Overlooking idyllic Kuau Cove on Maui’s North Shore, this island institution is the realization of a South Pacific fantasy. Though pricey, a meal at Mama’s is a complete experience. Recapture the grace of early Hawaii when feasts lasted for days beneath the swaying palms. Wander through the landscaped grounds down to the restaurant, where smiling servers wear Polynesian prints and flowers behind their ears. The dining room features curved lauhala-lined ceilings, lavish arrangements of tropical flowers, and windows open wide to let the ocean breezes in. Start your repast with the coconut ceviche or the marvelous beef Polynesian—a garlicky mix of seared-steak morsels, tomatoes, and onion served in a papaya half. The menu lists the names of the anglers who reeled in the day’s catch; you can order ono “caught by Keith Nakamura along the 40-fathom ledge near Hana” or deepwater ahi seared with coconut and lime. As a finale, the Tahitian Pearl dessert is almost too stunning to eat: a shiny chocolate ganache sphere filled with lilikoi crème, set in an edible pastry clamshell. Everything is perfect, from the refreshing, umbrella-topped cocktails to the almond-scented hand towels passed around before dessert. Squares of creamy coconut haupia are delivered with your bill. The menu (including high prices) is the same at lunch and dinner; you might be able to squeeze in for lunch without a reservation; otherwise, book tables well in advance, especially for dinner and weekends.
Mama's Fish House was not destroyed by the 2023 wildfires. Reservations are still recommended, but walk-in availability is more common than it was before the disaster.