While most of your tourist spots are found on the north end of Ali'i Drive, head south to the end, to the Keauhou Shopping Center for first class Asian fussion cuisine. In this not so extraordinary shopping plaza, near the Wendy's, is the home of Kenichi Pacific, one Chef Kenichi Kanada restaurants (also found in Aspen) which offers tranquil surroundings and incredible food. The restaurant also features a great sushi bar. Everything we had was outrageously delicious. We started with very fresh sashimi (sushi minus the rice) and each had a seafood dish.
Make sure you have reservations!!!
Favorite Dish: I had the Lemongrass Mahi, a pan seared rare, with black "forbidden rice" and mushrooms. Oh My God...heaven.
Splasher's Grill is how my wife and I began our day in Kona. We had just arrived in port and wanted to have breakfast off the ship. My wife had done her planning for this trip and already knew this is where she wanted to go for breakfast.
The restaurant is right on Palani Road above some shops. It was a short walk across from the pier. It was a little after 8am and the place was very crowded. Despite the crowd we only had a short five minute wait before a table became available. We were seated at at corner table of the second tier of their veranda dining room with a nice view of the water. Our waitress handed us menus and said she'd be back.
The menu was filled with some hearty breakfast fare; mostly combination platters filled with eggs, potatoes, pancakes, bacon, sausage and french toast. I decided to have a big breakfast and chose their breakfast burrito. The Burrito was a tortilla filled with eggs, cheese, sausage, potatoes and topped with gravy and salsa. My wife wasn't thrilled with the big breakfast platters as most of them contain some sort of egg dish; she does not eat eggs. Instead she ordered an a la carte portion of the Sweetbread French Toast and a side of their Home Fried Potatoes. As for drinks; I chose to stick with an unsweetened iced tea and my wife ordered a Pineapple Mimosa.
Our drinks arrived first and my wife loved her Pineapple Mimosa; a nice twist on the classic. When our food arrived I was amazed at the size of my burrito. This was definitely good for my level of hunger that morning. The burrito was good; nothing to Wow about but it filled me up nicely. My wife thought her French Toast was just okay and hated that their was immitation maple syrup. The Home Fried Potatoes though were quite nice and we both enojyed them.
I did like the laid back atmosphere of the place and that it was filled with more locals than tourists. I would give this place another go but order something different.
Pancho & Lefty's Cantina is one of the restaurant/bars located on the main street, Alii Way. The restaurant/bar is located up a set of stairs from the street. My wife and I decided to stop here for some drinks after doing some shopping. We went up the stairs and right to the bar area which has seats as well and tables surrounding. The bar area is open and over the railing is a nice view of the water and street below(this reminded me of the places on the main street in Grand Cayman). The cuisine here is Mexican fare but has some tropically inspired dishes/drinks as well.
After checking out the drink offerings; I decided on my usual Mai Tai and my wife chose a Lava Flow. Both of our drinks were served in large Hurricane glases with fruit garnish and umbrellas. My Mai Tai went down nicely; very well made, so much so that I had two of them. My wife enjoyed her Lava Flow and was happy to see that the bartender used fresh coconut milk in the drink.
This bar was a nice break from the sun. We were able to sit in the shade and enjoy the nice breeze coming from the water.
There are many restaurants along Alii drive but most cater to tourist tastes.
We much prefer going into the Banyan Court Mall, finding a table in the breezeway, and enjoying a great Indonesian satay.
Favorite Dish: The last time we were there the entertainment was special. There is a walkway in the mall that has a fountain. We sat in close view of it and we soon spotted a group of yellow-billed cardinals
there taking a shower.
We had so much pleasure in watching them that I don't remember much about the food.
I see that the restaurant is now closed but perhaps the birds come there regularly.
Japanese Dining Room and Sushi Bar. Gentle strains of Japanese music linger through a tea garden adorned with trickling brooks where Teppanyaki chefs expertly prepare your meal before you, or you can choose from a varied menu offering the best in creative and traditional Japanese cuisine as well as Sushi delicacies.
Favorite Dish: Shabu-Shabu: a traditional Japanese dining experience served tableside, in which you can cook your own meal.
Palm Terrace: located in the courtyard of the Ocean Tower with an open-air restaurant fronting a shimmering pond. Casual attire.
