Food Trip: Maui & The Maui Foodist Bucket List / by Kelsey Vlamis

When asked to think of Maui food, you probably imagine fresh pineapples and fresh poke--and understandably so! It would be a disservice to yourself and to the island to not enjoy those little wonders while visiting the Aloha State. But there is a lot more to Maui cuisine, something I quickly learned during two long, food-centric trips. I was doing research (read: eating anything and everything) with my man-friend for his book, The Foodist Bucket List: Maui, which compiles the island's top 100 edible adventures, from farm to fork. If you're headed to Maui (or just enjoy reading about food) I can't recommend the book enough--it's funny, useful, and truly a joy to read. In the meantime, I've narrowed down my own (much shorter) list of must-try Maui food. I stuck with more casual options (you don't need me, or anyone, to tell you Mama's Fish House is excellent), and I've divided it up by location for convenience. Enjoy!

maui coast

Hana Highway

Coconut Glen's: Truly an oasis on the long, winding, Road to Hana, the small colorful shack that is Coconut Glen's serves freshly made coconut-based vegan ice cream, made from coconuts harvested in the adjacent rainforest. Passing this place up is a grave mistake, for vegans and dairy-lovers alike.

The Upcountry

La Provence: Butter and carbs and more butter. I know, it's not exactly the picture of a Maui vacation. But do not visit the upcountry without stopping at this small, authentic French bakery. Get there early, as the baked goods often sell out before 9 am. Order the quiche, finish with the almond croissant, and start your day in the upcountry off right.

la provence maui quiche
la provence maui

Surfing Goat Dairy: What if I told you there was a magical, tropical place, with prancing baby goats, expansive ocean views, and flights of farm-fresh goat cheese? Well, this place exists and it's called Surfing Goat Dairy.

Grandma's Coffee House: The perfect, local, family-run spot for a classic breakfast, with delicious food (go for the weekend benedict special), a quaint patio, and killer island views. Plus, they've been growing, processing, and roasting (in-house!) their organic coffee since 1918. What's not to love?

grandma's coffee house


Makawao Sushi and Deli: Ben's Rainbow Roll. Absolutely loaded with crazy-fresh fish, hand-rolled by Ben himself, and served by his wife in this small, unassuming, deli-style restaurant. That's all.


Paia Bowls: Tucked away off the busy streets in this once quiet hippy/surfer town is this perfect little acai spot, with 100% acai bowls, yummy toppings, reasonable prices, and the cutest plant-ridden patio to enjoy it all on.

acai bowls paia
acai bowl maui

Paia Bay Coffee: The most perfect Hawaiian coffee shop imaginable. Also tucked away off the bustling Paia streets, this coffee shop is a lush, tropical plant-filled paradise, free of tourists and full of fresh Maui air... and great coffee.

Mana Foods: Think Whole Foods, but way smaller, more local, totally Hawaiian, and actually community-based. The perfect little grocery store to fill up on any and all food needs--like fresh, beautiful, local produce for snacking, or packing a sack lunch before hitting the road to Hana.

hana sack lunch
mana foods kula strawberry


Poi By The Pound: You can't go to Hawaii without trying actual Hawaiian food--which, contrary to popular belief, is not fresh fruit and fresh fish. Classic Hawaiian food is more like spam, white rice, mac salad, pork, and poi--a strangely textured taro root paste. Go to Poi By The Pound, try the kalua pork, the lau lau, the poi, and embrace Native Hawaiian culture.


South Maui Fish Company: The. best. poke. ever. Not the best poke I had in Maui, not the best poke I've had from a food truck, just the best. The freshest-tasting and most perfectly-textured poke I've had. Period.

south maui fish co poke


Choice Health Bar: The beloved Hawaiian acai bowl may not find any greater glory than the version that is offered at Choice. A massive bowl of thick purple acai with plenty of granola, bananas, coconut, and more. Not to mention, healthy and vegan salads, plate lunches, and bowls. This place is the real deal.

choice health bar acai


Most importantly, don't forget to look out for serendipitous discoveries of fresh ripe fruit still hanging on the tree--a very common occurrence all over the island. After all, the overwhelmingly lush and abundant landscape is the true wonder of a place like Maui, and is the reason it has so much good food in the first place. So, as always, shout out and mahalo to Mother Earth.

fresh maui papaya
iver foraging

Any spots you love in Maui that I missed? Let me know! :)