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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
This vintage open-air restaurant offers a beautiful, oceanfront setting on Kailua Bay. It's a great place to have a mai tai and some appetizers while watching the sunset, or to enjoy a calamari or ono sandwich and a salad at lunch. Dinner is also available, but the entrées are less than stellar and for the prices there are better options once the sun disappears. www.windandsearestaurants.com. Credit cards accepted.
This megapopular destination with a huge outdoor patio features an excellent and varied menu, including pulled-pork quesadillas, gourmet pizzas, and a killer spinach salad with Gorgonzola cheese, macadamia nuts, and strawberries. Your best bet for lunch or dinner is the veggie slice and salad for under $8—the garden salad is generous and the pizza is the best in town. Go for the beer-tasting menu—your choice of four of the eight available microbrews in miniature glasses that add up to about two regular-size mugs for the price of one. The Hefeweizen is excellent. If you're staying in town, purchase beer to go in a half-gallon jug ("growler") filled on-site from the brewery's own taps. The Growler Shack also sells beer by the keg. www.konabrewingco.com. Credit cards accepted.
Chef Albert Jeyte combines contemporary trends with traditional cooking styles from the mainland, France, and his native Hamburg, Germany. The menu changes daily, and features such entrées as venison, duck à lorange with an apricot-mustard glaze, and authentic hasenpfeffer (braised rabbit). The coconut-crusted Brie appetizer is huge, melty, and absolutely delicious, as are Jeyte's made-from-scratch soups and breads. Built in 1937 as a YMCA camp, the restaurant still has the original "Friendship Fireplace" embedded with coins and plaques from around the world. The roaring fire, koa-wood tables, and warm lighting make the dining room feel like a cozy lodge. www.kilauealodge.com. Credit cards accepted.
Everyone around here says the same thing: "Kiawe has awesome pizza, but it's a little expensive." And it's true—the wood-fired pizza at this warm and pretty Italian eatery, with red walls and wood floors, has a perfect thin crust and an authentic Italian taste, but you have to be prepared to spend around $15 on a typical pie. Food options are limited in this area, though. Go for it. Credit cards accepted.
With its black-lacquer tables and lipstick-red banquettes, Kenichi provides one of the few upscale choices in town. Its location at Keauhou Shopping Center might feel like a secret, but visitors should seek it out. This is where residents go when they feel like splurging on top-notch sushi. It's a little on the pricey side, but you'll leave feeling satisfied. The signature rolls are inventive and tasty, especially the always-popular Dynamite Shrimp. If you're looking to save a buck or two, go early for happy hour (4:30 to 6:30 pm daily) when all sushi rolls are half price, or hang out in the cocktail bar where menu items average $6. www.kenichirestaurants.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Mon.
For years, this 24-hour diner on Banyan Drive between the airport and the hotels has been a gathering place for Hilo residents and visitors. Breakfast is the main attraction: Ken's serves more than 11 different types pancakes, plus all kinds of fruit waffles (banana, peach), and popular omelets, like "Da Bradda," teeming with a variety of meats. The menu features 180 other tasty local specialties (loco moco, tripe stew, oxtail soup) and American-diner-inspired items from which to choose. Sunday is all-you-can-eat spaghetti night, Tuesday is all-you-can-eat tacos, and Wednesday is prime rib night. kenshouseofpancakes-hilohi.com. Credit cards accepted.
This beautiful restaurant, perched above the highway just 15 minutes south of Kailua-Kona, serves delicious dinners with Brazilian, Asian, and European flavors highlighting fresh ingredients from local farmers. Favorites are the Brazilian seafood chowder or peanut-miso salad, followed by pasta primavera smothered with a basil-pesto sauce. There's an extensive wine list. Bob Miyashiro, the owner, is a Kona native, and his wife, Gina, is Brazilian. The husband-and-wife cooking team are also from Brazil, and have been with the restaurant since its humble beginnings at its previous location in Honaunau. Toast your friendly hosts with a refreshing mojito before dinner. www.keeicafe.net. Reservations essential. No credit cards. Closed Sun. and Mon.
Upstairs in a structure that dates from the 1850s, this seafood bar has been a hot spot since it opened in 2003, serving up a dynamite and well-priced bar menu with tasty pupu (appetizers), and an always expanding dinner menu that includes at least four fresh-fish specials daily. There's fare for landlubbers, too, including boneless braised short ribs, rib-eye steak, specialty pizza and lots of salad options. Don't miss their escargot, oysters Rockefeller, and ginger steamed clams. At lunch, the menu ranges from sandwiches and burgers to sashimi and poke. Breakfast is served only on weekends, and happy hour runs daily from 3 to 5:30 pm, and again from 10 pm until close (2 am). If you've got the late-night munchies, this is a great spot—they serve food until 11:30 pm. www.seafoodbargrill.com. Credit cards accepted.
A popular local hangout, and not just because the kava makes you mellow. Their pupu (appetizers) rock! Fresh poke, smoky, tender bowls of pulled kalua pork, and healthy organic greens are available in fairly large portions for less than you'll pay elsewhere. The restaurant also offers fresh-fish plates, vegetarian options, and even traditional Hawaiian lau lau (pork and butterfish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed). Seating is at a premium, but don't be afraid to share a table and make friends. www.kanakakava.com.
For a restaurant that faces Keauhou Bay, Kai doesn't fully take advantage of the view (there's no outdoor seating to speak of), but there are nice views through the large accordian windows depending on where you sit. Best bets include the poke, as well as the tender and flavorful filet mignon, and Kona coffee-crusted lamb. The risotto with truffle-oil infusion won't disappoint, and all seafood is freshly caught. On Sunday, the Pacific-to-Your Plate three-course menu is a standout. After dinner, head to the Manta Ray Bar and Grill to see manta rays swimming in the spotlights below the balcony. New hotel management plans to upgrade in 2012, so look for a new and improved venue in the near future. www.sheratonkeauhou.com. Credit cards accepted.
As suggested by our Facebook fans:
Oahu: Hau Tree Lanai
Maui: Mama's Fish House
Kauai: The Beach House
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