I’m a self-proclaimed foodie, and when my boyfriend booked our anniversary vacation to Maui, I researched the food scene there. I was excited to learn that Maui has an incredible food culture with every imaginable option! Even better, they have local and traditional plate lunch options.
We have eaten at the best restaurants on the island, and our favorites are the ones that serve traditional plate lunches. These restaurants have a huge selection of dishes, with something for everyone’s taste. The portions are generous, and the flavors are always delicious.
We have also tried the modern plate lunch restaurants, and while they are tasty, they don’t quite compare to the traditional places.
I have found the best five restaurants for you. They will satisfy everyone’s taste and budget. The restaurants are ranked based on fresh ingredients, portion sizes, menu options, overall taste, and service.
You will love them, and so will your taste buds!
#1. Honokowai Okazuya & Deli – Best Plate Lunch West Maui Lahaina
I am always on the lookout for great restaurants to try. I was excited when I heard about this small restaurant in town that served delicious and diverse food.
The restaurant was small, but the food was amazing. There was so much to choose from, and the staff was friendly and fast. I got a plate of Chicken Katsu & Korean Chicken with a scoop of brown rice & sautéed vegetables (with sweet Thai chili sauce). The chicken was perfectly done, crispy and juicy on the inside. The portions were nice, and the vegetables were perfectly seasoned.
I am picky about my rice, so I appreciated that it wasn’t overdone or mushy!
My boyfriend had the Teriyaki Steak and Blackened Shrimp with noodles on the side. The combination was amazing, and the teriyaki steak was perfectly done (savory and well marinated). The meal was super meaty, and the shrimp was refreshing and light. He served homemade tartar sauce on the side.
The portions are large, and the food you get for the price is well worth it. The only downside is that you need to bring cash. They don’t take cards!
We loved that there was something for everyone, and we can’t wait to go back!
It is my number one pick for a plate lunch because:
- There are many combination options and multiple lunch specials every day.
- The food is well seasoned and prepared fresh.
- The portions are large, and the prices are reasonable.
- There are kid’s options for the small picky eaters.
Address: 3600 Lower Honoapiilani Rd Ste D, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761-8985
#2. Tin Roof Maui – Best Hawaiian Plate Lunch Maui Kahului
This small, local restaurant serves delicious food. This restaurant is my second favorite food choice, which is also packaged as a lunch portion for your picnic.
We ordered our food online, and it arrived without having to wait. My boyfriend had the pork belly, and I had the Mochiko chicken. We also ordered the kale salad and garlic noodles to share. My chicken was well done and crispy on the outside, which I loved. There was the perfect amount of seasoning, and the rice was fluffy. The kale salad had just the right amount of dressing.
My boyfriend also loved the pork. The meat was well-trimmed without a lot of fat, and the edges were perfectly crispy. The pork had a tasty flavor, and it was moist. The noodles smelled amazing and were well done without being overcooked or tough. They are on the dryer side, which we both prefer.
The portions are the right size, and the price is very reasonable. The menu is not huge, but what they make, they make well. We plan on trying the spicy pork and garlic shrimp next time!
It is a convenient place to pick up a plate lunch because:
- They have several delicious lunch specials that are perfectly seasoned and portioned.
- The garlic noodles are a specialty and are definitely worth the drive.
- All the meat is well done, and the sauces are delicious.
- There are gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions.
Address: 360 Papa Pl Ste 116, Kahului, HI 96732
#3. Sam Sato’s Inc – The Trusted Pick by the Locals
This old local restaurant has been in business since the 1930s. They are in an unassuming spot in a somewhat industrial section of Wailuku. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch. They have parking and seating available.
We had lunch at the restaurant. I ordered the dry Mein (which they are famous for!) and a bowl of broth. The noodles were perfectly cooked and seasoned. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy. The broth was delicate and clean tasting. Very well done.
My boyfriend had the teriyaki plate lunch with rice and salad. The portion of meat was generous and perfectly marinated. The rice was well cooked without getting soggy. The vegetables were fresh. All in all, he loved his meal.
For dessert, we tried pineapple peach turnovers, which were sweet and refreshing at the same time. Very flavorful.
Follow the locals and visit Sam Sato’s Inc because:
- The food is tasty, and the portions are large.
- The prices are very reasonable.
- You can support an authentic and local eatery with delicious food.
- The menu is diverse and has something for everyone.
- There is seating and parking available.
Address: 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793
You might also like: Best Huli Huli Chicken in Maui
#4. Kalei’s Lunch Box – The Best Food Truck Lunch on the Island
I am not a fan of food trucks. I came prepared not to like – but loved the food here!
We ordered ahead and picked up our food after a hike. It’s right next to a Cosco, so we found plenty of parking. The staff was amazing and provided great recommendations. The portions were large and super tasty. We came hungry and ordered way too much food.
I had the Mahi Ala Kalei (Mahi filet grilled with butter and garlic. Topped with delicious mushrooms, tomatoes and capers). The fish was fresh and perfectly grilled. I also loved the mushrooms. This is a creamy and rich meal.
My boyfriend got (get this – 2 plates!) the Shoyu Chicken Plate (crispy chicken with a side of rice and cooked corn) and Breaded teriyaki pork (with vegetables and white rice). He liked the marinade on the pork, and the meat was very well done. We had the leftovers that evening (and they were still yummy!)
We had the Ube cheesecake for dessert, which is delicate and light after such a rich meal.
Don’t miss out on this wonderful plate lunch because:
- The menu is fun, fresh, and innovative.
- The meals are original and have substantial portion sizes.
