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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 landmark restaurant on the ocean showcases the inventive cuisine of executive chef Sandy Tuason, who previously served at the prestigious L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant in Manhattan. The progressive menu draws its influences from around the world while incorporating the flavors of the Islands. Dishes are artfully presented and feature delicious offerings like the Duo of Lamb, comprised of roasted loin and spiced lamb sausage; or the Keahole lobster salad with avocado-mango relish and crispy greens from Waimea. Don't miss the exquisite desserts, especially the homemade sorbets or the Waialua Chocolate Dome. The wine list is great, and the open-air beachfront setting makes the hefty price tag worth it on clear evenings. www.maunalani.com. Credit cards accepted.
Established in 1948, this family-owned restaurant is famous for its tasty loco moco, prepared in more than a three dozen ways, and its dirt-cheap breakfast and lunch specials. (You can stuff yourself for $3 if you order right.) The word "restaurant," or even "café," is used liberally here—you order at a window and eat on one of the outdoor benches provided—but you come here for the food and prices, not the ambience. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
Okay, it's a chain, and a chain that centers on an old Tom Hanks movie, no less. However, it has one of the nicest oceanfront patios in Kailua-Kona, and the food's not bad, providing you know what to order. Anything with popcorn shrimp in it is a good bet, and the pear and berry salad (a combination of chicken, strawberries, pears, and glazed pecans) is the perfect size for lunch. www.bubbagump.com. Credit cards accepted.
Nestled alongside the resort's sandy bay, Brown's Beach House offers beautiful sunset dining and innovative cuisine by chef "TK" Keosavang. Attention to detail is evident in the sophisticated cuisine, like the delicious Manilla clams infused with subtle hints of tomato, onion, fennel, saffron, and white wine. Try the yummy tom yum soup with poached ono in coconut-lemongrass broth, or the tender braised short ribs with veggie risotto. The menu includes choices that accommodate diet-specific preferences such as macrobiotic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, and diabetic—amazingly, these offerings are as flavorful and inventive as everything on the main menu. www.fairmont.com/orchid. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
This tiny, traditional trattoria serves solid, family-style Italian food and excellent pizzas at very good prices. The atmosphere is similar to hundreds of Italian restaurants on the U.S. mainland—the tablecloths are checkered, the candles are in Chianti bottles, there's spaghetti on the menu, and it always feels a little hot and greasy inside. But you can't beat the location in downtown Kailua-Kona, right across the street from the ocean. www.bostonbasils.com. Credit cards accepted.
With a vast menu second only to Ken's House of Pancakes, Blane's serves up everything from standard hamburgers to chicken katsu. There's a mean plate lunch with tons of fresh fish for only $8. At one point it was a real drive-in, with car service. Now, customers park, order at the window, and then eat at one of the few picnic tables provided or take their food to go. Credit cards accepted.
This cool sit-down bar and grill overlooks the boat ramp of the Bite Me Fish Market in Honokohau Harbor. Sit at the outdoor picnic tables and watch the day's catch get hoisted from the boats; chances are it will end up on your plate that day. Sandwiches are named after famous fishing lures in Kona (try the Kaya Bait Fish Reuben). Fish tacos can be ordered à la carte for a couple of bucks. www.bitemefishmarket.com.
Gourmet pizza is the star here, topped with things like shrimp and smoked salmon. They also serve sandwiches, wraps, pastas, and salads. There are only a handful of tables for eating in, but they do a brisk take-out business and also deliver to the eastern side of the island. There's another brand-new location above Costco in Kailua-Kona, where they specialize in European-style pizzas with artisan crusts. www.bigislandpizza.com. Credit cards accepted.
Tako Taco has always been a favorite Waimea eatery, and owner Tom Kerns is a veteran brewer. He's now churning out some decent ales, lagers, and specialty beers from his on-site brewery. With a focus on fresh ingredients, Tako Taco whips up excellent tacos, burritos, Mexican salads, enchiladas, rellenos, and quesadillas fresh to order. You'll want refills on the habanero salsa, perhaps accompanied by a top-shelf margarita, either classic or lilikoi (passion fruit). And nothing beats a cold local brew to wash down that spicy enchilada. www.bigislandbrewhaus.com. Credit cards accepted.
This typical, local Hawaiian restaurant looks like an old coffee shop or a Denny's—it's dark and nondescript inside, with booths along the walls and basic tables with bingo-hall chairs in the middle of the room. Local families love it for the huge portions of pork chops, loco moco, and an assortment of fish specialties at very reasonable prices. "Biggie's" also serves a decent breakfast—the prices and portions make this a good place to take large groups or families, if you want to feel like a real kamaaina (local), that is. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
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Oahu: Hau Tree Lanai
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