I read somewhere that when a cruise ship is docked in the harbor, downtown Hilo can be overrun with hordes of "cruisers". Yet I would say that one of the things I most liked about Hilo was that it didn't seem like the kind of place that hordes of 'cruisers" would like. That's reflected at the Surf Break Café, which really has a local charm that certainly compensates for any lack of luxury in the space. Good place to stop for a bagel and coffee in the morning - with the locals who are around the corner at the Farmer's Market. Nothing touristy here - and that's a good thing,
Tasty Thai Resto in downtown Hilo, next to King David Kalakaua Square. I was able to park right in front of the restaurant. Nice atmosphere inside - I like the murals.
The shrimp rolls were excellent: seasoned with Thai spices, rolled in rice wrappers and then fried. Served with pineapple dripping sauce. Yum!
For my entrée, I had the grilled Ahi - a local fish - in a delectable ginger sauce.
Really, an excellent choice for a meal in Hilo.
Handsome "old Hawaii" landmark on the waterfront in downtown Hilo. I read that the Café had been on the verge of closing, but an investor pumped some restoration money into the places and has been keeping the ceiling fans twirling for the last several years.
Café Pesto is open fairly late, has a large menu, and exudes local charm, so it was a good place for me to eat on my first night on the Big Island, after all-day travelling from the Midwest. I ordered a Hawaiian pizza - what else? - which not only has fresh local pineapple but also features tender tasty pork, another local specialty.
Maui Tacos is a franchise. There are locations all over the US in ten states as well as Washington D.C. Maui Tacos got its start where else, in Maui! Chef Mark Ellman started the company in 1993 after moving to Hawaii from L.A. His love for Mexican cuisine sparked the begining of one of my favorite restaurants. If you tell a Mexican this is Mexican food, they will give you a left hook to the cheek. I've done my homework on this stuff and found most "Mexican" food in the US isn't really Mexican in origin, it's totally American.
Maui Taco's is noted for their jumbo burritos filled with traditional favorites and fresh ingredients. Their menu items are named for famous surf spots and beaches in the Hawaiian islands. Despite what their website says, they do sell (but not serve) alcohol in the Prince Kuhio location. Consumption of alcohol is permitted but must not go beyond the restaurant area. This is the only place in the plaza that serves liquor.
Favorite Dish: My favorite has got to be the Lahaina. The Lahaina is a burrito stuffed with Spanish rice, grilled chicken (or beef), guacamole (or sour cream), and salsa with a side of chips. You must top it with their wet sauce of cheese and red sauce. They also have a salsa bar. My favorite is their pineapple salsa mixed with onion, cilantro, and their danger salsa. This gives a good burn yet cooling effect when consumed.
Their burritos are meals itself and are very big. You may have to save some for later.
Their deepfried icecream is killer as well.
[ Akmal has reopened as of last year! Sammie has returned from Europe, found a more practical location in historical Hilo, and is serving wonderful food again! The only thing missing from this incarnation are the selection of breads since she no longer has the large oven. Cooking is more home style and just as tasty as before!]
I absolutely fell in love with this place. Not only was the atmosphere cozy and warm, the owner (Samania) is very friendly. Pakistani and Indian cuisine is out of the norm here in Hawaii but I was glad to see something new and unusual in a place full of plate lunches and chinese take out. I especially like the Bharati music playing in the background with an Indian soap opera playing on the monitor.
Favorite Dish: Even if you aren't sure what to order, just go for the Sabji Samosa ($1.50 each). I am totally in love with these fried pastries. These are stuffed with spiced potatoes, lentils, and peas. They come with a mildly spicey dipping sauce. These are actually appetizers but if you are on a budget, one or two of these will more than suffice.
For the main course, I ordered the Murgh Korma with basmati rice and yogurt chutney($13.45). This is a chicken dish served with a creamy almond and spice gravy with pineapples. The chicken is so soft its unbelievable. You can also order this a la carte ($11.45). This dish is pretty filling so you may have to go with a takeout. I'm not into meat dishes but i did try a little of the Ghosht Salan that my mom ordered. First time I tried lamb and it was ok.
They also serve specialty drinks. I went for the Chai Cardamom ($1.75). The tea is served hot in traditional fashion with a cardamom pod inside. The flavor of the pod is strong so if you're not used to it, don't just bite in. Take small nibbles.
My absolute favorite dish would be the Murgh Dansk which is a hearty chicken and lentil dish.
Hilo Bay Café has quickly become my favorite restaurant to dine at while in Hilo. Opened in 2008, the restaurant is in an unassuming location near by Hilo Wal*Mart and Office Max. Once settled in the warm decor and ambiance, your senses are quickly taken away by their fantastic food presentation and of course, full cocktail bar! Most items on the menu are vegetarian inspired however they do offer wonderfully prepared beef, lamb, and chicken dishes. There are daily specials and the Chef takes great care in his product. All food items are generally classic American with International flair sprinkled in. Product items are locally grown and raised supporting sustainability efforts now popular in the islands. Staff members are courteous and professional. You will not find a pencil and pad anywhere within reach.
This is one of the few places in Hilo that has taken the step away from the "local" feel which leaves a bad taste for our less progressive citizens. But I appreciate the effort to stand above the mish mash of local restaurants and "familiar" service. Hilo Bay Café caters to all who appreciate a strong effort in fine dining at reasonable prices.
