Best Places to Eat right after Getting off the Plane in Kahului, Maui
Congratulation, you survived the long trip halfway across the Pacific to the beautiful island of Maui. Now let’s talk about one of the first things that comes to your head after getting off the plane; where do I satisfy my hunger pains?
I can go over the mainland food chains, but that isn’t why you came to this blog is it? No, you want to know where the good local grinds are at, save the mainland food chains for when you return.
One of the most important things to know about restaurants in Maui is that they don’t operate on Mainland hours, we’re on island time brah, and that means late openings and early closings. Therefore, these suggestions will include each restaurant’s hours so you don’t get angry at me when you walk up to a dark storefront dying of hunger.
Also, one other note, I am only covering restaurants in Kahului, the town you’re landing in, these places are all within 5 minutes of getting in your rental car at the airport.
Be prepared for a lot of rice, spam, and Portuguese sausage if you’re planning on trying the local breakfast cuisine. There’s nothing extravagant to expect, just a very filling breakfast. Options are very limited in the morning, if you make it past the Krispy Kreme after leaving the airport here’s the best local breakfast cuisines in Kahului.
(11pm – 10:30am breakfast hours)
Zippy’s is definitely the “go to” choice if you want to get the best local breakfast experience right off the plane. They have the most hot plate and baked good options.
Here, you either want to choose the breakfast plate or bento for the experience. It includes eggs, your choice of Portuguese sausage, spam, bacon, ham, or corned beef hash. On the side you have your choice of rice, toast or hash browns. If you stray from spam and rice you’ve already missed the Hawaiian experience and reason for coming to Zippy’s. They also have many omelet and breakfast sandwich options if you want to take it back to the mainland diet.
If you aren’t in the hot plate mood or maybe you’re a sweet baked goods breakfast eater, Zippy’s has great local baked good options for you. Their delicious local baked goods options include Andagi (Japanese style golden crispy donuts), Malasadas (Portuguese style powdered donuts), and Jin Dui (fried mochi balls with a sweet bean filling, rolled in sesame seeds). All great options, maybe get them all.
I know I said I wasn’t putting mainland chains, but McDonalds is definitely a local favorite for their local breakfast plates. Plates consisting with, of course, spam/Portuguese sausage, rice and eggs. Nothing special, but you’re eating it for the local experience. They also have Poi pies, only found in their Hawaii locations. Same makeup as their traditional hot pocket looking pies, but filled with Poi. If you don’t know what poi is, you’ll find out here or at your Luau. (Poi is fermented Taro root ground into a paste, fairly flavorless honestly, many Hawaiians use it to dip dry food items in, a novelty however when put into a McDonalds pie).
Kahului offers many more great local options around lunch time than breakfast; the town is finally awake. I’ll just cover the best options in this blog.
1. Tin Roof
You definitely have to put Tin Roof as number one for Kahului lunch grinds. This place is hip, cheap, filling, and super ono (good). Chef Sheldon from Hilo took the traditional Hawaiian plate lunch and made each entree into a 5 star meal. Options include Mochiko Chicken (my favorite), chopped steak, pork belly, poke, and usually a few specialty plates. They have an awesome online ordering system as well, something you may want to consider when getting off the plane to beat the crowds.
2. Like Poke
You just landed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, why not get some fresh seafood right off the plane? The best lunch option for this in Kahului is located at the food trucks across from Costco just outside of the airport. Like Poke makes number two because their fried and baked poke is almost to die for. Fried poke is a twist on the traditional raw poke (ahi tuna). Like Poke adds traditional sauces and furikake to the fried tuna, and serves it with rice and cabbage to make an amazing lunch at a reasonable price for seafood on Maui.
3. Thai Mee Up
(closed Sundays, 10am-8pm Wed/Fri, 10am-4pm Sat/Mon/Tues)
I know this isn’t Hawaiian food, but it’s definitely number three for lunch grinds in Kahului in my book and I figured I should give you a couple of different food type options. Thai Mee Up is located in the same food truck plaza as Like Poke across from Costco. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best Thai food on the whole island. Expect traditional plates you’d find at Thai restaurants such as chicken or shrimp Pad Thai and Panang curry chicken or shrimp, it’s all amazing.
There’s really just one place that takes the cake when talking getting local style dinner in Kahului in my opinion, it’s called Da Kitchen.
1. Da Kitchen
(11am-9pm, closed Sundays)
Da Kitchen took local dishes and made them next level close to five star dinning (as far as local food goes). This is a nice sit down restaurant and is byob which is pretty awesome. This place gets packed around dinner time so be prepared to wait for a table if you’re getting there past 6pm. They’re known for their fried spam musubi for the appetizer. I can’t really say which entrees they’re known for because they are all equally incredible. Expect options such as garlic chicken, seared Ahi, Mahi Mahi fish baskets, Hawaiian mixed plates, and a variety of steaks. My favorite unique options here are their giant Loco Moco bowls where they combine almost everything on the menu and put the classic loco moco hamburger and egg on top.
This should cover you on dining options around the Kahului airport in Maui. If you have a late flight after 9pm your choices are slimmed down to McDonald’s and Zippy’s, so I wouldn’t want to come off the plane hungry. Besides that, Happy Dining and enjoy your stay on Maui!