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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Nestled alongside the resort's sandy bay, Brown's Beach House offers beautiful sunset dining and innovative cuisine by Chef Skye Harris, formerly of Kona Village Resort. Attention to detail is evident in the sophisticated menu, like the Keahole lobster tails cooked with lilikoi Hawaiian vanilla bean gastrique. Seafood lovers should try the ginger- and scallion-steamed onaga, or the ahi belly katsu served with beets, daikon, and carrots. 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.
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 at Bite Me Fish Market in Honokohau Harbor. Sit at the outdoor picnic tables and watch the day's catch get hoisted from the charter 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. Breakfast includes omelets, French Toast, pancakes, and burritos. 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 location above Costco in Kailua-Kona, where they specialize in European-style pizzas with artisan crusts. www.bigislandpizza.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. No lunch or dinner Sun.
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 popular restaurant in the heart of Hawi provides a historic setting in which to enjoy a menu brimming with Hawaiian-country flair. Creative entrées feature fresh island fish prepared several ways. Try the seafood dish with sesame ginger, chili broth, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and Asian noodles; it's best accompanied with a passion-fruit margarita or passion-fruit iced tea. Bamboo accents, bold local artwork, and an old unfinished wooden floor make the restaurant cozy. Sunday brunch includes omelets, pupus, salads, and sandwiches. Local musicians entertain on Friday or Saturday evenings. www.bamboorestaurant.info. Credit cards accepted. Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.
A favorite Hilo breakfast spot, much loved for their fresh-fruit waffles and tasty morning coffee. Service can be a little slow, but where are you running off to anyway? For lunch they serve up huge deli sandwiches and decent entrée-size salads. In keeping with its name, the little diner is full of stuffed bears, ceramic bears, even bear wallpaper. No credit cards.
Hidden away in a strip mall on Palani Road near KTA, Ba-Le serves a decent plate lunch. It also offers Vietnamese-influenced food such as pho, a type of soup laden with noodles, meat, and veggies. Ba-Le's sandwiches are served on croissants or French baguettes, stuffed with pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber, cilantro, homemade mayo, and your choice of a variety of Asian-style meats. www.ba-le.com. Credit cards accepted.
In the sleepy harbor town of Kawaihae, the original Café Pesto ranks as a hidden find for visitors. Gourmet pizzas are topped with eclectic goodies like pork and pineapple, chili-grilled shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and cilantro crème fraîche. The menu is a bit pricey, and includes Asian-inspired pastas and risottos, plus fresh-fish entrées. Local brews and a full-service bar make this a good place to end the evening, and the lounge-y bar area with sofas and comfy chairs provides a nice place to grab a drink while you're waiting for a table. www.cafepesto.com. Credit cards accepted.
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Oahu: Hau Tree Lanai
Maui: Mama's Fish House
Kauai: The Beach House
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