Where To Eat Here
There is a variety of restaurants on the Big Island to satisfy anyone’s taste and budget. Although this is not a complete list it covers some of the Big Island districts for local style, ethnic to burgers to high-end dining. You might find it useful for your day trips in various parts of the island that you may be visiting. We do not attempt to critic and we only mention those that we think are worth mentioning (and most that we’ve tried). There are many restaurants on the Island that we haven’t tried, yet. Food is one of the most subjective things in life. If you’re out for a gourmet meal, you’ll find it here (some quite pricey but wonderful). If you’re looking for a fast food, grills, seafood, pasta, steaks, fusion food, Asian and Hawaii-Polynesian specialities, or tasty sandwiches to bring to the beach…you can find it on the Big Island. You can dine indoors, on overhanging decks, in gardens, on terraces, golf greens, ocean front, on beaches, or poolside. And, there are plenty of places to take a picnic along. Store your beach chairs in the back of your rental car in case you find that perfect spot to pull over and have a picnic. We think one of the best restaurants is right on our deck at our BBQ! So, we also tell you where you can pick up beautiful Hawaiian fresh caught fish (see Kawaihae on pg 5. for details).
Deli style take out….
Obviously, you can make your own lunches at the cottage to take along on your excursions. But, if you’d like to try a local deli, there are a couple where you can get good sandwiches and fresh made salads and hot selections to take out. The deli counter at Foodland Supermarket in the Mauna Lani resort is great for prepared food to go. Another deli is in the Island Gourmet Markets at the Queen’s Marketplace on Waikoloa Beach Drive. [Our personal favorite deli is the Foodland in Mauna Lani resort for their food selection.]
I always recommend a phone call before you go to a restaurant to make sure they are open. For example, a few of the restaurants listed here are not open every day: for example, Blue Dragon (Kawaihae) is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, also 12/24 and 12/25, and Lilikoi Café (Waimea) is closed Sundays. The Kohala Pacific Diner (Kawaihae) which serves a great lunch now close at 4pm but you can get there earlier to get take-out for dinner for a sunset beach picnic or to take home.
You can “Google” search the below places by putting in their names in the search engines + Hawaii Big Island. If you didn’t bring a laptop, we have one for each cottage that you may use.
If you find a restaurant that you like on the island, tell us about it.
Table Of Contents
South Kohala and Kona districts have many restaurants. The most renowned – and the most exclusive, high end restaurants – are in the Kohala Coast and Kona Coast hotels.
Luaus: we’ve tried a few. In our humble opinion, the Mauna Kea Hotel’s luau has the best food of all the luaus (the food was a higher quality than others we tried). The show itself is small, not very elaborate (more intimate) and charming…the setting is on the hotel lawn….you can glimpse the sun setting as the show starts. The atmosphere at the Mauna Kea is intimate and relaxed.
You can see more flashy luaus at a few of the other hotels with fire eaters, etc. but no other (in our opinion) beats the Mauna Kea’s food quality. At the Marriott the show and the food is standard. The King Kam Hotel’s Island Breeze luau is standard (the location of the luau is not nice –again, it’s our opinion). The Kona Village luau has a very nice setting in the Village…nice stage set up ….and the food quality was just a little above the others – the same for the Hilton Waikoloa’s luau; The Sheraton’s luau show is flashy (fire eaters and all)…the food is standard luau quality.
~ South Kohala District ~
Dining At The Hotels (pricey)
You may dine in any of the Island’s hotel restaurants for casual or fine dining –
for brunch, lunch, dinner, beach bars, delis, cafés and lounges.
Mauna Kea Hotel:
The Beach Café & Bar: On the beach itself, this is a casual beach café for lunch.
Copper Terrace: If you’re looking for a nice place to relax where you listen to live soft Hawaiian music mesmerized by a hula dancer, while you watch the sun go down, sipping a drink…then go down the road from us to the Mauna Kea Hotel’s Copper Terrace early evening before sunset.
Copper Terrace – for music, hula, drinks from the bar, yakitori grill, sushi, snacks. You can stroll the hotel grounds and take in the relaxed atmosphere. There’s easy access to the beach from several points in the hotel (also an elevator down from the hotel level directly onto the beach level).
Mauna Kea Hotel’s fine dining:
Monettes – American/French cuisine
Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar - for brunch and dinner.
Clambake – every Saturday on the lawns is one of the best seafood buffets.
Luau – Tuesdays at 5:30 (quality luau buffet)
Hapuna Prince Hotel
Reef Lounge – dine open air viewing the beach. A great place to watch
sunsets with a drink.
Coast Grille – American bistro style for lunch and dinner.
Ocean Terrace – serves breakfast and lunch
Beach Bar – is poolside. Serves lunch.
