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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
If you're looking for consistently decent food and you're staying nearby, Roy's fits the bill. The venue overlooks the lake at the Kings' Shops, which, granted, is not an oceanfront setting by any means. If you're simply in the mood for a light meal, you can easily fill up on the enormous selection of great appetizers, and the extensive wine-by-the-glass list offers good pairing options. The three-course meal is a good bet, or try the butterfish or blackend ahi for a melt-in-your mouth encounter. The menu changes nightly, with a lot of specials like the ancho-chili-pepper seared sea scallops or grilled Hawaiian ono taco. www.roysrestaurant.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
It's not the best Mexican food you've ever had, but if you're in Hilo and you're jonesing for some carne asada or chicken flautas, Reuben's has got you pretty well covered. You could make a meal out of their warm chips and salsa alone, and they're known for pouring a stiff margarita in all sorts of interesting flavors like lilikoi (passion fruit), guava, mango, coconut, and watermelon. This is a lively place to spend your afternoon or evening, and it's open all day for lunch and dinner. www.reubensmexican.com. Credit cards accepted.
Chef David Abraham has transformed the former Fujimamas into a place for Hawaiian café food with a twist. They specialize in "multicultural cuisine" like the "Thai Caesar salad" with crispy calamari croutons that is big enough to share. There's a full sushi bar as well. Don't miss the "Fuji" roll with shrimp, ahi, crab, avocado, and cucumber that is tempura-battered and deep-fried. Wash it all down with the signature saketini. Lunch is a great bet here, too, with a build-your-own saimin option (broth with noodles), a huge Cobb salad, and a juicy 8-ounce burger with lots of fixings. This place is popular among locals and is a great spot for the whole family—the kids' menu was developed by Abraham's eight-year-old daughter. www.redwater-cafe.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
Tucked into Kopiko Plaza, just below Long's, this local favorite for quality Japanese fare goes beyond sushi. Hayama serves traditional Japanese specialties like tempura, unagi, broiled fish, teriyaki, and udon noodles, all made from fresh local ingredients. Sushi is available as well, but only traditional nigiri, slices of raw fish layered with wasabi and rice, and sashimi. Lunch specials are a great deal, and dinner specials provide a three-course meal for two for $40. Despite its strip mall location, Hayama manages to pull off a Zen vibe that matches the quiet and attentive, albeit "island-time," service. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
With the bar in the front and the dining patio in the back, Quinn's may seem like a bit of a dive at first glance, but this venerable restaurant serves up the best darn cheeseburger and fries in town. Appropriate for families, the restaurant stays busy for lunch and dinner, while the bar attracts a cast of colorful regulars. The menu has many tasty options, like fish-and-chips, meat loaf, or beef tenderloin tips. Quinn's stays open until 11 pm, later than almost any other restaurant in Kailua-Kona. If time gets away from you on a drive to the north beaches, Quinn's awaits your return with a cheap beer and a basket of fried calamari. Drinks are strong; there are no watered-down cocktails served here. Park across the street at the Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel and get free one-hour parking with validation. Breakfast is sometimes served during football season. quinnsalmostbythesea.com. Credit cards accepted.
Next to Matsuyama's market along Highway 11 on the way to the airport, the Pine Tree Café offers local classics such as huli huli (Hawaiian-style rotisserie) chicken and loco moco, alongside new inventions like crab curry bisque. The fresh-fish plate is decent, and all meals are served with fries or rice and macaroni salad. The prices are a bit higher than you might expect, but the portions are huge. It's a good place to stop for a last-minute bite before catching your flight back to the mainland. Credit cards accepted.
Tucked away in the old Department of Motor Vehicles building near Big Island Grill, this new addition to Kona's dining scene also happens to be the Big Island's only authentic Vietnamese restaurant. All ingredients are the freshest of fresh, and the pho noodle soup (both chicken and beef) will satisfy aficionados. Closed Sun.
This little creperie is a welcome hideaway at the Keauhou Shopping Center. The menu includes Illy espresso, teas, excellent sweet and savory crepes, and rich desserts like lemon cheesecake and chocolate mousse that are made fresh daily. The small venue has a relaxed, urban-café vibe, and is a nice place to hang for a bit if you're waiting for a movie at the theater next door, or just feel like taking a break from paradise to sip a decent espresso and flip through the latest W.www.peaberryandgalette.com. Credit cards accepted.
With dim lights, stately high-back chairs, and dark-wood paneling, Pescatore conjures up an Italian trattoria. The food is good, but not amazing, with plenty of Italian basics such as lasagna, chicken marsala, and chicken or veal parmigiana. Lunch and dinner are available daily; lunch consists of Italian-style sandwiches. Brunch is served on Sunday only and features omelettes and crepes. Families love the simple pastas made to please choosy children. Credit cards accepted.
The name here is the Hawaiian word for "done," which we're guessing alludes to how eagerly you will gobble up their sensational pizzas. You order at the counter and find your own seat in the small but neat inside dining area. The big draw is the wide selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and pizzas loaded with lots of local, fresh ingredients. Try the "Superfood" salad with quinoa, brown rice, edamame, grapes, and spiced nuts or the tangy vintner's salad with local organic greens, spiced pecans, apples, Gorgonzola, and Pau's champagne vinaigrette. All sauces and salad dressings are made in-house. When it comes to the pizzas, anything goes: order one of Pau's 16-inch signature pies or create your own. Lunch is a deal if you order the Slice of Italy: a quarter pizza cut into three slices plus a side salad for just $9. The restaurant is a little tricky to find, but it's right next to Merriman's in Waimea. www.paupizza.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
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