For my new monthly series, I will be showcasing some of the best food on Maui; experienced through my lens and taste buds. Don’t get me wrong…my ohana loves cooking at home. Hey, shamelessly (spoiler) a home cooked feast makes this very list. But dining out and supporting locally owned business remains a favorite of mine; our island is abundant with incredible kitchens. At the helm of those kitchens are some seriously talented chefs. Chefs who fuse global flavors with hyper-local ingredients, with a refined technique worthy of praise. Let these words and photos pay testament, there’s a bounty of grinds out there:
From Paia to Haiku, there are myriad delicious dining options on Maui’s north shore. And we can all agree, some are significantly more popular than others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean better, of course! Need further proof, just try one dish from this lesser known, local favorite found across from Haiku Market. My go-to platters are pictured up top–Falafel, Gyro, and Greek Salad–but literally everything I’ve tried has been delicious. Coupled with a loving owner who embodies the aloha spirit, this food truck has become a staple in my household.
A quick drive back down towards the water’s edge and you’re noshing cliff side. Soaking up endless Pacific views. An ocean breeze, family, friends, and lots of smiles; this is truly a meal that rivals any. Yes, even including our next selection.
What else could possibly be said about Mama’s? We’ve featured them on this website since its inception, as Maui’s best overall restaurant. Declared them as Maui Royalty. People travel from across the island, across the Pacific, sometimes half way across the world just to dine at this lauded establishment. They are seemingly booked solid every day of the year. The private coconut grove and cove’s location is legendary.
Mama’s Fish House is Maui’s most popular, famous, as well as hyped restaurant; and for good reason–they deliver an island dining experience that’s second to none. It’s a memorable meal every time. They’ve mastered the craft: combining world-class service; daily sourced ingredients; outstanding tropical cocktails; amidst a positively tranquil oceanfront ambiance. My last meal here began with the starters pictured two photos above. The Beef Polynesian served in a grilled papaya is a must, as is the Poisson Cru (think of ceviche, Tahitian-style, finished with coconut milk). Their Bouillabaisse has become equally as hard to pass up for my entree. Mama’s take on a French classic, this is a seafood lover’s dream dish. It’s probably time to book another reservation!
Now I’ve also written about Nick’s before, as I believe they consistently deliver one of the best dinners in Wailea. Let me tell you, my last meal there was truly no exception. While my favorite pupu trio–B & B Ahi, Kalua Pig Pot Stickers, Maka’s Poke Bowl–were especially on point; the standout was my Uku Picatta. Uku is a blue-green snapper that’s delicately flavored, moist and firm; but not easy to find on menus, nor catch from a boat. It’s one of my favorite fish on the entire planet! Served as the Fresh Island Catch, Picatta style–sautéed with lemon, butter, and capers–over farrotto and broccolini, each bite was perfection.
Sensing a theme here…I just recently wrote about my experience at Tiffany’s last month. Nothing new, enjoying good food is undoubtedly one of life’s finer treasures and one of my favorite experiences to document! Anyhow, a recent change in ownership has seen Maui’s resident celebrity chef, Sheldon Simeon, and his talented team take over this historic Lower Main St. destination. In my humble opinion, they are currently cooking up the best Hawaiian style dinner in Wailuku.
If family-style plate lunch is thing, I’m all here for it. Bring the whole gang and order to your heart’s content. Get the exceptionally crispy Chicken Katsu. Splurge on the tender sizzling Pulehu Short Ribs. If a dish catches your eye, don’t hesitate. Chances are it’ll become a new favorite of yours. They just recently celebrated with a Grand Re-Opening to much local fanfare. Have become the de facto pre- and post-game destination for the Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s biggest shows. If recent events hold true, you might just find yourself enjoying live music, dining and rubbing shoulders with some of Hawaii’s most talented artists.
Dinner Cooked at Home
While perhaps not as photogenic as the previous meals, this home cooked dinner was just as delicious in my book. After all, what’s the use of having an amazing kitchen and dining room if not enjoyed regularly? For this feast, I picked up most ingredients from the Upcountry Farmer’s Market in Kulamalu. Arguably the best on island, I find myself here near every Saturday morning. Locally caught fish, hand made pasta, freshly baked bread, organically sourced veggies…it’s all here and superior quality compared to the big supermarkets. Cajun blackened Ono, roasted broccolini with garlic, micro greens and sprout salad (topped with edible flowers!), pasta aglio olio (garlic and olive oil), with lemon and avocado from the front yard. Simple but decadent, a worthy closing to my 5 best meals on Maui for August 2022!
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