Hawaii Eats: Where to Eat in Maui?

Oh Maui, you tease. I see you there trying to be the too-cool sibling to your prom queen sister Oahu. You’re clearly the fun, laid back one but why do you have to make me work so hard for it? Like Billy Crystal said, you’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance. Don’t worry because we can’t help but love you anyways.

Beach View from Mama's Fish House Maui
It was pretty tough researching food on Maui. It seems as though the hidden gems want to remain hidden. Many Canadians love to talk smack about Oahu as just another metro but they seem to adore the Valley Isle. I should have been able to get loads of reccos from my friends, right? Wrong. And what about all of the cool bloggers and tweeters from Maui? Surely they would be happy to help a hungry travel blogger looking to avoid the tourist traps? Nope. They may be out there but I didn’t find the right ones.

I gathered the few personal recommendations I could elicit, read as much as I could from the local Maui bloggers and the Maui sections of my favorite Hawaii food bloggers [averagetraveller.com], and then relied on good old Yelp to help me out. Hopefully this list of where we ate and what I thought will help out other people looking to not get fleeced.

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

I found Leoda’s via my favorite Oahu blogger Catherine Toth. Leoda’s serves fresh, locally sourced, tasty food. They’re primarily a modern pie shop that also serves salads, sandwiches, and burgers. They have a reputation for being a little bit pricey, which while true, is easily made up for by the high quality of ingredients and execution.

The big draw here is the pie. They sell them in 3″ bite sizes or 5″ versions that you would only consider sharing with someone whom you love dearly. How much did we like the pies? We couldn’t decide which didn’t look amazing so we bought one of each and brought two home. And they don’t just make dessert pies. I had their chicken pot pie and meat n’ potatoes pie which were just as good.

Pies from Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop Maui

Located about a 10 minute drive south of Lahaina this is my go-to lunch recommendation for people staying in West Maui. Inexplicably they don’t show their address on their website and Google Maps doesn’t even have a red teardrop pointer for them. I told you good food is hard to find. Between you and I, they are located at 820 Olowalu Village Road right next to the Olowalu General Store [maps.google.com]. Don’t tell anyone I told you.

Star Noodle

Star Noodle is the darling of the Maui Food scene right now. This was one of the places that the local bloggers were talking about and since I got back I’ve found out that their main guy Sheldon Simeon will be on Season 10 of Top Chef. On our first night in Kaanapali we were pretty tired from travelling so we decided to bring food back to our room. I ordered from the online menu and then headed down for some asian take-out.

To get to Star Noodle you turn off the highway in Lahaina where the Foodland is and start heading up the hill. When you think that you’ve mistakenly driven too deep into a small industrial area just drive a little further and you’ll be there [maps.google.com]. Upon arriving there was a small crowd lounging around in the parking lot. It turns out there was a 45 minute wait for a table at around 7pm.

Star Noodle sign Maui

We ordered a few different noodle dishes and some steamed pork buns. My Vancouver and Hong Kong lineage means that any time a bowl of noodles costs more than $5 I think it’s too much. I had to realize that there isn’t a lot of good quality low cost competition for these guys so we chopsticked over our $9-$10 per bowl. The noodles were good but I think that they would have been better if we ate them fresh at the restaurant. I also think that despite what the name says, that the share plates might be the real star of the menu. It was good enough to go back and the next time I’m on Maui I’ll eat-in and try all the non-noodle dishes.

Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House is where you go for a dress up meal on Maui. Located on the beach in the town of Paia just 20 minutes northeast of the airport on the Hana Highway, Mama’s is an experience to splurge on.  Button up shirts with slacks seemed standard for men (nice sandles are probably okay) and dresses were the uniform for the ladies. After walking in past all of the autographed celebrity head shots you pass the bar into a dining area that can only be described as classy tacky. The restaurant is jammed full of maritime and Polynesian decorations and memorabillia but in a nice way. This place has a real history to it.

I’d mentioned that we were celebrating an anniversary when I booked the reservation and they gave us a prime beachside table. That picture at the top of this page is part of the view. The manager personally greeted us as we were seated and presented my wife with a fresh flower lei. Throughout the evening the service was perfectly top-notch and the food was pretty close as well. I had the ultimate grilled octopus that was caught by hand that day by one of their waiters. It was inexplicably, insanely tender. Surprisingly the only dish I didn’t care for was their signature seafood stuffed, mac nut crusted, mahimahi.

If you’re in the market for a fancy diner Mama’s Fish House will easily set you back $70-$90 per person without trying too hard or drinking too much. If you love the food and service at high end restaurants but find most of them a little stuffy and uniform then you’ll like this place. Just skip the mac nut crusted signature dish. I think it’s a fan favorite that has lasted beyond its time because it tastes like something from the 80’s.

The Fish Market

If you’ve read my Oahu Eatinerary [avergetraveller] then you know that I love to find great little hole-in-the-wall joints with good local food. The Fish Market fits the bill. With fish tacos, plate lunch, poke made-to-order, and fish for sale by the pound it doesn’t get much fresher than this. They even had hot dogs and quesadillas that the kids loved. Like everywhere else on Maui the prices are a couple of dollars more than I would have liked but if you’re going to spend a little more you might as well get the quality they have available at the Fish Market.

Located a few minutes north of the big golf resorts in Kaanapali, The Fish Market is in a little strip mall about 1/2 a mile off of the highway on Lower Honoapiilani Road [maps.google.com].

Honokowai Okazuya and Deli

Located a few shops down from The Fish Market in the same complex was the Honokowai Okazyua and Deli [yelp.com]. This is your basic Hawaiian greasy spoon take-out joint. While there are a handful of stools and a counter running down one side of the shop, don’t plan to eat in here. It seems as though most of their business comes from people getting take-out to eat back at the condos that surround the area [maps.google.com]. Okazuya is Japanese for side dish but the influence is from all over asia. After you order you can stand at the counter and watch them cook and assemble your meal in front of you on styrofoam boxes. The food is pretty good and the portions are generous. Expect to wait during peak hours and remember that it’s cash only.  

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9 thoughts on “Hawaii Eats: Where to Eat in Maui?

    • Thanks! This was the first time I really tried to go out an explore Maui and I found that it was tough to unlock anything that wasn’t condos or resorts. One day I’ll figure her out….

    • Pretty much everyone I asked about Maui said to check out Mama’s Fish House. If it was a little more reasonably priced it would be one of my favorite places in the world.

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