Whether you’re a longtime fan or a complete poke novice, if you’re visiting Hawaii, you’ve got to try some poke (POH-kay). This Hawaiian dish features fresh, usually raw, diced fish mixed with other ingredients. There are many different flavor combinations, so try a few and discover your favorite.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Featured Photo: HuiHui Restaurant
Poke on Maui's South Side
The fresh ahi poke tacos in crispy wonton shells are worth coming here on their own. Monkeypod also has a hefty selection of beers on tap, delicious locally sourced small plates, and hand tossed kiawe wood fired pizzas. The daily happy hour (3pm to 5:30pm) is one of the best on the island and the sunsets aren’t half bad either. Open daily 11am to 11pm with happy hour from 3:30pm to 5pm and 9pm to 11pm. monkeypodkitchen.com
South Maui Fish Company
With a motto of “Shop Local, Eat Local, Spend Local,” you know this food truck means business when it comes to sustainably-caught fresh fish. It’s so good and popular, they often sell out. Go for the half spicy/half traditional poke bowl featuring the day’s locally caught fish and rice with house-made pineapple coconut slaw — it’ll hit the spot. Open Monday through Saturday 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5pm to 8pm, but they recommend calling first to check there’s still fish in stock as they sell out each day. Closed Sunday. southmauifishco.com
At this beautiful open-air restaurant, the poke is served either as tacos (perfect for a snack) or as a poke bowl (more of a meal). Whichever you choose, alongside their handcrafted piña colada, it’s the right choice. Open daily from 12pm to 8pm with happy hour from 2pm to 5pm. tommybahama.com
Poke on Maui's West Side
The community of West Maui is recovering from the wildfires that devastated Lāhainā. Many restaurants are no longer in business or are temporarily closed. Please check their websites for the most recent information.
Few chefs in Maui have been fishing, diving and making poke for as long as Chef Tom Murumoto. Formerly a pro surfer, Murumoto loves the ocean and is intimately familiar with the fish in Maui. Look for his poke on the lunch menu, where he makes it with Hawaiian ‘inamona (roasted candlenut seasoning), ogo (seaweed), scallions, onions, ginger, sesame oil and Nioi (Hawaiian chili pepper). Open daily for breakfast 7am to 10:30am, lunch from 12pm to 3pm, happy hour from 2pm to 4pm, and dinner from 5pm to 9 pm. huihuirestaurant.com
Japengo’s been winning all the awards: 2019 ‘Aipono Best New Restaurant, 2020 ‘Aipono Gold Best Pacific Rim, 2020 ‘Aipono Silver Best Sushi. The views are stunning, the dining room is beautiful, the service is great, and as we already noted, the food is award-winning. If you’re in Lahaina, be sure to drop by. Start with the Japengo poke, of course. Open daily from 5pm to 9pm. hyatt.com/japengo
This spot on Maui’s west side is serving “Hawaiian-inspired Filipino Asian cuisine.” The quality is high and the price is just right. Locally sourced ingredients, seriously yummy food — we recommend the ahi poke plate. Open daily 8:30am to 2pm and 4pm to 8pm. joeyskitchenhimaui.com
Leilani’s on the Beach
This popular, award-winning restaurant sources its produce from over 40 family-owned Maui farms and receives fresh locally-sourced fish every day. One of the best places to take in a Maui sunset, the menu has something for everyone, but we recommend the poke bowl to help you soak up the decadent mai tais. Open daily 11am to 10pm. leilanis.com
The fresh ahi poke tacos in crispy wonton shells are worth coming here on their own. Monkeypod also has a hefty selection of beers on tap, delicious locally sourced small plates, and hand tossed kiawe wood fired pizzas. The daily happy hour (3:30pm to 5pm) is one of the best on the island and the sunsets aren’t half bad either. Open daily 11am to 11pm with happy hour from 3pm to 5:30pm and 9pm to 11pm. monkeypodkitchen.com
It’s no surprise that this award-winning restaurant is one of Maui’s favorite food spots, thanks to their fresh noodles, sake cocktails and Asian-inspired dishes. Their “Ahi Avo“ poke bowl features raw ahi tuna with avocado and lemon pressed olive oil — it’s a must-have, as well as several other items on the menu!. Open every day 10:30am to 9pm. Reservations strongly recommended. starnoodle.com
Poke near Kahului and the Road to Hana
Jaws Country Store
If you’re on your way to or back from Hana, this little store is a great place to stop. It’s got grocery staples, but the food here is the real secret. There’s a little outdoor seating, the service is friendly, and the poke is delicious. Open daily 6am to 5pm. facebook.com/jawscountrystore
This little shop is a great place to stock up on the go if you’re about to take a long drive or you’re getting ready for a day at the beach. Kombucha is on tap, the healthy snacks are abundant, the grab-and-go deli is well stocked, and the poke is made fresh daily. Open daily from 6:30am to 7pm. thekuaustore.com
This little food truck is usually parked just past the Costco. There are outdoor picnic tables with shade, so it’s a great place to stop and enjoy some poke. Plates come with rice and greens, and there’s also katsu: fish rolled in panko, deep-fried and served with a special sauce. Open Monday through Friday 10am to 7pm and Saturday 10am to 3pm. Closed Sunday. facebook.com/like.poke.1
Serving the community since 1946, this little market is best known for mini bentos, Hawaiian food and poke. There are specials every day. We love the sesame tako (octopus) poke but if you like an extra kick, go for the kim chee tako poke. Open Monday through Saturday 5am to 6pm. Closed Sunday. danismaui.com
This grocery chain has many locations throughout the islands. It’s a popular stop to grab a few staples, as well as cigars and booze, since their alcohol selection is one of the best around. But most people come to Tamuras for the poke, because it’s really that good. Open Monday through Saturday 10am to 7pm, and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. tamurasfinewine.com
Chef Sheldon Simeon and wife Janice are the “mom and pop” behind this humble little eatery that serves a mean bowl of poke. Tucked back from the street, you’ll almost miss if you don’t look for it. While they are not a poke shop per se (they only have one poke bowl on their menu, the fish varies daily), they have earned their mention. Everything here is good — mochiko chicken, garlic shrimp, saimin, kale salad and more. With close proximity to the Kahului airport, it’s a great stop to grab some food after landing or before you take off. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 8pm. tinroofmaui.com
Tobi's Shave Ice and Poke
Fresh poke, shave ice, and acai bowls, what else do you need for a yummy snack? Located in the quaint surfer town of Paia, Tobi’s is a great place to get poke. The price is right, the fish is fresh, and the portions are large. Open daily 10am to 5pm. tobismaui.com