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Big Island (Kona Region) Eats?

I'm going to visit Hawaii for the very first time in a couple of weeks and want to know about great food in the Kona region. I'm staying at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa and I'm looking for good places near there. I've also heard a lot about the plate specials and would love to try those as well! Price isn't a huge concern - I just want to hear about great food!

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  1. It is great to be able to escape the mega-resorts and get some low-key and lower-priced food.

    I enjoyed Cafe Pesto which is north of Kona in the town of Kawaihae.

    There is a Vietnamese cafe called BaLe in the Kona Coast shopping center that is inexpensive and good.

    Waimea is charming and has a less touristy vibe than Kona - good coffee shops and restaurants.
    Here is a link that might be helpful: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/259244


    1 Reply
    1. re: bodie

      Glad to hear about Cafe Pesto. We dined at the Hilo location TWICE, and it was very good. I did not know about the Kona spot, but will look into it on the next visit.


    2. Local food/cheap eats.

      Big Island Grill -
      Here's my review: http://vegasbuff.blogspot.com/2007/06...

      Splasher's Grill - Stick with the basics like pancakes, burgers, wraps.

      Manago Hotel - Famous for their pork chops and very reasonably priced.

      Teshima's - Home style Japanese food, also affordable.

      Upscale/Higher End

      Hualalai Grille -
      My review: http://vegasbuff.blogspot.com/2007/06...

      Merriman's Restaurant -
      My review: http://vegasbuff.blogspot.com/2007/06...

      Coast Grille - Sit on the terrace and watch the sunset if you can. I've read mixed reviews about the place, but I had a wonderful meal there.

      1. I was there a week ago and have a few suggestions.

        - In Waimea we had a great lunch at Charlie's Thai ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/428877 ).

        - On a friend's recommendation, we went to the Fairmont Orchid for lunch at their beach bar cafe (next to Brown's restaurant there). You sit at tables with your feet in the sand with sea turtles just beyond the rock wall. Their fish sandwich special (mahi mahi that day) was very good.

        - Down the coast a bit from Kailua-Kona is the Coffee Shack. It's well known, but is really a "don't miss" for the great view from their deck. The food was just OK but worth it anyway.

        - Big Island Grill in Kailua-Kona for very good breakfasts (probably other meals also) in a coffee shop atmosphere. My ahi and eggs were excellent (try getting that in a coffee shop on the mainland).

        1. In Kona, our best experience - twice!, was at O's Bistro. Casual and at least $10 less per person than the equivalent on Maui for really superb food. No view . Make a reservation as it ain't that big and then go and enjoy a wonderful meal.

          1. I second Cafe Pesto--one of our favorite stops! O's Bistro is good too (though we liked it better when it was Oodles of Noodles!)

            For a fancy night out, we like the Four Seasons Hualalai...beautiful views!

            1. Kenichi Pacific was my favorite dinner out of my last trip, and it is very close to the Sheraton Keahou Bay...highly recommended:


              Kenichi Pacific
              Alii Dr, Kailua, HI 96740, USA, HI

              1 Reply
              1. re: susancinsf

                I would heartily second this. Easily the best place to eat on the island. There is amazing sushi and the food from the kitchen is just as good. It's just right up the road from the Sheraton too.

              2. Kona Brewing Company for pizza and beer -- great stuff, fun atmosphere. We also have had a good experience at the Canoe House. Also, you may want to check out the Bamboo House (I think... it's called the Bamboo something...) up north.

                4 Replies
                1. re: bards4

                  I'll second the Kona Brewing Company. Their other-than-pizza food was quite OK also (can't remember exactly what I and others had). Fun place especially for a group (which we were).

                  1. re: bards4

                    Bamboo House is really good; and a stop at Tropical Dreams for ice cream is an absolute must. It's up in Hawi, though, a long trek from the Sheraton.

                    1. re: gourmanda

                      That's it! I'm glad someone else remembered the name.... It's a trek, but a pretty one. Hawi is kind of a fun little town, away from the bustle of the resort areas. Good hiking down to a black sand beach at the end of the road in Hawi, if you're up to it!

                      1. re: bards4

                        The black sand beach in Punalulu'u is also spectacular too. Lots of sea turtles right on the beach. Plus, you're close to the green sand beach as well. Not to be missed is the Punalu'u Bake Shop for their malasadas. I think they're better than Yex Drive-In.

                  2. I second Cafe Pesto. Aloha Angel Cafe is also pretty good

                    1. Merriman's in Waimea was so-so in April, GREAT fresh produce, very young, clumsy staff, and a bit o'the hair in two dishes, human I hope.

                      Not trying to trash, but be careful. We mentioned the hair, and got ignored.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: barclaypie

                        >We mentioned the hair, and got ignored.<

                        That's a big warning sign.

                      2. Hi. I live on the Hilo side.As far as west side goes, I'll third the Kona Brewing Company It's better than your average brewpub. Seared Ahi is a personal favorite there.

                        The west sie location for Pesto is about an hour north of Kona in Kawaihae. If I was driving that far, I'd just go the few extra miles to Waimea to dine at Merrieman's. Lunch is a very good value there ($12-$22). Dinner's pretty pricey. Staff is clumsy, but you have to remember, the employee base on the Big Island is tiny. The Kona Pizza Hut actually has had to fly people in from Oahu to work there!

                        And for all who might be in Hilo again, Cafe Pesto is fine, but you're much, much better off going to the Seaside Restaurant (Note: Do not confuse the Seaside restaurant with the Coconut Grill, which is next to the Seaside Hotel. Coconut Grill is very mediocre).

                        The Seaside Restaurant is on its third or fourth generation and serves fantastic fish (I prefer it grilled with the mac-nut pesto reduction). Also recommend the calamari (really thick and tender. Definitely call for reservations. You also may request that they catch a mullet out of their on-the-premises pond and steam it for you (definitely have to call ahead for that). That's about as fresh as it comes. Can't recommend the place enough.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Smythee

                          Thanks for the Café Pesto/Hilo update. We planned on doing it once, and ended up twice - very nice!

                          I have a request: there is/was a restaurant, south of the deep harbor, that is located on a fish pond/small bay. It sits on stilts over this small body of water. We had a wonderful meal w/ great service, but I cannot find the info, or recall the name. It was a "family-style" place, though definitely did cater to the tourists. I've poured over MapQuest, and my AAA maps of the Big Island, and cannot even find the street that it would have been off of. I'd guess that it was built in the '60s/70s, when attempts were being made to make Hilo a "destination location," and the staff was excellent, as was the seafood. If you happen to know this restaurant, please let me know the name.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Aloha Bill - I think it is the Seaside Restaurant you are looking for. We've been there many times and love it. I looked it up and it is on Kalanianaole Hwy. This is the one Smythee referes to above.

                            1. re: manomin


                              That name does not ring a bell. I wonder if the name has changed, since my last visit. It seems, in the dusty recesses of my memory, that it was a person's name, but Merriman's (Kona-side) is blocking. I'll still search my old reviews, and notes from that trip, but it may be too long ago to be of any use.

                              Thanks for the update, and maybe I can find some history of the location and see if it's undergone a name/management change. When we dined there, the food was very good and the servers were top-notch. As with most of the dining in the Hilo area, it is not haute cuisine, but good, friendly and they worked very hard. I hope to get back to Hilo soon. It was a bit of a time-capsule and we loved it, kitsch and all. I felt that I had landed at Aloha Tower on the "Pacific Clipper" in 1953!

                              Again, mahalo nui,