AOL Travel
Print

Best Maui Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors

Visitors will find a healthy selection of the best Maui restaurants to add spice and sweetness to a Maui vacation. The blending of cultures from Asia, Europe and Polynesia presents a wide range of culinary experiences at all price levels. It does not take much to find the perfect menu of Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Filipino, Hawaiian or local cuisine, whether at grocery take-away counters, neighborhood cafes or swish dining establishments. Step into the resort areas and the choices expand to Pacific Rim with Asian fusion, sushi, and steak and seafood at candlelit tables on the terrace attended by a battalion of hovering staff. Local chefs are the stars when it comes to the best Maui restaurants. Bev Gannon and James MacDonald lead the pack with several notable restaurants between them. MacDonald focuses on the West Maui area, while Bev Gannon has several fine eateries in Upcountry and South Maui. 

Pacific'O

Neighborhood: West Maui Price: Expensive

The Pacific'O is the oldest of what now has grown to two top Maui restaurants and a Front Street luau in Lahaina. The successful Pacific’O collection has at the helm award-winning chef and Philadelphia native James MacDonald, who focuses on fresh farm produce, regional flavors and creative blending to bring to West Maui a bounty of amazing dishes. Salad greens and herbs arrive daily from the restaurant’s O’o Farm on the slopes of Haleakala. The menu remains appealing even after a decade in business. Favorites include Coconut Macadamia Nut Fish with a Thai peanut sauce and sweet-and- sour glaze; and Hapa Hapa Tempura, which is a wonderful collection of sashimi-grade ahi fried in nori with a white miso sauce. Reservations are encouraged at this top Maui restaurant.

.

More Details on

Pacific'O »

Gannon’s

Neighborhood: South Maui Price: Expensive

Bev Gannon has scored a hit with this Wailea restaurant. Wrapped in warm woods and vibrant colors, the main dining area is roomy and airy with high ceilings, making it one of the best places to eat in Maui for the ambience alone. Across the dining room is the oversized lanai for al fresco dining with expansive views of the ocean and islands of Kahoolawe and Molokini. Lunch and dinner might include venison loin and pecan crusted mahi mahi. Brekafast is basic, but the view and fresh Kona coffee make the mornings memorable here. Reservations are a must. Tables on the lanai are best.

More Details on

Gannon’s  

Merriman’s Kapalua

Neighborhood: West Maui Price: Expensive

After many years of accolades at his flagship restaurant in Kamuela on the Big Island, and his more modest location on Kauai, Peter Merriman has finally taken the leap across the Alenuihaha Channel. Elegant and sophisticated, there is hardly another spot on Maui that provides such gorgeous views and style. The open-air sunset setting is especially romantic, the service is attentive, gracious and subdued, and the nightly live entertainment provides a gentle downbeat to the sound of crashing waves and warm tropical breezes. The menu makes this place one of the best Maui restaurants, if not the islands. Island-grown ingredients and originality bring forth the likes of Merriman’s Kapalua Farm beet and cherry-tomato salad with arugula; as well as his surfing goat feta cheese in a Lehua honey dressing; and wild line-caught mahi mahi with grilled shitake mushrooms and local citrus ponzu. Reservations are a must. Request a table with a great sunset view.

More Details on

Merriman’s Kapalua  

Charley’s Maui

Neighborhood: East Maui Price: Moderate

This Maui restaurant and saloon was in business long before Paia earned its hip rep, long before most surfers knew about the gigantic breakers down the road at Peahi, and even before wide-body jets could land at Kahului Airport. The restaurant’s most revered customer is country-western singer Willie Nelson, who frequents the place whenever he is at his home in Hana. Minor fame aside, Charley's Maui is a friendly spot serving breakfast, lunch and dinner American-style, in hearty portions and at reasonable prices. You'll also find thick pizzas and calzones, barbecue plates and burgers. The live music and dancing on weekends fills the place and keeps it going most of the night.

