Hilo's Best Restaurants Complete Any East Hawaii Adventure

The oceanfront town of Hilo may not have the large resorts and long white sandy beaches that Kona has, but it isn't lacking when it comes to great food. Offering an array of cuisines as diverse as Hilo's people and subcultures, the East Hawaii town is home to a selection of great restaurants offering delicious food. Although all of the eateries are pretty low key - fancy isn't found in Hilo - they all offer great food at decent prices.

Most of the best restaurants in Hilo define themselves by cuisine, rather than mixed menus. As the island's longest standing Italian restaurant, Cafe Pesto offers awesome Italian food, but with a Pacific twist across from the ocean. One of the more upscale places to eat in Hilo, Cafe Pesto the place for romantic or celebratory dinners.

For authentic Thai cuisine, Full Moon Cafe serves flavorful traditional Thai food as well as some American options. Their menu is accented by a bar that serves locally brewed beers that change with the season.

For the most modern and romantic dining experience in Hilo, make reservations at Hilo Bay Cafe. Offering a varied selection of gourmet dishes - from pot pies to fresh fish and local steaks - Hilo Bay Cafe is always sure to satisfy. An extensive wine list and exotic cocktails add to the experience in their new oceanfront location.

When exploring the lush side of the Big Island, utilize our list of the ten best restaurants in Hilo to have the best culinary experience.


As a tried and true Hilo breakfast staple, Ken's stays open 24-7. Breakfast is a serious affair, no matter what time of day, and the waitstaff ensures that patrons stay "well oiled" by leaving a full pot of steaming coffee at each table. Favored fare includes French toast, traditional short stacks smothered in maple syrup, hearty omelets, and waffles. If breakfast isn't your gig, never fear – they also serve up delicious hamburgers, hot and cold sandwiches, and fried chicken plates. This is where the locals go for a Sunday brunch, or for a late night meal after a nearby bar or movie.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: Ken's is a true local favorite and serves up large amounts of traditional breakfast fare with a Hawaiian twist.

Jade's expert tip: Come hungry and enjoy the huge portions all day long.

Read more about Ken's House of Pancakes →

Best described as a natural food superstore, Island Naturals in an island staple for natural food, products, spirits, beauty products, and home supplies. What really awesome is that their breakfast hot bar serves just about everything you could want in the morning, no matter your taste. Eggs, sausage, fake sausage, tofu, pastries, and more along with really good Hawaiian coffee. Take it on the road or enjoy outside at tables. With locations in Pahoa, Hilo, and two in Kona, natural food can be obtained all over the island. The store has just about everything organic, natural and eco-friendly you could need. A highlight here is the hot bar and salad bar, with a changing menu each day that offers really good ready to eat food all day long.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: Island Naturals serves healthy and organic food, and is centrally located in Hilo.

Jade's expert tip: Get there before 10:30 for breakfast.

Read more about Island Naturals Hilo Market & Deli →

Volcano National Park

Whetting appetites in the Big Island's "warm" Volcano community, Kilauea has garnered quite a reputation with locals and tourists alike. The cozy, lodge-like setting seems to step right out of the pages of a Western adventure novel � stone fireplace, vaulted wood-beamed ceiling, koa wood furniture, and rustic hardwood floors. The menu sports a Continental theme, and featured dishes range from duck � l'orange to lamb Proven�al with papaya mint sauce to Parker Ranch prime rib au jus with whipped horseradish. Located high up in the island in the chilly climate, it's a wonderful place to cuddle up for a romantic dinner.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: Kilauea Lodge is known for its gourmet menu offers changing dishes and exotic meats.

Jade's expert tip: Enjoy while exploring Volcano National Park.

