Hopefully you enjoyed our article, Aloha Big Island/Kona Bound – Best Activities and have your time in Hawaii all planned out. As promised, our Local Expert, Kathy Boyd, is back with her Kona restaurant picks while on the Big Island. As it is called the Big Island for a reason, we are dividing the recommendations into districts and will start with Kailua-Kona. Happy dining…..

Kathy’s Ono Grindz (delicious food)!

Kailua-Kona (town)

  • Huggo’s On-the-Rocks– great for lunch + live music nightly. A great spot to catch the sunset, have drinks, and sink your toes in the sand; near the Royal Kona Resort. We were told by friends they have the best burgers in the world!! I heard gorgonzola cheese mentioned…
  • Huggo’s for dinner. It’s ocean front, has steak/seafood, wonderful for sunsets, and special occasions. If you like flare, ask at the bar if Billy the Bartender is working. He is sure to make you a special drink. $$$$
  • Kona Inn lunch & dinner at the Wind and Sea Restaurant. It’s ocean front in the heart of the village. There are 2 sides: restaurant and café; fresh fish, salads, calamari sandwiches, and Hawaiian chicken sandwich. Fine dining for dinner with steak/seafood. $$$

    what are some kona restaurant picks

    Photo credit Wind and Sea Restaurant.

  • Jackie Rey’slunch (weekdays – try the blue plate special) & dinner. It has wonderful seafood and excellent variety on the menu; a local spot. If you like wine like I do, WINO Wednesday = ½ wine bottles and say hi to your host and owner, Paul! Great Happy Hour; say aloha to your friendly bartender, Jen, the curly-haired girl with the warmest smile in Kona! $$$
  • Quinn’s (Almost By The Sea)lunch and dinner; hole in the wall. The fresh fish and chips are the reason to go. It’s near the pier where Alii turns to Palani. If you need football on Sunday’s, this is a good spot and you can go for a swim a thalf time. $$
  • Lava Java great for every meal of the day. The patio is a hot spot for people watching and at sunset, hearing the waves while enjoying a fresh catch of the day. BYO beer and wine makes it an oceanfront bargain! At dinner, you will usually find live music and most nights, Joe, the most dedicated, hardworking manager in Kona. You’ll find me ending every meal with the Cappuccino cheesecake – YUM YUM! (Coconut Grove trolley stop). $

    Lava Java roll as kona restaurant picks

    Lava Java roll – post race of course!!!!

  • Bubba Gump Shrimp – casual & on the water – waterfront row. Check out Wyland Gallery next door. My friend, Danielle Zirk’s, art is featured in the front of the gallery. $$
  • Big Island Grill lunch & dinner. Diner style eating with great local-style food; a local favorite, closed Sundays. $$
  • Umeke’sReigning champs from the BBQ cook-off we had in August. This is a new local spot that is generous with samples and if you are ready to try our local raw fish, they offer POKE in lots of varieties. Try them all and pick your fav. They also have killer plate lunches.
  • Green Flash Coffee breakfast and lunch. Great little deli in the Seaside Village on Alii…my favorite is the Turkey & Feta Panini…..you can find a great smoothie there, too. $
  • Lotus Cafe homemade Thai. They have the best island ingredients; great food and drinks and homemade gelato. You will find them at the Captain Cook farmers market on Sunday. This place uses 100% alternative energy; located near Costco. $$
  • Ultimate Burger – This place does it all local with 100% Hawaiian Grass fed beef! Yummy burger + hand cut fries and a tasty lemonade (even gluten free buns!). Located in Kona Commons Center. $
  • Kona Brewing Companylunch and dinner. It has outside seating, local brews, the best pizza ever (personal fav is the Greek), great unique souvenir shirts, and brewery tour 2x’s daily @ 10:30 and 3 pm. Get a growler of the local beer to go! I’m thinking Koko Brown or Pipeline Porter, but they will give you a sample…just ask, I did. As a big plus, the restaurant is Green Certified! $$where are good places to eat in kona some kona restaurant picks
  • Bale – Vietnamese and French fusion. The Lemongrass Chicken is my favorite and the Pho is great, too. Located near the KTA on Pulani Rd.
  • Basik Cafe– right by Huggos and the Royal Kona. This tiny “blink and you miss it” spot on the second floor is a “should not be missed” island delight. The Acai bowls are one of a kind. I love the Bayan bowl; it’s the best, but the Mayan Mint smoothie has been known to be my late afternoon snack of choice. Think…local style Jamba juice + more.

Food Trucks on the move….none of these have a set location, but if you see them out and about they are worth a stop!

  • Estrada’s Surf N Turf – Mexican food and ono ceviche
  • Rendevous – A love affair with local food – ever changing menu, evolving with what the farmers have in season.
  • Lotus – These are the same owners as the restaurant, so fresh local and Thai inspired is what’s on the menu. The Thai Ginger drink they make is a ginger lover’s dream with a lot of zang!
  • Here’s a list of the 10 best food trucks on Hawaii per Yelp if you really like your food trucks.

Keauhou Shopping Center (listed as Longs on Trolley Schedule)

  • Kenichi Pacific Japanese Restaurant – dinner only. Has wonderful food and a nice atmosphere. $$$
  • Royal Thai Café’ lunch and dinner; good food. $$
  • L&L Hawaiian B-B-Q quick Asian-American fusion; offers counter service and plate lunches. $
  • Sam ChoyTalk about a great view! They have outdoor fire pits and a nice happy hour. This is a place you visit for the view of a magical Kona sunset!

Many of these restaurants can be found on Open Table for booking reservations in advance which can never hurt. Nell Stephenson also mentioned her favorites for dining in Kona Food for Thought.