Being from Texas, Mexican food is something I’m both extremely familiar with and extremely picky about. I’ve got high standards when it comes to things wrapped in a tortilla, because, well, there’s a lot of crap out there wrapped in tortillas, and that’s just a damn disgrace to Mexican food everywhere.
I have now been to just about everywhere that serves so-called ‘Mexican food’ on Maui, and by my own tastebud estimations, here’s where to get the best Mex on Maui.
Winner: Taqueria Cruz
If you’re in search of a really good taco, among other noteworthy menu items, head to Kihei’s cozy Taqueria Cruz. While the exterior is nothing to brag about, the food and price most assuredly is. I have never had anything less than delicious here, and that’s saying a lot about a place I typically go at least once a week.
Try the shredded beef tacos, and although I know it’s not necessarily ‘Mexican food’, the fish tacos are bomb. Grab a side of chips and salsa (and guac, if you know what you’re doing) and don’t skimp on the side of rice and beans. Taco Tuesday means discount tacos and live music, and every night is BYOB. Make your own ritas or crack open a Pacifico, and thank me later.
Runner(s) Up: Roasted Chiles, Las Piñatas, Iglesia Church
Roasted Chiles: My only complaint about this place is the price, which is just a tad too high to be a place I frequent more than once a month or so. The salsa is delicious, their tequila bar makes my Tex Mex heart happy, and the food is absolutely yummy. Try the carnitas, chile relleno or fajitas, and head here for lunch or happy hour.
Las Piñatas: Who doesn’t love a ginormous, super messy burrito on a flimsy paper plate? Located in a strange little strip mall in Kahului, try the ‘Kitchen Sink Burrito’ with Chile Verde, and grab a Sol or two to assist in clearing the saucy mess from your face (or just making you care less). One more plus: they have piñatas hanging from the ceiling. Because duh.
Iglesia Church Tacos: I’m pretty sure this place has no official name, and I’m positive they have no official website, but they serve up some awesome tacos and quesadillas with yummy sides like escabeche and salsa verde. Located in Kihei next to the Aloha Open Air Marketplace and Iglesia La Luz del Mundo Church, they have some of the most authentic Mexican food I’ve tried since moving here.
Honorable Mentions: Fridas, Horhitos
Fridas: The newest sister of other Maui foodie hits like Mala Ocean Tavern, Honu and Migrant Maui, Fridas is located in a beautiful spot on Lahaina’s Front Street, serving up an interesting menu with a generous seafood-take on Mexican food. To be fair, I’ve only had their food once, and it was good… I just prefer chile rellenos without a giant hunk of fried dough around it. That being said, I’ll be back to try it again.
Horhitos: $2 and $3 tacos?! On Maui? Hell yeah, y’all! This food truck across from Kalama Park is a winner for quick, cheap and easy grinds after a nice surf or swim. Try the carnitas, chicken, ono or shrimp tacos, and help yourself to their generous hot sauce choices. While the tacos are fairly tiny, remember that they’re cheap as hell (for Hawaii, anyway) and order up a third.
Others: Amigo’s, Fernando’s, Fred’s, Polli’s, Maui Tacos, Milagros
Amigo’s: Maybe I went on an off night, I don’t know. While happy hour is cheap, the food, at least in my opinion, is not awesome. The burrito was cold, y’all. Cold! I am by no means one to send food back, because really, unless it’s expensive, who cares, but come on now! I don’t understand the hype about this place, and I’m not going to try the other 2 locations just to make sure I’m right. Sorry, Amigo’s.
Fernando’s: I’ve been to some amazing Mexican food places in shopping malls before, but this is sadly not one of them. I chanced it and ordered queso, and let me just say that just because it’s cheese in a bowl does not mean it’s queso. Sigh. Freddie the bartender, however, is the highlight. Go talk story and have a beer while your loved ones shop, and then be gone.
Fred’s Mexican Cafe: I really want to like this place, specifically because it’s so close to my house, but Fred’s definitely leaves something to be desired. The prices are too high for the quality of food (although the quantity is giant), and the food is just meh. If you’re single and like to mingle whilst eating tacos, go for Taco Tuesday. Otherwise, there are better options less than a mile down the road.
Polli’s: It’s cute, it’s cozy, and they have pretty tasty chips and salsa and lilikoi ritas. If you’ve previously had real Mexican food, however, then you should know that this is not it. The prices are too high, and the menu is a tad confused about the fact that it’s supposed to be Mexican food. Mondays are Barbecue Night, however. So there’s that.
Maui Tacos: I know a ton of people who love this place, but I’m just not one of them. The problem is that I can’t really pinpoint what I don’t like about it. I have eaten there more than 5 times, and each time I wish I’d gone somewhere else instead. It’s not bad – their salsas are good, and I know it’s supposed to be Mexican and Hawaiian fusion food, but there’s always one mystery ingredient that ruins every dish for me.
Milagros: The best thing I’ve ever had from Milagros was a chicken enchilada bowl from their food truck at the Haiku Flower Festival. That was tasty. Besides that, they have a good rita menu for happy hour. I work just down the street from this restaurant in Paia and barely go there, if that tells you anything. I personally just don’t trust a place that has a whole burger section on their menu and still calls themselves ‘Gourmet Southwest Food’.
To Be Decided: La Tienda Del Sol, Sangrita Grill & Cantina
I haven’t been to these two Maui Mexican gems, so in all fairness, I’ll wait to review them.
La Tienda Del Sol: I’ve heard from friends that this place has amazing tamales, tacos and ceviche. I’ve tried to go here 4 separate times only to find that they’re closed (not a late afternoon or dinner spot, apparently), but I’m not giving up yet. One day, La Tienda. One freakin’ day…
Sangrita Grill & Cantina: I’m dying to hit up their tequila bar, but the fact that it’s located on the west side (and I live on the south side) doesn’t exactly spell good decisions. Regardless, the menu looks good, albeit on the pricy side, so this would be a good spot to take family members when in town. Uber runs from Lahaina to Kihei, right?
It may be slim pickins when it comes to good Mexican food on Maui, but it’s still paradise. Mahalo for reading our Maui Mexican Food Guide!