When You Go to Maui (But Not West Maui), These Restaurants Are Waiting

Fourteen of our favorite places across the Valley Isle.


The message is clear: Except for West Maui, the Valley Isle is once again open to tourists. Or is the message really so clear? On the one hand is a chorus of government officials, business groups and small business owners pointing out the obvious—that after an initial evacuation of tourists when fire mitigation and finding survivors was paramount, an island whose economy is 80% dependent on tourism is now suffering.


On the other hand are survivors and others who are processing shock and grief, hoping for word from missing loved ones and coming to terms with rebuilding from zero. Maui’s collective psyche may not be ready for fun-seeking vacationers. In the end, the question of whether or when to visit will be a personal one. For now, all of West Maui remains closed to tourism, including Lahaina, Ka‘anapali, Napili and Kapalua. The rest of Maui is open.


When you go, please be sensitive. Be respectful. And help the economy by eating well. From food trucks and gas stations (seriously, have you tried the fried chicken at Minit Stop?) to comfort food havens, beachfront haute cuisine and upscale pizza Upcountry, Maui’s food scene is as remarkable as its people.


Here’s a roundup of Maui restaurants outside West Maui that we love.



Kihei and Wailea


Fft Maui Blingbing Credit Thomas Obungen 5

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Bling Bing

Bling Bing is a Taiwanese shave ice trailer in Kīhei, one of a handful in the South Maui Gardens. These bàobīng bowls are extremely sweet. The smooth ice isn’t flavored with syrup (thank goodness)—instead, toppings of fresh fruit, tapioca and popping boba along with sweetened condensed milk and rice dumplings accent the bowl. Flavors change: We had kiwi and rice dumplings with li hing powder and sweetened taro with boba shave ice. For those hot days in Kihei, it is a refreshing treat.


30 Alahele Place, Kīhei, blingbingmaui.com, @blingbingmaui



Swordfish Bento from Kitoko Maui

Photo: Rebecca Pang



Cole Hinueber, furloughed from his job as executive pastry chef at Spago Maui during the pandemic, launched Kitoko, a Japanese fusion food truck in Kihei that has Maui foodies buzzing. The menu features familiar Japanese and local fare, only reimagined, and desserts that are way beyond what you’d expect from a food truck. Each dish is balanced and artfully prepared. Ingredients are sourced as local and organic as possible. … Read more

35 Auhana Road, Kihei, (808) 214-7562, @kitokomaui



Lineage Maui Lions Mane Salad Martha Cheng

Photo: Martha Cheng


Lineage Maui

Lineage’s newest chef brings Chinese influences to his dishes, and my favorite is this salad, taking classic liangban flavors and applying them to chunks of lion’s mane mushrooms that resemble very meaty crab. They soak up the punchy vinaigrette made with black vinegar and Sichuan chile oil, while fresh cucumbers and five-spice peanuts add crunch.


3750 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, (808) 879-8800, lineagemaui.com, @lineagemaui



Wailuku and Kahului


Donut Dynamite

Photo: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta


Donut Dynamite

At this one-woman-show bakery specializing in brioche donuts, the flavors are unique—like liliko‘i caramel, for example, or strawberry rose. Flavors change often, and the donuts are baked fresh daily.


372 Waiehu Beach Road, Wailuku, (808) 280-6442, donutdynamite.com, @donutdynamite



argentinian steak Sandwich on a white plate

Photo: Gregg Hoshida


Fuego Argentinian Steakhouse

At lunch, an assortment of emparedado (sandwiches) includes Choripan ($18), Milanesa de Carne ($17) and a Chicken  Milanese ($17). My pick is the chopped flank steak sandwich ($19). A generous portion of seasoned steak and cheese is stuffed into a house-made sandwich roll, with fries and house-made chimichurri and sarza criolla relish on the side. This is a big sandwich—so big I end up cutting it into thirds, give a third to the table next to me that has been audibly drooling over my order and still leave full.


As good as the sandwich is, the highlight is clearly the chimichurri. Bright flavors with a slight kick of peppers provide the perfect accompaniment to the fattiness of the steak. Adding liberal doses continually refreshes my palate. A gallon of chimichurri to go, please. Read more


1333 Maui Lani Parkway, (808) 633-4436, fuegosteakhousemaui.com, @fuegoargentiniansteakhouse



Sam Sato’s dry mein noodles

Photo: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta


Sam Sato’s

About a 15-minute drive from the airport, this place is packed on the weekends. The legendary dry mein noodles are soft and chewy without going squishy or rubbery. They come with a flavorful clear broth that you can pour over, and you can ask for extra garnish or mustard if you want more flavor. Go early, like when the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. And remember, it’s cash only.


This is also the home of Maui’s famous manju, which come with lima bean and azuki fillings.


Sam Sato's manju

Photo: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta


1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, (808) 244-7124



Shikeda Maui Bento Patisserie Credit Maria Burke

Photo: Maria Burke


Shikeda Bento Patisserie

Did you know there’s a shop on Wailuku Main Street that serves up both ‘ono bentos and divine patisserie? Shikeda Bento Patisserie almost always has a line of locals holding stacks of bentos, eagerly approaching the patisserie case. Bentos include local favorites like miso pork belly, broiled saba, mochiko chicken, croquettes and shrimp tempura with a bomb tartar sauce. Patisserie options feature some shop classics but vary every day. Pro tip: The next day’s menu is usually on Shikeda’s website by 6 p.m., and ordering ahead is key if you’ve got your heart set on something.


