Ok let’s get this out of the way: food on Maui is expensive. What do you expect? This is an island thousands of miles away from any large land masses! But…you can eat well on a budget in Maui. How??? It is critical that you stay in a condo with a full kitchen (including access to a BBQ). We normally eat more than half our dinners at the condo, as well as most of our breakfasts and lunches. You’ll have to make up your own mind about how much you want to prepare your own meals, but we’ve actually found it enjoyable and in many cases it actually saves time so you can do other fun stuff! Another benefit? WAY healthier!
Shopping for Food on Maui
Maui has a Costco right near the airport, so if you are going to be on Maui long enough (or have enough mouths to feed), definitely make plans to visit Costco early during your stay. Stay away from large national chain grocery stores (not to name any names). Foodland has several locations on Maui and offers a Maika’i card for “member” discounts. You don’t have to be a resident to get one of these, just give them your phone number and fill out the form and you can save on your bill. Foodland is known for their wide variety of fresh poke (Hawaiian-style sushi/sashimi). If you are in the Pa’ia area, check out Mana Foods. They offer a huge selection of local organic produce that is very fresh and reasonably priced (for Maui).
If your condo doesn’t include one, purchase a cheap Styrofoam cooler so you can pack lunches for your road trips and beach trips. We love to eat $5 lunches with million dollar views!
OK…enough about eating in. We also LOVE to eat out on Maui. Plus with all the money you save from eating in, you can enjoy eating out just that much more 🙂 Here are some of our favorite restaurants on Maui in no particular order, with a little blurb on “the grinds”:
Eating out in Kihei
Fat Daddy’s: If you have had enough fish, this is a great place to get great beef, pork, and chicken expertly smoked and BBQ’d. No views, just great grinds.
Kihei Kaffe: Awesome breakfasts. Outdoor seating, rickety unmatched tables and chairs, but arguably the best breakfast on the island (I said it was something you could argue about.) [update 12/30/13]: They have nice new matching chairs and tables, but the food is still awesome!
Coconut’s Fish Cafe: Don’t let the strip mall location deter you. This place serves the best fish tacos on the island, so big and layered with yummy stuff that they recommend you eat them like a pizza. Great to-go meal to take across the street to the beach!
Stella Blues: Good food with nice patio seating. Like most restaurants in Kihei, no views of the ocean, but good atmosphere. Also, they have a lot of live music, so be sure to check out their website.
Monsoon India: fabulous oceanfront views from this rare North Kihei location. Monsoon delivers excellent Indian food and service, served with true “aloha”. Perfect place to soak in a sunset and enjoy a great meal.
Cuatro: I don’t know exactly what “Asian & Latin Fusion” is, but it is GOOOOD. One of the best meals you can get on the island, with great food served in an intimate setting. Like many Kihei restaurants, don’t let the strip mall environment turn you off, this is well worth it.
Cafe O’Lei: Maybe a bit on the spendy side considering the location (not much of a view other than a parking lot), but good food with a fun, boisterous atmosphere.
Eating out in Lahaina
Aloha Mixed Plate : Great local fare very reasonably priced. Outdoor seating…if you don’t drink alcohol you get to sit closer to the beach. We always hit this place once or twice while on Maui.
Cheeseburger in Paradise : The location makes this worth a stop, right on the water in downtown Lahaina. Good burgers, excellent view. They serve a good breakfast, too, with peaceful morning views of the water.
Mala’s (Lahaina): This is a great little restaurant right on the water a little north of the busyness of downtown Lahaina. Worth it to request (and wait for) a waterside table on the patio where you can often see turtles. Food is great, a little on the spendy side, but worth it.
Eating out in Upcountry
Casanova (Makawao): Good italian food complete with wood fired-brickoven.
Grandma’s Coffee House (Kula): This is now on our “have to visit every time we are on Maui” list. Grandma’s is worth stopping at while coming back from Haleakala, to or from the Tedeschi Vineyards, or just for the heck of it. They serve the BEST pineapple banana cake. Warning: do not be tempted to “share” a piece with anybody else. Things could get ugly. Get your own piece of cake!
Makawao Steakhouse: You will think you’ve left the island when you enter the dark but comfortable steakhouse interior. Good steaks, and afterwards you can enjoy a stroll in the lovely town of Makawao.
Eating out in Pa’ia
Mama’s Fish House : the ultimate dining experience. Spendy. Great seafood, great ambiance.
Cafe Des Amis : a cool little restaurant with a Mediterranean flair. Courtyard seating with live evening music, great food, and delicious crepes to end your meal!
Paia Fish Market: No nonsense, moderately priced, but very good seafood. Usually very busy. The shared tables don’t provide anywhere close to an intimate setting, but it is fun to eat here and meet new people.
Flatbread Pizza: OK, OK…I didn’t know this was a chain until I looked on their website. I’m including in my list anyways because the food is good, and so is the vibe. Their wood oven turns out some great flatbread pizza if you’ve had enough seafood.
Fresh Mint Vegetarian: We almost passed this place because it looked a little spooky with nobody eating inside, but we took a chance and boy am I glad! Tasty, healthy, spicy (if you want it). Oh, and by the time we left the place was packed.