Where to Eat on the Big Island
Thanks to its deep waters, green pastures, and fertile fields, the Big Island provides local chefs with a cornucopia of fresh ingredients. The challenge for visitors is finding restaurants to match their budgets. Don’t be afraid to nosh at a roadside stand or create a meal from a farmers market , as locals do, but indulge at least once on an oceanfront dinner at sunset for the best of what the Big Island has to offer.
So many restaurants, so little time. What's a traveler to do? The Big Island's delicious dilemma is its daunting size and abundant offerings. Its gastronomic environment -- the fruitful marriage of creative chefs, good soil, and rich cultural traditions -- has made this island as much a culinary destination as a recreational one. And from the Kona Coffee Festival to the Aloha Festival's Poke Recipe Contest, the Big Island is host to extraordinary world-renowned culinary events.
The Big Island's volcanic soil produces fine tomatoes, lettuces, beets, beans, fruits, and basic herbs and vegetables that were once difficult to find locally. Southeast Asian fruit, such as mangosteen and rambutan, are beginning to appear in markets, along with the sweet white pineapple that is by now a well-established Big Island crop. Along with the lamb and beef from Big Island ranches and seafood from local fishermen, this fresh produce forms the backbone of ethnic cookery and Hawaii Regional Cuisine.
Kailua-Kona is teeming with restaurants for all budgets, while the haute cuisine of the island is concentrated in the Kohala Coast resorts. Waimea, also known as Kamuela, is a thriving upcountry community, a haven for yuppies, techies, and retirees who love a good bite to eat. In Hawi, North Kohala, expect bakeries, neighborhood diners, and one tropical-chic restaurant that's worth a special trip. In Hilo in east Hawaii, you'll find pockets of trendiness among the precious old Japanese and ethnic restaurants that provide honest, tasty, and affordable meals in unpretentious surroundings.
Reservations are not necessary unless noted. Warning: Big Island restaurants, especially along the Kona Coast, seem to have a chronic shortage of waitstaff. Come prepared for a leisurely meal; sit and enjoy the warm moonlit night, sip a tasty libation, and realize time is relative here.
The Kona Coast
With few exceptions, this is a no-man’s-land for memorable, sensibly priced dining; chains abound, and service is often inordinately slow. One newer bright spot is Honu’s on the Beach, the indoor/outdoor restaurant at the Courtyard King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel , open daily for breakfast from 6 to 10:30am and dinner from 5:30 to 10pm. Live jazz and sushi Tuesday to Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30pm attract locals and visitors, with well-prepared farm-to-table Hawaii Regional Cuisine available nightly ($15–$28).
Kailua-Kona. www.islandlavajava.com. tel. 808/327-2161. Main courses $5–$15 breakfast; $10–$20 lunch; $15–$27 dinner. Daily 6:30am–9:30pm. Also in the Waikoloa Highlands Shopping Center, 68-1845 Waikoloa Rd., Waikoloa. tel. 808/217-7661. Weekdays 5:30am–9pm; weekends 6:30am–9pm.
Big Island Grill LOCAL/AMERICAN--A welcome blast of true island style, this diner in a small strip mall (with parking!) caters to a primarily local crowd and visitors seeking financial relief from Kona markups. The tile floors are clean and bright, tables uncramped, and portions of everything but fresh vegetables are enormous. If you start with breakfast here, particularly one of the many varieties of loco moco (eggs, meat, rice, gravy) or massive French toast with Portuguese sausage, you may well skip lunch. The American-style sandwich list is unexceptional, except for the broiled fresh fish, a half-pound serving best accompanied by pineapple coleslaw; otherwise go for local favorites such as kalua pork and cabbage or chicken katsu. Be prepared to split the hefty but delicious desserts, such as sweet potato haupia cheesecake, but don’t arrive starving—there’s often a wait for seats and service.
75–5702 Kuakini Hwy. (south of Henry St.), Kailua-Kona. tel. 808/326-1153. Reservations not accepted. Main courses breakfast $5–$17, lunch $8–$20, dinner $9–$24. Mon–Sat 7am–9pm (lunch 10:45am–5pm).
Father and son Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa opened microbrewery and pub Kona Brewing Co. (www.konabrewingco.com; tel. 808/334-2739) in an obscure warehouse in Kailua-Kona in 1998; now they also run two restaurants on Oahu (one at the Honolulu airport) and enjoy widespread Mainland distribution of their most popular brews, including Fire Rock Pale Ale and Longboard Lager. The Kona brewpub, 75-5629 Kuakini Hwy., still offers affordable lunch specials (pizzas, fish tacos), a palm-fringed patio, and short free tours daily at 10:30am and 3pm.
