Maui has no shortage of places to grab a bite. There are so many choices, in fact, that it can maybe feel overwhelming. So please let us offer you up some suggestions for your breakfast, lunch and dinner in Lahaina and Kihei.
BREAKFAST: Since 2003, CJ’s Deli & Diner in Lahaina has been serving up generous portions of comfort food favorites. Plus they boast of having the most affordable breakfast in the Kaanapali area, served up daily from 7-11 a.m. All the familiar favorites are here, like pancakes and French toast, bacon, hash, bagels, omelets, acai bowls, with all their ingredients sourced locally.
Co-owners Christian Jorgensen (CJ) and his wife Marilyn have been delighting customers with delicious food and affordable prices. “We have so many repeat customers,” says Marilyn. “Many eat at our restaurant every day of their vacation.” The fun, friendly faces and great value are a huge draw, but it’s also the casual mom n’ pop vibe that keeps people coming back, including playful chalkboard menus, a family-friendly atmosphere and their BYOB policy.
LUNCH: When midday rolls around, your mind may gravitate more towards burgers and sandwiches. At Moose McGillycuddy’s Pub & Cafe in Kihei, you can choose from 11 heavenly burger creations. Sink your chops into a Chuck Berry Hot Blues Burger dipped in buffalo hot wing sauce, topped with crisp bacon and crumbled blue cheese. The Holy Guacamole burger is topped with sauteed jalapenos, bell peppers and onions, Monterey Jack cheese and a dollop of guacamole.
Also covering the lunch beat is the Cool Cat Cafe. In 2002, Sean and Steve were operating their first Cool Cat in San Luis Obispo when a local business broker told them to check out a location on Front Street in Lahaina. “It was an 8,000 square foot dump,” says Sean. “Don’t ask me why we jumped in; our minds told us ‘no’ but I guess our hearts told us something different. So Cool Cat Lahaina became reality.”
Success in the restaurant business starts and ends with the food. “We make everything from scratch,” explains Sean. “We hand-press our hamburgers every day. We buy our buns from the best local bakery, every day. We use Roselani Ice Cream in our shakes, because, in our opinion, they make the best ice cream on the island.
DINNER: If you want sunset dining, you can’t go wrong with Fred’s Mexican Cafe. Fred’s has great Mexican food and margaritas in a beautiful coastal location in Kihei with stunning sunset views. Fred’s combines traditional Mexican cuisine with a lighter, California style of cooking. All sauces and salsas are made fresh daily—ask for the habanero sauce if you want to get your spicy on!
Fresh ingredients include Certified Angus Beef, boneless skinless chicken breast and fresh fish. Their Chile Verde made with slow-braised pork, Chicken Monterey with creamy sauce and fresh avocado, and Cabo Carnitas, spicy marinated pork with sauteed veggies all sound so mouth-wateringly delicious and are just a few of their popular favorites.
Teppanyaki is a great vacation dining option—part entertainment and lots of delicious food. If you have hibachi steak on your mind, Kobe’s Japanese Steak House is the top-rated restaurant in its category on Maui. Owner Martha Haleakala has been associated with Kobe’s for all of its 33+ years on Dickensen Street in Lahaina, first as a bookkeeper, then in a variety of positions. “I was practically running the place when the previous owner decided to sell and retire,” says Haleakala. “I thought, ‘why not me?’”
Twenty years later, Haleakala is still serving fine food and drink with the help of her granddaughter Ashley. Stop in and say “hi” to Martha and Ashley before you settle in for a spectacular dinner show. Or find a spot amongst the locals in the sunken sushi bar and order from Uncle Oku’s daily fresh fish specials.
DESSERT: You didn’t think we’d forget the most important meal of the day, did you? Island Cream Co® came about, interestingly enough, because founder Dan Blessing was not a fan of gelato. He put his background in science to good use and developed a hybrid between gelato and ice cream. “I preferred the pan presentation of gelato,” he says. “I think the normal presentation of ice cream in round tubs, with frost and freezer-burned product, is an absolute turn off.”
They’ve developed over 150 recipes, including unique flavors like Coconut-Poi, Maui French Toast and Chocolate Pomegranate, alongside more familiar delights like Pineapple Cream, Hazelnut and good ol’ Chocolate. One of their newest flavors is Sposhy®. Dan explains that it’s “a unique blend of our Glacier Ice® combined with Island Cream® inside—topped with fresh strawberries & mango—along with hand made strawberry and mango puree.”
Doesn’t that sound delicious? A satisfying finish to any meal—or a long day of sightseeing!
[A version of this article appears in print in This Week Maui]
Keywords: maui dining lunch maui dinner maui breakfast maui maui lunch kihei dining lahaina dining lahaina lunch lahaina breakfast lahaina dinner kihei breakfast kihei lunch kihei dinner