Mama’s Fish House is ranked the second most popular restaurant in America by Open Table. I don’t blame you, you want to fully enjoy the atmosphere and experience while dining at this world-class, Hawaiian restaurant.

Lunch is the best time to go to Mama’s Fish House on Maui. The menu is cheaper without a loss of portion size, one can enjoy taking pictures at the beach cove and coconut grove, and the sunset view is better on the other side of Maui. The lunch experience beats the dinner atmosphere.

Erica and I love to go to Mama’s Fish House for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Even for these special occasions, we still opt for lunch over dinner.

Here is how you can determine if lunch or dinner is the best time to go to Mama’s Fish House for you and your date or family, with 9 reasons why we prefer lunch over dinner.

Mama's Fish House Lunch Maui

 

 

The Best Time to Go to Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House Restaurant and Inn is a Maui classic for fine dining. A Maui itinerary isn’t complete without visiting this famous fish house, featuring locally caught Hawaiian fish served to perfection. 

Boasting awards such as one of the Top 10 Dining Restaurants in the US by TripAdvisor and the number 1 Best Restaurant to Try in America by CNBC, I can understand the pressure to choose the ideal time to go. 

With fish entrees ranging from $54 to $78, you may only want to go once.

Open daily from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, you can choose to dine for lunch or dinner. Is Mama’s Fish House best at lunchtime or dinner time? 

Erica and I are both strong supporters of going for lunch. Our top reason is the lunchtime experience includes strolling the secluded cove and coconut grove. We take pictures, enjoy the weather, and the view from our table during daylight hours. That view is worth every penny. 

Money, not just pennies, are saved by dining for lunch at Mama’s. While Mama’s Fish House doesn’t share their lunch menu on their website, as frequent guests we know the lunch menu is cheaper. 

It is cheaper because they swap out some of their most expensive entrees (e.g., lobster) for sandwiches. The price and portion are the same on most items that are offered on both the lunch and dinner menus. 

I find I can enjoy the open-air dining, retro Hawaiian artwork, and colorful, floral tablecloths better under daylight. 

Before we get to our 9 reasons why you should go at lunch, let’s get our bearings on where Mama’s Fish House is located on Maui, Hawaii.

 

Mama’s Fish House Location

Mama’s is located on the north shore of Maui, 1.4-miles past Paia town on the Road to Hana.

Look for their sign, it is hard to miss – a fishing boat with the nautical flags fluttering in the breeze.

If you are coming from one of the two Maui resort areas or the airport, this is how to get to Mama’s Fish House (click here for directions).

best time to go to mama’s fish house

 

From Lahaina/Ka’anapali in West Maui: 

🍍 Travel time: 1-hour

🍍 Take Hwy 30 to Kahului

🍍 Turn right on Hwy 36 towards Paia and Hana

🍍 Drive through Paia

 

From Kihei or Wailea in South Maui: 

🍍 Travel time: 45-minutes

🍍 Follow the signs to Kahului

🍍 Turn right on Hwy 380 in the direction of Paia and Hana

🍍 Turn Right on Hwy 36, the road to Paia and Hana

🍍 Drive through Paia

 

From the Airport in Central Maui:

🍍 Travel time: 20-minutes

🍍 The airport exit turns into the highway to Kahului. 

🍍 Stay left at first stoplight onto Hwy 360

🍍 Turn left at the second stoplight onto Hwy 36 to Haleakala and Hana

🍍 Drive through Paia

Mama’s is located right on the beach. It feels like they have their own private, secluded cove. 

[Insert Map with Mama’s and Ho’okipa Beach Park and Twin Falls and Airport]

 

Lunch Reservations at Mama’s Fish House

It’s mid-March and there is no lunch availability for 1-week out. That isn’t bad for this place.

March isn’t as busy as the holiday season or the summer high-season so you can tell Mama’s is a popular place even for lunch.

I recommend you book at least 2-weeks out for lunch at Mama’s Fish House. Two-weeks will ensure you get the time you want.

If you are visiting during a holiday period or the summer high season then book a month or more out. 

Mama’s Fish House does offer no-reservation required seating in their two bars and lounge, but the seating is limited. 

Arrive early to enjoy the beach and the cove. You are on island time now.

Lunch or Dinner at Mama's Fish House Maui Hawaii

 

 

9 Reasons to Go to Mama’s Fish House for Lunch

Dining for dinner at Mama’s Fish House has its perks but we prefer lunch. 

Here are our 9 reasons why we go for lunch over dinner at Mama’s Fish House.

 

1. Cheaper

The lunch menu is more economical than dinner. 

We have a hard time recommending Mama’s Fish House to our friends and family because dinner entrees average $62 a plate and an appetizer (pupu in Hawaiian) will run you $25. 

To take a little sting out of the bill, we recommend going at lunch. Fish sandwiches on the lunch menu are cheaper than the dinner entrees while you still get to enjoy their famous, fresh-caught Hawaiian fish.

