Best Maui Restaurants on a Budget
Maui Local Dining
Maui is an expensive place to visit. Restaurants and groceries will cost you more on Maui than what you are used to spending at home. So how can you eat well on Maui without breaking your budget?
In this article, we'll answer that question and provide you with a plan to enjoy your meals on Maui as much as you enjoy Maui’s fabulous weather, scenery, and activities. And you can do it all while spending less than other people spend for food on The Valley Isle.
The ideas and restaurant reviews in this article are drawn from the Maui Vacations – Jon’s Maui Info website, which contains reviews of most Maui restaurants, hotels, condos, sites, and activities.
Tip #1 - Eat some meals in your Maui condo
The first thing you'll have to decide when planning your Maui vacation is whether to stay in a hotel or a condo. The major advantage of renting a condo is that it includes a kitchen, while hotel rooms generally do not. By choosing to stay in a condo, you will have a full-size refrigerator and a stove, not just a mini-fridge and microwave. That way, you can eat some of your meals in the condo, instead of having to pay restaurant prices for every meal. To see reviews and photos to help you choose the best Mauji condo for your needs and budget, see Where to Stay on Maui.
Once you've settled into your condo you must then decide where you'll get your groceries. The least expensive place for groceries on Maui is Costco. Costo is located in Maui’s largest city, Kahului, right near the airport. Be sure to stop off there to pick up some food and snacks on your way from the airport to your condo. The next best place to shop is Safeway. There are four big Safeway stores on Maui-- all open 24 hours-- so there’s one near wherever you are staying. To get the best prices at Safeway, be sure to sign up for their Safeway Club Card right away, before you do any shopping. You may already have the club card if you shop at Safeway in your hometown.
Tip #2 - Eat your restaurant meals at Maui’s best inexpensive restaurants
Over half of the restaurants on Maui are in the inexpensive price range. Of course, inexpensive on Maui is more expensive than inexpensive back home. But if you choose from among the following recommendations, you will get some of Maui’s best food and will pay a lot less than most Maui visitors pay when they eat at the many higher-priced restaurants on the island.
The least expensive restaurants are located away from the tourist areas, in central Maui, rather than Kaanapali or Wailea. Here are the top three, which serve the best food at the lowest prices. An added bonus? Your fellow diners will be local Maui residents instead of large groups of tourists, so it's a great way to mingle with the island's permanent residents.
Da Kitchen serves up everything from beef, pork, fish, chicken, and more- most in huge portions (with included rice and salad) big enough for two people. Be sure to try the Kalua Pork plate lunch. 808-871-7782.
Café O’Lei at the Dunes
This golf course clubhouse restaurant in the middle of Maui’s central valley has wonderful food, plus a beautiful view of the West Maui Mountains. The best deal here is their Daily Plate Lunch special. Many of their other sandwiches and entrées are big enough to share. 808-667-0968
The atmosphere at Zippy's may resemble Denny’s, but the food is a lot better and includes many Hawaiian favorites. You simply must try the Loco Moco! 808-856-7599.
You may not always want to not drive to central Maui to eat at restaurants like those above, with the local residents. So if you'd like to stay closer to your hotel or condo here are some recommendations for each of Maui's most popular tourist areas.
West Side (Lahaina and Kaanapali area)
Penne Pasta Café
Diners here can choose from several very good pasta preparations. As an added bonus, offerings can be served up sans meat, making them vegetarian friendly. Penne Pasta Café is located on a side street instead of the main Front Street in Lahaina, so the lower rent there means lower prices for your meal. 808-661-6633
CJ’s Deli & Diner
Choose from a wide variety of choices for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. CJ's is located on the main highway in Kaanapali, instead of in the resort hotels. This means you'll save money because the restaurant doesn't pay the high rent that oceanfront restaurants pay. 808-667-0968
If you're looking for Maui’s best carryout meals, this tiny restaurant right in the condo district north of Lahaina and Kaanapali is the place to go. 808-665-0512
South Side (Kihei and Wailea area)
Tucked away on a side street off the beaten path in Kihei, this restaurant has only a few tables indoors and outdoors, so you may want to just carry out your meal from here. Eskimo Candy serves up delicious seafood choices plus a few great beef and chicken dishes. The fish-n-chips is outstanding. 808-891-8898
Pita Paradise serves pitas with many choices of fillings- including meat and vegetarian- in the Wailea Gateway shopping center. Note that prices here are much cheaper than noshing at the fancy Shops at Wailea shopping center. Check out the Johnny’s Catch fish pita, which is prepared with fresh fish personally caught by the owner of the restaurant. 808-879-7177
The menu here is long and each selection seems more delectable than the last. The pho is always a popular choice- with good reason- and they offer a nice selection of vegetarian dishes, as well. 808-875-2088
Tip #3 – How to eat cheaply at the more expensive restaurants
If you'd like to try one of Maui’s fine-dining or ocean-view restaurants but you don’t want to spend $75 or more per person for dinner, here are some suggestions to dine in style and go easy on your budget, too.
Share, share, share! The best expensive restaurants on Maui have large portions, so just order one entrée for two people, and don’t order any other courses.
Each person can have an appetizer instead of an entrée.
No drinks! Wine and fancy tropical alcoholic drinks are very expensive on Maui. Tap water is free.
See? Finding cheap eats on Maui is easy! By following these recommendations you’ll save enough to start planning your next Maui vacation as soon as you get home from this one.