10 Best Places to Dine on the Big Island for Fresh Local Seafood
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
Hawaii's youngest and largest island is surrounded by the fertile Pacific Ocean, which is home to vast amount of fish and other seafood for you to enjoy. Hawaiians were sustained by seafood for generations, and the ocean keeps giving to visitors and locals alike. From fresh sashimi to seaweed salad, you're belly will be full once a seafood craving hits. Whether you're on the windward side of Hilo, the leeward side of Kona, or somewhere in between, 10 Best has you covered for the best seafood on the island.After all, if you're going to eat, you may as well do it right and take advantage of Big Island's best.
An abundance of shrimp in all forms is available at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Kona. Accenting the shrimp are other dishes such as local mahimahi and rib eye steak. Located ocean side in Kailua, you can't go wrong here.
Over in Hilo is the new Full Moon Cafe, offering a gourmet and Asian fusion take on local seafood. The casual eatery boasts an impressive menu.
For a local twist on seafood, drop into the Kamuela Provision Company where local food of all kinds is features. Dress up for the ocean side meal and get ready for one of the best sunset views. One of the best seafood joints on the island is the Seaside Restaurant in Hilo on the east side. Here you'll be treated to great food, prices and service.
Remember that wherever you are, 10 Best has you covered with the top ten seafood restaurants!
10 Full Moon Cafe
Full Moon Caf� is a family owned and operated (by two brothers) restaurant that uses much local and organic ingredients in their menu. They call the menu new American and Asian fusion seafood. The international menu has a Pacific emphasis and a strong focus on fresh and raw fish The fish are caught by local fishermen and they use grass fed Big Island beef. A unique menu boasts dishes such as: -Yaki Udon � Sweet shrimp and house cured Kiawe-smoked bacon, sweet cabbage, ali'i mushrooms, brussels petals, chili-garlic sticky sauce. -Crispy Flatbread � Smoked ahi and white bean puree, organic lemon zest-infused olive oil -Market Fish Plate � Pan-roast uku fillet, ripe ulu & wild boar hash, Ka'u sweet corn, farmers' market vegetables, mahi-bone and red miso reduction Just a short drive from the Hilo cruise port, Full Moon is located in Downtown Hilo, an area every visitor should explore while in town. ((808) 961-0599)
9 Quinn's Almost By the Sea
One of the only places on the Big Island that serves food after 9 p.m, Quinn's enjoys a roaring trade of hungry locals and tourists. If the weather's fine, sit outside on the lanai and enjoy traditional, well-prepared American fare. Alternatively, the nautical-themed, air-conditioned interior is pleasant if you want to kick back indoors. Either way, prepare to be fully sated when you leave. Seafood is reliably good and plentiful, although steaks, burgers, and sandwiches are available too. Indoor air conditioned seating is available, as well as outdoor lanai garden seating. Beers on tap and a full bar highlight the menu. (808-329-3822)
8 Seaside Restaurant
This aptly named gem earns high marks from the Hilo dining set thanks to its captivating setting (the restaurant overlooks ponds stocked with trout, perch, mullet, and catfish) and superb New American fare. Although the decor, which includes plastic chairs and wooden tables, doesn't leave much to the imagination, house specialties do. Sample homegrown mullet (remember the ponds?), fried aholehole (Hawaiian flagtail), parrotfish, or steamed opakapaka. Landlubbers will appreciate terrene offerings like a New York strip and pork tenderloin. Best of all, prices are more than reasonable, making this an ideal stop for vacationing families. Arrive before sunset and get a table by the water. (808-935-8825)
7 Coast Grille & Oyster Bar
The signature restaurant of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is known far and wide for its superb Hawaiian and Pacific Rim cuisine. While serious diners charge forth in pursuit of fresh seafood (Kona-by-way-of-New England lobster, farm-raised moi, and pistachio-crusted opah, to name but a few), the restaurant's oyster bar offers a more casual setting for folks looking to eat light and enjoy a few cocktails. From bluffside seating areas, diners take in enchanting sunsets in the early evening, not to mention sweeping views of waves crashing on Hapuna Beach far below. Dress up a bit for this place, resort wear is required. (808-882-5810, 808-880-3192)