Hale Kai – a family-friendly, toes-in-the-sand dining located steps from the shoreline.
Kahakai Bar Oceanfront – on the beach
Brown’s Beach House – Hawaiian Island inspired dishes
Brown’s Deli – near the pool and the beach for take-away or outdoor table dining.
Norio’s Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar
The Canoe House: casual for lunch and dinner. Contemporary – ocean front
setting with outdoor seating.
Napua: on a sandy cove adjacent to Mauna Lani Point villas, this restaurant sources
from local farms and fishermen. Lunch, sunset dinners, live Hawaiian music.
The Bay Terrace: overlooks gardens and near the pool, this is a lovely
The Ocean Grill: poolside and at the beach. Lunch consists of burghers,
salads, wraps. Open for sunset cocktails, it’s a nice beach spot to end the day.
Knickers Golf Clubhouse: after the 18th hole and on the greens, they serve
lunch – sandwiches and salads.
Shops At Mauna Lani
(outdoor mall area)
Oishi! a new "izakaya-style" Japanese restaurant – traditional Japanese with hawaiian hospitality.
"Monstera" features Japanese pub food and sushi in a hip, casual setting.
Breakfast at Water’s Edge – Sunday brunch buffets
Kamuela Provision Company – excellent local produce prepared well. For dinner.
Imari – authentic Japanese. The only spot for genuine teppanyaki dining.
Kirin Chinese Restaurant – excellent for lunch and dinner
The Orchid Marketplace – beside one of the pools (the Kona pool) in the resort.
Outdoor seating, cafe-table style. Serves breakfast, lunch and dinners.
Lagoon Café Restaurant – casual for burghers, salads, etc. The unique thing about this
place is that it’s right next to (and overlooks) the ”Dolphin Quest” experience so you
can observe them playing in the pool.
The Boat Landing Pavilion. Sandwiches, salads, pizzas, cocktails. Casual.
Hawaii Calls Lounge is nice and has an ocean view.
Four Seasons Hotel
Surf, Sand and Stars Buffet: Dinner. Beach seating. Mellow Hawaiian
entertainment. Good food. Telescope to view stars.
Pahu i`a is probably one of the best restaurants – if not the best – on the island. A lovely spot for
a dinner with great ocean location. Indoor and balcony seating. High end. Quality
Hualalai Grill – at the golf course for lunch and dinner
Lava Lounge – for sunset drinks and snacks. Great spot to watch the sun setting.
There are many places to eat in Waimea for ethnic and local style dining. Here’s just a few worth mentioning.
Waimea Happy Hour: Pasa’s! Pupus, good prices and music. It’s at the backside of Parker Ranch Center.
Lilikoi Café has freshly made breakfast, salads and sandwiches. Fresh baked goods, squeezed juices, coffee. It’s open for breakfast and lunch. Not visible from the road…you’ll find it at the back end of the Parker Ranch Center – facing towards the Mauna Kea volcano.
Waimea Coffee Company – cosy café style with sandwiches, soups, pastries and Kona coffee. Going into Waimea – before reaching Merriman’s --- on the right-hand side of the road. Well sign posted on the road.
Merriman's is renowned for good food prepared with local produce. Nice for lunch. Best for dinner.
Waimea Shopping Center (across from the Parker Ranch Center) has Charlie’s Thai, a Japanese restaurant and Solimene’s Italian Restaurant, are the 3 worth mentioning. All casual. The Japanese place has a very well priced lunch buffet every day and is a nicely decorated place.
Ashley’s Chowder Shack: This is small, very casual place for lunch across from Tako Taco Mexican Restaurant on the east side of Waimea village (you’ll see Cookes Corner on the right side of the road). Ashleys makes different chowders every day and sandwiches. They use fresh-baked bread from the Sandwich Isle people. There are about 1/2 dozen tables.
Parker Ranch Center has a food court with a mix of fast food chain places for Mexican, Asian, and pizza. Okay for a quick bite (but --- the pizzas are expensive at this place…don’t ask us why – we don’t understand it, either.)
Village Burger Kamuela – is where island ranchers supply the beef, local fishermen catch the ahi, and neighborhood farms grow the lettuce, tomatoes, mushroom, taro and vegetables. Just about everything is raised on the island. Location: Parker Ranch Shopping Center in Waimea village. ***VEGETARIAN & VEGAN*** options, too.
Hawaiian Style Café – open early for breakfast and close early in the afternoon, you better be very hungry here because the portions are huge. Real local style – vintage counter and stools – booths and a few tables, the menu goes from pancakes to sandwiches and onward to the local style delicacies. It’s an experience that even “The Travel Channel” did a segment on the Hawaiian Style Café when they visited the Big Island a couple of years ago.
