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Going to Big Island - Review My Picks and Help w/Beachside Dining Location!

t
tennisboy Dec 27, 2010 11:30 AM

Hey everyone,

The missus and I are going to the Big Island next week and I've done extensive research on here about where we should eat. (We'll be at the Hilton Waikoloa Village). Also, we would like a nice place by the water -- unsure if I want it to be upscale (like the FS) or more like Duke's (which I know doesn't exist on the BI but you get the picture). What about anything at the Fairmont (Hale Kai Restaurant )? I am tempted to just go to the LAVA LOUNGE at the FS for a ligher dinner w/drinks (on a day we have a big lunch) to avoid the seemingly high prices at Pahu i`a. Thoughts? Is Canoe House worth it perhaps?

Here's what I have it down to, comments appreciated:

DEFINITES:

Big Island Grill
Huli Sue's BBQ and Grill
Holuakoa Cafe
Ceviche Dave's
Rapanui Island Cafe
Merriman's (our fancy dinner)
Coffee Shack
Kona Joe Coffee
Tex Drive In
Scandinavian Shaved Ice
Daniel Thiebaut (Sunday brunch)
Island Lava Java
South Kona Fruit Stand
ITSU's shave ice
Hawaiian Style Cafe
Hilo Market

MAYBES:

Teshima's Restaurant
Aloha Theatre
What's Shakin
Lava Lounge at FS for atmosphere
Canoe House?
Fairmont/Hale Kai Restaurant for atmosphere?

Thanks!

-----
Tex Drive In & Restaurant
45-690 Pakalana St, Honokaa, HI 96727

Daniel Thiebaut
65-1259 Kawaihae Rd, Kamuela, HI 96743-8406

Holuakoa Cafe
76-5901 Mamalahoa Hwy, Holualoa, HI 96725

Scandinavian Shaved Ice
75-5699 Alii Dr, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Coffee Shack
83-5799 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook, HI 96704

Big Island Grill
75-5702 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Hawaiian Style Cafe
65-1290 Kawaihae Rd, Kamuela, HI 96743

What's Shakin
27-999 Old Mamalahoa Hwy, Papaikou, HI 96781

Island Lava Java
75-5799 Alii Dr Ste A1, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Aloha Theatre
, Keauhou, HI 96739

Ceviche Dave's
73-4976 Kamanu St Ste 100, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Huli Sue's
, Kamuela, HI 96743

Teshima's Restaurant
79-7251 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI 96750

Hilton Waikoloa Village
69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa, HI 96738

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  1. t
    tennisboy RE: tennisboy Dec 28, 2010 12:27 PM

    Nothing, anyone??

    2 Replies
    1. re: tennisboy
      m
      macdaffy RE: tennisboy Dec 28, 2010 02:37 PM

      You've got a good list of the high points. One consideration for a fancy dinner has to be the Keei Cafe in the village of Hokukano between Kainaliu and Kealakekua. Their pork chops and fish dishes are excellent. It's great if you're a visitor, but the menu is static if you're a resident.

      Lava Java is in the running for best hamburger on the island, but don't miss Annie's Island Fresh Burgers in Kealakekua. It's not the most inexpensive burger you'll have, but it will be one of the best. Annie's staff is friendly and prompt, their ingredients are farm-fresh, and the view from the back deck is great (http://www.anniesislandfreshburgers.com).

      If you're hankering for authentic barbecue and/or the best baked goods on the island (sorry, Punaluu Bakery), drive south from Kailua-Kona to the 106 mile marker in the village of Honaunau and park. Coffee and Epicurea is on the right side of the road. If you're early, their croissants are out-of-this-world. Too late, and you may be out of luck. There's nothing like one of their pastries and a cup of coffee to start the day. Big Jake's Barbecue is on the left side of the road if you're southbound. Big Jake's smoker is right in front of the place, and he serves ribs, chicken, and--my favorite--beef brisket. Get your sauce on the side; the meat's just as good without it.

      My pick for Mexican food is Habanero's in the Keauhou Shopping Center. Not only is the food there delicious; if you get there at the right time, there's no better place to get a picture of the setting sun. Aloha!

      -----
      Keei Cafe
      79-7511 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua, HI 96750

      Annie's Island Fresh Burgers
      79-7460 Mamalahoa Hwy #105, Kealakekua, HI 96750

      1. re: macdaffy
        m
        mdg RE: macdaffy Aug 30, 2011 01:02 AM

        Thanks for the Big Jake's recommendation! The timing for it was perfect on our way from Kona airport to Volcano. The pulled park and ahi sandwiches were great, as was the homemade lemonade. Nice complexity of flavors in the sauce and beans and nice smoke in the pork. It made a great start to our vacation.

        Michael

        -----
        Big Jake's Island B-B-Q
        , Honaunau, HI 96726

    2. Bill Hunt RE: tennisboy Dec 28, 2010 07:28 PM

      I like Merriman's.

      Canoe House let us down, but that was very, very long ago. I need to give them another try. Many tell a great story about how much things have changed for the better on all fronts. Other than maybe the rec. below, their venue is excellent. If they have sorted out the kink, and they have certainly had time to do so, they should be great, as well. I just do not know, but others with a lot of credibility tell me so.

      Did I miss Pahu i`a, at the Four Seasons? High-end, on the water, but great. If you need one more ocean front, high-end restaurants, this would be my choice.

      I also like Daniel Thiebaut's. We were scheduled for dinner one night, but wanted to make sure that we knew exactly where they were, so drove up. Looked so good, that we had lunch, then went back to Wiakoloa, slept for a bit, then drove back for dinner. It was good enough to dine twice in the same day.

