Forget the Beach: Eat Your Way Across Maui

·Lead Editor

When you go to Maui, you don’t exactly think food. Of course you’re there for the beaches, the lush greenery, the rainbows, and the culture. But if you don’t put some thought into where to get your grub, you could be missing out on some top-notch cuisine. After all, you gotta eat, right? Here are some of Yahoo Travel’s favorite spots for meals and snacks on the Hawaiian island. 


T. Komoda Store & Bakery

Breakfast of champions: Doughnuts on a stick at the lovingly worn-out picnic tables at Ho’okipa Beach (Leah Ginsberg)

Every thing just tastes better on stick. So there’s no better way to start off your Maui morning than with skewered doughnuts. Head to T. Komoda Store & Bakery in Makawao (it’s been serving up pastries since 1916) and pick up these delicious, locally famous mini doughnuts. The plain glazed and glazed with coconut or macadamia nut toppings were the faves. While you’re there, get yourself a box of pastries — the store is also famous for its cream puffs and malasadas (a kind of Portuguese doughnut) with various fillings like vanilla custard and red bean paste, and they sell out early. Grab a coffee and head to the picnic tables at nearby Ho’okipa Beach. Bring plenty of napkins and watch the crazy waves and world class windsurfers do their thing.

Surise Café

Yummmm… (@befatbehappy/Instagram)

Sunrise Café, a local dive located in Lahaina, has affordable and delicious hearty breakfasts — from Hawaii staple loco moco (white rice topped with a burger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy) to scrumptious scrambled eggs and cheese on a croissant to addicting cinnamon rolls — plus good coffee and fresh juice. Just a couple of caveats: 1. If you’re in a hurry, Sunrise is not for you. It’s rather small so you may have to wait to be seated, and they do take their sweet time getting you your food. 2. They don’t take credit cards. Other than that? Delish!

Kula Lodge & Restaurant

Kula Lodge & Restaurant (Amnestic_Arts)

One of the best breakfasts I had in Maui was at Kula Lodge & Restaurant. It’s the perfect place to stop after watching the sunrise over Haleakala Crater. The place is famous for its crab cakes Benedict, and rightly so — it’s tasty and filling. A local staple, Portuguese sausage, is also good and the fruit is fresh. Just beware of the coffee: A cup of Joe is imperative after getting up at an ungodly hour to trek to a freezing mountain top to see Haleakala bathed in the first light (so worth it!), and the rather weak brewed coffee didn’t measure up. Just stick to a latte and you’ll be fine.


Roadside Huli Huli stands

Bad*ss Huli Huli no less (@KristinaVanni/Instagram)

Huli Huli chicken is a local favorite for lunch. It’s basically the Hawaiian version of barbecued rotisserie chicken served with rice and corn, and it’s super delicious. Keep your eyes peeled while driving, as the chicken is sold at roadside stands, often near beach parking lots (there’s a yummy one off Route 30 on the coast). You can get it at restaurants too, but highway food is so much more fun!

Thai Food by Pranee

Blink and you’ll miss it! (Janet Lee Six/Facebook)

here’s not much in Hana — as in the town you get to via the Road to Hana. So after an hours-long, twisty drive, some people are a little let down by the final destination. But we have the cure: Thai Food by Pranee. Every local knows it and loves it. Don’t accidentally drive by — it looks like a big makeshift shelter on the side of the road (across From Hana Ballpark) as opposed to the authentic-tasting, delicious Thai food restaurant it is. Go for the daily specials (like spring rolls) or try the pad Thai, drunken noodles, or Thai tea. All are ah-mazing.

Pa’ina Food Court 

Miso-glazed salmon and mochiko chicken bento from Maui Culinary Academy (Maui Culinary Academy/Facebook)

If you’re looking for a great tasting bargain, Pa’ina Food Court at the Maui Culinary Academy is a good bet. Pick your station — on any given day there’s everything from international food to pasta to seafood, and there’s even a baked goods counter. The quality is high and the subsidized prices are right.


Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

Weird, but good (Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice)

For those who aren’t from the state, Hawaiian shaved ice seems like, well, an oddball dessert. (We get the shaved ice with flavored syrup, but with ice cream, condensed milk and mochi or red bean toppings, too? Okay, whatever you say Hawaii.) But it truly is yummy. You can find shaved ice all over Maui, but one to try is Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice in Lahaina. The ice is somehow fluffy, they have a ton of classic flavors (think: cherry, lemon, pineapple) and interesting ones (tarmarind, matcha, wedding cake, and more) to choose from. They even have a few sugar-free choices. In case you have a hard time choosing, the coconut and cherry with condensed milk on top was to-die-for.

Kumu Farms Fruit & Vegetable Store

Talk about fresh produce — this shop is on the farm. (Leah Ginsberg)

Some places have farmer’s markets, but Maui has a farm market. What’s the difference? Instead of farmers traveling with the produce to a weekly market, at Kumu Farms, there’s a small store and on the grounds and the customers go to the farm. In addition to organic, fresh, and ridiculously tasty vegetables fruits (papaya, pineapple, and more) there are homemade snacks from pestos to coconut candy. While you’re there, pick up some of the local hot sauces, like Adoboloco Pineapple Hot Sauce — it’s made with fruit from the farm.

Halfway to Hana Snack Shop

The banana bread will help get you all the way to Hana (Leah Ginsberg)

The famously twisty and scenic Road to Hana, aka Highway 360, has it’s own share of delicious food, but one snack must-have is the Halfway to Hana banana bread. The unassuming shack on the side of the 360 just past mile marker 17 has been turning out moist, homemade banana bread (and beef jerky) for more than 30 years. Munch some to calm your nerves as you drive.

Related: Life Lessons from Maui: What I Learned Driving the Road to Hana



The restaurant at sunset (Grand Wailea/Facebook)

Humuhumunukunukuapua’a at the Grand Wailea — don’t let the name intimidate you, or you’ll be missing out on some mouth-watering meals. The restaurant is named after the state fish of Hawaii, but you can just call it Humuhumu for short. The award-winning chef, Mike Lofaro, uses fresh, local ingredients from fish to meat to veggies and fruit from Kumu Farms to cook dishes with local Hawaiian flare that are as creative as they are yummy. Or, if you like shellfish, for fun pick your own lobster from the huge saltwater lagoon on display and bid him goodbye before he becomes dinner. The restaurant has no walls (great for sunset viewing), a thatched Polynesian roof, and carved heavy wood furniture; order a fruity drink from the bar to complete the vibe.

Poi By the Pound

Nothing fancy, just great Hawaiian food. (Poi By the Pound/Facebook)

One of the Hawaiian chefs at the Maui Culinary Academy highly recommended this place as a favorite. Poi By the Pound is your quintessential local hole-in-the-wall with great, affordable food — it’s a little out of the way, small, and crowded with locals (always a good sign). It may not be fancy, but you’re in for some authentic Hawaiian cuisine. Try the Hawaiian Plate (which comes with kalua pig, mac salad, rice, lau lau, chicken long rice, poke, lomi-lomi salmon, and poi, one of the “Local Favorites,” or make your own combo plate. 

Mama’s Fish House

The view from Mama’s Fish House (Mama’s Fish House/Facebook)

In Maui, Mama’s Fish House is an institution. It’s one of those places that’s listed in every guide book, but the truth is it’s always listed because it’s that good. The draw is the fresh fish and the amazing locale. In fact, the fish is so good, your best bet is just going for the daily special — whatever it is. Make sure to also have an appetizer (give the lobster guacamole a shot), dessert (try the Polynesian Black Pearl), and a cocktail. Mama’s is not at all cheap, and you need to plan ahead and make a reservation if you want to go at a normal dinner hour, but it’s totally worth it. 

Related: Where to Eat Like a Local in Hawaii

Watch: Learning to Surf in Oahu (Video)

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