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The Restaurant Reviews on KONAWEB suffered during COVID.
Dining choices were few and far between, and places doing a good job were so crowded, or slow because of staffing issues, that it just didn't seem worth it to review them. But I've decided that an overview of good places on the island to visit or try out is worthwhile info to "put out there." I will also include some recommendations by trusted friends/chefs that I may not have tried yet but definitely intend to! Feel free to email me at shirley "at" with recommendations you have.

OK. Well, my personal favorite-meal-of-the-day is Breakfast. My favorite places to enjoy that meal are Island Lava Java and Pine Tree Cafe' in Kailua-Kona, and Teshima's in Honalo (a real slice of local life on the southern end of Kailua-Kona). Teshima's has the best pancakes in town, according to pc expert, Konabob. We had an excellent breakfast recently at Kalikala outdoor restaurant on Alii Dr, facing Kailua Bay: French toast with wonderful lilikoi syrup for me and Huevos Rancheros for Bob. We highly recommend Hawaiian Style Cafe’Coconut Grill as a good, solid, breakfast place. (I hear that Ken's House of Pancakes has slipped a bit.) Arise in Kailua-Kona's Old Industrial Area is very good for pastries/coffee, and Paradise Donuts' donuts are great, as well (Kona International Marketplace Food Court). Both are closed Sundays. If you're going thru Honoka'a, be sure to hit the Tex Drive In drive-thru window for fresh, hot malasadas. Sundog Bread sells their stellar breads and pastries in Holualoa on Wednesdays at 1:30pm from a tent just north of the public parking area till they sell out (there WILL be a line).

Fish and More - The fried poke bowl at Pine Tree Cafe' is a great lunch/light meal. It comes with your choice of type of rice, topped with furikake, aoli sauce, and house made pickles on the side. They have a fun, varied menu there of local favorites. I love the straightforward fresh fish sandwich (ahi!) at the Harbor House at Honokauhau Harbor (and the setting), but be aware that the fish and chips there is frozen cod, so thumbs down on that item. For fish and chips, I recommend the back outside seating area of Kailua-Kona's Quinn's Almost by the Sea - they're made with fresh ono, and the service is really sweet. I also love Umeke's ahi katsu (sauce on the side). They make a tempura tofu veggie taco for Konabob, who doesn't eat fish. In that same area of Kailua-Kona is Izakaya Shiono which has great sushi and ramen. A family-run landmark, Teshima's has good tempura and Japanese meals. Hilo Bay Cafe has very good food/sushi.

Food Trucks We Love - Califas Mexican food truck really has it together: their tacos, burritos and taco salad are all outstanding. You can find them at Food Truck Fridays, from 4-8pm at the Target parking lot, or in the HPM parking lot on Monday and Tuesday mornings from 9am-3pm, and they're in Waikoloa Village at the Waikoloa Night Market from 4-8pm on Saturdays. The Mexican food truck at Maku'u Farmers Market in Pahoa on Sundays (they are in half of the stand there that serves crepes) has a fantastic Shrimp Burrito Deluxe (I was advised by a friend to get it without the sausage). A special treat for us when we're in Waimea on a Wednesday or Saturday at lunchtime is to get grilled cheese sandwiches at Red Barn food truck at the Pukalani Stables farmers market. We love the Phoenix sandwich! The sandwiches come with a side of their excellent tomato bisque.

Our Favorite Places to Get Pizza - Bianelli's at Keauhou Shopping Center is now open for Lunch (11am-2pm) and Dinner (4-8pm) every day of the week! The menu has been trimmed down and the pizza is pricier, but the flavor is still the one we crave most! Pau in Waimea - thin crust pizza, and the Vintner's Salad with champagne dressing is great. Black Rock Pizza's two locations - Kealakekua and Coconut Grove Marketplace in Kailua-Kona - are very good. Ola Brew has good beers/hard ciders and gets raves on their burgers and flatbread pizzas. They have Kona and Hilo locations. Cafe Pesto on the Bayfront in Hilo has very good flatbread pizzas, and consistently good food. Kona Crust has good pizza, too. Large slices! (BTW, Big Island Brewpub in Waimea makes great brew, but their food choices are kind of an afterthought.)

Other Recommendations - Just had a great lunch at Original Thai in Kailua-Kona. Great flavors. Best Tom Kha in town. Family run. Having patience is a virtue here, because they are understaffed, and they make everything from scratch, but we love it. BTW, no alcohol served here, but you can bring your own wine or beer for a corkage fee of $2/person. Manny's Kitchen in Captain Cook is a favorite of ours for Mexican food. Bob loves their Crunchy Tacos. Their burritos are great, too. They have a drive-thru, as well, and you can call in your order and pick it up. We loved our meal at Peppercorn Spice in Kea'au. The Crispy Eggplant is worth the drive from Kona! It's a Mom and Pop" restaurant, with Pop doing the cooking and Mom doing the serving, so be patient. Hadn't been to Rebel Kitchen in Kainaliu since they upped their game. We were pleased to see the same owners/chef of the last 10 years or so there. Great, quality food and service. Be aware that many of their dishes carry a kick of heat (they sell their own brand of spicy condiments). I loved my Cajun Shrimp; Bob loved his Falafel Salad. Big portions. They have a good selection of beer and wine, too.

Fancy/Schmancy - Our favorite places for special occasions are Pu'eo's Osteria in Waikoloa Village and Merriman's in Waimea. The Beach Tree Grill at the Four Seasons is very good, with live music in the evening. Hale Kai at the Fairmont Orchid is a "casual," feet-in-the-sand restaurant, right on the ocean - not inexpensive. A step above, Ulu at the Four Seasons has many fans.

Special Mention:
Gypsea Gelato is wonderful, but pricey. Locations in downtown Kailua-Kona and Captain Cook.

Places We Will Try Soon or Revisit After a Long Pause:
Kaleo's in Orchidland (not the Pahoa location) Know it's very good, and they often have live Hawaiian music.
Paul's Place in downtown Hilo for breakfast/lunch (Very small/limited seating; need reservations)
Moon & Turtle in Hilo gets consistently good reviews for Asian fusion. Mainly seafood. Open for dinner only.
Tina's Garden Cafe, also in downtown Hilo, comes highly recommended. Asian fusion. Fresh, and lots of organic ingredients.

Hope this is helpful, and fun!
More to come -


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