Red Water Cafe – Salads, burghers, sandwiches, soups for lunch. Vegan choices, too. There are also dinner choices. And, sushi. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Taco Taco – Waimea’s Mexican restaurant. They have live music certain nights and they also brew their own beer.
For FRESH FISH to take home to cook: you must try HALE I'A (Da Fish Market) the local fish monger. It’s directly across from the gas station at Kawaihae (where Hwy 270 crosses with Kawaihae Rd). It’s easy to drive past it so look for the gas station and then look directly across from it….it is signposted on the road. We think that one of the best restaurants is right on your lanai (deck) with some of the Big Island’s fresh-caught fish sizzling on your BBQ.
Kawaihae Market & Deli. On Hwy 270/Kawaihae Rd. Open daily Mon - Sat 9am - 5pm. You can’t miss it directly across from HALE I'A (Da Fish Market) mentioned above. Friendly service. Stop in for burgers, deli sandwiches, fresh salads, and Monday-Friday they offer different Daily Specials. You can pick up groceries, dry goods, liquor, beer, wine and ice. It’s a great place to stop on the way to Spencer’s Beach Park or Kawaihae Paddling Club. Here’s their website http://www.kmdeli.com .
Kawaihae also has a little local produce market for fruits, flowers and other treats…right on the road with convenient parking (next to The Blue Dragon).
Harbor Grill and Seafood Bar – has nice affordable dinners and a full scale tiki bar. The location leaves much to be desired, however, directly across from the harbour tanks. Don’t let that top you. Seafood Bar is a tiki bar style. Try their happy hour with something from their pupu menu, for example coconut shrimp, seafood pizza, pupu steak, seafood fried rice. Each night there are good specials for dinner.
Café Pesto in Kawaihae has nice lunch and dinner selections. There’s a children’s menu as well. There is another Café Pesto in Hilo, the waterfront bay area.
The Blue Dragon Coastal Cuisine & Musiquarium in Kawaihae is restaurant and open-air night club with live music. There are piano nights, Hawaiian music, jazz and blues a few times a week. Dinner is a nice selection of local produce – including salads, fresh fish. And, in the daytime hours, you can even be pampered with a massage, facials and reflexology treatments as the Blue Dragon is also a “body works” establishment.
Waikoloa Beach Drive
Both the King’s Shops and the Queen’s Marketplace on Waikoloa Beach Drive have a number of places to eat – both fast food and more formal dining. We’re only going to mention a few.
Sushi Shiono inside the Island Gourmet Market at the Queens’ Marketplace has great take away sushi and bentos for picnics or taking home. Sometimes they have Chirashi Sushi
The Wine Bar, also inside the Island Gourmet Market, has a nice selection of wines and pupus.
Merriman’s Market Café – of the same owner in Waimea at the King’s Shops.
Roy's Waikoloa Bar & Grill at the Kings Shops. Euro-Asian style.
Island Fish & Chips features island combination baskets like coconut shrimp and fresh local fish and chips that include wedge fries and pineapple coleslaw. Open air seating overlooking Kings’ Lake.
Charlie’s Thai Cuisine – of the same owner in Waimea at the Queen’s Marketplace.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar – quality seafood at the Queen’s Marketplace.
Romano’s Macaroni House: if you feel like an Italian meal, Romano’s is a popular chain restaurant on the mainland. Here’s where you can eat good pasta dishes…along with other poultry, seafood, and meat selections. It’s in the Queens Marketplace (Waikoloa Beach Drive).
Buzz’s Sand Trap: at Keana Place in Waikoloa Beach Drive (not the W. Village…but down at the resort) ….is between The King’s Shops and the Waikoloa Hilton Hotel. It specializes in steaks, seafood, salad bar & cocktails for casual dining …open 7 days a week. Overlooks the golf course.
Banjy’s Paradise Bar & Grill. At the Waikoloa Village Golf course clubhouse. Sandwiches and salads. Banjy's has beer on draft including 3 Kona brews and wine by the glass. The large lanai overlooks the putting green and driving range with a view of three volcanoes.
Kamuela Provision Company (Hilton Waikoloa Village). Breathtaking views of Waiulua Bay and perfect sunsets featuring creative “Hawaiian Regional” cuisine with locally grown ingredients and wine bar with vintages from around the world. Open for dinner daily. Dinner 5:30pm-9:30pm, Wine Bar 5:30pm-10pm
Mana Lani shopping center
Ocean Grill at the Mauna Lani hotel has lovely view of the ocean and a great menu,
Tommy Bahama Restaurant: Dining outdoors, terrace style a top the Tommy Bahama shop. A nice casual atmosphere. Island influenced dishes – salads, seafood dishes.
Ruth Chris: Steak house. Prime steaks. You can eat in the dining room or outside on the lanai.