2050 Main St. FC4, Wailuku, shikedamaui.com, @shikedamaui



Fft Maui Tiffanyssaimin Credit Thomas Obungen

Classic saimin. Photo: Thomas Obungen


Tiffany’s Maui

Local boy, Top Chef alum and James Beard Award nominee Sheldon Simeon and his wife Janice Simeon took ownership of this Wailuku mainstay last summer. Menu staples include hamachi sashimi with shiso in ponzu finadene sauce, Tiffany’s classic honey walnut shrimp and Just Like Oxtail Soup with brisket meat. While every dish has Simeon’s touch, his soups shine. Tiffany’s, like Simeon’s previous restaurants, is worth flying over for.


1424 Lower Main St., Wailuku, tiffanysmaui.com, @tiffanysmaui


SEE ALSO: Sheldon Simeon’s Tiffany’s Maui Is a Homecoming for Palate and Soul




Ali‘i Kula Lavender scone

Photo: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta


Ali‘i Kula Lavender

We don’t sign up for a farm tour, we just walk around the cool, fragrant grounds and appreciate the view down the slopes of Haleakalā. And we do try the lavender scones with liliko‘i jelly. They’re moist, soft and fresh.


1100 Waipoli Road, Kula, (808) 878-3004, aliikulalavender.com, @aklmaui



Marlow Maui Gnocchi Credit Maria Burke

Photo: Maria Burke



Head Upcountry for a carb-fest at this aesthetic wood-fired pizza cafe. While the menu’s evolved since our visit, our white pie topped with burrata, cherry tomatoes, coppa and arugula is bright with spritzes of fresh lemon juice and crispy, porky coppa. The cast-iron-crisped potato gnocchi in parmesan cream sauce is both light and satiating, with thin slices of zucchini lending a sweetness. If you’re looking to splurge a bit for a thoughtfully prepared meal layered with tasty details, stop here.


30 Kupaoa St. A104, Makawao, restaurantmarlow.com, @restaurant.marlow


SEE ALSO: Upcountry Maui Gets a New Pizza Restaurant



Maui Wine

Photo: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta


Maui Wine

About a 20-minute drive from the lavender farm, Maui Wine makes its wine from estate-grown grapes and pineapple. Try the Maui Splash pineapple wine—this, the crisp air and no cell phone reception make this place feel like a true getaway. Currently open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.


Photo: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta


14815 Pi‘ilani Hwy, Kula, (808) 878-6058, mauiwine.com, @mauiwine



Multiple Locations


soft boiled eggs with oozy golden yolks and slices of roast pork top a takeout bowl of noodles

Photo: Rebecca Pang



This no frills, takeout-only counter inside a gas station in Kīhei serves up old-school comfort food like saimin, wonton min, beef chow fun and smash burgers—all made fresh to order by Maui-born chef Zach Sato, a veteran of Hotel Wailea and Merriman’s. There’s not a ton of local food options in Kīhei, so Havens is a welcome addition. There’s also a newer food truck that parks in Kahului. Havens just feels good, like a warm and needed hug.


30 Manao Kala St., Suite 102 (inside Shell Gas Station), Kīhei, (808) 868-2600; 591 Haleakalā Hwy across from Costco, Kahului, (808) 868-0555, havensmaui.com, @havens_ogg


SEE ALSO: Maui Gets a New Saimin and Smash Burger Spot



Fft Maui Minitstop Credit Thomas Obungen

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Minit Stop

Fried chicken thighs at Minit Stop are among the best in the state. Incredibly juicy meat hides beneath a crunchy-craggy skin seasoned with gusto, and it’s always ready to go. The musubi has a nice teri sauce slathered under the Spam; it’s best when you add a piece of chicken skin on top. We order a box of thighs and four cartons of Chick-a-rrones chicken skin to take back to O‘ahu, because why not?


Seven Maui locations, minitstop.com, @minitstophawaii



Thaimeeup Maui Pork Rib Credit Maria Burke

Photo: Maria Burke


Thai Mee Up

I was at one of the food trailer parks near the airport when an arm appeared from the Thai Mee Up truck offering me a fried pork rib. That rib was so memorable that when we spied the truck again, we ordered the fried pork ribs and had zero regrets. The boneless ribs are tender and juicy, glazed with a careful balance of umami fish sauce and tangy citrus and sweetness. Pieces of rendered fat are luscious with crisp edges, making these babies literally finger-licking good.


Multiple locations, thaimeeupmaui.com, @thai_mee_up



a small shave ice cone with tamarind, li hing mui plum, and wet lemon peel flavors topped with sweetened condensed milk.

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

Editor’s note: Ululani’s lost two Lahaina locations in the fires, but other locations remain open.

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice is an essential stop on any shave ice fanatic’s tour. Flavorful and light enough to spark your appetite for more, these cones are made with homemade syrups, mochi bits and condensed milk snow caps.


Four locations on Maui, ululanishawaiianshaveice.com, @ululanishawaiianshaveice