Eat Your Way Through Maui’s Culinary Magic

Cheap Maui Eats

Cafe O’lei

The Cafe O’lei Kihei location (also a 2nd location in Kahului) has easily become among my first choice lunch spot IF their special for the day is still available. It is a full plate with an entree, rice, and a salad, all for $8.28 (as of summer 2016); there’s no other place in South Maui that can offer as completive of a lunch special as theirs. The lunch special changes daily; if you go often enough, you’ll probably remember their weekly menu.

A few of my favorites are: Beef Stew—the meat had the softness and texture of a pot roast accompanied by the traditional stew vegetables in a stew like broth, but tasted sweet and spicy like a Japanese curry; Friday Special—ribeye grilled on the flat top with brown gravy; and Steak Poke—a warm steak salad tossed with onions, tomatoes, and green onions in a soy ginger chili relish.

  • 2439 South Kihei Road, Kihei 96753 | Telephone: 808-891-1368
  • 1333 Maui Lani Parkway. Kahului 96732 | Telephone: 808-877-0073

Nuka Lunch

Since March of 2013, Nuka has been reinventing the Upcountry lunch game! Renowned for its dinner menu which boasts a variety of sushi and elegant Japanese food, Nuka has now been craking out lunch specials for a little over a year. Their lunch menu is rooted in local flavors and takes a more modern approach to your local style saimin, cheeseburger, and sushi rolls. They always have daily lunch specials and you can keep updated by following their Nuka Lunch Instagram. Lunch hours (10:00am-1:30pm) are very limited and only open during the week days, so keep that in mind. The Paia Fish Market, another local favorite is also owned by the same owners. Location:

  • 780 Haiku Road, Haiku | Telephone: 808-575-2939

808 Deli

I rate 808 Deli so highly for a few reasons: 1. Their filling to bread ratio is just right; 2. They deliver quality at a fair price; and 3. Their sides are a perfect compliment to their sandwiches. They operate 2 locations: the Kihei restaurant is more a take out setting with their 808 Bistro also being houses in the back, and their location in Wailuku under the name 808 on Main is more a dine in atmosphere. Their fresh breads, gourmet spreads, and 19 various sandwich and panini options make this place one of my favorite sandwich shops on island; their salads and hot dog options are also done very well.

  • 2511 South Kihei Road, Kihei | 808-879-1111
  • 2051 Main Street, Wailuku | 808-242-1111

Maui’s Finest

Mama’s Fish House


For more than three decades, Mama’s has been the Maui destination for some of the most succulent and delectable fish dishes. The restaurant holds the distinction of Maui’s first fresh fish restaurant, known for preparing fish of the highest quality and embracing the aloha spirit. Located on the North Shore just past the Kuau Store is the magical white sands of Kuau Cove which is just steps from the restaurant.

The property sits beachfront and is absolutely gorgeous; at sunset, the sky illuminates to shades of blue, orange, red, and many other serene colors. The setting couldn’t be anymore more spectacular, you know that you are somewhere special the moment you drive into the parking lot because it also happens to have a wonderful view of the World Famous Ho’okipa Beach Park.

  • 799 Poho Place, Paia | 808-579-8488

Hali’imaile General Store

Before the farm-to-table movement in Hawaii was cool and the latest craze, chef Bev Gannon was one of the first OG’s perfecting her craft as the “beacon” of Hawaii Regional cuisine. Located on the lower slopes of Haleakala sits Hali’imaile General Store, tucked away in the pineapple fields of the low rolling hills of Haleakala. Chef Gannon shares her “elegant but unpretentious” fare comprised of ingredients from local farmers, served by an excellent staff in digs inspired by the pineapple plantations.

Hali’imaile General Store is Bev’s original and most acclaimed restaurant featuring eclectic Pacific regional American cuisine with Asian overtones. They strive to use freshest, local ingredients, and focus on service with aloha.

  • 900 Haliimaile Road, Makawao | 808-572-2666

Koiso Sushi Bar

Koiso Sushi Bar in Kihei is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for complex rolls with heavy sauces, tempura coatings or names like Volcano, Geisha, or Philadelphia, this is not the place for you. Koiso has carefully cultivated a reputation for being the most authentic sushi experience in Maui, everything is prepared in a way that you can only find in Japan. The popular spot has achieved near-legendary status on this island, if only you could get in and be patient enough to plan months in advance. The tiny restaurant can only seat up to 15 people and highly recommend making reservations weeks in advance. When you do call to make reservations, it is a take it or leave it kind of deal as they an easily fill open spots if need be. Again, I remind interested parties they only serve nigiri (a slice of raw fish over pressed vinegared rice) and sashimi.

  • 2395 South Kihei Road, Kihei | 808-875-8258

Uniquely Maui Finds

Komoda Bakery

With more than 100 years in business, you can easily say T. Komoda Store Bakery is a living legend and Maui institution. Located at the top of Baldwin Avenue (in Makawao), Komoda Bakery easily anchors the surrounding Makawao Town and creates plenty of foot traffic throughout the town because parking is so hard to find! The lack of parking doesn’t deter locals or visitors; no matter what, they just keep on coming. Even if you get up early and get there just as they are opening, expect plenty of others who have done the same. My favorite is donut stick, but their butter rolls, cream puffs, and donuts are also worth a try!

  • 3674 Baldwin Ave, Makawao | 808-572-7261

Taska Guri-Guri

Tasaka Guri-Guri is a small, family-owned shop located in Kahului, it is just as special to locals as Komoda Bakery. They operate under the same management style as the bakery as well, family owned for generations. They specialize in one thing and they sure do it damn near perfection; it is a frozen dessert known as guri-guri, a cross between sherbet and ice cream. It is typically made with a mixture of guava juice, any type of lime soda and condensed milk. Tasaka Guri-Guri is very protective of the recipe and has managed to keep it a family secret for decades. They offer only two flavors, strawberry and pineapple.

  • 70 Eeast Kaahumanu Avenue # C13, Kahului | 808-871-4513

Sam Sato’s

If you haven’t noticed, there’s kind of a theme going on for this category: 1. they are only found on maui, 2. they have been family owned for generations, and they’ve been in operation for over 60 years. Sam Sato’s is also just one of the few living legends from Maui’s “less developed” days. They are famous for their “Dry Noodles” which are local saimin noodles, stir fried in a pan with char siu, green onions, been sprouts, and served with a light and flavorful broth.

  • 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku | 808-244-7124

Contact a Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Specialist

Please interview me to be your trusted Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Advisor. I was born and raised on the island, and spend a considerable amount of time to inform my clients about the best deals currently on the market. Please do not hesitate to call me for your Maui real estate needs. I am more than happy to assist you in your home search.


Anthony Sayles R(S)