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Maui - near Kihei


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Maybe a tough topic but could anyone help me with suggestions for South Maui local-ish places to eat? We really want to get away from the hotel food and the chains (unless they are really worth it). Can't find much on this part of Maui.


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Sarentos is a nice place between wailea and kehei. On the beach. Continental food.

Sensei is a Japanese place that locals regard highly. To me its just average which isn't bad.

There is s merriman's at the rrwailea gold golf course. Good food.

The wailea blue course has an Irish pub w good food in that vein.

Pacopacohumaa or something like that at Grand Wailea has good fish as does Nick s at another hotel in Wailea. Nick's is better.

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The local plate lunch places that you read about do nothing for me. Fatty carby and unappealing, but authentic I suppose. Probably worth a try once.

Maui taco chain has nice fish tacos.

There's a number of interesting places in Lahaina but that can be a schlep. Perhaps spending an afternoon there followed by dinner.

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Cafe O'Lei in Kihei is probably one of my favorite restaurants on the island. Top notch but approachable food for maybe half of what you'd pay at a lot of the Wailea resorts. The staff is great there, too - really friendly and laid back, yet still professional.

Kihei Cafe is a good breakfast and lunch type place. Lots of options on the menu and quite popular.

Sarento's is more od a pretty view restaurant. Food is okay, but it's the waterfront location that sells the place.

My friends like 808 Bistro, but I didn't think it was all that great. Not necessarily bad, but for the price, I'd stick with Cafe O'Lei.

If you are going to picnic it or can do takeout, there is a natural foods store called Hawaiian Moons that has a couple steam tables of hot deli foods to go for sale by the pound (I think). I don't recall if they keep it stocked all day or only fill it up around 4pm for take out dinners.

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"Maui taco chain has nice fish tacos."

YES!! we ate at many of the hotel associated "name" restaurants, which were all pleasant and very expensive, but Maui Taco was the only placed we went back to eat again! Did I mention it's a bargain?

A couple of fish taco's, load up on the fixin's, a cold beer, and your in heaven.

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We just got back from a couple of weeks in Wailea. The pickings are slim, and we alternated between hotel restaurants (Spago and Nick's were the stand-outs) and local-ish restaurants. Here's what we found on the local side:

We did Da Kitchen in Kihei after a morning on Big Beach, but it would have been a better idea to drive across the island to the one in Kahului. It is still a plate lunch, but the food in Kahului always seems so much better. Hotel concierge couldn't come up with a better Kihei/Wailea plate lunch place (except for L&L).

We did think about some of the lunch trucks as we were leaving Big Beach, but the selection was slim. On the day were were there, there was one in the Big Beach parking lot, another couple just a little north on the road, and then a couple more a few miles north before getting into hotel territory. Since they weren't together, we decided to head to Kihei instead of checking them out and circling back for what looked good.

808 Bistro was tasty, but a very limited menu. We went once and were happy (esp for the price), but decided not to return as we didn't want to further explore their menu.

Mulligan's (the Irish place on the golf course in Wailea) was decent. Irish pub with Irish beers (Smithwicks in HI!) on tap and pretty good fish-and-chips. Not a local plate, but still a decent dinner.

Taqueria Cruz in Kihei serves up awesome Mexi fare in a very informal setting. BYOB if I remember right. We loved this place and returned to it on the way to the airport for lunch.

We weren't overly impressed with Monkeypod Kitchen. Food was ok, but all of our entrees suffered from them trying to do too much in each plate. One of our fish entrees started off well with a nicely cooked piece of fish, but then it was loaded up with (I think) a lobster salad on top *and* some fruit/pepper salsa *and* some balsamic reduction on the plate.

Pita Paradise's food was tasty. Service was very forgetful (as in literally forgetting out table!).

I recommend staying away from Matteo's in Wailea. This is a shame as it used to be a rough gem (terrible cafeteria-style ordering at the counter, but the pasta was excellent and ok pizza), but it seems to have taken a turn for the worse sometime in the last year. Same menu as always, but not the same recipes. For example, I had a bolognese and my wife had a lamb dish. In previous years, these were great: the bolognese cooked down with milk and the lamb obviously braised in the tomato sauce for hours. This time, they were both based on a fresher tomato sauce, and no hint for dairy in the bolognese and the lamb was not braised. The hotel concierge said she thought they were closing within a month or so, but we didn't confirm with the restaurant as we didn't go back.

Cafe O'Lei has been great and terrible for us on previous trips. Two years ago we had a few pleasant meals there, but a year ago they served me what is likely the worst steak I've ever had in a restaurant, along with a bunch of service problems. It was sent back and I opted not to have it replaced, instead grabbing take-out from Da Kitchen. We did not return this year.

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Great start. Thank you. Also heard there are some food trucks near Makena. Anyone know anything about them?

There are a couple. They looked so sketchy that I've stayed away.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Back from Kihei. Appreciated the group's advice. We would have been hopelessly lost in a morass of hotel food otherwise. I will admit though our one hotel meal (sponsored by the company) at Spago, was a treat. The grilled Mongpong (great name) was excellent although I don't know how much I would have appreciated paying the $50 for the entree if I were footing the bill.

