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Big Island Eats

I'm going to the big Island and I want to know of some great cheap places for good Hawaiin, filipino, or japanese food. I'm staying on the Kohala Coast and am looking for places to eat mainly in Kona or maybe Hawi. Thanks!

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  1. Can't do better than the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook for local style dining, well known for fresh fish and pork chops. Teshima's (in Hanalo town?) for japanese food, not too far from the Manago. The Ocean View Inn across the seawall in Kona for reasonable food and drinks. These are all local institutions that have been around forever. Also since you will be on the Kohala Coast you could drive up to Waimea and have breakfast at the Hawaiian Style Cafe, another cheap, local favorite spot.

    1 Reply
    1. re: curiousgeo

      Sadly, the Ocean View Inn had been closed for about a year. According to my Mom (who lives in Kona), the owners wanted to retire, and not having anyone to pass on the restaurant to, they decided to close it. The other two places, Teshima's and Manago's, are still open but they are quite a drive from north of the airport (Kohala), esp. with the traffic going south at the end of the work day. Both restaurants are definitely local institutions though as they have both been open for decades. Yes, decades. Mrs. Teshima is in her 90's and still goes to the restaurant every day. There must be other "cheap" options in Kailua-Kona, but since I don't live there anymore, I can't vouch for any. Wish I could be of more help!

    2. Don't forget the Big Island Grill in Kailua, Cafe Pesto in Kawaihae, and Bamboo in Hawi. There is a great little book called Cheap Eats on the Big Island (or something like that); it should help you find other places. Ocean View is still closed, but being remodeled and will open again as a restaurant (though probably without the old "atmosphere")

      1. Too bad about the Ocean View Inn, a great old time place. I had heard they were looking for someone to take over, guess it didn't happen. Now where am I going to go for beef stew, eggs and rice for breakfast?

        1. Does Sam Choy still have a place near the Kona/airport Costco? The place I'm thinking of was a couple blocks mauka of the main highway and had no atmosphere -- but the seared pokes were really interesting, I think I might have had one in an omelette.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Jefferson

            I think that place is closed.

            I was just dreaming of the kalua pig sandwich at Buns in the Sun (on Palani Road one block down makai from the highway). We actually got those before we had to fly out -- told them no tomatoes because no seeds on the plane, and so they de-seeded the tomatoes for us instead!

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              SamuelA.L. please give me the 411 on Buns in the Sun as well as any other finds for good local food. I'm going to be in the Kona area for a wedding in January and I'm trying to find restaurants that will cater for a rehearsal dinner and informal party. If you have any Buns in the Sun recs outside of the Kalua pig that would be great!

              1. re: kauai2b

                Buns in the Sun is a sandwich shop... pretty much anything is good, I just like the kalua pig best. Across Palani Road is Ba Le Sandwiches, which has a much better vegetarian selection than most banh mi shops. Unfortunately Izakaya Kai closed, that was the best place in Kailua.

                Never been for dinner, but Kona Ranch House has really good breakfasts... it's 75-5653 Ololi Road -- off of Palani Road, maybe 100 ft up mauka from Kuakini Highway.

                (BTW, if you didn't know, "up mauka" means "toward the mountain" and "down makai" means "toward the beach", north-south-east-west not being much use on a small quasi-circular island).

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  It has been a while, but I found Kona Ranch House to be disappointing, with pedestrian food...and not all that cheap either!

          2. No, Sam Choy's is gone unfortunately. They stopped serving dinner a few years ago, but remained open for breakfast and lunch. But a few months ago, they stopped even that. The spot isn't even a restaurant anymore.

            1. Buns in the sun Kalua Pig Rocks. Good with some tabasco sause and rice and eggs too if that's appeals to you. The baked goods are nothing special but the portugese sausage is like a more savory longonesa (sp) filipino sausage. I know this sounds gross but I put some splenda on it to make it taste like more authentic filipino longanesa and that gave me my fix for the day. Plus its more lean.

              Big island grill pancakes are good (enough) and they have coconut syrup too. I got coconut mac and was happy!

              More posts to come after I go to Alan Wongs here and Merriman's.

              O's pad thai as good as well probably differnet then what you're are used to but still good.

              1. For a cheap lunch, don't forget to go up to the KTA market in Waimea and pick up some poke. They have numerous types to choose from. I'll pick up 2 different types, maybe a spicy tuna and a seaweed salad, and a sweetbread roll from the bakery. Take it with me down to Hapuna Beach for a nice scenic lunch. Yum! If you're on vacation, you can pick up one of those cheap styrofoam coolers for under $10 to keep your food cool.

                1. I second Manago Hotel for pork chops in Captain hook. Yes, pork chops can be this good. The fish (ahi one night, and whole jack like fish the next) are nothing to sneeze at either. this place is a time capsule not to be missed. I never made it to dinner or lunch at Teshima's-north of Captain Cook, but had the "Japanese breakfast"-rice, fish, amazing miso soup,green tea and lot of tasty things I had never seen. I am sorry I missed the rest of the menu of homestlye Japanese and sashimi. The Coffee Shack in Captain Cook offers a great view and breakfast (serves lunch too).

                  1. Merriman's Report
                    Fish was good well prepared crispy on the outside and moist and flaky inside. Vegtables also prepared well. The best dessert by far was the chocolate purse. The waitress said it was "life changing" as a pastry snob I laughed inside..she was so right though. Now I just need to figure out how to make it b/c I haven't seen it anywhere else!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kauai2b

                      Thanks for reporting back! Did you got o the Merriman's in the King's Shops area, or the one on the road to Waimea? I've heard the latter is better, but have only been to the former a handful of times. The first time was great, a nice representaion of local fish and good food overall (opakapaka! Yum!). Each subsequent visit dissapointed unfortunately, but I am heading back to the Big Island in April and will, I am sure, try it again.
                      Hoping to find that perfectly cooked fish again, sitting on the patio after a long day's work...
                      Glad you had better luck with their waitstaff, our experience was a little uneven. At least it wasn't the one-person show that Roy's seems to encourage.

                    2. I went to the Waimea location.

                      1 Reply