Need some Fine Dining in Kona (Big Island)
Heading to the Big Island for a week...we are moderate foodies from San Diego. We are staying in Kona and the day after we get in we have a special dinner that I would like to plan. I would like to keep it in Kona since it is our first real day on the island. I am hoping to find a fantastic restaurant in the area for us to go to in the evening. Fine dining, island-centric food would be perfect. I appreciate the help!
We also will be spending some time at the Kona Brewery, so if anyone has food tips there that would be great.
I will be posting the Trip Report as a separate thread. Well we didn't make it up to the resort area for a variety of reasons, and we finally planned on getting a good dinner at Pahu'ia but it was Saturday and they only do the buffet. Realizing we weren't going to get a high end dinner we ended up just going to the Kona Inn restaurant (ocean front hotel place in the little shopping mall on Ali'i Highway) and having a really damn good dinner. Quick setup: We went there for lunch earlier in the week and expected crappy tourist food for finicky old people, but were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the burger (fresh, handmade, cooked rare as requested) and cajun fish sandwich that we went back for dinner.
The place has a bit of a dated wicker-beach theme, kind of an old school beach steakhouse feel. After the great burger I was impressed to see most of the steaks stated as being Prime grade. We both got fish anyway. Dinners were served like the way I described the place; a baked potato and vegetables as sides. My GF had the stuffed Ono and I had the backed Monchong (a fish I had never had before - that I know of). The food was cooked perfectly, not overcooked fish we typically see in mid-price tourist places. They stuffed Ono was a little heavy handed with the creamy sauce. The Monchong came with a garlic lemon pesto that was really tasty, and ever though the fish didn't need it i enjoyed having it. They also accommodated our birthday dinner with a MASSIVE slice of Kona Coffee Mud Pie, quite decadent. The service was excellent, friendly, and attentive. The hostess was very helpful and patient with deciding on a table for the sunset. The menu overall isn't creative or interesting, it is quite standard and the sides and appetizer selections are pretty spartan. They fully embrace the Island-old school steakhouse vibe.
While it still appears there isn't upscale/fine dining at the beach in Kona, it was nice to find a place that delivered an excellent dinner using fresh quality ingredients with a great view.
Kona Inn Restaurant
75-5744 Alii Dr, Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Thanks so much everyone. Right now looking at Pahu'ia since we wanted to stay closer to Kona that night. It isn't the drive north I am worried about, it is the hour drive back after stuffing ourselves and having some wine haha.
We hope to check out one of the two in Mauna Lani and Merriman's later in the week.
There are not many fine dining choices in Kailua Kona proper. If you must be in town, I would try La Bourgogne, or Huggo's. If you can venture a bit out of town, I would recommend Pahu'ia or the Beach Tree at the Four Seasons ( about 20 minutes north of Kona). Twenty more minutes north brings you to the Mauna Lani/Fairmont area - I would recommend both resorts main restaurants - Brown's Beach House and the Canoe House. The best sushi on the island can be found at the shops at Mauna Lani's new restaurant Monsterra. Further up the coast brings more good choices, but this is probably further than you want to be from Kona already. In south Kona about twenty minutes from town is Mi's italian restaurant - excellent "islandy" italian with locally sourced ingredients. Hope this helps - let us know where you end up
75-5828 Kahakai Rd Ste B, Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Beach House Restaurant
5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
I second all of these recs. I tried out Manta at the Mauna Kea and it was alright. Got the special valentines day menu and left thinking maybe I should have ordered a la carte and made the kitchen work for it a bit.
Merriman's in Waimea in my opinion was the best island centric fine dining on the island by far. If you have a car, it's worth the drive and I wouldn't leave the island without trying it.
Here are the photos from my trip for visual reference:
Hope this helps. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.
I don't think these qualify as "fine dining, island-centric food" but since no one else has chimed in, here goes. We were in Kona for 3 nights last week and ate one dinner at The Fish Hopper and two at Rapanui Island Cafe. Neither is particulary quiet or romantic, but the food was great.
75-5683 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740