Maui rivals Oahu in the number of fine restaurants which offer gourmet cuisine and sophisticated ambiance.
A number of “celebrity chefs” have opened restaurants on the Valley Isle, taking advantage of the island’s fresh fish, local beef, and Kula-grown vegetables. These ingredients, along with a wide variety of tropical fruits, provide the foundation for Hawaiian Regional Cuisine. It’s a sort of Asian/Californian/Local Hawaiian combination that has put Hawaii on the international culinary map.
Hawaiian “local food” is another story. Traditional “plate lunches” consist of rice, macaroni or potato salad, fried or grilled beef, pork or chicken, and some poi (ground taro). Lomi salmon (cold, mixed with onions, tomatoes, and spices) is often a side-order option. Though it may break your calorie counter, plate lunches are usually tastier than common fast food choices. Give it a try!
Asian cuisine is well-established on Maui, with fine restaurants serving Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Filipino fare. Resort restaurants, with breathtaking, romantic views, serve traditional Continental food.
Lahaina is a good place for restaurant-hopping in Lahaina, where a number of established and trendy Front Street eateries offer food, views, and lavish tropical cocktails.
Wailuku and Kahului are places to find inexpensive, local-style cooking. The colorful little town of Paia has an inordinate number of restaurants, ranging from budget vegetarian to pricey gourmet. Upcountry also offers an amazing array of dining choices, from the ultimate steak house to nouvelle tropical/continental.
Locally-made ice cream is a great Maui indulgence. Shave ice (flavored snow cones) stands are ubiquitous. For another local treat, try “crackseed,” candies made of sweetened and preserved fruits and seeds.