Kihei, Maui is famous for long stretches of sandy beaches, golden sunsets and an abundance of vacation rentals. What are the best places to eat?
I’ll start with the disclaimer: This is a local knowledge list written with a bias for great food, low prices and hole in the wall joints. Mainland chain restaurants aren’t included. So if you’re looking for details about Cheeseburger in Paradise or Starbucks, this isn’t the place to find it. The local yellow pages is your best bet since all of those places pride themselves on being the same.
Where to Eat in Kihei
Let’s start with breakfast and lunch. My personal favorites are Big Wave Cafe and Stella Blues. Both offer generous portions, reasonable prices and tasty food. You can take the kids. They are located in strip malls so don’t expect a fancy ocean view or upscale wine lists. These are just great places to grab a bite.
For dinner, there are a lot of great choices. Sansei, the upscale sushi bar, offers an early bird special of half-price sushi before 6 PM making these otherwise spendy bites downright affordable. But you have to get there early (as the special name implies). People start lining up well before 5 PM.
Roy’s is another great choice. The food is always top quality and the consistently high level of service is a relief after a week of waving your waiter down. Kids are more than welcome, and they bust out a big toy chest to keep them busy while you sip wines made especially for their cuisine and down appetizers that arrive in only minutes after ordering. Don’t forget the chocolate souffle best accompanied by a glass of Banyuls desert wine. They do have locations on the Mainland and are a chain, but since Roy’s first restaurant was on Oahu, it counts as local.
Cafe O’Lei floats like a glittering island of gourmet in a sea of strip mall take-out joints. The raw oyster bar, fresh fish and groovy vibe means that place is packed solid every night. Make reservations and enjoy your stroll to your table past the less-savvy crowds. Prices aren’t cheap, but the quality is deserving.
Longhi’s is always popular because people like Italian. If you’re really into authentic Italian, however, this is not your place. But they do have a good wine list, and the food will satisfy a craving for a decent pasta but not much more.
Shangri-La By the Sea, an Indian restaurant, recently opened in the Menehune Shores Condo complex. Indian has not been reliable or good in Maui until now. For vegetarians, it’s a dream come true. See my blog entry “Kihei, Maui, Hosts new Indian Restaurant” for more details.