View of Kailua Bay and viewable from most restaurants on All’i Drive!
When you are on vacation, you want to make the most of your trip to Kona and West Hawaii, right? The best beaches, the best food, the best cocktails with the best sunset view..who doesn’t want to leverage their time with amazing experiences, right? Well, a fan on the 365 Things to do Facebook page asked me to share my top favorite restaurants around Kona and West Hawaii for their upcoming vacation, so I was happy to oblige. Consider it my own “365 Kona Best Restaurant Experience List”
Tip: As we get closer to the “Kona Holiday Crush” please remember that the popular places get booked by 5:30 for sunset and happy hour lovers. GO EARLY! Of course, there are a variety of places up and down the Kona Coast to enjoy a great meal, but the ones I am recommending are the places I would (and have!) gone to with a short schedule (or have been on a budget!)
1. Don’s Mai Tai Bar
– When the waves are up and sun is dipping into the ocean and you have one of their delicious mai tai’s in your hand, it’s always going to be a good day on vacation. They have a really tasty and reasonable Hawaiian Style Pork Quesadilla with Chipotle Sour Cream and Black Bean Corn Salsa and Sweet Chili Sauce. $15 and you can share it.
2. Kona Inn
-the mai tai will knock you off your seat, so don’t drive if you have two! Great view and if you sit on the right side and don’t mind “bar food” you’ll save some money to have another drink!
3. Lava Lava Beach Club-
Located up on the Kohala Coast near the Marriott. One of the best beach and dining experiences on the island, IMHO. Happy hour pricing is good, but this place is nuts to get into during the holidays..get there early and stay for sunset. Wander up the beach, away from the resorts..turtles galore.
-not much of a view at either location in downtown Kona, but their food is classic Hawaiian and ONO! Be adventurous and get the ahi belly with garlic aioli and you MUST try their poke!
5. If you are looking for special: Brown’s Beach House
at the Fairmont offers a beautiful view and it is not as crowded as other venues for high season. They make poke table side. Fresh and amazing.
6. My friend Cary Peterson owns Kohala Burger and Taco
up in Kawaihae. His food truck is down at the Kona StreetEatz food truck circle on Thursdays from 11-1. Best
burger ever. And if you go to his restaurant, he’s got fish tacos, specials and malts..tell him 365Kona sent you!
..I mentioned that I LOVED their coconut macadamia nut French toast on Facebook..and they have a killer deal on OJ/lilikoi mimosa’s, too. The view is of Kailua Bay and it’s right across the street, so you can park your car and head over and jump in the ocean. (like I did the other day!)
is really good for breakfast and lunch with very large portions. The view is further back from Kailua Bay, but you can definitely enjoy people watching from the balcony. I loved their California style eggs benedict with avocados..enough for two to share. AND for only $2, they “upgrade” your cocktails to large! Tasty Mai Tai’s!
9. Huggos on the Rocks
-you almost can not visit Kona without going to Huggo’s on the Rocks and getting your feet in the sand with a cocktail in your hand and listen to live music. HUGGOS, located next door offers fine dining. and the food is really good and the view will make you sigh-so many beautiful sunsets have been watched from there..and I’ve enjoyed a nice glass of Chardonnay when the whales are breaching out in the bay.
10. Jackie Rey’s
– All my local friends insisted I put Jackie Rey’s on this list! I have been there a few times and each time ordered the special of the day (usually local fish) and have been blown away with the flavors and presentation. Mahi mahi with purple potatoes with coconut milk..yummm! Not much of a view, but you get it back with service and quality of food. If you have hit all the tourist restaurants and you are ready to go where the locals go…pick this one.
11: Island Ono Loa Grill
– My friend Chris owns this restaurant tucked behind Lava Java. If you love Chicago style hot dogs, his are authentic! He also makes a mean pork tenderloin sandwich with fries that are great and the aloha you get there is awesome.
12: Island Lava Java
-these ocean front restaurants on All’i Drive right across from the ocean are favorites of many tourists and I have friends who work at both. Island Lava Java has some fantastic breakfast food and usually a live performer in the evening. Bongo Ben’s is also known for it’s breakfast and lunch menus. If you go, be nice to your server.
(Lots of locals also were very vocal about Quinn’s Almost By the Sea
in downtown Kona. Really good fish and chips and plenty of fans really like this restaurant, as well!)
Local Kine Advice: Tip your servers 20% and don’t rush them..they are doing their best and mainlanders on vacation kicking their butts because they are desperate to have a perfect vacation have led to hearing many stories of boorish and rude behavior. Practice aloha to all service industry people while on the island, please.
Hope you enjoyed this list…please name your favorites in the comment section for others to see some popular places I missed!