Big Island Restaurants

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Big Island Restaurant Reviews

Between star chefs and an influx of quality local farms, the Big Island restaurant scene has been heating up in the last couple of years. In the past it used to be a pleasant surprise for visitors to discover a gourmet meal on the island; now food writers from national magazines are praising the chefs of the Big Island for their ability to turn the local bounty into inventive blends of the island's cultural heritage. The Big Island has become a destination for vacationing foodies who are drawn by rave reviews and the reputations of some world-renowned chefs.

Hotels along the Kohala Coast have long invested in celebrated chefs who know how to make a meal memorable, from inventive entrées to spot-on wine pairings. But great food on the Big Island doesn't begin and end with the resorts. A handful of cutting-edge chefs have retired from the fast-paced hotel world and opened up their own small bistros closer to the farms in upcountry Waimea. And, as the old plantation towns transform into youthful arts communities, unique and wonderful restaurants have cropped up in Hawi, Kainaliu, and on the east side of the island in Hilo. Though the larger, gourmet restaurants (especially those at the resorts) tend to be very pricey, there are still ono grindz (Hawaiian slang for tasty local food) to be found at budget prices throughout the island, from greasy plate lunch specials to reasonably priced organic fare at a number of cafés and health food markets. Less populated areas like Kau, the Hamakua Coast, and Puna offer limited choices for dinner, but usually at least one or two spots that do a decent plate lunch, and a handful of excellent bakeries.

In addition to the individual restaurants, events such as the Great Waikoloa Food, Wine & Music Fest at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival at the Outrigger Keauhou, and Cuisines of the Sun at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel draw hundreds of guests to starlit open-air dinners celebrating the bounty of the isle's land and waters. Island tourism bureaus have also made an effort as of late to promote agritourism, and it has turned into a booming new business. Farm tours afford visitors the opportunity to meet with and learn from the local farmers and tour a variety of organic farms. Some tours conclude with a meal comprised of items sourced from the same farms. From goat farms churning creamy, pungent goat cheese to Waimea farms planting row after row of bright tomatoes to small aquaculture operations, visitors can see exactly where their next meal will come from and taste the difference that local, fresh, and organic production can make.

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