Coffee fans love the Big Island for many reasons, and this place is one of them. You'll find freshly brewed, 100% Kona coffee here, along with an assortment of sweets and sandwiches. A great place to people-watch, it's situated directly across from the beach, where human activity is non-stop.
Local Expert tip: Take the meal to go or enjoy people watching at an outdoor table near the ocean.
Do a bit of exploring in downtown Hilo, and you'll likely find a cornucopia of hidden-away gems � neat little stores and eateries that high-profile travel guides eschew in favor of flashier coastal venues. Royal Siam is one such place. A favorite with the local crowd, the restaurant has earned a strong reputation thanks to friendly service and some of the Big Island's top Thai dishes, from stir-fries to satays to noodle platters. Best of all, prices are more than reasonable.
Local Expert tip: Pad Thai and spring rolls are always a good bet.
Restauranteur Roy Yamaguchi has garnered quite a reputation for himself, both in the Paradise State and on the mainland, and it's little wonder. Specializing in Pacific Rim cuisine, the Kohala Coast edition of his culinary empire dazzles diners with Szechuan-style baby back ribs, a kiawe-grilled rib-eye, and curry seared ahi tuna. Despite the shopping center locale, the restaurant offers an upscale scene that tends to get noisy during peak hours. The best tables offer clears views of either an adjacent golf course or a nearby lake.
Local Expert tip: Casual wear is okay for lunch at Roy's.
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.
Local Expert tip: Try local beers on tap and the unique pot pie.
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.
Local Expert tip: Enjoy while exploring Volcano National Park.
Serving three meals a day, volcano-themed Lava Rock Café is where locals refuel. Breakfast includes traditional egg dishes and the Big Island's own Loco Moco, a heap of rice with a hamburger patty and fried egg, all doused with gravy. Lunch consists of burgers, salads, and sandwiches. There's also a plate lunch option – choose up to three meats to accompany rice and a salad. Dinner is a global experience – the menu includes Asian specialties, Mexican fajitas, Italian pastas, and American grilled steaks. To-go orders are welcome – a boon for hungry hikers.
Local Expert tip: Be brave and try a local loco moco.
No visit to Nani Mau Gardens would be complete without an excursion to their tropical lunch buffet. 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.
Local Expert tip: Worth a visit even when not visiting the gardens.
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. 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.
Local Expert tip: A great after beach stop for a cold beer and big meal.
The combination of coffee and ice cream under one roof may seem odd, but it's actually a clever strategy. The 100% Kona coffee is for folks who need a morning jumpstart, while the island-made ice cream is for folks who need an afternoon pick-me-up. Obviously, the coffee is great, and the ice cream is just as good. It comes in a variety of intriguing flavors, like pineapple-coconut, chocolate macadamia nut, green tea, and lychee. Enjoy your choice in the slightly down-at-the-heels caf�, which has a loyal local following.
Local Expert tip: A great stop for a light lunch followed by a mid-day dessert.
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 (808-882-1071).
Local Expert tip: Put together your own pizza here.