Dining Out in Maui… Your Table Awaits!

So Many of Maui’s Dining Experiences Are Al Fresco

Most every day in Maui presents us with what I call “picnic weather”! As such, it is no wonder we enjoy dining in the open air. Whether it be at a fine restaurant or poolside at your vacation home, food and good weather just seem to go together.

outdoor dining ocean views from maui restaurant

In fact, the dining room in Hawaii, in many instances, is the lanai. Experience Maui and its cultural diversity gastronomically. Maui does not disappoint. It has a strong culinary identity and acclaim.

Dining Out in Maui

outdoor oceanfront dining on maui

Indoor/outdoor, some of our finest restaurants offer both options… unenclosed dining space is a feature of dining out in Maui.

Famously in Maui

Often, I am asked what my favorite Maui restaurants are. Here, I’m putting on my Concierge hat. This is my short list for those special occasions with outdoor dining and my top choices with a view:

  • Spago at Four Seasons
  • Ferraro’s at Four Seasons
  • The Restaurant and Hotel Wailea

palm tree filled beach on maui

Chiefly, I am making my focus primarily on South Maui/Wailea restaurants for the purposes of this blog but certainly no Maui restaurant list is complete without having Mama’s Fish House feature in its top picks. So sneaking this one for good measure, a north shore landmark, legendary Mama’s Fish House is a “must do”! Their fresh fish caught by local fisherman served within 24-hours of being caught is a daily feature of their exceptional menu. The atmosphere is a throw back to old Hawaii, styled with Polynesian antiques, friendly staff in vintage Aloha wear, and, not to be missed, the artistic flower arrangements wherever your eyes rest. All this sits before a most spectacular ocean setting.

Be sure to book well in advance….usually 4-5 months ahead to secure your preferred date and time! This restaurant, nestled in Kuau Bay, is a national treasure and it is in high demand. Their website allows you to book on line.  Incidentally, did you know you can stay next door at the Inn at Mama’s Fish House? For a rare and unforgettable Maui visit, carve out a couple of days either end of your Maui vacation to stay here. An epic dinner experience at Mama’s and then, returning, just steps away, to your beachfront cottage, with the lapping of the ocean waves and the night sky busy with stars, bliss….ah, but I digress!

If You Are Looking for a More Casual Setting…

piece of pineapple in drink on maui

  • Tommy Bahama Restaurant at The Shops at Wailea
  • Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman at Wailea Gateway Center (Mai Tai with lilikoi foam float voted best island Mai Tai award for 10 years running)
  • Olivine at Grand Wailea
  • Gather in Maui at 100 Wailea Golf Club Drive (formerly Gannon’s, and prior to that SeaWatch) – new ownership here, great views, I have yet to try it
  • Lineage at The Shops at Wailea
  • Matteo’s at Wailea Town Center

It has to be said that we are spoiled for good choices in Maui with outdoor spaces.

With so many amazing celebrated restaurants vying for your valued custom, especially in these times where our hospitality industry is working hard to see visitors return, don’t forget there are many prized small mom and pop eateries, markets and even some highly rated food trucks which abound now in Kihei, Kahului and Haiku!

market stand with lots of fresh made food on maui

Sometimes, the best meals are the ones we pack ourselves. Pick your best view and pack a picnic with delicacies from the local markets! Throw down a towel or a blanket and with toes in the sand, create your own al fresco experience!

outdoor seating at wailea maui restaurant

Pop quiz: What restaurant in Wailea sits closest to the ocean? If you guessed Ferraro’s, you are correct!

Now let’s have some fun….

With the passage of time, we see the coming and going of restaurants, and in some cases, their reinvention. I’ve been in Maui since 1997, in that time, this is what I’ve seen! Join me on a figurative walk down memory lane. Do you remember these bygone favorites in South Maui?

1. A Pacific Cafe, Azeka Mall
2. Stella Blues, Azeka Mall
3. Radio Cairo, Rainbow Mall
4. Pacific Grill, Four Seasons
5. Seasons, Four Seasons
6. SeaWatch, Wailea Gold/Emerald Golf Course
7. Bella Luna, Wailea Blue Golf Course
8. Harry’s Sushi Bar and Lobster Cove, Wailea Blue Golf Course
9. Chart House, Wailea Blue Golf Course
10. Fire Dragon, Shops at Wailea
11. Carelli’s on the beach, Keawakapu
12. Greek Bistro, Kihei
13. Joe’s Bar and Grill, Wailea
14. Fabiani’s, Wailea Gateway Center
15. Sarentos, Kihei
16. Gannon’s, Wailea Gold/Emerald Golf Course
17. Mala, Wailea Beach Resort
18. Bistro Molokini, Grand Wailea
19. Five Palms, Kihei
20. Capische, Keawakapu
21. Longhi’s Wailea, Shops at Wailea

But where are they now?

From the list below, match the letter with the number above in this “Where are they now” quiz. See some restaurants with the same letter? You aren’t wrong. We have seen several changes at the same location.

A. Wailea Kitchen _________
B. Penny’s Pizza __________
C. Ekolu kitchen1279 ______
D. Cafe O Lei ____________
E. Duo _________________
F. Spago _______________
G. Gather in Maui ________
H. Mulligans ____________
I. Manoli’s ______________
J. Pint and Cork __________
K. Olivine _______________
L. Amigos _______________
M. Oao _________________
N. Humble Market Kitchin ___________
O. The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea ______
P. Wolfgangs____________

Here’s a Giveaway

The long awaited Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener is coming soon to the home of Longhis’ at its former location at the Shops at Wailea.

And lastly “Watch this space” for these two prime locations awaiting new management!

Did you find you have 3 left over? You are correct. Beloved Carelli’s on the Beach became the much loved Sarento’s on the Beach, and sorely missed, this location now sits vacant. Five Palms at Mana Kai has also closed (but its owners now run Kula Lodge, well worth a visit!)…

Scroll to see the answers below to the “where are they now” quiz,

A – 13
B – 12
C – 1, 2
D – 3
E – 4
F – 5
G – 6, 16
H – 7
I – 8, 9
J – 10
K – 18
L – 2
M – 14
N – 17
O – 20
P – 21
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