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The Best Restaurants on Maui

Enjoy Maui like a local with these recommendations for the best seafood, shave ice, plate lunch and more.

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Photo: Chelsea Heller Photography

Monkeypod

Named for a tree that grows on the Hawaiian islands and nourishes the plants that grow around it, Monkeypod serves reinvented takes on local fare, in a rollicking setting that often features live music. Run by revered local chef Peter Merriman, Monkeypod aims to please. Shareable starters include shrimp-mushroom potstickers and poke tacos. Corn chowder is bolstered with local coconut milk and lemongrass; wood-fired pizzas include a reinvented take on the Hawaiian pizza, with Kalua pork, roasted pineapple, macadamia nut pesto and jalapeno. Grilled day-boat ahi is topped with a soy-sesame-Maui onion sauce, but Merriman's Nightly Upcountry Special is often the dish to beat, and can feature homey fare, like pork chops or noodles. Pair it all with a Monkeypod Mai Tai, which updates the classic with house macadamia orgeat syrup and an airy puff of honey-lilikoi foam on top.

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Sam Sato’s

There’s nearly always a wait at Sam Sato’s, a tiny diner in Wailuku. Open only for breakfast and lunch, the restaurant turns out impressively hearty island staples, including loco moco, banana hot cakes and noodle dishes, including saimin, chow fun and dry mein. The latter is a Chinese-Hawaiian hybrid of pork-topped lo mein noodles with a side of broth to dip them into or pour over the top. If you have the choice, opt for a spot at the counter, where the banter between servers and regulars is as homey as the food.

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Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

One of the best ways to cool off, Hawaiian shave ice is practically ubiquitous around Maui. Of all the places to try it, Ululani’s might be the best. Sure, the ice is fluffy enough to taste more like frozen cloud puffs than mere ice. But the vividly colored homemade syrups are what set it apart, in flavors like guava, salty plum, lilikoi, pickled mango and sour lemon, as well as kid favorites like pink bubble gum and root beer. There are six locations around Maui, with one in Kailua-Kona, but the main one is in Lahaina, on Front Street, right by the ocean. Sneak a peek at what is in store by watching our Facebook video of the mesmerizing action, which has generated 27 million fans and counting.

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Photo: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

The Sandbar

Set off the bright, welcoming lobby of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, The Sandbar lounge is a breezy lanai with panoramic Pacific views. The locally focused menu includes poke cones, housemade charcuterie, sliders and coconut shrimp, all ideal for pairing with sunset drinks like the signature Sandbar Mai Tai (made more special with Hawaiian rum and housemade macadamia nut syrup). Sip the nicely spiced Stormy Season, with coconut liqueur, pineapple syrup and Maui Brewing Company's ginger beer, while looking out over the island's landmark Pu'u Keka'a rock, in search of double rainbows. The Sandbar is also open in the mornings for pastries like a lilikoi-caramel cinnamon roll and toasted coconut scones with vividly colorful ube.

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