The island of Maui—commonly known as the Valley Isle—is slowly becoming a foodie destination. Thanks to highly-acclaimed chefs like Masaharu Morimoto, Cameron Lewark, Peter Merriman, and Roy Yamaguchi, who emphasize quality and farm-to-table philosophies, everything you’ll eat on the island is either grown on a larger farm a few miles down the road or brought in straight from the source. From the homemade risotto to the jams, marinades, and tropical juices, there is something for everyone—even the picky eaters in your family. On your next vacation, skip the take-out and indulge in these world-class Maui restaurants.
Mama’s Fish House
Here, the tenets of a contemporary Hawaiian cuisine—wild fish caught by fishing boats trolling 20 miles offshore and local produce cooked just right—translate to a perfect meal in paradise. It’s this appreciation for the local culture that makes Mama’s Fish House stand out among Maui restaurants. Chef Perry Bateman, who has been in the culinary field for more than 20 years, makes everything in-house. When you open up the menu, you feel drawn to the ceviche marinated in lime and coconut and then served in a coconut shell, the mashed taro or poi, and the poached local prawns served with short rib and local Hamakua mushrooms. Once your order arrives, you can enjoy every bite as you take in the views of the beach near Paia on the island’s north shore.
Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante
Upon entering Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante at the Four Seasons Wailea, you can’t help but be in awe of the elegant, low-lit space. As you make your way to your table, you see lots of white linen, marble columns, and wooden accents. Chef Craig Dryhurst and Sous Chef Marco Calenzo serve up authentic Italian dishes that only elevate the overall experience. Once you open up your menu, you may feel the urge to try the Hawaiian Snapper decorated with caramelized sunchokes, peperonata ragu, black olive vinaigrette, and caperberries or the roasted striped bass with roasted potato, shaved Maui onion, and haiku cherry tomato. Another popular dish is their hand-stretched pizzettes with hamakua mushrooms, truffle cheese, and fresh basil. Best of all, the ocean is just a few steps away from your seat, which means that you’re in the perfect spot to watch the sun set or do some stargazing.
Star Noodle isn’t the fanciest of joints, but their garlic noodles, steamed pork buns, kimchi wings, ramen, and Vietnamese crepes can’t be beat. Located in Lahaina, the restaurant opened in 2010 to much fanfare surrounding chef Sheldon Simeon, who appeared on the television show “Top Chef.” Simeon and the Star Noodle crew looked to New York restaurants for inspiration, drawing flavors from all parts of Asia, but with an American twist. Finish your night off here with mango pudding and malasadas drizzled in chocolate and butterscotch and you’ll be shouting “Maui Wowie” all the way home.
When you walk into Lahaina Grill on Maui’s west side, you may feel like you traveled back in time. As you look around, your eyes are drawn to the late 1800s-style lights, arched openings, marble bar, and antique furniture. Chef and owner Jurg Munch is largely responsible for giving this Maui restaurant its fantastic reputation. After all, he worked for the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong for 17 years. Munch’s iteration of contemporary fine dining results in the kind of menu where it’s safe to order anything, even if you’re a picky eater. But when you visit the Lahaina Grill, which is now more than 20 years old, you’ll likely be drawn to the Kona coffee-roasted rack of lamb or the Cake Walk, a delicious dish composed of seared ahi, Louisiana rock shrimp cake, and Kona lobster crab cake.
Choice Health Bar
Though it’s a bit of a hole in the wall, Choice Health Bar is a seriously good find among Maui restaurants. This ultimate gathering place for veggie-lovers, health nuts, and picky eaters has a fun, casual setup where you can enjoy an acai bowl as well as fresh, seasonal produce in salads and mashups. After perusing your options, you may want to take a chance on something that sounds a bit strange, but does the body good, like camu camu, electric blue spirulina, and shilajit. Choice Health Bar’s diverse menu changes every day, so you’ll always have a great alternative to fried rice and salty noodle dishes.