 

2. The Lunch Menu is Similar to Dinner

While the lunch menus aren’t the same as dinner menus, it is hard to tell them apart. The most expensive dinner entrees are removed and replaced with sandwiches.

For the items that are on both the dinner and the lunch menu, the portion sizes and prices are the same. 

 

3. No Sunset

Mama’s Fish House is not known for its sunsets because the cove faces north. Mama’s is on the wrong side of Maui for spectacular sunset dining. That fact hasn’t hurt their sales.

If you are visiting during the winter, the sun sets between 5:30 and 6:00 making for an early-bird dinner anyways. 

Enjoy the location and the views during full daylight is what we recommend. There is so much to see.

 

4. The Cove

Kuau Cove (aka, Mama’s Fish House Beach) is worth seeing during lunchtime. 

Mama’s has what feels like their own private white-sand beach surrounded by a coconut grove. 

The restaurant sits in the sand, with table views of the ocean framed by coconut trees. You can’t experience the view in all its glory during dinner.

Many a restaurant patron relaxes on the beach after lunch to unwind or sober-up after a few of their signature $20 mai tais. 

The cove has numerous tidepools making it an ideal place to take the kids swimming.

You don’t have to dine at Mama’s Fish House to enjoy the cove. All beaches in Hawaii are public so go visit this perfect beach and cove even if you decide not to dine there. Some people do feel uncomfortable being in their shorts or bikini with restaurant guests wearing their finest aloha clothing though. 

Mama's Fish House Cove Lunch Date 

 

5. Reservations are Easier to Get

Lunch reservations are so much more abundant than dinner reservations. Looking at open tables in March, I can find numerous times for 2 people around noon or 1:00 pm 7-days out.

Looking for dinner reservations is tricky. Only 5:30 or 8:30 seatings are available from now till July. And those are hard to come, most are during mid-week. 

Booking one to two weeks in advance for lunch is a huge plus as you finalize your Maui itinerary.

 

6. Avoid Driving at Night

With most resort areas located 45 to 60-minutes away from Mama’s Fish House, a dinner reservation requires night driving.

While Maui roads are some of the best in the country, the drive is windy in parts and on a cliff edge when going to Ka’anapali. 

The drive after lunch, with the views, is a much more enjoyable experience.

 

Related article:

 

 

7. Make a Day of the North Shore

Mama’s Fish House is located on Maui’s famous north shore. Home to world-class windsurfing, the Road to Hana, sea turtle covered beaches, and the cute surfer town of Paia. 

Go to Mama’s at lunch as part of your north shore Maui itinerary. By making a day out of it, you can go swimming under a waterfall at Twin Falls (18-minutes north of Mama’s), watch the windsurfers or big wave surfers from Ho’okipa Beach Park (3-minutes north of Mama’s), and then go to Mama’s Fish House for lunch.

After lunch, visit Kaulahao Beach (4-minutes south of Mama’s to view the sleeping sea turtles on the beach and then walk off lunch in Paia before you head home. 

Mama's Fish House Lunch or Dinner Map

 

 

8. Aloha Lunch Before Flying Home

A great way to experience Mama’s Fish House is as the final send-off. Go to Mama’s Fish House before your afternoon flight home. 

With Mama’s Fish House located 20-minutes from Kahului Airport, it is an ideal place to go for a lovely Aloha lunch and beach walk before your flight. 

 

9. Good Light for Photos

I know you are not visiting Mama’s Fish House for Instagram. But if you are looking for pictures to capture the experience or a special occasion, the lighting is better at lunch.

Stroll the white-sand beach or relax under the shade of the coconut trees, all while taking pictures to capture the memory forever. Also, with the beach views from your table, the pictures from inside the restaurant will be all the better.

 

Counter-Argument: Reasons to Go to Mama’s Fish House for Dinner

Going to Mama’s Fish House is an experience. Fine dining is best enjoyed during the biggest meal of the day, dinner. 

The ambiance of the cool tradewinds blowing, ukulele music playing, blazing tiki torches, tropical cocktails, and having your date all to yourself for dinner is nice, to say the least. 

Perhaps shelling out a few more dollars for the Tristan Island Lobster Tails or the Prime Tenderloin Filet is worth it for you. 

You are going for the food, the evening ambiance, and the service, not the coconut grove and pictures. 

 

Closing Thoughts on Mama’s Fishhouse for Lunch vs Dinner

Lunchtime is the best time to go to Mama’s Fish House for Erica and me. We also like taking our son Henry there for lunch as proper dinner dining is past his bedtime. We can all enjoy the beach cove and Maui’s North Shore for the day. 

Fine dining is more than just the food and price, it is the experience. Going at lunch makes Mama’s more memorable. For a Hawaii vacation, that is the best thing you can get out of a restaurant. 

Check our Hawaii Recommendations for more of our favorite restaurants and food trucks in Maui. 

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Jordan Fromholz

Jordan Fromholz

Author

I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I have a thing for photographing pineapples and learning to surf.

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