Kona airport). tel. 808/325-8000. www.uluoceangrill.com. Reservations recommended. Breakfast buffet $30–$44; dinner main courses $32–$55. Daily 6:30–11am (buffet 6:30–10:30am) and 5:30–9pm (sushi till 9:30pm).
High above Alii Drive, Keauhou Shopping Center has several more affordable options than Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai (below) and Kenichi (www.kenichipacific.com; tel. 808/322-6400), a stylish but high-priced Asian fusion/sushi dinner spot, open daily 5 to 9:30pm. The best is Peaberry & Galette (www.peaberryandgalette.com; tel. 808/322-6020), which has a wide selection of savory and sweet crepes, plus good coffee, although service can be slow; it’s open 7am to 7pm Monday to Thursday, till 8pm Friday to Saturday, and 8am to 6pm Sunday.
For a cheaper but still convenient alternative to pricey hotel dining, don’t snub the island-style outlets in the food court at Queens’ MarketPlace, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr., in Waikola Beach Resort. Hawaiian Fish N Chips (tel. 808/886-1595) smokes its own fish and serves local delicacies such oxtail soup, while Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ (tel. 808/886-8600) prepares well-seasoned plate lunches with ribs, chicken, and fish, under the aegis of “Food Network Star” Philip “Ippy” Aiona.
The commercial port of Kawaihae also harbors several inexpensive, homespun eateries, including Kohala Burger and Taco , above Café Pesto in the Kawaihae Shopping Center (www.kohalaburgerandtaco.com; tel. 808/880-1923); burgers are made with local grass-fed beef, while buns and tortillas (used for fresh fish tacos, burritos, and quesadillas) are housemade. It’s open daily, but hours vary widely by season, closing as early as 4:30pm Saturday to Monday. The lunch wagon next to Da Fish House fish market naturally has very fresh fish plates ($9), though little seating; it’s open weekdays 10:30am to 3:30pm and takes cash only.
Monstera Noodles & Sushi JAPANESE--Master sushi chef Norio Yamamoto left his namesake restaurant (still called Norio’s) at the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii to open this less formal but still handsome, clubby dining room in the Shops at Mauna Lani. No worries if you’re not a fan of raw fish: His “sizzling plates” menu includes New York strip steak in a choice of sauces, boneless fried chicken in spicy garlic-sesame sauce, and pork loin stir-fried with kimchee. But it would be a shame to skip seafood specialties like his poke roll (made with seasonal fish and fresh wasabi) or volcano roll (a combination of spicy tuna and shrimp tempura with local avocado), or ultra-fresh, silken sashimi such as Hawaiian fatty tuna (chu toro). Individual dishes are moderately priced but add up quickly, especially if ordering from the gourmet sake or tropical cocktail menu has stimulated your appetite.
In the Shops at Mauna Lani, 68-1330 Mauna Lani Dr., Waimea. www.monsterasushi.com. tel. 808/887-2711. Reservations recommended. Main courses $18–$30; sushi (3 pieces) $7–$16; sashimi $16–$20. Daily 5:30–9:30pm.
Café Pesto PIZZA/PACIFIC RIM--Locals may dart in and out for wood-fired pizzas to go, but there’s something to be said for enjoying the capable service and cozy yet uncluttered atmosphere of the original Café Pesto, which opened in 1988, 4 years before the Hilo branch . More local produce and proteins appear on the menu now, but otherwise the pizzas, meal-size salads, hearty pastas, and “creative island cuisine” (such as zesty wok-fired shrimp and scallops in a red coconut curry) continue to impress year after year. The playful children’s menu ($8) also brims with healthful but enticing choices, including pasta and kalua turkey over rice.
In the Kawaihae Shopping Center, 61-3665 Akoni Pule Hwy. (Hwy. 270), Kawaihae. www.cafepesto.com. tel. 808/882-1071. Main courses $11–$17 lunch, $15–$37 dinner; $10–$21 pizza. Sun–Thurs 11am–9pm; Fri–Sat 11am–10pm.
Merriman’s Mediterranean Cafe MEDITERRANEAN--A more casual offshoot of the original (and outstanding) Merriman’s in Waimea , this pleasant indoor/outdoor cafe in the Kings’ Shops open-air mall seems almost reasonably priced compared with the nearby hotel options. It’s also had to step up its game in recent years, thanks to the advent of more choices at Kings’ Shops and the nearby Queens’ MarketPlace. The best bets are among the least expensive items, too: Greek-style fish tacos with an avocado-tzatzki sauce ($16), thin-crust pizzas ($12–$15), and the hearty meatball sandwich ($12).
At Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa Beach Resort, 69–250 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa. www.merrimanshawaii.com. tel. 808/886-1700. Main courses $10–$29. Daily 11:30am–9pm.
For a light breakfast, lunch, or snack, Kohala Coffee Mill, 55-3412 Akoni Pule Hwy. (Hwy. 270, across from Bamboo, below; tel. 808/889-5577), offers pastries, tasty sandwiches and seasonal hot entrees, Tropical Dreams ice cream , and well-crafted coffee drinks. It’s open weekdays 6am to 6pm, weekends 7am to 6pm.
Bamboo PACIFIC RIM--Dining here is a trip, literally and figuratively. A half-hour away from the nearest resort, Bamboo adds an element of time travel, with vintage decor behind the screen doors of its plantation-era, pale-blue building; an art gallery and quirky gift shop provide great browsing if you have to wait for a table. And in these parts, the food is well worth the wait, from local lunch faves such as barbecued baby back ribs or kalua pork and cabbage to veggie stir-fry of soba noodles or grilled chicken, shrimp, fish, or tofu with a kicky Thai-style coconut sauce. Dinner adds more fresh-catch preparations, including a grilled filet with a tangy lilikoi mustard sauce balanced by crispy goat cheese polenta. If you’re dining on Friday or Saturday night, you may luck into live music; in case you want to re-create the hang-loose vibe at home, Bamboo’s yummy lilikoi cocktails have inspired its line of drink mixes for sale.
55-3415 Akoni Pule Hwy. (Hwy. 270, just west of Hwy. 250/Hawi Rd.), Hawi. www.bamboorestaurant.info. tel. 808/889-5555. Dinner reservations recommended. Main courses $10–$20 lunch, $15–$35 dinner (full- and half-size portions available at dinner). Tues–Sat 11:30am–2:30pm and 6–8pm; Sun brunch 11:30am–2:30pm.
Daunted by high-priced hotel breakfasts? Visit the inexpensive Hawaiian Style Café, 65-1290 Kawaihae Rd. (Hwy. 19, 1 block east of Opelo Rd.; tel. 808/885-4925), which serves pancakes bigger than your head (try them with warm haupia, coconut pudding), kalua pork hash, Portuguese blood sausage, and other local favorites. It’s cash only, and very crowded on weekends (Mon–Sat 7am–1:30pm; till noon Sun).
Merriman’s HAWAII REGIONAL--This is where it all began in 1988 for chef Peter Merriman, one of the founders of Hawaii Regional Cuisine and an early adopter of the farm-to-table trend. Now head of a statewide culinary empire that includes various Merriman’s and Monkeypod Kitchen incarnations on the four major islands, the busy Merriman has entrusted exciting young chef Zach Sato with maintaining his high standards and inventive flair. Lunch offers terrific values, such as the grilled fresh fish ($15), while weekend brunch, introduced in 2014 (along with a bar), includes a luscious eggs Benedict with ham and jalapeño hollandaise, and a less guilt-inducing kale and beet salad with chèvre and smoke-marinated grape tomatoes. At dinner, you can still order Merriman’s famed wok-charred ahi, ponzu-marinated mahimahi, or local grass-fed filet mignon—plus his de rigueur dessert, a molten chocolate purse with vanilla bean ice cream—but you’ll also want to consider Sato’s fresh-catch preparation, often inspired by his herb garden, or his three-course “chef’s choice” dinner ($69).
At the Opelo Plaza, 65-1227 Opelo Rd., off Hwy. 19, Waimea. www.merrimanshawaii.com. tel. 808/885-6822. Reservations recommended. Main courses $11–$15 lunch, $29–$49 dinner (half-portions $25–$38). Mon–Fri 11:30am–1:30pm; daily 5:30–9pm; Sat–Sun brunch 10am–1pm.
Tropical Dreams: Ice Cream Reveries
Founded in North Kohala in 1983, ultra-rich Tropical Dreams ice cream is sold all over the island now, but you’ll find the most flavors at the retail store next to its Waimea factory, 66-1250 Lalamilo Farm Rd. (off Hwy. 19; www.tropicaldreamsicecream.com; tel. 888/888-8031). For a truly tropical sensation, try ice creams such as Tahitian vanilla, lychee, or poha, or sorbets like dragonfruit, passion-guava, or white pineapple ($3.50 a cup). It’s open weekdays 9:30am to 4:30pm.