Read more about Kilauea Lodge Restaurant →


No visit to Nani Mau Gardens would be complete without an excursion to their tropical lunch buffet. They call it lunch, but with the timing of 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. it seems more like brunch to us. Even if you're not planning on exploring the gardens, the lunch buffet is always great, and offers a blend of different cuisines. Adorned with flowers and foliage, buffet tables are laden with fried chicken, pot roast, salads, fresh tropical fruits, and more. Regularly visited by both island residents and tourists, the restaurant is convivial and friendly, making the overall experience pleasantly relaxing.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: The food is great and the ambiance of foliage, flowers and an overall natural feel is awesome.

Jade's expert tip: Go for the food, but make sure to visit the gardens while you're there.

Read more about Nani Mau Orchid Restaurant →

Over 200 vendors of all kinds frequent the Hilo Farmers Market. This outdoor market is like many restaurants combined into one. Thai food, vegetarian, coffee, desserts, Hawaiian food and other cuisines can be found here. Although it's open daily, the biggest days are Saturdays and Wednesdays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every other day. At the market you'll find everything from jewelry, to fresh flowers, to clothing and home decor, to food, ready to eat and to bring home and cook. The market is a bustling place to socialize or window and is a classic Hilo attraction.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: Hilo Farmers Market offers a high concentration of food vendors all in one area, offering delicious ready to eat food.

Jade's expert tip: Most of the food booths are on the northern side of the street under the large tent.

Read more about Hilo Farmers Market →

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.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: As one of Hilo's newest Asian fustion restaurants, Full Moon Cafe offers delicious and fresh gourmet food.

Jade's expert tip: Live music is offered Thursday through Sunday and you can bring you're own wine or beer.

Read more about Full Moon Cafe →

Hilo Bay's Cafe Pesto enjoys quite a reputation for innovative pizzas, which range from traditional Italian varieties to recipes bearing Mediterranean or Pacific Rim touches. The restaurant gets packed at lunch; everybody from local business types to tourists clamor for a daily fix of pizza topped with shiitake mushrooms, artichokes, chipotle-seasoned chicken, or chili-grilled shrimp. Diners wanting to go a different route may opt for an Asian catch stromboli with shrimp tempura and an Oregon wasabi snow crab caesar salad or a Sandalwood panini (Japanese eggplant, marinated artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and rosemary gorgonzola). Another location is in Kawaihae on the western side of the island.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: Cafe Pesto is a long standing Hilo staple, and serves the best Italian food in town.

Jade's expert tip: Check out the create your own gourmet pizza menu, and make reservations.

Read more about Cafe Pesto →

Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

Miyo's restaurant has been serving up great Japanese food for over a decade. You won't find sushi here, but you'll find amazing curries, katsus, salads, udon and soba dishes, and tempura. The portions are good sized, and you won't leave hungry. There's plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, and lot's of fish dishes made with locally caught fish. The full meals come with miso soup, a small salad and Japanese pickles. Miyo's keeps it sustainable by serving Hilo Homemade Ice Cream for dessert (try the ginger or green tea) and it always has been and still is, BYOB (bring your own beer or wine). Miyo's is a favorite for any locals, and that's why it's usually pretty busy. The low key restaurant mixes simplicity with elegance and the brand new building features wooden tables and walls, a kitchen full view, and a fountain and live acoustic music.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: A short drive from the Hilo port, Miyo's is easily one of the best restaurants in Hilo.

Jade's expert tip: Always make a reservation, and it's BYOB.

Read more about Miyo's →

Hilo Bay Café

Don't let appearances deceive you, there are more than just burgers and fries at this unassuming restaurant. You will find dishes like stuffed chicken breast with bacon and pine nuts, and artichoke, garlic, and cream cheese ravioli. Lunch features salads, sandwiches, and comfort food 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. This is one of Hilo's most upscale eateries, and even though it's perfectly acceptable to go casual, it's a fun place to dress up a bit to blend with the modern decor.

Recommended for Hilo's Best Restaurants because: Just a short drive from the Hilo port, Hilo Bay Cafe is one of the most modern and gourmet eateries in HIlo.

Jade's expert tip: Always make a reservation at the this restaurant.

Read more about Hilo Bay Café →


Meet 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...  More About Jade