Favorite Dish: I try to test out the daily specials which they have yet to repeat in my opinion. My favorite item on the daily menu would have to be the stuffed portabella mushroom containing a creamy risotto with vegetable ratatouille. Side items I highly recommend are the ahi sashimi or home made hummus with pita bread.
Definitely a sports bar taking on a average chain appearance. Didn't try the beers because I don't drink, but the beer battered fish n' chips were pretty tasty. The local cocktail "Lava Flow" was also quite tasty. Its definitely a tourist/cruise ship crowd that the bar caters to vs. the local crowd. I hear the food is kinda generic, and well, fish n' chips is generic. I was definitely in the mood for seafood as I'm from a land-locked state, but there wasn't much variety here. The waittresses were very nice and service a little slow. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Bayfront Coffee, Kava & Tea (Hilo),(808) 935-1155 * Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
In downtown Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, me and my comrade stumbled into this wonderful little hole-in-the-wall tea and coffeehouse that specializes in "Kava". We stopped in for a wonderful Kava sharing between high school friends. Wonderful barista and service. Kava has a unique taste and takes getting used to. But have to say, having had a few kavas introducted to my palate, they serve up some wonderful kava in the traditional wooden bowls. Kava is a ancient crop of the Pacific, in the islands of Hawaii, known also as 'awa. Kava is sedating and used to relax without disrupting mental clarity. It helps alleviate stress, insomnia, and anxiety. The ground root/bark is combined with water to make a grog. A moderately potent kava drink causes effects within 20–30 minutes that last for about two and a half hours, but can be felt for up to eight hours. The effects of kava are most often compared to alcohol. The sensations, in order of appearance, are slight tongue and lip numbing (the lips and skin surrounding may appear unusually pale); mildly talkative and sociable behavior; clear thinking; calmness; relaxed muscles; and a sense of well-being. If you're ever in Hilo, I highly recommend dropping by this cafe and having yourself a cup-o-kava. Rating 5 stars out of 5.
Favorite Dish: The Kava!
We chose the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel for our Valentine dinner. We actually had booked reservations from home before our arrival. We know how busy this evening can get.
We arrived and were taken to a table for two overlooking the sea. It was fantastic.
Favorite Dish: One room was filled with a huge buffet, every seafood you could think of was there.
Plus many extras.
I would recommend having dinner here.
Uncle Billy's is located in the hotel of the same name.
It sets alongside the big banyan trees on banyan drive.
There is local talent shows nightly from 6-7:30 and 8-9:30 plus a little hula show.
We went early and almost had the dining room to ourselves.
Favorite Dish: The food was nothing special but the show was cute.
You can stop here for a light lunch and pick up some supplies on your way out.
The deli is on one side of the store with good prices and good food.
The other side has supplements, bulk items, and the usual health food fare.
We really liked this place.
It is open from 8:30am-7pm 6 days a week Sundays10-5
OH. MY. GOD. Big Island Pizza is by far the best option for pizza in Hilo and yes, they deliver! This little family run establishment opened in late 2006 and has gained quite a fan base in the university crowd. I decided to try something new other than Pizza Hut and Domino's one night and boy am I glad for that. Not only are they friendly, the delivery is free and you have several food choices. From good old pepperoni to new and outrageous mashed potato pizza, they're all good. They don't use that pre-prepared crap you get from other places, they mix the dough when you order it. Not only do you get a perfect pie each time, the prices aren't bad either and are comparable to the other guys. Stop in and order or wait at home for it to be delivered.
Big party coming up? No problem! Order the 28 inch Big Kahuna and you'll be a hit at your next get-together.
Favorite Dish: Without a doubt, the Garlic Chicken Alfredo, Chicken Ranch, and the Spinach Pesto are usually my main choices. They've got a flavor for whatever mood you're in. Also try their salads and wraps!
Kandi's Drive In may not be all that special and won't be the reason you come to Hilo. It's a hang out for old men who have nothing better to do than people watch and nag about what their doctor said. It was one of the last places to dismiss Hawaii's smoking law since it's an open air diner. Kandi was the original owner of the restaurant since the 1960's I believe. In the late 90's, new owners bought the restaurant and area around it but kept it the same. Popular in radio station adds, it boasts a wall plastered with promotional ads for everything from used washers to free Vegas trips. They really don't cater to tourists much but you're welcome the same as those old men.
While you eat, you can utilize their laundromat around the corner ($1.50 per wash). The food isn't spectacular but satisfying after a long day at work or if you're just starting.
Favorite Dish: I can't say I have a favorite dish here but their meat loaf is pretty awesome :)
H&K Lunch Shop may be one of many local style food stops but one with value. You get bang for your buck here as they pile it on! Go in before they close (7pm) and they're more likely to add something extra to your plate. The only downside is the carb and starch invasion your body's going to go through but who cares! The food is good!
Favorite Dish: You could order from a menu but the a la carte items are awesome. I highly recommend their chicken katsu or mochiko chicken. They also have a lot of sides including bean sprouts, tofu, kim chi, etc. The menu is a mix of Asia meets Hawaii fair that you see at many restaurants here.
Cafe' Pesto is conveniently located in downtown, facing the ocean. It is in an old building with a lot of character. The menu is varied, with a pretty good wine list. When cruise ships are in town it may get crowded here, so call ahead to avoid these times.