Set in the middle of the sleepy, rural town of Hana--what many consider to be the last untamed paradise on Maui--Hana Ranch Restaurant is a rustic-looking, nicely kept establishment along the winding Hana Highway. The menu boasts local ingredients in many of its dishes and features reasonable prices. The service is superb, and the food, though basic (think sandwiches, steaks, salads, and seafood) is worth the long drive (2+ hours) from the airport in Kahului. Nestled atop a rolling hill in the center of town, Hana Ranch Restaurant's prime location is convenient for guests of Travaasa Hotel Hana, which is right next door. It's close proximity to the Hasegawa General Store (across the street) and the Hana Ranch Store (next door) is a plus, giving the more adventurous a chance to stock up on supplies post-meal and before setting out on a cruise along the Hana Highway.
Local Expert tip: Looking to warm up after a day in the water? Stop by to get the chili-and-rice bowl from the Hana Ranch Store. It's cheap and fast and can serve as an appetizer before you move on to the Hana Ranch Restaurant.
Inspired by the film Forrest Gump, this lively bar and grill serves mainly seafood dishes with names that shout out to classic scenes. Enthusiastic members of the waitstaff are happy to recommend tasty entrees with names like Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp and Lt. Dan's Drunken Shrimp. Other staples include rib-eye, baby back ribs, salmon, mahi mahi, crab legs, sandwiches, and salads. Set in the middle of busy Lahaina, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. embraces the atmosphere of the city while offering oceanfront views. Great for larger groups, it encourages you to bring all your friends.
Local Expert tip: Make sure you get a table with a view of the Islands of Lanai and Molokai, especially at sunset.
Looking for good Mexican food on the Islands? You're pretty much out of luck--unless you're on Maui, that is. Polli's Mexican Restaurant, opened in 1981 by Polli (Contreras) Smith, has not only acquired a loyal following of customers but also has a dedicated staff, many of whom have worked there for over ten years. And rightfully so; regardless of the scarcity of options for Mexican food on Maui, Polli's hot, fresh (and affordable) dishes like the fajitas or quesadillas, as well as burgers and salads, make the trip upcountry is certainly worthwhile. You will immediately feel at home in the relaxed atmosphere.
Local Expert tip: Try the mango margarita - a Hawaiian twist on a Mexican classic.
After the overwhelming success of Cafe Mambo in Paia since its opening in 2003, Jamie and Olga Betham decided to open additional locations in New York and the Hamptons. But don't expect to find a big-city, hurried atmosphere here. The open-air eatery remains loyal to its funky surfer roots and boasts eclectic collections of entrees inspired by the husband-and-wife team's international travels. Unique favorites include the surfing bull ciabatta (breakfast) and the Maui Cattle Co. steak salad (lunch), as well as more exotic flavors like the Mediterranean nut falafel sandwich (lunch) and the particularly amazing kalua duck fajita (dinner). All three menus are chock-full of flavor. You can even order homefries or a chocolate brownie at breakfast if you want.
Local Expert tip: Enjoy one of their regular movie nights with an ice-cold Maui Brewing Co. beer on draft.
This family-owned coffee shop-turned- restaurant on the slopes of Haleakala Crater has been helping locals get their daily fix of caffeine since 1988, when Alfred Franco opened its doors. All the coffee served comes from organically grown beans, and, using Franco's grandmother's original coffee roaster, the staff still roast and brew all their coffee in-house. All pastries are homemade fresh daily from family recipes. The lunch menu varies from day to day, but expect spinach lasagna, fresh fish, and sandwiches Unexpected favorites like the Portuguese red bean soup and the chicken curry will not disappoint either.
Local Expert tip: Come here for one of the best breakfasts on the Island, with fresh, organically grown coffee, of course.
Furnished with simple wooden chairs and tables, this modest, unassuming cafe in the middle of the quiet town of Paia pushes the boundaries on taste. With its focus on Indian-Mediterranean fusion, here, it's all about mixing it up. Not sure what to make of this combination? Not to worry. The only decision you have to make is what delicious offering to order from the menu. Try a savory crepe filled with scallops, shrimp, gruyere, or spinach, or if you're in the mood for dessert (or breakfast), you can top it all off with a sweet crepe filled with bananas and Nutella. Salads and Indian curries are also favorites. Open for breakfast and brunch, you don't have to decide what meal you're eating.
Local Expert tip: Get the crepes! This place might be Indian-Mediterranean fusion, but the French classic is what they do best.
This place is, obviously, known for its eight handcrafted beers, but it offers plenty of complementary dishes, including wood-roasted meats, sandwiches, salads, burgers, and fish. Make sure you ask the knowledgeable staff for pairing advice. You can even get fresh seafood – take it home, or have the cooks prepare it for you. Though this upscale sports bar and brew pub may give off a "meathead" vibe at first, their operation is pointedly eco-friendly. Its use of cans instead of glass bottles, which are easily broken, keeps Maui shores free from debris. Additionally, used cooking oil is turned into biodiesel, and spent grain from the brewing process is donated to local farmers for feed and compost. The Lahaina production facility even runs on solar power. This is definitely one place where you can feel good about drinking up.
Local Expert tip: Be sure to try their seasonal beers, as well as varieties you won't be able to find at the grocery store.
This airy, café-style spot is located in Paia town, a gem off the Hana Highway located on the North Shore of Maui. It's fun for takeout, especially if you're looking to acquire fresh seafood to cook yourself. It's even better for dining in, as long as you don't mind getting to know your neighbors among the minimal table space available. It is the aloha state, after all. Should you choose to have your fresh seafood prepared in-house, the talented chefs can serve it up for you Cajun style, charbroiled, or sautéed in the form of quesadillas, sandwiches, and many more. For the less adventurous, the place also offers 100% Maui beef burgers, pasta, and salads. Reasonably priced and basic in decor, it's a favorite among tourists and surfers alike.
Local Expert tip: Embrace the aloha spirit and don't be in a hurry. Though service is good, they are also famous for their "line to the door."