Big Island Restaurants

Between star chefs and myriad local farms, the Big Island restaurant scene is becoming a destination for foodies. Food writers are praising the chefs of the Big Island for their ability to turn the local bounty into inventive blends inspired by the island's cultural heritage.Resorts along the Kohala Coast have long invested in c
Between star chefs and myriad local farms, the Big Island restaurant scene is becoming a destination for foodies. Food writers are praising the chefs of the Big Island for their ability to turn the local bounty into inventive blends inspired by the island's cultural her
Between star chefs and myriad local farms, the Big Island restaurant scene is becoming a destination for foodies. Food w

Between star chefs and myriad local farms, the Big Island restaurant scene is becoming a destination for foodies. Food writers are praising the chefs of the Big Island for their ability to turn the local bounty into inventive blends inspired by the island's cultural heritage.

Resorts along the Kohala Coast have long invested in culinary programs offering memorable dining experiences that include inventive entrées, spot-on wine pairings, and customized chef's table options. But great food on the Big Island doesn't begin and end with the resorts. A handful of chefs have retired from the fast-paced hotel world and opened their own small bistros in upcountry Waimea, or other places off the beaten track. Unique and wonderful restaurants have cropped up in Hawi, Kainaliu, and Holualoa, and on the east side of the island in Hilo.

In addition to restaurants, festivals devoted to island products draw hundreds of attendees to learn about everything from breadfruit and mango to avocado, chocolate, and coffee. Agritourism has turned into a fruitful venture for farmers as farm tours afford the opportunity to meet with and learn from a variety of local producer. Some tours conclude with a meal of items sourced from the same farms. From goat farms churning creamy, savory goat cheese to Waimea farms planting row after row of bright tomatoes to high-tech aquaculture operations at NELHA (Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority), visitors can see exactly where their next meal comes from.

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  • 1. Bears' Coffee

    $ | American

    This favorite, cozy breakfast spot, a fixture downtown since the late 1980s, is much loved for its fresh-fruit waffles and tasty morning coffee...Read More

  • 2. Hilo Bay Café

    $$ | American

    This popular upscale restaurant overlooks Hilo Bay from its towering perch on the waterfront; the sophisticated second-floor dining room looks...Read More

  • 3. Ken's House of Pancakes

    $ | American

    For years, this 24-hour diner on Banyan Drive between the airport and the hotels has been a gathering place for Hilo residents and visitors...Read More

  • 4. Sombat's Fresh Thai Cuisine

    $ | Thai

    There's a reason why locals flock to this hideaway for the best Thai cuisine in Hilo. Fresh local ingredients highlight proprietor Sombat Saenguthai...Read More

  • 5. Blane's Drive Inn

    $ | American

    At one point this was a real drive-in with car service. Now, customers park, order at the window, and eat at one of the few picnic tables or...Read More

  • 6. Café 100

    $ | American

    Established in 1948, this family-owned restaurant is famous for its tasty loco moco, prepared in more than three dozen ways, and its low-priced...Read More

  • 7. Café Pesto

    $$ | Italian

    Located in a beautiful and historical venue, Café Pesto offers exotic pizzas (with fresh Hamakua mushrooms, artichokes, and rosemary Gorgonzola...Read More

  • 8. Happy Valley Seafood Restaurant

    $ | Chinese

    Don't let the name fool you. Though Hilo's best Chinese restaurant does specialize in seafood (the salt-and-pepper prawns are fantastic), it...Read More

  • 9. Kuhio Grille

    $ | American

    There's no atmosphere to speak of, and water is served in unbreakable plastic tumblers, but if you're searching for local fare—that undefinable...Read More

  • 10. Moon and Turtle

    $$$ | International

    This sophisticated intimate restaurant in a bayfront building offers a classy selection of international fare with the focus on locally sourced...Read More

  • 11. Ocean Sushi

    $ | Japanese

    What this restaurant lacks in ambience it certainly makes up for in quality and value. We're talking about light and crispy tempura; tender...Read More

  • 12. Pineapples

    $ | American

    If you expect that a restaurant named Pineapples would serve tropical libations in hollowed-out pineapples, you'd be exactly correct. Always...Read More

  • 13. Ponds Hilo

    $$ | American

    Perched on the waterfront overlooking a scenic and serene pond, this restaurant has the look and feel of an old-fashioned, harborside steak...Read More

  • 14. Reuben's Mexican Restaurant

    $ | Mexican

    It's not the best Mexican food you've ever had, but if you're jonesing for some carne asada or chicken flautas, Reuben's has you pretty well...Read More

  • 15. The Seaside Restaurant & Aqua Farm

    $$ | Seafood

    The Nakagawa family has been running this eatery since the early 1920s. The latest son to manage it has transformed both the menu and the decor...Read More

  • 16. Verna's Drive-In

    $ | American

    Verna's is tried and true among locals, who come for the juicy homemade burgers and filling plate lunches. The price is right with a burger...Read More

  • 17. Big Island Pizza

    $ | Italian

    Gourmet pizza is the star at this small take-out café (you order at the counter) where handmade dough and sauces are made fresh daily. Pizzas...Read More

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