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

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    Beachy yet upscale, the restaurant has an in-house beer sommelier who advises on the perfect pairing with your food choice, which can range from fresh...Read More

  • 2. Bears' Coffee

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

  • 3. Big Kahuna Beach Grill

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    From its upstairs, open-air dining room decorated with kitschy surfer chic, this new restaurant invites customers to enjoy views of the pier and a bustling...Read More

  • 4. Cafe il Mondo

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    Unquestionably the fanciest spot in Honokaa, this cozy Italian bistro known for its pizza and other options feels like you've taken a step into Florence....Read More

  • 5. Harbor House

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    On the docks at Kona's sleepy harbor, this open-air restaurant is an authentic place to grab a beer and a bite after a long day...Read More

  • 6. Hayashi's You Make the Roll

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    Tiny and locally owned, this sushi shack in the heart of town has gained an incredible following and specializes in "reverse" (rice on the outside,...Read More

  • 7. Hilo Burger Joint

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    What this casual pub-turned-burger-joint lacks in space and parking is more than made up for in burger choices: more than 22 varieties of gourmet burgers,...Read More

  • 8. Kaaloa's Super J's Authentic Hawaiian Food

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    It figures that the best laulau (pork or chicken wrapped in taro leaves and steamed) in West Hawaii can be found at a roadside hole-in-the-wall...Read More

  • 9. Kona Brewing Co.

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    An ultrapopular destination with an outdoor patio, Kona Brewing offers an excellent, varied menu, including famous brews, pulled-pork quesadillas, gourmet pizzas, and a killer spinach...Read More

  • 10. Poi Dog Deli

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    With vintage memorabilia and a bluesy soundtrack as a background, this cool deli in a tiny strip mall has a lot more to offer than...Read More

  • 11. Quinn's Almost by the Sea

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    With the bar in the front and the dining patio in the back, Quinn's may seem like a bit of a dive at first glance,...Read More

  • 12. Tex Drive-In

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    A local institution, this casual place is famous for its malasadas, the puffy, doughy, deep-fried Portuguese doughnuts without a hole, best eaten hot; there are...Read More

  • 13. Umekes Fish Market Bar & Grill

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    Locals flock to this downtown Kailua-Kona restaurant for good reason: the poke is the most onolicious (superdelicious) in town, and the many other seafood offerings...Read More

  • 14. Anuenue Ice Cream and Shave Ice

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    Shave ice and ice cream in every imaginable flavor can be found at the ideal spot, close to the resort coast beaches. Prepare to wait...Read More

  • 15. Bianelli's Gourmet Pizza and Pasta

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    With indoor and outdoor seating, this easygoing Italian restaurant in a Keauhou shopping center serves gourmet pizzas and a tasty selection of pasta dishes, calzones,...Read More

  • 16. Big Island Brewhaus

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    A hands-down island favorite, this casual brewpub from owner and veteran brewmaster Tom Kerns churns out premium ales, lagers, and specialty beers from his on-site...Read More

  • 17. Big Island Grill

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    This beloved local-style restaurant has switched to drive-up only and serves huge portions of pork chops, diet-busting loco moco (meat, rice, and eggs smothered in...Read More

  • 18. Cafe 100

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    Established in 1948, this casual spot is famous for its tasty loco moco, prepared in more than three dozen ways (with different meats, chicken, vegetables,...Read More

  • 19. Happy Valley Seafood Restaurant

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    Hilo's best Chinese restaurant specializes in seafood but also offers many other Cantonese treats, including salt-and-pepper pork, Mongolian lamb, and vegetarian specialties like garlic eggplant...Read More

  • 20. Hawaiian Style Cafe

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    Come hungry: there’s a reason the line is usually out the door at this popular hole-in-the-wall eatery in a shopping center downtown. Not only does...Read More

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