Paia Fish Market in Maui has grown one small operation into a fleet of stores dotting the Hawaiian islands. And once you take your first step inside that Maui flagship shop, it’s not hard to see why. This is seafood with an aloha twist, and a restaurant that ought to be on every seafood-lovers list.
The original Paia Fish Market is located within the villager that bears its name, on the banks of Paia Bay. It’s a bright blue building that sits on the corner of Hanna Highway and Baldwin Avenue, boasting big windows and twin doors that are almost always flung open to let in the fresh ocean breezes. When you step inside, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into a great fishing house. The walls are adorned with island and marine-inspired paintings and the floors are rowed with massive communal-styled wood tables that look as though they were carved by a true artisan.
Paia Fish Market takes orders at their front counter, but it is a good idea to have one of the members of your party snag a seat as you debate your order as this place gets busy. So busy that during lunch and on weekends, you may be hard-pressed to find a spot if your party is more than two. You can pick up a hand menu while waiting in line or peruse the massive boards raised above the order counter.
While seafood is the number one thing on the menu, it isn’t the only item of note. Other popular items include chicken-based dishes, burgers, pasta, and salads. When ordering most fish-based dishes, you can customize how you want it cooked with the choices of Cajun, blackened, sautéed, and charbroiled.
A few perennial favorites at Paia Fish Market include:
Cajun Mahi Mahi Burger
This flaky white fish comes served up with a mouth-watering Cajun seasoning and atop a freshly baked roll with coleslaw and a house-made tartar sauce as well as general burger fixings. You can also add fries for $2.00. Or forgo the bread, and you’ll still have an outstanding fish dish for just $11.
Enjoy this filling fish served up with beans, cheese, and homemade salsa between two pieces of flour tortillas.
This is an appetizer that is priced at whatever the market price is, so you’ll probably want to clarify before you order. That said, Paia Fish Market really knocks this dish out of the park by slightly searing the sashimi in their Cajun spices and serving the result on a nice bed of cabbage.
This restaurant is incredibly popular both with tourists and with locals thanks to its deliciously fresh entrées and its outstanding prices. In fact, if you’re tired of spending a lot of money on restaurants but still are hankering for seafood, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Maui dining establishment.
-As with most counter-style restaurants, the line to order food here waxes and wanes. A good rule of thumb is if the line has reached out to the door, go and explore one of the many nearby shops and come back in a half-hour or so. You will likely then see that the rush has subsided and won’t have the frustration of waiting in a long line for your order.
-The town of Paia is incredibly popular with islanders and visitors. As such, parking can often be a challenge. So while there is free public street parking along both the big intersecting streets, you may find less frustration by simply paying for fee parking behind the Paia Fish Market.
-Don’t like rubbing elbows with others while you eat? Opt to get your food to go and eat picnic-style at Lower Paia Park. This green space opens up to the beach and is just a five-minute walk down the street from Paia Fish Market.