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 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. A-Bay's Island Grill

    $ | Mediterranean

    This casual yet upscale restaurant and sports bar offers a 24-tap digital beer tower, 10 TV screens, a Cruvinet wine preservation/dispensing...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Bongo Ben's Island Café

    $ | American

    At the entry of this super-casual, oceanfront diner, menus printed on the giant bongos tell the story. Offering great deals on a plethora of...Read More

  • 4. Island Fish and Chips

    $ | American

    Hidden lakeside at the Kings' Shop, this little take-out place is a best-kept secret in the Waikoloa Beach Resort. The combo baskets brim with...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Manta at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

    $$$$ | American

    Perched on the edge of a bluff overlooking the sparkling waters of Kaunaoa Beach, the resort's flagship restaurant is a compelling spot for...Read More

  • 7. Rays on the Bay

    $$ | South Pacific

    The Sheraton Kona's signature restaurant overlooks Keauhou Bay, offering nighttime views of native manta rays that appear nightly beneath the...Read More

  • 8. Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

    $$$$ | American

    Casual elegance takes center stage at the resort's flagship oceanfront restaurant, one of the most upscale restaurants on the Big Island. Breakfast...Read More

  • 9. Big Island Grill

    $ | American

    This local-style Hawaiian restaurant looks like an old coffee shop—it's large and nondescript inside, with booths, basic tables, and bingo-hall...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

    $$ | American

    This may be a chain named after an old Tom Hanks movie, but it has one of the nicest oceanfront patios in Historic Kailua Village, and the food...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Don the Beachcomber at Royal Kona Resort

    $$ | American

    The "original home of the mai tai," Don the Beachcomber features a retro, tiki-bar setting with the absolute best view of Kailua Bay in town...Read More

  • 14. Frenchman's Cafe

    $ | French

    A Parisian couple serves up authentic French crêpes, omelettes, galettes, and desserts at this hidden hideaway in Historic Kailua Village. For...Read More

  • 15. Hawaii Calls Restaurant & Lounge at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

    $$ | American

    The only restaurant at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Hawaii Calls offers a contemporary and fresh menu. The real draw here are the weekly special...Read More

  • 16. Honu's on the Beach

    $$$ | American

    Featuring al fresco dining near the sand, this is one of the few truly beachfront restaurants in Historic Kailua Village. Part of Courtyard...Read More

  • 17. Island Lava Java

    $$ | American

    Located just steps away from its previous landmark location, Island Lava Java is no longer just a colorful coffeeshop with sidewalk seating...Read More

  • 18. Kilauea Lodge

    $$$ | European

    The roaring fire, koa-wood tables, and intimate lighting are in keeping with this cozy lodge in the heart of Volcano Village. The dinner menu...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Lava Rock Café

    $ | American

    This is an affordable place to grab a sandwich or a coffee and check your email (Wi-Fi is free with purchase of a meal) before heading to Hawaii...Read More

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