6 Kamuela Provision Company
Specializing in Pacific Rim-influenced cuisine, this restaurant offers tables with sweeping views of the ocean and of dramatic island sunsets. Refined yet unpretentious, the Provision Company prepares dishes using only locally grown produce and fresh-caught seafood. Headliners include a seafood mixed grille with Hawaiian fish and Maine lobster in a lemongrass herb sauce. Landlubbers will want to try the likes of the Big Island Luau for two, served with a pupu platter and your choice of pork rib chop, beef brochette, grilled scallops, or fresh fish. This is one of the newest and most unique eateries on the island due to it's effort in helping the Big Island be sustainable. (808-886-1234)
Quite literally "over the edge," Huggo's allows patrons to enjoy both oceanside dining and premiere seafood dishes. While taking in the view of spectacular Kailua Bay, be sure to sample one of the house specialties -- steamed clams and flavorful garlic chicken earn particular nods. You'll find many dishes with various fresh fish caught off the coast of the Big Island, After dinner, make your way to thatch-roofed Huggo's on the Rocks, a popular outdoor bar and dance club whose specialty drinks and beautiful clientele always ensure a great time. Here you'll find a mix of other visitors as well as loyal locals. (808-329-1493, 808-329-8711)
4 Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
With a nod to the movie "Forrest Gump," this fun place serves casual American fare, much of it seafood. The menu makes constant reference to Forrest and his friends. Shrimp dishes, for example, include Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp and Lt. Dan's Drunken Shrimp. You'll also find a rib-eye, baby back ribs, salmon, mahi mahi, crab legs, and a veggie plate, not to mention a variety of sandwiches and salads. Available too are cocktails and smoothies, which are fruity and refreshing in quite different ways! Bring friends or family, munch on an order of peel 'n' eat shrimp, and enjoy the views. Forrest would want it that way. (808-331-8442)
3 Harbor House
Hankering for a fresh ahi sandwich or some fish and chips? How about a cold beer? Want it with a view, maybe at a table outside? Look no further, because Harbor House is where you need to go. Relaxed, casual, and friendly, it's the ideal spot to appreciate the island aloha that everyone talks about so much. It's all good, man. If you head there for dinner, make sure it's an early one you're planning. The views of the ocean here are amazing, as it's located right on the harbor and isn't far from the airport. It's also in close proximity to most Kona hotels. (808-326-4166)
2 Hilo Bay Café
Don't let appearances deceive you � there are no burgers and fries at this unassuming strip mall restaurant, but you will find dishes like stuffed chicken breast with bacon and pine nuts, and artichoke, garlic, and cream cheese ravioli. They we've Pacific Rim cuisine elements into comfort food, and it's all so ono (delicious)! Lunch features salads, sandwiches, and some traditional entrees (try the vegetarian pot pie). An even balance of meat and meatless plates keeps everyone happy, and the waitstaff are happy to suggest wine pairings for your meal. The full bar has a wonderful array of local beers. (808-935-4939)
1 Keei Cafe
Ask a local or a frequent visitor where to go for the island's best seafood, and you'll likely hear this treasure named among the top suggestions. Nestled between the highway and the coastline, Keei Cafe serves spectacular American-Hawaiian fusion dishes. Savor the flavorful likes of an herb-rubbed rib-eye, pork chops smothered in peppercorn gravy, tofu fajitas, Thai-style curries, or even Brazilian seafood chowder. Although the decor will not knock your socks off, the food very likely will. Be brave and try new things at this eatery, don't shy away from Hawaiian dishes. This place will really give you a taste of the Big Island. (808-322-9992)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
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