Eating Out in Lahaina, HI | Top Restaurants You Should Try

| Photo by Amisha Nakhwa on Unsplash
Huw Fullerton

Lahaina’s real estate may be among Hawaii’s most expensive, but that doesn’t mean that the state’s former capital isn’t a great place to visit. And despite its former name of Lele (‘relentless sun’ in Hawaiian), Lahaina is about more than sunbathing; its vibrant cultural scene includes galleries and historic architecture. All that pales beside its restaurant scene however, which marries new to old in these ten unmissable restaurants.

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Lahaina Grill

The name may have changed (until 2007 it was known as David Paul’s Lahaina Grill), but this restaurant’s decades-old reputation for great food and service remains relevant as it ever was. Located just off Front Street, Lahaina Grill is situated at the historic Lahaina Inn, and creates innovative New American cuisine through a fusion of global cooking techniques and flavours. Signature dishes include the warm pecan crusted goat cheese & baby arugula salad, sautéed mahi-mahi and The Cake Walk – a sampler of Kona lobster crab cake, seared ahi cake, and sweet Louisiana rock shrimp cake. In addition to this, every night the executive chef creates a new ‘seafood design’ dish, making every trip unique.

Though the food here is worth a bite, it’s the dinner theatre that truly makes Warren and Annabelle’s a must-visit for anyone coming to Maui. Featuring a rotating roster of magicians, the venue offers a mix of comedy and magic suitable for all ages, thought perhaps a little geared towards an American audience. It’s a real treat to see a Vegas-quality magic show in such a small, intimate space, and the level of audience participation is just on the right side of overbearing to make it a great night. And at the end of the two hour show, the magician will usually thank you for coming individually – now that’s service!

Duke’s Beach House

Featuring a breakfast menu teeming with traditional favourites like onolicious French toast made with molokai sweet bread and lilikoi butter, this open-air restaurant also introduces local flavours to create a delicious marriage of two styles. The lunch menu is also worth looking at, filled with casual island favourites like huli huli chicken and ho daddy fish & chips. As with many Hawaiian restaurants the service is predictably good, but servers here have a particularly personal touch that will make anyone’s day. And if you have other Hawaiian travels planned, never fear – there are branches of Duke’s all over the islands.

Star Noodle

If you’re in Lahaina you’ve really got to try some noodles, and while there are plenty of places to do so this restaurant is worth seeking out (and doing so early; queues can get quite long, but if you call up 45 minutes in advance you can get your name on the list). Offering a slightly different style of Thai food, pad thai may actually be the only recognisable thing on Star Noodle’s eclectic menu (although any true aficionado of Thai cuisine will know the pork buns are worth picking up). Fellow diners can’t wait to give their recommendations, and with low prices and a great communal atmosphere anyone would be glad to receive them.

Gazebo Restaurant at Napili Shores

A must for breakfast, long queues form outside Gazebo before it’s even opened; but it’s well worth the wait, and the staff are efficient and friendly enough to keep the table turn-around quick and painless. Traditional American breakfasts are given a Hawaiian twist, like the restaurant’s famous macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup (in place of milk on the table), alongside simple classics like hash browns and eggs. And it’s not just the visitors who love the food; watch out for some bold birds who often can’t resist trying their luck to snaffle some morsels off your plate (depending on the time of day). With great food, service and a scenic location, Gazebo Restaurant is the perfect way to start a day in Paradise.

Kupanaha (Ka’anapali Dinner Theater)

Another magic show offering, Kupanaha also places a little more concentration on food than many dinner theatre-style offerings in Hawaii. The illusions are outstanding, fast-paced and entertaining, including a history of magic performers on the island and frequent audience participation (often coming up to individual tables for close-up magic). As audience members watch they are treated to a three-course meal and delicious Blue Hawaii cocktails, and the magic is interspersed with an assortment of short hula shows by young but talented performers. While appropriate for the whole family, it’s kids who will be left in awe and clamouring for a return trip.

Old Lahaina Luau

Offering Maui’s potentially most authentic luau (traditional Hawaiian feast accompanied by entertainment), Old Lahaina Luau can be found lying in beautiful grounds in north Lahaina. Customers can wander the grounds before the luau to observe and participate in a variety of activities, before enjoying a well-choreographed, colourful and entertaining show that gives a glimpse into the history of the Hawaiian islands and is essential viewing for any first-time travellers. The BBQ-roasted pig has been a big hit with diners, along with blended drinks that are available with or without alcohol. Old Lahaina Luau may be a little touristy, but it’s also a great night out that definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

You can’t visit Hawaii without trying shaved ice, and Ululani’s is the place to try it. Extremely well-rated by customers, the light and silky ice shavings come in a variety of over 30 flavours from pe’ahi-coconut, mango and lilikoi to root beer, in generous portions that make it well worth the money. Frequent visitors advise accompanying the shavings with a scoop of ice cream, light enough to taste like cream. The staff are friendly, funny and knowledgeable, both about their product (offering advice on flavour combinations) and the local area’s attractions and activities. Bear in mind, however; as with many of Lahaina’s best spots, there can be a bit of a wait.

Fleetwood’s on Front Street

Hawaii and classic rock may not be traditional bedfellows, but at this restaurant owned by one half of one of music’s most iconic duos, you can eat like a real rock star. Aside from occasional glances of owner Mick Fleetwood, however, Fleetwood’s on Front Street is still a real find for any discerning diner – try the surf n’ turf with roasted pineapple for dessert. Mixing the values of Hawaiian culture (and cuisine) with the tunes of Fleetwood Mac and other contemporaries (played live) shouldn’t work, but it somehow does, creating a unique atmosphere that is helped by the personable and knowledgeable local staff. Tours are also offered round the musical relics of Mick’s past, including instruments, photos and many other treasures.

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