We had a great time on Maui last week, despite the record high temps (and crazy dew points). We had lots of great food recommendations from people, but Mama’s Fish House took home the prize for most memorable experience. Located on the central north shore of Maui just outside Paia, Mama’s was a 2018 James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant. Open Table says Mama’s is the second most popular restaurant in the United States, Trip Advisor has them listed as a Top 10 U.S. Fine Dining Restaurant, while ZAGAT has them number one for food on Maui. Everyone we talked to said Mama’s was expensive, but also a can’t miss.
Needless to say, expectations were high…
Floyd and Doris Christenson have an awesome backstory. The location, atmosphere and general setting of Mama’s is probably the most Hawaiian thing I’ve ever seen in my life. You turn off the Hana Highway at the fishing boat and enter a lot that offers complimentary valet. Once checked in, you get to roam around their own private beach, which we were told often has sea turtles playing in the water. The day we visited had a high surf warning, so the turtles were (hopefully) playing elsewhere. After checking in at a second host stand, we were escorted into the open-air dining room and seated near the bar.
Our server Lacey was wonderful. We started with fancy tropical drinks: Colleen had a Mama’s Margarita, while I had a Pink Hibiscus (hibiscus, elderflower liqueur, lime, cranberry and Maui PAU vodka). We shared an appetizer of seared island venison with honey lime sauce, which was extremely tender for venison. We both had autumn salads, with Waipoli greens, Kula persimmons, spiced pecans, goat cheese and Tahitian vanilla vinaigrette dressing. For the fish main course, I choose “kanpachi from ocean waters off Hawaii Island,” while Colleen had “onaga caught bottom fishing off Keanae by Joe Hobson.” We both loved that they customized the menu daily with who caught the fish (and where). I was super-excited to order the Polynesian Black Pearl for dessert: lilikoi (passion fruit) chocolate mousse in a pastry seashell (with a beautiful plate presentation – pics after the jump).
When we looked at the menu before we went, I didn’t think the prices were crazy-high. Afterwards, we found out it just all adds up, turning in to the most we’ve probably ever spent on lunch. That’s also part of the trick – there is no discount for having lunch over dinner. We heard one of the servers say they average about 1,000 covers a day, so I think they can price however they want. I’m glad we went, though, and would highly recommend it at least once in your life. Mahalo, Mama.