Food has always been one of the most essential parts of any vacation. It’s a way to connect with local culture, an inherently social activity that nourishes both body and mind, and not least of all; it is delightful - especially when it comes to fine dining.
If your vacation means visiting the island of Maui, you are in auspicious circumstances for fine dining. Whichever region you find yourself in, there are bound to be at least several incredible options for world-class food near you.
We highly recommend visiting at least one of these establishments during your stay. Doing so is usually one of the highlights of any trip, whether as a romantic couple, a family, or virtually any other group.
— article continued below —
Perched on a small peninsula overlooking Kapalua Bay Beach, Merriman’s is one of the most revered restaurants on Maui.
Founder and head chef Peter Merriman is considered one of the 12 chefs to have founded Hawaiian regional cuisine. This means that almost everything on the menu is locally grown in the unique volcanic soil of Hawaii, and it also means Peter was one of the early pioneers of doing a high-end Hawaiian restaurant that way.
To sit at one of the candlelit tables here, plan on making a reservation as far in advance as possible. This restaurant is, for a good reason, exceedingly popular.
From 1994 to 2019, one location was voted Best Maui Restaurant yearly: Lahaina Grill. Last year it placed 8th on TripAdvisor’s list of the top 10 fine dining restaurants in the United States. It is one of only two Hawaii restaurants to appear on the list.
The food is described as “New American cuisine in a contemporary bistro setting.” This is for visitors who want to go all out, both in terms of the quality of food and the size of the bill.
The story of modern Hawaii and modern Hawaiian food consists of many ethnic backgrounds. At the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, Ko is a fine dining experience inspired by this multicultural history and the famous sugarcane plantations where much of it happened.
This is another restaurant where most of the menu is made from locally sourced ingredients. Ko’s atmosphere is a bit more relaxed than some of the other restaurants on this list, but the food is on par with anywhere in terms of its quality - and prices. For authentic, elegant high-end food, visitors to South Maui are always blown away by Ko.
If you want scenic, Gannon’s is the place in South Maui. In addition to serving island-influenced dishes from the mind of one of the most respected and popular chefs on Maui, Bev Gannon, the restaurant also features some of the most beautiful ocean views any Earth resident could hope to eat in front of.
Gannon’s is a popular wedding spot, thanks to its wonderful outdoor atmosphere, a propensity to showcase Maui’s unmatched sunsets, and frequent live music. We recommend visiting and following their Instagram to see a preview of it all for yourself.
Mama’s Fish House
Travel to the north of the island, and you’ll quickly notice a change in aesthetic. Much less touristy and loaded with resorts than other regions, this more rural area has fewer restaurants and a less fussy attitude.
Don’t let that fool you, because according to many visitors and locals alike, the North Shore town of Paia is where you’ll find the very best restaurant of them all: Mama’s Fish House.
OpenTable ranked this family-owned seaside restaurant as the 2nd most popular restaurant in the United States, and they are currently booked 4-6 months in advance, so don’t wait another minute to set up your reservation.
The fish is all locally caught and about as fresh as you’ll ever find it. The location and ambiance are frequently described as the most authentically Hawaiian in all of Maui. If you’re looking for a truly iconic dining experience and you’re up north, this is the place to go.
Central Maui is more known for the glorious nature in Iao Valley State Park than for fine dining. However, the region is not without restaurants; some are surprisingly innovative and upscale.
Hali’imaile General Store
Hali’imaile General Store is both a fascinating historical site and the secluded home of one of the oldest farm-to-table restaurants in Maui.
Hali’imaile General Store is Bev Gannon’s original restaurant. It was first opened in 1988, more than 20 years before Gannon’s in South Maui. In that time, the menu hasn’t changed much. Popular favorites such as the crab pizza still delights visitors today as they were decades prior.
For delicious and foundational modern Hawaiian cuisine, Hali’imaile General Store is arguably one of the best places to find it on any island.&
The Mill House
If one stretches the definition of “Central Maui” a little bit, an increasingly popular restaurant there is The Mill House in Wailuku. The Mill House is located at the Maui Tropical Plantation, virtually next door to the Maui Zipline Company. Here the cuisine is New American, locally sourced, and presented very sophisticatedly. You’ll feel like the host of a Food Network show as you dine and gaze out over the striking landscape.
Another restaurant we’ve praised before is Tin Roof. Although it may be more casual in terms of the atmosphere, it is owned and operated by Sheldon Simeon, an internationally recognized chef born and raised in Hilo. The food is spectacular, highly authentic, and worth a visit for anybody interested in stellar cuisine on their visit to Maui.
The island of Maui is full of options for fine dining, and these are some of the very best. We hope you find this to be a helpful guide when it comes to choosing your fine dining experience on Maui. As always, mahalo, and best wishes for your visit!