If you come to Maui on your honeymoon or for a special vacation, you’ll want to have at least one meal in a romantic restaurant. Think Hawaiian dining means only a luau of pork, pineapple, and poi? Think again. Maui offers plenty of first-rate restaurants. Some are located in the fun-if-touristy seaside town of Lahaina, while others are in neighboring towns or at resorts. Here’s a sampling of romantic Maui restaurants. An added delight: several boasts spectacular sunsets.
Lahaina Grill is widely considered Maui’s top restaurant. Its New American cuisine uses local produce plus ingredients from all over the world. But the key is the creative preparation and fabulous flavors.
The signature appetizer is a Kona lobster crab cake. Notable entrees include tequila shrimp and firecracker rice (the secret ingredient is chili pepper) and Kona coffee roasted rack of lamb. Scrumptious triple berry pie combines raspberries, blueberries, and black currants.
Located in downtown Lahaina, the Lahaina Grill has a slightly urban feeling despite its plantation décor, with an ornate tin ceiling and overhead fans turning lazily. The wait staff is efficient and friendly.
For the freshest fish, it’s Mama’s Fish House, perched on a palm-lined beach near Pa’ia. The fish is delivered daily, and each fisherman’s name is listed on the menu.
Founded in the 1970s, the restaurant is a Maui institution that melds Hawaiian and Polynesian fare and is equally popular with locals and tourists.
The romantic sunsets alone make it worth a visit. But it’s the food that packs ’em in. Try the ahi, ono and mahimahi sautéed in Panang curry and coconut milk. Or try the Markea shrimp with macadamia nut crusted tenderloin with poha berry sauce.
And if you believe the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, look into staying at one of the 12 intimate guest rooms at the inn on the property.
Casual yet elegant Mala is another highly rated and highly romantic Maui restaurant. Mala specializes in Mediterranean and Pacific Rim cuisine, with vegetarian and vegan selections in addition to fish and meat dishes.
A popular first course is the seared ahi bruschetta on flaxseed toast with tomatoes and edamame puree. Outstanding entrees include hoisin-glazed baby back ribs with Molokai purple mashed potatoes and sake-marinated beef short ribs.
Do save room for the crème brûlée trio: passion fruit, mango, and dragon fruit. Dining outdoors on the terrace adds relaxing ocean breezes and a backdrop of a gorgeous Maui sunset.
The Banyan Tree is housed in its own hut-like building overlooking the Pacific at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
While enjoying romantic views of the neighboring island of Molokai in a softly-lit, open-air dining room, guests savor Pacific Rim cuisine made with Maui-grown ingredients. Among the delicacies: locally made goat cheese with lavender-strawberries and a macadamia nut tuille; Kona lobster; ahi tuna sashimi; plus vegan selections such as marinated tofu with ume-eggplant and jasmine rice.
The pupu menu allows guests to choose three small plates, creating a satisfying meal that leaves room for luscious desserts such as pineapple caramel cake with coconut-lavender sorbet.
It’s hard to imagine anything more romantic than watching a Maui sunset aboard a boat. While several tour companies offer sunset dinner cruises, an excellent choice is the Pacific Whale Foundation’s cruises, which help to support the organization’s ecological mission.
The evening begins by sailing out of Lahaina Harbor, accompanied by soft Hawaiian guitar music and song. As the setting sun streaks the sky with orange, pink and lavender, dine on taro bread, Maui Cattle Company steaks, teriyaki chicken, and cheesecake with lilikoi sauce (that’s passion fruit). Mai-tais, piña coladas, wine, and beer are included.