- They have a burger menu and some kid’s options for picky eaters.
- You could never tell this food came from a food truck!
Address: 591 Haleakala Hwy Kahului, HI 96732
Related: Best Food Trucks Maui
#5. South Maui Fish Company – Best Plate Lunch Kihei Maui
This food truck is located inside the Aloha Open Marketplace. It was recommended to us by the locals, particularly because of their fish options! At this wonderful little restaurant, sustainable fish is served.
Everything was extremely fresh. We started by splitting some fish tacos, some of the best I have ever had. The outside is a homemade corn tortilla filled with spicy aioli, slaw, grilled fish, & unagi drizzle. Everything was cooked perfectly and still smelled like the grill.
Then we had the Fish Plate lunches with grilled fish over white rice, pineapple coconut Slaw, and house sauce. We were lucky to catch some fresh fish because they usually sell out. They also have poke bowls for those craving something local (and some spicy options). They actually have the best poke in Maui.
The portions are a good size, and the produce is fresh and clean. Top quality fish meals.
There is a shaved ice shop right next to them, so we also had the perfect dessert at the neighbors’.
If you are craving some local fresh fish prepared on the spot and won’t break the bank, visit South Maui Fish Company.
We loved it because:
- They use all locally caught fish and actively work on sustainability.
- The fish and other produce used are extremely fresh.
- The meals are prepared simply with great taste combinations and sauces.
- There are other small shops and candy stores to browse after your meal.
Address: 1794 South Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
The Maui plate lunch perfectly combines rice, vegetables, and protein. From traditional kalua pork to mochiko chicken, the choices are diverse. And let’s not forget the popular loco moco in Maui, a unique dish featuring a hamburger steak patty on a bed of rice, topped with a fried egg, and smothered in brown gravy. On Maui, you’ll also find an array of veggies in your plate lunch like sweet and tangy cabbage. The mixture of tastes is exciting, and these plate lunches are a staple meal, providing wonderful options all over the Island.
You must visit local staples like Honokowai Okazuya & Deli and Sam Sato’s Inc for traditional options. And if you’re looking for something extra special, I can’t forget the shoyu chicken at these establishments. This dish, with its soy sauce-marinated chicken, is a crowd-pleaser.
There are also new, and adventurous versions of the classic served up by South Maui Fish Company and Kalei’s Lunch Box, known for their killer plate lunches. For instance, you can try a twist on the standard plate lunch at these spots with a barbecue plate – featuring a delicious assortment of Hawaiian barbecue meats.
While enjoying your meal, don’t miss out on the signature mac salad that usually comes with two scoops of rice. The combination is simply divine, providing a balanced, hearty meal. You can find these delectable meals all over the Hawaiian Islands, from the north shore to a quiet corner in a strip mall.
But no matter which restaurant you choose, you will get great quality and great-priced meals.
So, eat like the locals and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What is in a Hawaiian plate lunch?
The typical plate lunch in Hawaii is made of scoop rice, macaroni salad, and protein (fried or grilled chicken, teriyaki beef, or grilled fish). Notable options include the shoyu chicken and fried chicken. There are also common plate lunches with Asian influences, such as katsu chicken, shoyu chicken, and shrimp.
What foods is Maui Hawaii known for?
Maui has a rich source of fresh fish and locally grown fruits and vegetables. This has perhaps given birth to some of their staple meals, such as Poke (raw fish and rice), Poi (traditional filler starch dish), kalua pork (smoked meat), and plate lunches (combination of rice, macaroni salad, and protein). Hawaiian barbecue is another flavorful meal you should look out for.
What is a typical Hawaiian dinner?
The typical Hawaiian dinner is a poke bowl or mixed plate (also known as a lunch plate). Both dishes include rice and protein. The mixed plate has no raw fish and is usually made with hamburger steak or beef stew. As a side, corn or mac salad is added along with the rice. Hawaii has fresh local fruit year-round, including apples, bananas, papaya, and pineapple. Desserts for dinner are made with these fruit combinations.
What makes plate lunches so popular in Hawaii?
Plate lunches are popular in Hawaii due to their delicious combination of rice, mac salad, and a protein like chicken katsu or teriyaki beef. These meals provide a satisfying and diverse eating experience that locals and visitors alike enjoy.
How does a typical chicken katsu plate lunch look like?
A chicken katsu plate lunch usually consists of crispy fried chicken katsu, brown rice, and mac salad as sides. This dish is flavorful and filling, making it a favorite among plate lunch enthusiasts.
Where can I find the best plate lunches on Maui?
Some of the best plate lunches on Maui can be found at local restaurants such as Honokowai Okazuya & Deli, food trucks like Kalei’s Lunch Box, and Piko Cafe. A must-try is also the Aloha Mixed Plate for an authentic experience.
What makes kalua pig a popular choice in Hawaiian plate lunches?
Kalua pork is a popular choice in Hawaiian plate lunches due to its tender and smoky flavor. It pairs well with side dishes such as brown rice and mac salad for a truly unique taste experience.
In what kind of eateries can I expect to find food trucks serving delicious Hawaiian-style dishes?
Food trucks offering delicious Hawaiian-style dishes can be found at various locations throughout Maui. For example, South Maui Fish Company is located inside the Aloha Open Marketplace serving up incredible fish-based plates.
Why do people refer to Aloha Mixed Plate as a must-try dining experience on Maui?
Aloha Mixed Plate is often referred to as a must-try dining experience due to its authentic Hawaiian cuisine offerings, including some of the best plate lunches with dishes like chicken katsu, teriyaki beef, and mac salad served in a picturesque setting.
Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Brigitte