More Details on

Charley’s Maui  

Cane and Taro

Neighborhood: West Maui Price: Moderate

This is another in a string of stylish eateries by local boy and island restaurateur D.K. Kodama. Located on Kaanapali Beach, Cane and Taro is one of the best Maui restaurants, offering fabulous ocean and sunset views, with open-air, all-day dining in a decor rich with plantation era accents. The food is remarkable, tasty and creative. The breakfast loco moco features meatloaf. The French toast is done with island sweet bread in a macadamia nut crust and stuffed with fresh fruit. Kodama remains true to his signature sushi, which is a must-have on the lunch and dinner menus, along with an assortment of pastas, burgers and steaks. Dinner reservations are recommended. Request a table near the ocean. 

More Details on

Cane and Taro  

Cafe O’Lei

Neighborhood: South Maui Price: Moderate

This second-story eatery in the Rainbow Mall is one of Maui’s best restaurants for the price and one of the few South Maui cafes that has a loyal following of both islanders and repeat Maui travelers. Cafe O'Lei has a casual island ambience and an exceptional menu with ingenious flavor combinations using fresh fish and fresh island produce. The menu varies wildly from seared ahi and blackened mahi mahi to juicy New York steak and medallions of beef tenderloin. The standout by far is the brick oven roasted duckling, l’orange style, with macadamia nuts, ginger and lilikoi. Advance reservations are highly recommended. Open for lunch and dinner and closed on Mondays. Reservations are recommended.

More Details on

Cafe O’Lei  

Penne Pasta Cafe

Neighborhood: West Maui Price: Budget

Located in a one-room cafe on a side street a block from the Lahaina waterfront, Penne Pasta packs in the Kaanapali crowd looking for quick, Italian favorites. The cafe sits on a shaded sidewalk wedged between a coffee stand and a small boutique just before Wainee Street and beckons with clean, modern and cool indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is reasonably priced with selections that rival the resort restaurants on the island. Most popular? Pizzas with the tomato, mozzarella, oregano and fresh basil. Also flavorful and refreshing is the butternut squash pasta with sage almonds, and the puttanesca that is rich with the salty goodness of Kalamata olives and diced sweet Maui onions.

More Details on

Penne Pasta Cafe  

Archie's

Neighborhood: Central Maui Price: Budget

Far away from vacation condos, sunscreen and Maui mega-resorts, this old-school island eatery successfully melds traditional Japanese cuisine with island favorites for a loyal local following. Archie's parking is limited, the decor is dated and plain, but the prices make it one of the best places to eat in Maui. The service is attentive and quick by island standards, not what you would expect from this hidden local find. A visit offers more than a mere meal; it’s a genuine look into island life and post-plantation local culture. So, be sure to leave your ego at the door and bring along your appetite for delights like wun tun mein, beef teriyaki and udon. Bring along your patience, too. A long wait for a table isn’t unusual.

Ba-Le Sandwiches

Neighborhood: West Maui Price: Budget
This Viet-Franco eatery is one of Hawaii’s little gems and one of the best Maui restaurants. Affordable, tasty and creative, Ba-Le offers some of the best sandwiches and Asian dishes in the state. What started as a small sandwich shop in Honolulu now has multiple locations spread across the islands and even provides baked goods to airlines and numerous cafes. The croissants are considered the absolute best in Hawaii. Doughnuts are oversized, golden and crunchy on the outside, soft and airy on the inside. A crunchy French roll might be filled with tuna salad with a touch of Sriracha sauce or ham and pate filled with cilantro, pickled dikon and carrots. No matter what, it’s a handful of heaven. They make a great bowl of pho, too.

More Details on

Ba-Le Sandwiches  

A. K.’s Cafe

Neighborhood: Central Maui Price: Budget
On a quiet street in the heart of historical Wailuku, this simple eatery is a favorite of islanders and day workers who know where to go for low-cost, but great tasting comfort food made with quality ingredients. There is a thoughtful, albeit short wine list, a full bar and a kids menu. This cafe is a local secret that embraces such island standards as hamburger, steak and the ever popular loco moco, but it also offers selections that include blackened ono with mango and basil sauce and crab cakes with papaya buerre blanc. The crab cakes are an island hit and well on the way to become a new local tradition. A.K.'s Cafe is considered one of the best places to eat in Maui by locals and visitors alike.

More Details on

A. K.’s Cafe  
See All Maui Restaurants »
ADVERTISEMENT