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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Don't let the name fool you. Though Hilo's best Chinese restaurant does specialize in seafood (the salt-and-pepper prawns are fantastic), they also offer a wide range of other Cantonese treats, including a sizzling lamb platter, salt-and-pepper pork, Mongolian beef or chicken, and vegetarian specialties like garlic eggplant and crispy green beans. The food is good, portions are large, and the price is right, but don't come here expecting any ambience—this is a funky and cheap Chinese restaurant, with a few random pieces of artwork tacked up here and there. Credit cards accepted.
Open on Saturday evening only, Hakone restaurant offers an excellent steak-and-seafood buffet featuring assorted sushi, daily catch, shrimp and veggie tempura, and grilled teriyaki steak. There's also a limited à la carte menu. The restaurant doesn't offer ocean views, but the upscale setting features Asian decor, fountains, shoji screens, and linen tablecloths. Be sure to try the signature martini—a hibiscus sake made with Sprite and a little cranberry juice. Yum. www.princeresortshawaii.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.-Fri. No lunch.
This cozy restaurant in a newly renovated downtown Hilo building offers a small American menu of burgers, fish, and steak, but where the eatery truly stands out is in its fresh and tasty traditional Thai fare. The owners grow their own spices, herbs, and papayas organically on their Puna farm. The chefs here also sauté with olive oil to keep things heart-healthy. Try the hot and sour Tom Yum soup that is loaded with fresh veggies, pineapple curry, and the Thai basil eggplant. Wash it all down with a Thai iced tea or coffee as a musician strums relaxing Hawaiian music (weekends from 6 to 8:30). Also look for outdoor seating on the lanai and a new coffee shop next door that serves breakfast. www.fullmooncafe.net. Credit cards accepted.
The Hawaii location of the popular Monterey, California, restaurant has an expansive menu, with inventive fresh-fish specials alongside the fish-and-chips and clam chowder that the original restaurant is known for. The owners spent serious time and money renovating the old and funky Ocean View Inn, and the restaurant itself is lovely—lots of koa wood, Hawaiian art, and an open-air floor plan that takes advantage of the Kailua Bay view. The food is decent, but may not feel worth the price. The wine list is comprehensive, and there are frequent bottle specials, so a money-saving option is to come for wine and appetizers with a view. Ask your greeter for a card that will get you a free appetizer or small discount off your meal. www.fishhopper.com/kona/. Credit cards accepted.
The lastest addition to the upscale Kings' Shops in Waikoloa, this two-level venue commemorates the late, big-wave-surfing legend of "Eddie Would Go" fame. The restaurant is owned and operated by Eddie's family in partnership with a group of Hawaiian-born restaurateurs. Although the menu approaches resort prices, the restaurant is fun and casual, with cocktail bars upstairs and downstairs, plus lakeside seating. Don't miss the 16-oz. grilled Aikau rib eye or the Kalua spring rolls laden with special sauce. Chef Scott Lutey's take on contemporary Hawaiian cuisine includes an inventive Luau Plate with taro hash. Memorabilia including Eddie's red surf trunks are on display. www.eddieaikaurestaurant.com.
The "original home of the mai tai," Don the Beachcomber includes a cool mai tai bar (bar service is slow, so sit back and enjoy the view) and has recently become a popular local spot for lunch, thanks to fresh ono sandwiches and addictive sweet-potato fries. Dinners are priced like those at the Kohala Coast resort restaurants (high), but the location offers the absolute best view in town of Kailua Bay. Try any of the nightly seafood specials or the Huli Huli Chicken, but the Paniolo prime rib is the star attraction, slow roasted for flavor and tenderness. Save room for the Molten Lava Cake. www.royalkona.com/Dining.cfm. Credit cards accepted.
This fine-dining restaurant features the creations of respected local chef Daniel Thiebaut in a quaint yellow building that once housed the historic Chock In Store, which catered to the ranching community beginning in 1900. Collectibles abound, such as antique porcelain pieces. Under new ownership, but still retaining the services of chef Daniel, the revamped establishment has unveiled an all-organic, locally sourced, sustainable menu that includes everything from handmade pastas to eggplant napoleon with hamakua mushrooms to Cajun-style ahi nicoise, pan-seared scallops, and a variety of sautéed seafood options. The place to be in Waimea on a Sunday afternoon, Daniel's offers a popular Sunday brunch from 10 to 2, featuring live local music and slack-key players. www.danielthiebaut.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.
Visitors enjoy stopping here for lunch after a morning of snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay, and for good reason: the views of the Honaunau coast from this roadside restaurant in South Kona are stunning. Breads are all homemade, and you get to choose your favorite when ordering a generously sized sandwich brimming with Black Forest ham and the like. If you're in the mood for a Hawaiian smoothie, iced honey-mocha latte, or homemade luau bread, it's worth the detour, even though the parking lot can be tricky to maneuver. www.coffeeshack.com. Credit cards accepted. No dinner.
This cool little spot near Costco features beautiful tropical woodworking by Dave Weaver, who also serves up his own ceviche concoctions, highlighted by the Taapuna, with fresh ono and coconut milk. Order the sampler plate and you'll get to try four different ceviches, all served with chips and homemade bread baked daily by Dave's wife, April. Dave likes to play guitar and tell stories about surfing, Costa Rica, and music. Relax here after a day at the beach, and enjoy the view of Pine Trees surf spot below.
This open-air venue has high ceilings and a lanai that overlooks the pool and beach. American bistro-style dishes showcase the bounty of Big Island ingredients, including fresh Kona shrimp and lobster (raised at the Natural Energy Lab), seasonal fresh oysters, and specially prepared seafood. Every Friday is "Let's Go Crabbing" night, a splendid buffet with everything from steamed Manilla clams and soft-shell crab tempura to crab-and-corn bisque and a full salad bar. www.princeresortshawaii.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
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