Casual outdoor dining and Maui go hand-in-hand. Even the nicest places on Maui seem “casual” compared to mainland dining. We can’t remember the last time we saw someone wearing a tie at dinner. But for our purposes, we split “fine dining” from “casual” using the old standby… with our gut. The restaurants on this list have a more laid back vibe than our list of outdoor fine dining restaurants. At these places, t-shirts and board shorts are the norm, not the outlier. Here are our five favorite casual outdoor locations, listed alphabetically.
Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina)
A definite favorite amongst locals and visitors, Aloha Mixed Plate features only outdoor seating, but the tables have fantastic umbrella’s that block direct sunlight. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Aloha Mixed Plate combines a laid-back Hawaiian attitude with fierce local foods like plate lunches, saimin and poke. They also serve grilled cheese and burgers for those hesitant to go “local.” For breakfast, try the fried rice loco moco. It’s a gut bomb, but so worth it! (Aloha Mixed Plate)
Beach Bums Bar and Grill (Ma’alaea and Napili)
Established in 2007, the Ma’alaea restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Famous for their barbecue, Beach Bums, also serves up good burgers, fish and chips and fish sandwiches. It has a nice, fun, casual atmosphere that kids will enjoy. For breakfast, we recommend the prime rib loco moco. The Napili location is new, with the same laid-back vibe, however it does not serve breakfast. (Beach Bum’s Ma’alaea, Beach Bum’s Napili)
Cafe Des Amis (Paia)
Serving a slightly weird combination of crepes, Mediterranean cuisine and Indian curries, Cafe Des Amis, like Paia itself, may be a little odd, but it sure is good. If you go for the dinner, we recommend a curry plate. For lunch, the curry wraps should fill you up, without slowing you down. The crepes are available in both sweet and savory forms. Kids, OK, adults, too, seem to gravitate to the Nutella crepes… and with good reason. It’s Nutella and whipped cream rolled up into a fresh off the griddle crepe! (Cafe Des Amis)
Kihei Caffe (Kihei)
If you drive on South Kihei Road at around 9:00 AM, you’re bound to see long, out-the-door lines at this Kihei breakfast hot spot. If you get there before 8:00 A.M. or after 11:00 A.M., the lines are usually confined to inside the cafe, or caffe, as they like to spell it. Why is it so popular? For one, the food is just really good. Whether it’s a traditional breakfast like bacon and eggs, or something with a more local twist, like the kalua pork loco moco over fried rice, everything we’ve had here is great. The other reason it’s so popular is the portion sizes. Pretty much everything can be split by two people. Breakfast is served all day, but starting at 11:00, they add lunch items like burgers and sandwiches. Kihei Caffe closes at 2:00. (Kihei Caffe)
Kula Lodge (Kula)
If you need to escape the heat or the hustle and bustle of the city, head upcountry to the Kula Lodge. It’s also a great place to stop on your way down from Haleakala. Located at an elevation of over 3,000 feet, the crisp air alone makes it worth the trip, but the views of the mountains and ocean are spectacular. Their excellent pizzas come from a kiawe wood-burning brick oven that sits outside on the terrace. They also serve a full menu, featuring locally sourced seafoods and meats. (Kula Lodge)
Where do you like to go for a casual meal with outdoor seating? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.