The perfect fish taco is an elusive blend that requires exactly the right ingredients. Tortillas, lime, and freshly caught fish are always part of the mix, but so is sunshine, salt in your hair, and a sprinkling of sand on your feet. It’s a meal that complements a morning spent bodysurfing and signifies a day steeped in freedom, as rarely will I consume a fish taco in a rush—since there is no place else I’d rather be. Here on Maui, not only are fish tacos an afternoon classic, but they’re an affordable, casual, and filling alternative to pricier fish plates or entrees. Given the distance from Baja, however—home of the modern fish taco—island recipes have adapted and changed to create a diverse selection of varieties. On most occasions, the fish is grilled as opposed to fried, and when I’m craving a taco after a morning of surfing or a casual day at the beach, these are the usual spots where I’ll usually head.
The Maui vote is unanimously in favor of these Ka‘anapali fish tacos. Served in large, flour tortillas with pico de gallo and cheese, the sour cream, cabbage, and mild salsa help to temper the Cajun spice. Served in a filling order of two, prices are slashed to $4 each from 3-5 pm on Tuesdays.
The price is right, the taste is authentic, and it’s right across the street from the surf schools near the Cove Park in Kihei. The fish can either be mahi mahi or ono, and is served with cheese, pico de gallo, and a light chipotle mayo. It’s just a food truck along South Kihei Road, but the $4 tacos and casual seating is sometimes all that you need.
Polli’s Mexican Restaurant
Tacos are served with chunks of ono and are topped with Maui avocados, and to add a tropical buzz to the meal, pair with the restaurant’s highly lauded lilikoi or mango margaritas.
Coconut’s Fish Café
Piled high with 17 ingredients, you’ll need a fork to conquer these tacos and everything that falls off the side. The fish is a combo of mahi mahi and ono and is accompanied by Frances coleslaw, a culinary creation by the owner’s daughter that uses coconut milk as a base. Topped with a dollop of mango salsa and served in orders of two.
When it comes to fish tacos, the overall vibe plays a big role in determining the strength of the taco. In the case of Lahainaluna Café—a takeout window just off of Front Street and within sight of the Harbor surf break—the casual setting and affordable pricing make for a convenient taco on the go.