      Sorry that I cannot help you with the rest of your trip - probably been too long away from the Big Island.

      Most of all, ENJOY and aloha,

      Hunt

      -----
      Daniel Thiebaut
      65-1259 Kawaihae Rd, Kamuela, HI 96743-8406

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt
        t
        tennisboy RE: Bill Hunt Dec 29, 2010 03:16 AM

        Would you suggest Pahui'a over Merimmans? We'll only have 1 high end dinner. We do like great atmospheres so maybe...?

        1. re: tennisboy
          Bill Hunt RE: tennisboy Dec 29, 2010 04:23 PM

          Boy, that is a tough call. After some inner reflection, I think that I'd give the nod to Merriman's.

          Enjoy,

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt
            w
            whoopdido RE: Bill Hunt Jan 3, 2011 12:45 PM

            I haven't been to the Merriman's on the Big Island, but I just returned from Maui a couple days ago and ate at the Merrimans at Kapalua. Although, it was good, Pahui'a absolutely blew it away.

            It's been a couple years since I was there, but I loved Pahui'a. Very expensive, but then again, so is Merrimans.

            Again, since I haven't been to the Merrimans on the Big Island, I can't comment on the view, but if you're looking for oceanfront dining, I can't think of too many better options than Pahui'a and the food was wonderful. Just basing off my experience in Kapalua, without a doubt I'd go with Pahui'a.

            1. re: whoopdido
              Bill Hunt RE: whoopdido Jan 3, 2011 07:37 PM

              Yes, it's a toss-up to me, as well. I give extra points to Merriman's, if one has not dined there, either on the Big Island, or Kapalua, Maui, but only a few. Either should be great, and the venue of Pahu i`a is very hard to beat. Both great, and I'd find some way to do them both, even if I had to cash in a 401K, but that is just me.

              Hunt

      2. t
        tennisboy RE: tennisboy Jan 16, 2011 01:34 PM

        Hey everyone,

        Decided to do a quick trip report. We just returned from the Hilton WV which was very nice, but our primary gripe was that even in the 80 degree weather, the pools were virtually unswimmable because they were too cold. It was pretty insane, and enough to have us not return. Our other gripe with the hotel was that though we like big hotels and the HHV in Honolulu, the HWV lacked the tiki torches and "hang out" outdoor space that all big resorts in Hawai'i should have (the Fairmont's was very nice). We just thought it was a bit of a lost opportunity, though the service at the hotel overall was excellent and the $10/certs as a Hilton HHonors Gold were very generous and perfect for a quick (if not bland) coffee at Kimo Bean in the morning. Now, onto the food:

        (1) Island Lava Java - Exceeded expectations. Excellent view, and very, very good mahi-mahi sandwich. Also the best (i.e strongest/smoothest) coffee on the island. We were pleasantly surprised!

        (2) Big Island Grill - Great local place! I had the loco moco which was super heavy but good. My wife's Teriyaki Beef was the best we'd ever had. The mud pie dessert was just OK.

        (3) Huli Sue's in Waimea - went for lunch, got the mixed combo plate. Was huge and very good. Was disappointed that the corn pudding wasn't served at lunch.

        (4) Monstera -- very good, but a little overpriced. Probably wouldn't go back, but I thought the food was good.

        (5) Rapanui Island Cafe - excellent "thunder steak" though the pineapple green curry was a little bland. The coconut rice was good, and the coconut cream pie was EXCELLENT.

        (6) Scandinavian Shave Ice - HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. Need I say more? Nothing redeeming about it. (We went to Itsu's on a Saturday and it was closed!!)

        (7) Anuenue for shave ice - Excellent! Finally, a good shave ice on the Big Island.

        (8) Tex Drive In - just had the malasadas and the coffee--excellent Bavarian cream filled. Yum.

        (9) Kailua Kona Farmers Market - Perfect for the fruit we wanted for the week

        (10) Hilo Market - great fruit and samples, neat place. Wish we spent more time in Hilo generally, but we were off to the Volcanos that day. The coffee at the red caboose/shack place was pretty bad.

        (11) Tropical Dreams in Hawi - pretty good, but not as great as people described. I'd go again.

        I think that was it. We ended up not going to any super nice place (other than Monstera which was $200 for 3 people, no alcohol) because for our final night we did a last minute jaunt to Honolulu. There, we ate at Eggs N Things - which was LOVED (Pineapple nut pancakes, excellent house omelet), and Duke's, which is a favorite of ours because of the atmosphere, iced tea, and Hula Pie! The Sheraton Waikiki looked like a dream, but we ended up staying for free w/points at the Courtyard, which actually impressed us (and we could swim in the heated pool - had it to ourselves).

        Overall, we liked the Big Island but would put Kauai and Maui and Oahu over it. We drove over 700 miles in 7 days, really saw the whole island. While many places were gorgeous, we just didn't get the same feel as we did in, say, Kauai. Waikiki beach, though we wouldn't spend more than a few days in a row there, sort of lifted our spirits at the end and was a great cap to a nice trip.

        Thanks to everyone for the help!

        -----
        Tex Drive In & Restaurant
        45-690 Pakalana St, Honokaa, HI 96727

        Big Island Grill
        75-5702 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

        Island Lava Java
        75-5799 Alii Dr Ste A1, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

        Huli Sue's
        , Kamuela, HI 96743

        Monstera
        Shops At Mauna Lani, Waikaloa, HI 96743-9704

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