Cafe O'Lei fit the bill much more nicely. The fish was good quality (Mahi) and simply prepared. When we walked in we thought "uh oh this looks like a cheap steakhouse", but the food made up for it and the service was excellent. They, like other places (see Three's below) are doing this lettuce wrap thing. Not sure if this has been going on for awhile. It definitely works. Roll your own lettuce wrap with marinated ground turkey, tomatoes, a fresh herb and a sauce (usually barbecue). Great meal for around $40 total/per person with a glass of wine.

Maui tacos didn't disappoint, particularly with the kids. I thought the fish was definitely of high quality for essentially a fast food place.

Our surprise discovery of the trip was a relatively new (a year maybe) place in a parking lot just off S. Kihei called Three's Bar and Grill. It was solid if not spectacular, and they definitely get points for effort. www.threesbarandgrill.com . It is a nice locally owned place with a pleasant patio at night although no ocean view.

The starters were home fried Molokai purple potato chips with Salsa. At happy hour (and on the regular menu for three dollars more) they do a "nachos" with Pulled pork on top of these chips.


They also did a wrap, using fresh basil as the herb instead of mint. Very simple and a lot of flavor.


Our entrees were the grilled Mahi (I know, not real creative) that was served with a pretty sweet Lilikoi Beurre blanc.


We also ordered the recommended "Hawaiian Jambalaya" which was a combination of Kahlua pork, portugese sausage and marinated chicken in a nice rice dish. I hadn't anticipated that the whole thing would be covered in cheese. Jambalaya covered in cheese? Anyway, once I pulled the cheese blanket off the dish was good.

You might give the place a try next time in Maui. I could sense that it was on the way up.


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D'oh, just saw this thread.

We spent time in Kihei earlier this year and ate pretty well.

My recommendations for any future visitors:

Yee's Orchard -- Awesome pineapples and Golden Glow mangos. Not cheap, but very tasty fruit. They also sell starfruit, apple bananas, papaya, passionfruit, guava, coconut, and more. The Golden Glows also have a very skinny seed, so you get more flesh off this variety than other types. They are also a bit larger and hefty than Mexican mangoes. Closed Mon and Fri. Only open 11-5. Easy to miss as it is literally a small hut at Kihei Road and Nohokai St. It is on the east side of the street. Great fruit, worth the effort to find it! We went back twice.

Awesome breakfasts at Kihei Caffe. GREAT hole-in-the-wall breakfast spot, they close at like 2pm or 3pm. Try the pork fried rice with ham, bacon, Portuguese sausage, and scrambled eggs! Or the cinnamon roll french toast they do on weekends. Or the regular french toast (made from Hawaiian sweet bread) or pancakes, both topped with macademia nuts and bananas, smothered in coconut syrup. Loco Moco is only OK, but everything else we tried was excellent. We went back several times.

Poke for lunch at Eskimo Candy. Off the beaten path. Super nice people. Great poke bowls with four types of poke over mayo/wasabi and rice, with some seaweed salad in the middle. I loved the furikake style best. We went back multiple times, we liked it so much. Our usual order was two poke bowls and maybe an appetizer, if dining in. However, it's much cheaper to buy the poke by the pound and get a side of rice or two if you are taking out. The fried calamari was very good (fresh, not rubbery, not too oily), but the coconut shrimp was even better. Crispy, tender, and tasting of real, fresh coconut. Not greasy at all. We loved this place and went back multiple times in a row, but mostly for takeout lunch. Great spot. We now miss it very much!

Monkeypod Kitchen -- Solid food and good cocktails. Great pina colada with fresh pineapple juice and coconut cream. Slightly more upscale than the other places, which is saying a lot for Maui. Have the pizza and Kula strawberry pie! It's good for when you want something less casual near Kihei, since it's such a little, sleepy beach town, you might get tired of too many hole-in-the-wall places.

There is also an awesome vintage Hawaiian shirt store on the 2nd floor of the shopping complex Monkeypod Kitchen is in.

Coconut's Fish Cafe -- An unassuming place that looks more like a fast food joint/deli. Friendly service. Great 17 ingredient fish tacos. There's usually a line. Also the guy who runs it is a huge Packer fan and transplant from the Mainland, funnily enough.

Sansei -- Decent enough fusion Japanese. If you go before 6pm, you receive a 25% discount for an early bird special on some days. Rolls are best. The "famous" dishes (miso butterfish, etc) weren't that great. Nice to have something different once in a while if you're staying for 2 weeks.

Was not a big fan of Cafe O'Lei.

Da Kitchen Express -- decent enough local fast food chain. Get the three item combo, it's the best thing there. Chicken katsu, teriyaki beef, kalua pork (salty but good w/ rice). Order carefully, and you'll have a solid meal, but the menu definitely has duds.

Ululani's Shave Ice -- amazing shave ice. They have one in Lahaina and one by the airport, the Kihei one is opening very soon, I think. Best of the 4-5 places I tried. Local Boyz was #2.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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