visitors, offering a truly authentic Hawaiian dining experience.

7. Tin Roof

Address: Kahului, Maui

Tin Roof is a casual lunch spot in Kahului, Maui, owned by internationally recognized Chef Sheldon Simeon and his wife, Janice. The restaurant is known for its Hawaiian comfort food, served in a no-frills, takeout-style setting. The menu features a variety of rice bowls and local favorites, such as mochiko chicken, garlic shrimp, pork belly, and poke bowls. Each dish is crafted with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, reflecting the diverse culinary influences of Hawaii, including native Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Filipino flavors.

One of the standout dishes at Tin Roof is the garlic shrimp kau kau tin, which features succulent shrimp cooked in a flavorful garlic sauce, served over rice with a side of mac salad. Another popular item is the mochiko chicken, a crispy and savory dish that pairs perfectly with the restaurant's signature garlic noodles. Tin Roof's commitment to quality and authenticity has made it a favorite among both locals and visitors. The restaurant's casual and welcoming atmosphere, combined with its delicious and affordable food, makes it a must-visit spot for anyone looking to experience the true flavors of Hawaii.

8. Sam Sato's

Address: 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793

Sam Sato's is a beloved local institution in Wailuku, Maui, known for its delicious noodles and traditional Hawaiian comfort food. Established in 1933, this family-owned restaurant has been serving the community for generations. The main draw at Sam Sato's is their dry mein, a unique noodle dish featuring wavy saimin noodles, char siu pork, and bean sprouts, served with a side of dashi broth for dipping. The noodles are made in-house, ensuring a fresh and authentic taste that keeps customers coming back.

In addition to their famous dry mein, Sam Sato's offers a variety of other noodle dishes, such as saimin, won ton mein, and chow fun. The menu also includes local favorites like teriyaki plates, burgers, and breakfast items like banana hot cakes. For dessert, don't miss the manju, a traditional Japanese pastry filled with sweetened bean paste, which is made fresh daily. Despite its unassuming location in an industrial business park, Sam Sato's is always bustling with locals and visitors alike, drawn by the restaurant's comforting and flavorful dishes. Be prepared for a wait, as this popular spot often has a line out the door, but the delicious food and friendly service make it well worth it.

9. Geste Shrimp Truck

Address: Kahului Beach Road, Maui

Geste Shrimp Truck is a renowned food truck in Kahului, Maui, known for serving some of the best shrimp plates on the island. Located near the Kahului Harbor, this food truck has gained a loyal following for its simple yet flavorful shrimp dishes. The menu features a variety of shrimp plates, including Hawaiian scampi, spicy pineapple, lemon pepper, and hot and spicy shrimp. Each plate comes with a generous portion of plump, butterflied shrimp, served with rice and a side of crab mac salad.

The Hawaiian scampi is a standout dish, featuring shrimp cooked in a garlicky sauce that perfectly complements the fresh, tender shrimp. The spicy pineapple shrimp offers a sweet and spicy twist, with a flavorful sauce and pineapple tidbits. Despite its roadside location and lack of seating, Geste Shrimp Truck provides a memorable dining experience, with many customers opting to take their meals to nearby beaches for a picnic. The food truck's commitment to quality and simplicity has earned it a reputation as one of Maui's best plate lunch spots, making it a must-visit for seafood lovers.

10. Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop

Address: Lahaina, Maui

Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop is a charming eatery located in Lahaina, Maui, known for its gourmet comfort food and delectable pies. The restaurant is set in a relaxed, plantation-style atmosphere, making it a cozy spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The menu features a variety of dishes that blend traditional recipes with fresh, local ingredients. For breakfast, you can enjoy classics like waffles and pancakes, while lunch and dinner options include sandwiches, salads, and burgers.

One of the standout items at Leoda's is the Seared Ahi Sandwich, which combines fresh ahi tuna with avocado, caramelized onions, Jarlsberg cheese, basil, pesto, and garlic aioli, all served on grilled rye bread. Another favorite is the Lahaina Dog, a hot dog upgraded with a housemade potato bun, Maui gold pineapple chutney, and poha berry mustard. However, the real stars of the menu are the pies. The Chocolate Haupia Pie, a rich combination of Hawaiian coconut pudding and chocolate, is a must-try. Other popular pie flavors include Banana Cream, Chocolate Mac Nut, and Pineapple Mac Nut. Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop offers a delightful dining experience with its nostalgic and soul-satisfying food, making it a must-visit spot in Maui.

11. Flatbread Company

Address: Paia, Maui

Flatbread Company in Paia, Maui, is a popular destination for those seeking delicious, wood-fired flatbread pizzas made with local and organic ingredients. The restaurant has a laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere, making it a great spot for both locals and visitors. The menu features a variety of flatbread pizzas, salads, and appetizers, all prepared with fresh, high-quality ingredients. One of the highlights is the Mopsy's Kalua Pork flatbread, which includes free-range pork shoulder, mango BBQ sauce, red onions, pineapple, goat cheese, and mozzarella.

For those with dietary restrictions, Flatbread Company offers gluten-free options, ensuring that everyone can enjoy their tasty creations. The restaurant takes great care to prevent cross-contamination by preparing gluten-free pizzas in a separate area and cooking them in a dedicated oven. In addition to their delicious food, Flatbread Company is known for its commitment to sustainability and supporting local farmers. The friendly and knowledgeable staff further enhance the dining experience, making Flatbread Company a must-visit for anyone in Paia looking for a satisfying meal.

12. Nalu's South Shore Grill

Address: Kihei, Maui

Nalu's South Shore Grill is a casual, open-air eatery located in Kihei, Maui, known for its health-conscious Hawaiian comfort food and vibrant atmosphere. The restaurant offers a counter-service setup, where guests order at the front counter and then choose their seating, either indoors or on the spacious patio. Nalu's is a family-friendly spot that serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, with live music performances adding to the lively ambiance.

The menu at Nalu's South Shore Grill features a variety of dishes that cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. One of the standout items is the Nalu's Loco Moco, which offers a unique twist on the classic Hawaiian dish by using a homemade tofu, spinach, and quinoa patty instead of the traditional beef patty. This dish is served over brown rice with two eggs and a no-beef mushroom gravy, accompanied by a side of mac salad. Another popular option is the Crab Cake & Greens, which includes two fried crab cakes served with a mix of organic greens, kale, avocado slices, upcountry tomatoes, mango salsa, and mango vinaigrette. For a refreshing start to the day, the Maui Fruit Bowl is a favorite, featuring a mix of tropical fruits, whipped Greek yogurt, homemade granola, and a brown sugar-Hawaiian chili crostini. Nalu's South Shore Grill is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy delicious, healthy food in a relaxed and welcoming environment.

Maui's food scene is lit, offering a tantalizing mix of traditional Hawaiian flavors and modern twists. From the freshest seafood at iconic spots like Mama's Fish House to the comfort food classics at Tin Roof and beyond, there's something to satisfy every craving. Whether you're into savory shrimp plates from Geste Shrimp Truck or sweet treats from Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice, these local eats will make your island adventure unforgettable. So, get your grub on and dive into the culinary delights that make this island paradise a foodie’s dream.

Stay in the know and satisfy your wanderlust with more insights from the vibrant world of Gen Z travel and foodie adventures at Woke Waves Magazine.

#MauiEats #LocalFood #HawaiianCuisine #FoodieParadise #IslandFlavors

May 26, 2024

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