Hawaii - 3 island 2 adults & a kid who loves food!
We are about to head out to Hawaii and would love some good recommendations. we will be in Waikiki for 3 days and then in Kona on the BI for 3 and last stop is Maui/Kapalua. Nothing fancy just delicious! local. We all eat just about anything...not a Spam fan.
Also would love a higher end place in Kona fora birthday dinner, or at least the most delicious fresh fish available. I heard the Four seasons restaurant is both good & terrible...which is it?
You'll get lots of restaurant suggestions so I'm going to suggest some outing for your Chowpup. There is a very touristy spot, Maui Tropical Plantation, that your child will probably love. You ride a tram through an arc shaped farm and see all of the most common crops grown on Hawaii. Your tour guide will open a coconut and give a cute little lecture about how they grow and how they are used. Then you'll see coffee, pineapple, avocado, guava, apple bananas, papaya, and tons of flowers growing. There are more crops than I've listed and you will be able to see vanilla orchids that they hand pollinate. We took the ride first then walked the loop to go back and really look at the crops. They even grow durian there. I think your child will love it. Oh and they have a really ugly restaurant that serves delicious pineapples filled with shrimp salad or fruit.
There is also a coffee plantation on Maui that is fun to visit, it's called Maui Grown Coffee -t hey have a little retail shop and if you stop there, they will tell you how to get up to the fields. On the way from Waimea to Lahaini you will pass a roadside fruit stand. The folks who operate it seem pretty odd but they sell some amazing pineapples and star fruit. Don't hesitate to stop.
On the BI is Big Island Grill. This is a no frills family style place that the locals frequent. The roasted pork sliced thin with gravy is awesome. They are friendly and polite and I was very happy to give them my business. BTW, I would equip myself with the Big Island Revealed and Maui Revealed Ultimate Guide Books. I've used them for 5 separate trips and they never steered me wrong. We just got back from the Big Island. We ate a lot of L & L & Ba Le for inexpensive but still great tasting meals. Cafe Pesto in Hilo is a pleasant surprise. I hope on my 3rd trip I will be able to try Merryman's.
I never suggest the Islands "revealed" books to any one. For one thing you can go to their web site and see all of the hotel photos and reviews as well as restaurant info (CH is a better source) for free. In the Maui book there are places that they suggest you ignore the No Trespassing signs. IMO that's just plain wrong. There are a lot of locals that hate that book with a passion.
The Four seasons restaurants have never impressed me. Very pricy and just not that great. The one possible exception is Spago at The Four seasons-Maui. The view is incredible and the service very good. Prices are very high. If you want to splurge this is the place to melt your CC.
On Maui the Lahaina grill is a must do for us and it's close to where you will be staying. On the Big Island near Kona in the Kohala resort area there is Browns Beach House at the Fairmont. It's right on the beach and very nice. The Canoe House is currently closed and under renovation and won't re-open until November. Depending on when you leave that may be an option. There is also a Roy's and a sansei in Kohala for more casual dining. Norios for Sushi and fish in the Fairmont is casual but very good. The miso marinated and grilled butterfish was fantastic.
I'm in no way advocating breaking the law or being otherwise inconsiderate or insensitive to anyone. I'm trying to help a tourist. On my recent trip to the BI, I heard from every business that I patronized and took the time to strike up a conversation with how bad the downturn in the economy has affected them. I love and respect Chowhound's recommendations for both their (mine as well) passion for food and the entertainment value but you don't get too many responses on this board so if a local doesn't like the books referred to above, maybe that is a good thing.
I have to agree with Fritter. Those revealed books are trash and from what I have seen in them from time to time, I am surprised they haven't been hit by a lawsuit for things like recommending trespassing on private property or entering dangerous shoreline areas.
As far as the number of replies on this site, I think we have a pretty good track record. What does confuse me are the number of people who ask exactly the same question as someone else did the week before. it would be very helpful to have someone say "i read some reviews on Roy's and would like to know more about _________ there." In this case at least we know that it is a family and that they are not looking for 4 star restaurants every night.
Speaking of which, I'm not much of an expert on the big island, but there are some good threads over the past year or so about including a variety of places in Kona, Hawi, and Kamuela, as well as over the mountain on the Hilo Side, and up in Volcano.
For Honolulu, you might check out these threads, some from a while back, some more recent.
(oahu report) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/442201
(best hole in the wall) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/421684
(sunday dinner waikiki) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/444640
(cheap eats Honolulu) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/424931
(Oahu Cheap & Tasty) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/259032
(Downtown Honolulu) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427704
(Best Fish) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/468012
(Budget Waikiki) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/511446
I might add that I finally got around to eating at Sugoi's over by HCC earlier this week, the garlic chicken rivals mitsuken and the servings are more than generous.
"if a local doesn't like the books referred to above, maybe that is a good thing"
I can't say I see a lot of logic in that thought process.
If you want to see a TON of negative responses about those books flip over to Trip Advisor.
In either event they don't really offer a lot of local flavor and if you do the road to Hana for example you will still want a detailed map and guide as Maui Revealed is woefully in-adequate there.
Most of their best information other than maps is free right on their web site.
We have a few locals here that offer a lot of solid advice. I tend to listen to them over a dated book.