Sure, Maui is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and scenery in the world, but there are other assets to the island that go beyond visual stimulation. The native cuisine of Maui needs to be tasted to be believed, and because of all the fresh produce and ingredients that inhabit the island, you'll have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to savoring the local flavors. Whether it's indulging in some of the finest seafood in the world or learning how the sweetness of the Maui onion captures the distinct tangy seasoning of the island, make sure you skip the generic fast-food restaurants and eat like a true local during your nights spent at Maui vacation rentals. Check out these acclaimed dining spots that embody traditional Maui dining:
Waking up to the thunder of crashing waves in the distance and the soothing ocean breeze caressing your hair is the ultimate way to experience an authentic Maui breakfast. If you're staying around the southwestern shores of Kihei, take in the beautiful morning Pacific scenery by eating breakfast on the patio at the Kihei Caffe. Enlighten your taste buds with a plate of cinnamon roll French toast topped with locally made coconut syrup, a truly delicious duo. You can also experience a taste of the island by ordering some traditional Hawaiian banana-mac pancakes, or if you're in need of something heartier, go with the pork fried rice bowl topped with eggs.
"Enlighten your taste buds with cinnamon roll French toast topped with coconut syrup."
Those who are hanging around Wailuku will need to try the pancakes cooked at Tasty Crust. This famous local diner has been serving up tropical flapjacks for more than 50 years. Many allude to the restaurant's longevity as largely due to the fluffy pancake recipe that blends Hawaiian flavors such as bananas or coconuts lined with a crispy crust that put a whole new spin on this classic breakfast staple. Another classic Tasty Crust dish is the loco moco, which is a bed of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, eggs and homemade gravy, with the result being a creamy, hearty meal you surely can't get anywhere else.
This is the meal where your options are basically infinite, and the type of lunch you're looking for depends on what activities you have lined up for the day. If you're staying out west in a Maui beach rental near the western city of Lahaina and want a more sit-down, oceanside, relaxed atmosphere, make sure you grab a table at Aloha Mixed Plate. Located right on Front Street facing the ocean, this is where you can experience all the various flavors and entrees that embody Maui cuisine. If it's your first time here and you're struggling with what to order, go with the legendary Ali'I plate, which features traditional laulau (Hawaiian salted pork wrapped in cooked luau leaves) served with sides of kalua pua'a (roasted pork) and cabbage, lomi-lomi salmon, poi, macaroni salad, rice and haupia, a classic Hawaiian dessert that's a pudding-based treat made out of coconut milk.
If you're sticking around Kahului for the day and need a quick bite to eat before embarking on your Maui adventures for the day, an excellent on-the-go lunch option is the Geste Shrimp truck. You can find this award-winning food truck right next to the Kahului Harbor, and the menu boasts an array of flavorful shrimp, ranging from Hawaiian scampi to shrimp coated with a spicy pineapple glaze.
Dinner is when to get down to business when it comes to tasting all the scrumptious entrees that make Maui cuisine famous. If you're residing near the northern shores of Paia in a Maui vacation rental, be sure to make reservations at Mama's Fish House for an evening of indulging in some of the finest, freshest seafood you'll ever feast your eyes and appetite on. The fish served at Mama's are caught 30 miles offshore on a daily basis, and you'll surely taste the difference between seafood you've had in the past. Start the night off with either some Kauai shrimp won tons with macadamia nut sauce for dipping or some Hamakua Ali'i mushrooms accompanied with goat cheese. For your entree, take your pick between one mouth-watering menu item after another – for example, a plate of Ono, caught off the shores of Keanae and coated in a Hana ginger-panko crust, served with Kalua pig fried rice.
Another restaurant that has gained notoriety over the years for its outstanding Maui cuisine is Da Kitchen, located in Kahului. This is where you can find traditional entrees that won't cost a pretty penny like the ones found at Mama's Fish House, but will still leave your taste buds more than satisfied. Chowing down on a hearty portion of the fried spam musubi with a side of Maui fish cakes will help you feel like more of a local. Be sure to bring your appetite, because Da Kitchen is famous for its extremely large portions.