Local Eatin’ in Maui

Hawaiian gifts

1When you think of Maui do you think of tacky tourists wearing socks with sandals?

Would you like to know about the best local foods to eat when you're in Maui?

Get away from the overpriced resorts and start traveling through Maui and you'll find amazing local culture. That means there's great local food and here we'll share the ones you'll definitely want to make sure you visit.

We'll start in Paia and drive around Maui’s eastern side from north to south. There is only one road.....it would take an awful lot of effort to get lost.



Coconut Glen’s: Here you'll find the best ice cream in the world which is made from coconut milk and other local ingredients. In this picture  is Glen who has opened a little truck, just a block or so up from Mana Foods. It should be open most afternoons. Make sure to try the chili-chocolate and mint chip flavors, but they’re all amazing!

Mana Foods: This is the last decent place to buy them if you're staying farther than Paia. It’s still by no means a regular grocery store, so prepare yourself for unwashed hippies. You can order homemade kombucha from the deli and the fruits section is full of weird, exotic stuff you’ve never heard of. If it’s there, it’ll be in-season, so just buy the stuff that looks weird.


Hana Hou Cafe: Some of the best traditional Hawaiian dishes on Maui are made here by Leon, a French chef who used to cook for Le Bernadin in New York. Start with a Pohole Fern salad, then get a Squid Luau, Kalua Pork and Poi plate lunch. Leon also makes an excellent Mango Daiquiri.

It’s pretty much a shack and a covered patio off a strip mall parking lot, but prepare yourself for a long meal. This is one of the few suggestions here that’ll be open seven nights a week, until 9pm.


Hana Farms Banana Stand: There’s a number of banana stands on the way into Hana, but hold out for the Hana Farms one. It’s on the right, about two miles past Glen’s and is brown with a brown grass roof. There, they sell a number of banana-based products, all sourced from the farm and notably including banana bread, banana butter and banana curry sauce; they’re all great and you can ship anything home from there as a souvenir or gift.

You'll find friendly staff who can help you figure Hana out. Just realize that they’re inundated with annoying tourists in yellow Camaros all day, every day and try not to be one of those people.

Whatever you do, make sure you come back on either Friday or Saturday, from 4-8pm for the best pizza on earth. Alan makes it in a Polynesian-style clay oven of his own construction using ingredients sourced from this and other local farms. It’s served wrapped in a banana leaf. It really is the best pizza you will ever eat.

Pizza night is BYOB, so bring a case of beer, share it, and make new friends. It’s the biggest (read: only) social event that re-occurs weekly in Hana, so everyone who’s anyone will be in attendance and this is your chance to learn about local life and maybe even get invited to participate in it.

1If you really want to make friends here, show up at the stand earlier in the week and ask about volunteering on Farm Day, which is Wednesdays. Spending a day working hard in the jungle is a reward all its own, but this is also how you’ll earn a little respect and get people to trust you so they might tell you where all the secret waterfalls, beaches and hikes are.

Hasegawa General Store: There’s two stores in Hana, this and the Hana Ranch Store across the street. Here you can buy beer, basic foods, basic tools and outdoor equipment (although not much beyond maybe a tarp, duct tape and bug spray) and there’s even an ATM. Open from 7 to 7 every day, this is the one reliable part of Hana that you’ll end up returning to virtually every day.

Surfing Burro: Next door to Hasegawa is a little orange food truck that’s open for breakfast most days. Here, you’ll find a decent cup of coffee and the best breakfast burrito you've ever had. This is the one spot in Hana where you can reliably get one or two bars of cell reception, coming to you all the way from the Big Island, 26 miles or so to your east.

Thai Food By Pranee: You’ll hear people describe this as “The best Thai food outside Thailand.” You’ll find the usual Pad Thai and whatnot, but the real treat is seeing what the local catch is and getting that in the curry of your choice. Pranee’s is located just up from Hana Bay, on the other side of the ball fields from the highway. Walk away from town, on the street that the restaurant is on and at the south end you’ll find the trail to Red Sand Beach.

Troy’s Plate Lunch: Only open Thursday’s for lunch, Troy’s is well worth the visit. He’s a big spear fisherman, and will serve you whatever he’s caught that week, breaded and fried and stuffed with crab or lobster. His barbecue pork is also delicious, as is anything in his steam plates. Troy himself run the stand, so take the time to chat with him while you’re there. He’s one of the friendliest guys on the island. If you’re cool, he might even give directions to some of his fishing spots or even invite you to tag along.

Here, you sit at tables located next to Koki beach, with a view of the ocean, swirling terns, blue sky and green palm trees.

What is your favorite Maui local hangout? Share your comments below.

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