Village Burger BURGERS--Tucked into a cowboy-themed shopping center with a drafty food court (bring a jacket or sit by the fireplace), this burger stand run by former Four Seasons Lanai and Mauna Lani Bay chef Edwin Goto has a compact menu: plump burgers made with local grass-fed beef or “red veal,” grilled ahi, or taro (when available); thick, sumptuous shakes made from Tropical Dreams ice cream ; and hand-cut, twice-cooked fries, with or without Parmesan “goop” (consider your salt intake first). Other than that, there’s just an ahi Niçoise salad ($12) featuring island greens—but it’s also delicious. Try the mamaki tea, if on offer; it’s brewed from native plants grown by local school kids.
In the Parker Ranch Center, 67–1185 Mamalahoa Hwy., Waimea. www.villageburgerwaimea.com. tel. 808/885-7319. Burgers $8–$12. Mon–Sat 10:30am–8pm; Sun 10:30am–6pm.
The Hamakua Coast
This lovely but little-populated area holds few dinner options, and those tend to close early, so plan ahead.
Café Il Mondo PIZZA/ESPRESSO BAR--If you want to order a medium or large version of the pleasantly crusty, stone-oven-baked pizzas, you’ll have to get it to go. But if you can find a space in this very cozy bistro, pick your own pie ($12–$15), or consider one of the calzones with the cafe’s signature pesto sauce, made with macadamia nuts in lieu of pine nuts. The best values may be the Mama Mia dinners ($13): roast chicken with twice-baked potatoes or beef lasagna with focaccia, both with a garden salad and served at lunch as well. Arrive before 5pm to order one of the sandwiches in freshly baked bread or focaccia buns. Note: Bring your own beer and wine (Malama Market is just around the corner); the pizzeria charges $2 to $5 for corkage, depending on how many are imbibing.
45-3626 Mamane St. (Hwy. 240, at Lehua St.), Honokaa. www.cafeilmondo.com. tel. 808/775-7711. Main courses $7–$15 lunch, $11–$15 dinner. No credit cards. Daily 11am–8pm.
Tex Drive-In & Restaurant AMERICAN/LOCAL--The two stars here are only for the malasadas, Portuguese sweetbread doughnut holes ($1) fried to order, dusted in sugar, and available (for 45[ce] more) with a filling, such as Bavarian cream, tropical jellies—guava, mango, pineapple—and chocolate. The Tex malasada is square, larger, and a little chewier than the traditional version sold at church fairs or the Honolulu landmark, Leonard’s, and sometimes Tex runs out of certain fillings, but the plain are quite satisfying. The rest of the vast menu—burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, Hawaiian plate lunches—is modestly priced but adequate at best; you’re better off continuing on to Waimea or central Honokaa for a full meal.
45-690 Pakalana St., off Hwy. 19, Honokaa. www.texdriveinhawaii.com. tel. 808/775-0598. Malasadas $1 each, fillings 45[ce]. Main courses $5–$7 breakfast, $4–$9 lunch and dinner. Daily 6:30am–8pm.
Hawaii’s second largest city hosts a raft of unpretentious eateries serving plate lunches and Japanese cuisine, reflecting East Hawaii’s plantation heritage and largest ethnic group. A prime example of the former is Ken’s House of Pancakes, 1730 Kamehameha Ave. (Hwy. 19, just west of Hwy. 11; www.kenshouseofpancakes.com; tel. 808/935-8711), which serves large helpings of local dishes and American fare 24 hours a day. The ambience is even more basic (plastic trays and paper plates) at the venerable Café 100 (www.cafe100.com; tel. 808/935-8683), 969 Kilauea Ave., but the price is right, with hefty plate lunches for $7, burgers $2 and up, and more than 30 varieties of loco moco—meat, eggs, rice, and gravy—starting around $3; opt for brown rice to lessen the guilt. It’s open daily at 6:45am, closing at 8:30pm Monday to Thursday, 9pm Friday, and 7:30pm Saturday.
Across the street from Big Island Candies , Miyo’s, 564 Hinano St. (www.miyosrestaurant.com; tel. 808/935-8825), prides itself on “home-style” Japanese cooking, with locally sourced ingredients and a few welcome surprises, such as decadent pumpkin flan and a fluffy cheesecake. It’s open 11am to 2pm for lunch and 5:30 to 8:30pm for dinner daily except Sunday.
