Dining in Kihei, Hawaii
In my opinion, the best restaurant in Kihei is Cafe O'Lei. It's upstairs in the Rainbow Mall. Phone 891-1368. The decor is beautiful and the food is delicious. It's not a cheap hangout place, but it is as good as Maui's top restaurants and is a lot less expensive than Maui's top restaurants.
re: Maui Jon
we spent a couple nights in Kihei--through the very bad windstorms and rain of early December that knocked power out for 36 hours--ate at Cafe O'Lei the first night and went back our last. thought it was very very good--nice energy, grownups eating, price surprisingly moderate.
BUT what I want to recommend to people is Maui Thai--in the same shopping center as Cafe O'Lei. during the aforesaid storm, when everyone else was shut down, the proprietor rigged a generator and stayed open. only for take-out, because he couldn't light the rest rooms--but he served pretty much his whole menu, was cheerful and pleasant AND HE DIDN'T GOUGE WHEN HE COULD HAVE. we got takeout for our condo, which was very very good.
re: Maui Jon
Don't know what your dining budget is - but here's a list with $$$ being most expensive and $ the least...Kihei is becoming more upscale, therefore, the larger pricier restaurants seem to be taking over......but - check with the locals - they'll be able to give you suggestions.
Suggestions in Kihei:
Sansei-Japanese $$$ (i believe it's 50% off after 9pm)
Roy's-fusion Hawaiian $$$
Da Kitchen-Local style no frills-$
Jaws (??) - word of mouth it's good and cheap - $
Outside of Kihei:
Honokowai Okazuya-Local&fresh seafood-Honokowai-$
Mama's Fish House - Seafood - Paia-$$$
Paia Fish House - Paia-$$
Sansei-Kapalua - $$$
Gerards - Lahaina - $$$
I'O - Lahaina - $$$
David Paul's Lahaina Grill - $$$
Gazebo - breakfast/lunch-Napili - $
Pacific O'-Lahaina - $$$
Of the Lahaina restaurants that I have dined, I'd rank David Paul's at the top, with Pacific O' a strong second. I'd give DP's $$$ and Pacific O's $$. The Gazebo for breakfast is a worthwhile institution.
Have not done Roy's in Kihei, but his two restaurants in West Maui were down the list. I have enjoyed many Roy's (even some of the mainland's, Peeble Beach, Scottsdale) much more. Neither of those ranked above my meals at Hawai`i Kai (Oahu), which is still near the bottom.
Well, there is Maui Tacos, but it's not all that good, despite having a great pedigree (started by a celebrity chef).
You could chat up the employees at the local snorkel/dive shops and see where they eat.
To find surfers, head to Cove Park. The water there can be a bit nasty, but it's really the only surfing in Kihei, as far as I know. (It's just north of Kamaole Beach Park #1)
I love the island-style teri chicken at Da Kitchen Express. It's a zero in decor, but has TVs hanging from the ceiling so you can kill some time away from the heat if you like.
I haven't been for years, but the Grand Wailea used to have a bar named after the State fish - Humuhumunukunukuapua'a - which has a great sunset view. You could get a drink, an appetizer, take in the scene, and then fill up on stuff from your fridge later.
Assuming you have a rental car (??), you might try a budget place near the island's entertainment hotspots in Lahaina. Aloha Mixed Plate servers luau style food for lunch and dinner in a pleasant outdoor setting. If you find yourself tuned to the visitor channel (it was Channel 8), you can catch the name of the "barefoot bar" up at Ka'anapali Beach. I haven't tried it myself, but I'm sure it beats the hotels there (and the touristy Whaler's Village) for value.