the history of lahaina grill
We opened in 1990 as a little 55-seat bistro off Lahaina’s thoroughfare called Front Street, and almost 20 years later Lahaina Grill has garnered international-acclaim as culinary Mecca—these days, it’s sometimes difficult to book one of the restaurant’s 155 seats! Considered by many to be Maui’s prettiest, freestanding restaurant, the soft tones are accented by a gorgeous, pressed tin ceiling. The tabletops are set with fine china, flatware and crystal. The artwork hanging throughout the restaurant is by Maui’s premier colorist, Jan Kasprzycki. His big, bountiful paintings are the perfect complement to the distinctive flavors found in the food.
A major expansion of Lahaina Grill was completed in January 1993, doubling both the dining and bar seating capacity. At this time the interior became the first completely smoke-free restaurant environment in the State of Hawai‘i. Near the end of 1995, the restaurant was, once again, bursting at its seams. Thus in February 1996, an addition was built to incorporate an in-house bakery and 34 new dining seats, including the Chef’s Table. Set in the picture window looking out to historic Lahaina Town, this very special table is available for parties of six to eight people. The chef can personally plan and prepare a completely individualized menu and select the wines for each party or guests are welcome to order off the a la carte menu.
Serious accolades began when prominent restaurant critic, Mimi Sheraton, awarded Lahaina Grill a coveted three-star rating—”…a traveler’s must…”—in the February 1993 issue of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. She called it a “classy oasis” amidst the “raucous, glitzy doings of Lahaina.” Mimi described the Kona Coffee-Roasted Lamb as “the most extraordinary” entree.
The parade of awards began in January 1994 with the restaurant’s first Hale ‘Aina Award from HONOLULU Magazine. Since then the readers’ poll has voted Lahaina Grill “Maui’s Best Restaurant” twenty years in a row (1994-2013). A month after winning its first Hale ‘Aina Award in January 1994, Lahaina Grill received another three-star rating from national food and wine critic, John Mariani, in the February 1994 issue of Food & Wine. Former editor of HONOLULU Magazine, John Heckathorn, gave Lahaina Grill a rave review and four-and-a-half star rating in November 1994. A five-page, full-color feature story in Bon Appetit in February 1997 had mainlanders calling to book tables five months in advance.
In September 1997, Lahaina Grill received an ‘Ilima Award as one of the three best restaurants in Maui County based on a Honolulu Advertiser readers’ poll. In October 1997, more than 25,000 randomly selected readers of Gourmet magazine rated Lahaina Grill No.5 on its list of Hawai‘i’s top twenty restaurants, one of only two Maui restaurants to make the top ten and one of only three on the entire list. The restaurant appeared on the Top Ten of that same survey in 1998. In November 1998, the restaurant won the “Best Service” award in The Maui News annual readers’ “Best of Maui” poll.
From then to now has been a whirlwind of sheer culinary excitement! 2013 began with the restaurant’s twentieth consecutive year (1994-2013) of being named “Best Maui Restaurant” by the HONOLULU Magazine readers’ poll. Editor, John Heckathorn, stated, “The kalua duck was so rich and smooth that if I could walk on water, I’d walk to Lahaina to eat it again.” Lahaina Grill also received Maui No Ka Oi Magazine’s Readers Choice ‘Aipono Award for “Best Service” and “Best Wine List” in Maui County in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as “Restaurant of the Year” and “Best Service” in 2007, 2008 and this year took home “Restaurant of the Year,” “Best Wine List” and “Best Service”. In July of 2009, Lahaina Grill received Maui Time Weekly’s award for “Best Restaurant” for 2009-2010.