Café Pesto PIZZA/PACIFIC RIM--The menu of wood-fired pizzas, pastas, risottos, fresh local seafood, and artfully prepared “creative island cuisine” such as mango-glazed chicken is much the same as at the original Kawaihae location , and that’s a good thing. Even better: the airy dining room in a restored 1912 building, with black-and-white tile floors and huge glass windows overlooking the vintage wooden buildings and palm trees of downtown Hilo. Service is attentive and swift, especially by island standards, but don’t shy away from the two counters with high-backed chairs if the tables are full.
At the S. Hata Bldg., 308 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo. www.cafepesto.com. tel. 808/969-6640. Pizzas $10–$21; main courses $11–$17 lunch, $18–$27 dinner. Sun–Thurs 11am–9pm; Fri–Sat 11am–10pm.
Hilo Bay Café PACIFIC RIM--Hidden in a strip mall for years, this ambitious restaurant now lives up to its name—it moved in late 2013 to an elevated perch overlooking Hilo Bay, next to Suisan Fish Market and the lovely Liliuokalani Gardens. Fittingly, sushi and seafood dishes are the most reliable pleasers, including horseradish panko-crusted ono and grilled asparagus salad with pan-roasted salmon, but fresh produce from the Hilo Farmers Market also inspires several dishes. Vegetarians will appreciate thoughtful options such as grilled herb eggplant with piquant chimichurri sauce, Hamakua mushroom curry pot pie (one can add chicken or shrimp), or sweet potato gnocchi with broccolini and Gorgonzola. Service can be inconsistent; stay relaxed by sitting on the outdoors deck or at a table with a view, and order one of the creative cocktails.
123 Lihiwai St., just north of Banyan Dr., Hilo. www.hilobaycafe.com. tel. 808/935-4939. Reservations recommended for dinner. Main courses $11–$17 lunch, $11–$20 dinner. Mon–Thurs 11am–9pm; Fri–Sat 11am–9:30pm; Sun 5–9pm.
Options are limited and frankly often disappointing here, so plan mealtimes carefully and stock up on picnic supplies in Kailua-Kona or Hilo. Note: You’ll find the following restaurants on the “Hotels & Restaurants in the Volcano Area” map .
In addition to the listings below, look for the Tuk-Tuk Thai Food truck in front of the Volcano Inn, 19-3820 Old Volcano Rd. (www.tuk-tukthaifood.com; tel. 808/747-3041), from 11am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday. You can even call ahead for its hearty curries and noodle dishes ($8–$10), about half the price of the Thai restaurant down the road.
Kilauea Lodge Restaurant CONTINENTAL--Like his inn, owner-chef Albert Jeyte’s woodsy restaurant radiates Gemütlichkeit, that ineffable German sense of warmth and cheer, symbolized by the “International Fireplace of Friendship” studded with stones from around the world. Although starters such as mushroom caps and baked Brie are ho-hum, the European-style main courses showcase unique proteins such as rabbit, antelope, buffalo, and duck, along with local grass-fed beef and lamb, plus the fresh catch (recommended). The wine list is well-priced, although lilikoi margaritas can quickly take the edge off a long day of exploring the nearby national park. Dinner prices are steep (perhaps due in part to the lack of competition), but lunch offers good values, including Kuahiwi Ranch grass-fed beef, buffalo and antelope burgers and a curried chicken bowl. Breakfast is another winner, especially the all-too-tempting French toast made with Punaluu Bake Shop’s guava, taro, and white Portuguese sweetbread.
19–3948 Old Volcano Rd., Volcano. www.kilauealodge.com. tel. 808/967-7366. Reservations recommended. Main courses $10–$13 breakfast, $9–$13 lunch, $22–$49 dinner. Daily 7:30am–2pm and 5–9pm; Sun brunch 10am–2pm.
Café Ono VEGETARIAN--When burgers, plate lunches, and deli sandwiches start to pall, this cafe and tearoom hidden in a quirky art studio/gallery provides a delectably light alternative. The all-vegetarian menu is concise: a soup or two, chili, lasagna, quiche (highly recommended), and sandwiches, most accompanied by a garden salad. Don’t pass up the peanut butter and pumpkin soup if available, and ask if you can give Ernest the goat a bite to eat before you explore the lush gardens outside.