Hang Ten: adjacent to the Dolphin Lagoon. Serving the best burgers, hottest hot dogs, greatest sandwiches, freshest salads, favorite tropical concoctions and smoothies.
Favorite Dish: The large servings at Hang Ten and the cocktails from both (easy to spend $ on drinks as you sample different types).
This was the first place I ate (other than breakfast at the hotel). The person at the hotel recommended I try a place at the Keauhou Shopping Center for something simple and quick to eat. I settled on Drysdale's. Compared to other restaurants, the prices at this place are reasonably cheap.
Favorite Dish: I had the special of the day, the bleu cheese chicken pita sandwich, though a plate would have been better than a basket. It was nice and tasty, however.
Walking through the center of Kona, you might not notice the entrance to the Kona Inn. It is worth stopping by, however. The oceanfront grounds are really nice, and the bar and restaurant have a good view. It might just be the best spot in town.
Favorite Dish: Excellent mai tai.
Lava Java is the best place to get your caffeine "kick" on Ali'i Drive. It's popular with locals as well as visitors, and is good both for picking up "Joe to Go" as well as for lounging around with a tall cap and doing some serious people watching. Good baristas who know what they are doing with the espresso machine - be sure to tip them generously! They have a wide range of bakery items, and Lava Java also serves breakfasty foods as well.
I was in the mood for sushi and since we didn't know any of the local places, we were none the wiser to any of the local places. It is a chain with other locations in both Hawaii and along the west coast of the mainland, but we had not been in any of those either.
Genki Sushi is pretty well located if you are doing errands or shopping, since it is right in the Kona Commons Shopping Center. But if you're down along the waterfront or in the tourist zone, it is not very convenient.
The sushi is on color-coded plates, passing by on a conveyor belt. You pay based on the empty plates. If what you want is not passing by, they will make any menu item at any time upon request.
I didn't find it to be terribly expensive, but it was not cheap either.
Favorite Dish: The salmon was always good. The volcano rolls were also quite delicious. All others were decidedly average.
Located about 1000ft above sea level on the steel slope going down to Kealakakua Bay, The Coffee Shop offers what may be the best breakfast on the island. The open seating offers fresh air and great views. If you're lucky and get a seat next to the railing, you'll have an unobstructed view of 180-degrees of coast line.
The staff are friendly, but be warned that the restaurant is quite busy and popular, you may have to wait. It is open daily from 7:30am to 3pm.
Favorite Dish: The eggs Benedict are fantastic and maybe the best thing on the menu. But that should not deter you from the good pancakes, omelets, hash browns, etc.
Oh, the hot cinnamon rolls are really good too!
Most of the restaurants in Kailua-Kona are way over-priced, but you find a real good deal at the Taeng-On Thai Restaurant in downtown Kona. They have a lunch special, where you get a full platter of yummy Thai food for only $4.95. The restaurant is on the second floor, with open air view of downtown Kona. I found the service to be very friendly!
Favorite Dish: I usually liked to get the Phad Thai or yellow curry dish. Both are very good!
The restaurant in King Kamehemehe hotel.
In the hotel lobby are lots of interesting Hawaiian artifacts. THat alone makes going there worth while. The food and prices weren't bad, either.
Favorite Dish: Prime rib was good.
This is a very small restaurant in the center of Coconut Marketplace, but it is a real gem. This was by far my favourite restaurant out of all I wen to across the Hawaiian islands.
The Japanese food is not as Americanized as a lot of other Japanese restaurants, is very inexpensive, and is delicious.
Each item on the menu also has a picture next to it, so you can see exactly what each dish is if you are not familiar with Japanese food.
I highly recommend eating here if you are in Kona.
Favorite Dish: Shabu Shabu was excellent - only $40 for two people and so much food it was impossible to finish
The teriyaki steak and tempura combo was delicious... I have never tasted such tender steak.
The Kona Canoe Club can be both a casual place or a romantic one, depending on how you want to play it. It is a casual enough setting, but the location on the waterfront with the setting sun is spectacular.
The service can be a bit hit or miss, particularly when it is crowded, but if you come when it is quiet, you will have a good experience.
Favorite Dish: The entire menu is good, but I'd recommend the kalua pig sandwich. Also, the fish of the day is always good.
I never found the portions to be very large, but the quality was decent.
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