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Favorite family restaurants on the Big Island of Hawaii

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My family of six (with four young kids) are headed to the Big Island for vacation in two weeks. We are looking for family-friendly, casual, relatively inexpensive, but good eating places there. Thanks for your recs.

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  1. In Hilo, Ken's Pancake House, open 24 hours. Everything from pancakes to burgers and fries to spaghetti.

    1. The Big Island is, er-r rather "big," by Hawaiian standards. It would help greatly to know where you will be staying, and if you are adverse to driving for meals. The Big Island has some public transportation, but nothing like Da' Bus on O`ahu.

      Rather than listing places, that would be a two-hour drive, let everyone know where you will be staying.

      Also, if you can give us a budget/person, that might help, as well.

      The Big Island has all sorts of great restaurants, at most levels, so you should get some great recs. We just want to keep it close, and within budget.

      Mahalo,

      Hunt

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Thanks for the request for more specifics. We'll be staying in Kona with day trips to Hilo and Kohala coast.

        Our preference is enjoying the local flavor. Our home is LA, so we already get the variety of ethnic Asian, Latino, Mediterranean cuisines.

        Thanks.

        1. re: joncwu63

          Great! You're getting to see more of the Big Island, than far too many do.

          There have been some good Hilo threads recently. Rather than fill in my details from Hilo, too long ago to be worthwhile, please do a search of this board and plug in Hilo. More reviews in the last six months, than the last 5 years.

          Now, the locals, and the recent travelers can help you with your selections. Most of my reviews on CH, have been in the Kona Area (over the last 3 years) at high-end spots. I love 'em, and stand by 'em, but that might not be what you're looking for.

          Most of all, enjoy - The Big Island is a wonderful place. Do not be in a hurry, and take it all in, even if you do not get to every town, or each side of the Island.

          Aloha,

          Hunt

      2. On the Kona side I like Manago Inn and Teshima, family style in the Hawaiian sense. In Hilo, Cafe 100.

        1. in Kona town the Big Island Grill might be best and in Waimea the Island Style Cafe would work out best

          1. We just got back (hours ago!) from the Big Island. We loved Original Thai in Kona; definitely a locals place. No view; in a strip mall behind a Firestone Tire store, but AWESOME Thai food.

            We ate at the Fish Hopper right on the bay in Kona yesterday on our way out of town, and I was underwhelmed. Not bad food, but bad service and nothing special food-wise.

            1. My family and I just got back from Kona. Big Island Grill was our favorite spot. They have ono french toast and panckaes for breakfast. The loco moco was delicious too.
              The friend chicken and katsu salad was great. There's so much to choose from. There is a separate breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu. Saimin is served only for lunch and dinner. That was a bummer for my son who loves saimin and couldn't get it at breakfast. They're closed on Sunday.

              2 Replies
              1. re: laulipooh

                Thanks for all of the great recs. Our kids love Asian food and breakfast is always a big hit.

                One concern is the VOG level - the sulfur dioxide emission from the volcano. Since you just got back from the Big Island, how are the conditions? Did it altered your family's outdoor plans (i.e. beach activities, hiking, etc.? Did you take any precautions - wearing masks, limiting outdoor time, drinking lots of fluids? We have four young children (none have any respiratory problems right now) and we want to make sure that it is a fun, but safe experience for them. Thanks for any replies on this.

                1. re: joncwu63

                  the vog is here nearly every day but I play tennis 3 days a week and work in my garden every day without any problem so, unless you have respiratory problems you shouldn't have a problem...ka'ahele malu

              2. We returned from a wonderful 11 day vacation on the Big Island. Thanks for all of your recs.

                The huge thumbs up included Big Island Grill in Kailua (we went there the first night in and it hit the spot and then had lunch on our very last day there - the local plates were outstanding, great taste, excellent quality, fantastic prices - under $10), Manago (yes, the pork chops were incredible and they treated our young kids really well; big plus for a younger family). Unfortunately Hawaiian Style Cafe was not open (tried to call them, but no answer) and Two Ladies in Hilo (their specialty was homemade mochi with a whole strawberry and red bean inside - truly amazing).

                A fair thumbs up were Nori's Saimin in Hilo (good value, but the soup base was a bit salty; their chocolate mochi cake was devoured by our kids) and Pine Tree Cafe near the Kona airport (very good variety, decent prices, not particularly local/hometown).

                Unfortunately Hawaiian Style Cafe was closed (tried to call with no answer) - was really looking forward to that break on our drive back from Hilo to Kona.

                We had a wonderful time there. Don't know if we will return soon (especially with all of the kids). Definitely a wonderful place. Thanks again for your help in making it a great time for us.