In Volcano Garden Arts, 19–3834 Old Volcano Rd., Volcano. www.volcanogardenarts.com. tel. 808/985-8979. Main courses $10–$15. Tues–Sun 11am–3pm.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The ISLAND FARM/SEAFOOD--By no means is this your typical national park concession, as some hot dog–seeking visitors are discouraged to find. Since its debut in summer 2013, as part of the reopening of the restored Volcano House hotel, the Rim and the adjacent Uncle George’s Lounge have tried to match their three-star views of Kilauea Caldera with a menu that’s both artful and hyper-local: 95 percent of the ingredients come from the Big Island. The bountiful breakfast buffet includes made-to-order eggs, tropical fruit smoothies, wild turkey hash, local bacon, and freshly baked pastries, among other items. Bento lunch boxes include a choice of kalua pork, chicken braised with lemongrass and kaffir lime, an organic veggie/tofu stir-fry, or macadamia-nut fresh catch, plus four tasty sides and a lilikoi cream puff. Make reservations well in advance for a window table at dinner, when lights are periodically dimmed to showcase the glow from Halemaumau Crater. Culinary highlights include opakapaka (pink snapper) wrapped in white pineapple, the rare-seared Kona kampachi, and the Kuahiwi Ranch steak of the day, served with local wilted kale, mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes, pineapple-rum butter, and crispy onions. The lounge serves excellent pupus ($12–$17) such as chicken satay, Kona cold mussels, and avocado dip that can combine for a meal. Note: You must pay park admission ($10 a vehicle, good for 7 days) to dine here.
In Volcano House, 1 Crater Rim Dr., Volcano. www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com/dining. tel. 808/756-9625. Reservations recommended. Breakfast buffet $18 adults, $9 children; lunch bentos $19 adults, $11 children; dinner main courses $19–$39. Daily breakfast buffet 7–10am, lunch 11am–2pm, dinner 5–9pm. Uncle George’s Lounge daily 11am–9pm.
A taste of volcano wines
Volcano Winery (www.volcanowinery.com; tel. 877/967-7772) has made a unique pit stop near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since 1993, when it first started selling traditional grape wines, honey wines, and grape wines blended with tropical fruits. Del and Marie Bothof have owned the winery since 1999, planting Pinot Noir and Cayuga White grapes in 2000 and expanding into tea in 2006. Their latest wine is called Infusion, a macadamia-nut honey wine infused with estate-grown black tea. Wine tastings, for ages 21 and up, are $5 to $8; there’s also a picnic area under cork and koa trees. The tasting room and store, 35 Pii Mauna Dr. in Volcano (just off Hwy. 11 near the 30-mile marker), are open 10am to 5:30pm daily.
Kaleo’s Bar & Grill ECLECTIC/LOCAL--The best restaurant for miles around has a wide-ranging menu, perfect for multiple visits if you’re staying in the greater Pahoa/Kapoho area, and a welcoming, homey atmosphere. Local staples such as chicken katsu and spicy Korean kalbi ribs won’t disappoint, but look for dishes with slight twists, such as tempura ahi roll with spicy lilikoi sauce or the blackened-ahi BLT with avocado and mango mayo, served with organic greens or fries. The Mediterranean appetizer platter ($15) makes a great vegetarian meal with pesto tomatoes, hummus, grilled veggies, and other goodies. Kids can find pasta and burger choices to their liking, while adults should sample one of the many sweet and spicy pairings, such as volcano-spiced fresh catch with pineapple salsa. Save room for the lilikoi cheesecake or banana spring rolls with ice cream.
15–2969 Pahoa Village Rd., Pahoa. www.kaleoshawaii.com. tel. 808/965-5600. Main courses $7–$16 lunch, $12–$27 dinner. Daily 11am–9pm.
When you’re driving between Kailua-Kona and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Naalehu, it’s good to know about two places on Highway 11 in Naalehu for a quick pick-me-up. The Punaluu Bake Shop (www.bakeshophawaii.com; tel. 866/366-3501 or 808/929-7343) is the busier tourist attraction, famed for its varieties of Portuguese sweetbread (including taro, mango, and guava), now also available in stores across the islands; clean restrooms, a deli counter, and gift shop are also part of the appeal. It’s open 9am to 5pm daily. Across the highway off a small lane lies Hana Hou Restaurant (www.hanahourestaurant.com; tel. 808/929-9717), which boasts a bakery counter with equally tempting sweets (try the macnut pie or lilikoi bar) and a small dining room serving simple but fresh plate lunches ($8–$17), burgers, sandwiches, and quesadillas; look for the large sign saying eat. OpenSunday to Thursday 8am to 7pm, till 8pm Friday to Saturday.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.