By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
MAUI, HAWAII — Not that long ago in Maui, I had the greatest lunch of my life. The food at Mama’s Fish House is the best, and the lobster tail sandwich is what I strongly recommend.
Before we flew back to Los Angeles, my girlfriend (now wife) Joanne and I had the esteemed privilege of touring the property and dining at Mama’s Fish House, on Highway 36 just past the cute little town of Paia. We saw the restaurant and Inn the day before on our drive to Hana, and just had to check it out. What a fabulous place.
We sat at the table formerly reserved for “The Chairman,” the one and only Frank Sinatra. Apparently he was a regular at Mama’s Fish House, and now I can understand why. Plus, he had the best table in the restaurant, as did we that fine day, where the view of the ocean is incredible.
We started off with drinks. I ordered a Mai Tai and every drop was delicious. Joanne got a fruity strawberry drink, and it was delightful as well. For starters we ordered the Kusshi Oysters on the half shell with papaya mignonett, and they could not have been fresher unless they were still alive.
Our top notch server brought out these tasty oysters with some mango salsa and Hawaiian pepper sauce, which apparently can be found in any market in Hawaii, and is quite delicious sprinkled over seafood.
For lunch I ordered the Tristan Island Lobster Tail Sandwich with Molokai sweet potato crisps, and every single bite was heavenly.
I don’t know if it was the bread, the avocado, or the pineapple salsa that did the trick, but I could eat that sandwich everyday for lunch until the end of time. It was really hard letting Joanne have a sample because I really wanted every last bit, but relationships are about compromise. She chose one of the daily specials, opakapaka (apparently a very flaky and delicious white fish) with a mushroom and caper sauce.
The property is on the ocean front, and the view alone is totally incredible. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and their menu changes every day depending on the local fishermen’s catch of the day. We visited the “Fish Room” and saw firsthand how fresh everything is, including a photo-worthy Mahi Mahi that was swimming around in the ocean a few hours before. The dinner menu is newly created every night, depending on the catch of the day.
Our tour guide Tami told us that sometimes the menu for that evening’s entrees doesn’t come out until 3:30 pm. They also do a cute thing and name the dish after the fisherman that caught it, so you could be having the Yellow Fin Tuna a la George Thomas, for example.
Mama’s Fish House is family-owned and run restaurant and inn with exquisite décor and one of the best locations in all of Maui. I have only eaten there once, but I honestly believe there isn’t one bad thing on the menu, try it all! The location is also ideal for a dinner after the long day driving to and from Hana. Also, if you have an afternoon flight back to the mainland, Mama’s Fish House is perfect for lunch before heading over to the airport. It took us 15 minutes to get to the airport after lunch; we timed it perfectly, and walked into the terminal minutes before boarding.
Besides the food, the best part of the restaurant is the view. It really is right on the beach, and the waves on that side of Maui can get quite big when the trade winds start blowing. I would venture a guess that on the day we ate there, the waves were 10-12 feet high. The location is ideal if you happen to be a wind surfer as that beach is part of the wind surfing capital of the world, not just America, but the entire world.
For desert we had Crème Brule and an excellent chocolate cake dish beautifully presented in a wafer clam shell. We were full and it was almost too much, but we ate it anyway. Everyone around us was thoroughly enjoying themselves and their meal, and I highly recommend eating there the next time you are in Maui.
If you want to contact the restaurant, call 808-579-8488 or see www.mamasfishhouse.com.
EDITORS NOTE: This restaurant review was originally published in 2011, and since then the property has expanded into having luxury accommodations as well.