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my Hilo list, please critique

Here is what I have gleaned from my research for my upcoming 9 day stay. I am concentrating on grilled fish, sushi, and poke, island specialities, and fresh produce. Located in Puna, I will venture to Hilo and Pahoa, as far as Waimea on one side. Will travel to Naalehu on the other side, anything memorable to eat or gather over there? Is there one restaurant in Pahoa that is good? Please no Kona or Capt. Cook recs!

In Hilo, Farmers Market, Ocean Sushi and Deli, Tsunami, Ken’s House of Pancakes
Nori's Saimin & Snacks, Miyo’s, Miwa, Hilo Homemade, Sombat's Thai, Suisan Fish Market, Supermarket in Pahoa for poke

On the north road, What’s Shakin’, Merriman’s
Volcano food, golf course, Keawe Kitchen

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  1. Kuhio Grille is pretty good for local kine food. Known for their 1 lb. lau lau. Service can be kind of slow though.

    For shave ice, both Itsu's and Kawate Seed Shop are good. Itsu's can be easy to miss. It's located inside of a shop that sells fishing tackle and bait. Kawate Seed Shop is also a great place to pick up some crack seed.

    For malasada's, Punalu'u Bake Shop. I like them even better than Tex Drive-In, but just a notch below Leonard's.

    Places that I haven't been to but heard are good:

    Ning's Thai Cuisine

    Maui Tacos Kaahumanu

    Hilo Bay Cafe

    Restaurant Miwa

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    Kuhio Grille
    111 E Puainako St, Hilo, HI 96720

    Itsu's Fishing Supplies
    810 Piilani St, Hilo, HI 96720

    Kawate Seed Shop
    1990 Kinoole St, Hilo, HI 96720

    Panaluu Bake Shop
    95 5642 Mamalahoa Hwy, Naalehu, HI 96772

    Ning's Thai Cuisine
    15 2879 Pahoa Rd, Pahoa, HI 96778

    Maui Taco's Kaahumanu
    111 E Puainako St, Hilo, HI 96720

    Hilo Bay Cafe
    315 Makaala St, Hilo, HI 96720

    Hilo Shopping Center: Restaurant Miwa
    230 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720

    1. While in Hilo I enjoyed Ken's House of Pancakes (kalbi was especially good), the farmer's market (amazing fruit selection and great prices), Kuhio Grill for lau lau, and Itsu's Fishing Tackle for plate lunch (five different choices a day changing daily and very tasty). In the Volcano area, I highly recommend Thai Thai in Volcano village and the golf course restaurant.

      1. Quince is right about ThaiThai in volcano village, Keawe Grill you mentioned, You didn't mention Kilauea lodge (a personal favortie - only open for dinner). I don't recommend anything inside Volcanos National Park (how sad). All in all its a great list.

        1. I was in Hilo earlier this month. In my view, What's Shakin' was terrific and worth a trip off the main road. I would not recommend Hilo Bay Cafe--this was the big disappointment of my entire trip to the Big Island. The food was trying hard to be creative (good menu descriptions, anyway) but turned out dull to virtually inedible. Both our entrees were dry and overcooked. I also judge a place by what I see others eating--still not promising. We ended up liking Cafe Pesto, our other dinner in Hilo, better. The local fish was tasty, even if it was expensive (about $30 for an entree) for such a casual place. We also went to the Hilo Farmers' Market, which turned out to be much smaller than I'd envisioned. Good local fruit, though.

          Also went to Merriman's in Waimea. Good ingredients fairly well prepared (but avoid the chocolate sampler for dessert--two cookies and four bite-size pieces of chocolate, all of which seemed little better than supermarket quality), nice room, okay service. This one seemed to have one of the better wine lists on the island. Definitely more of a real restaurant experience than the two in Hilo.

          2 Replies
          1. re: amydeastbay

            People are often surprised that the farmer's market isn't any larger. But the greater Hilo area is less than 50,000 people, not a huge population base. Still it is better than much of what is available on Oahu, including the one at Kapiolani Community College on Saturday Mornings.

            1. re: amydeastbay

              I thought Merriman's was the second best meal I had on the Big Island. I would put The Hualalai Grille first.

              Here are my experiences of each.

              http://vegasbuff.blogspot.com/2007/06...

              http://vegasbuff.blogspot.com/2007/06...

            2. As a former resident of Hilo here is my personal fav list:
              Pahoa: Luquins- great Mexican food for being in Hawaii and the drinks are made fresh.
              I heard a new Thai place opened there but never tried it.
              Hilo: you MUST go to Sombats!! I ate there 2-3days a week. The service is great and she grows most of the veggies and herbs.
              Kens is a great late night denny's type place(depends on the time but this really is the only place open after hours)
              Suisan is a must for great price poke and fresh seafood choices(KTA also verygood poke and I like the Ahi Shoyu)
              Resturant Miwa but if you go to any sushi bar in Hilo just know that they get there fish on Thursdays.
              Seaside is also one of my fav ilike the furikake salmon and the specials are always good!!!
              Cafe Pesto cool but its a gamble.
              If I think of anything else I will post...Have fun!!