Guide to the Best Restaurants Big Island, Hawaii
The Absolute Best Restaurants Big Island, Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii is truly a big place. If you were to travel from the north end to the south end it would take over 2 1/2 hours! This means it’s important to search for restaurants based on your location. This guide will break down the best restaurants Big Island has by locale.
In this guide we cover high end restaurant options in These areas
As a general rule the further north you go the better the food and ambiance.
When planning to go out for a nice lunch or dinner it’s expected that it will be pricey, though not always, but restaurants must meet certain standards to qualify for this distinction. Our standards include: 1. excellent service – wait staff must be efficient, friendly, and trained in guest services. 2. The best ambience – there must be a lot of care and attention put into the look and feel of the dining area and entryway as well as the restrooms. 3. Quality of food – Food must be thoughtful and nicely plated. Use of advanced cooking techniques is a plus and a large variety of options from vegetarian to seafood, to international cuisine will be common options. In the end we ask ourselves, was this experience memorable?
Our Criteria for High-End Restaurants:
Quality of Food
If you’re looking for other restaurant options check out these guides:
21 Best Big Island Restaurants
Best Kona Restaurants
These are the best restaurants in Kona. While Kona is the center of tourism on the Big Island it is not exactly a mecca for cuisine. Many of our favorite fancy restaurants are located in Kohala, Waimea, or Hilo but driving there can be a schlep so let’s narrow down the many Kona restaurants to just a few of the absolute best that are most deserving of your precious time.
One of the stalwart institutions among Kona restaurants, Huggo’s is not to be confused with its cheap cousin Huggo’s on the Rocks next door. Having a higher standard and excellent seaside location Huggo’s is about as good as it get’s in Kona town for nicer fare. The menu has recently been revamped and the quality is there. The drink menu can be innovative and creative. The service is always excellent. For a nice restaurant in the Kona area this is the one.
Beach Tree Grill
Located in Four seasons resort 20 minutes north of Kona this semi casual beachside outdoor open dining and lounge is open to the public. With its Italian focused menu the options are pasta and pizza heavy. The drinks are well crafted and the wine list is extensive. With nightly live music on the grass nearby the ambience is excellent and among the best for open air dining in Kona. The wood furniture, deck and dining makes for a natural yet sumptuous experience.
ULU Sushi Lounge & Ocean Grill
Located in the Four Seasons Resort. This Japanese and Hawaiian focused restaurant is one of the tops if you’re looking to impress. Its menu is riffe with premium sushi and seafood options. Local seafood (some raised on premises) and starches like breadfruit make for an upscale yet locally conscientious menu.
Resident’s Beach House (Lunch Only)
Open to the public for lunch and happy hour only, this is a great little secluded secret spot that is off-the-beaten-path. No reservations needed as sometimes you may be the only person here! The menu is solid with the best value and options coming in at Happy hour where we had one of the best pizzas on the island. Drinks are fantastic and the location is hard to beat with the ocean and an estuary nearby.
Check out the video to see a quick review of this restaurant
Best Waimea Restaurants
Long regarded one of the best restaurants on the Big Island this is an establishment that’s been around since 1988. Reservations are a good idea here. The Food is the main attraction and is sourced locally so you can be sure to have a fresh farm to table style menu.
Best Kohala Restaurants
Kohala is home to some of the largest and poshest resorts and homes in all of Hawaii. This makes it a great destination for cuisine as there is a high concentration of great restaurant options here. These are the best.
Located in the superbly adorned Mauna Lani Auberge Resort Hālani is a bit of a hidden gem. A superb mix of casual and posh this is one of the best restaurants on the Big Island for its ambience. A great afternoon lounge spot for sundowners and pupus or a great dinner experience with plenty of veggie and vegan options. Open breakfast through dinner.
This mediterranean inspired masterpiece is located in the stunning Westin Hapuna Resort overlooking the Hapuna Beach and resort grounds. Some of the best cuisine available on the Big Island, this place easily makes the Best Restaurants Big Island, Hawaii list. Book well in advance (now is good) and ask for a table near the ocean for the best views. Come early and hang out in the sumptuous bar area. This place is always booked out so be sure to reserve a table now! ($50 charge for no-show bookings).
Tommy Bahama Cafe
With a nice open atmosphere and well appointed interior the view from the balcony is not spectacular but the cuisine and ambiance make up for this. One of the best Happy hours on the island with great craft cocktails. Consistently good food and service are the norm here.
Best South Kona Restaurants
Compared to the upscale restaurants in Kohala, Kona, and Waimea south Kona’s restaurants are few and less high-end. We hesitate to recommend anything as our guide contains some of the very best restaurants. If you want to stay local without having to drive into Kona or up to Kohala these are going to be your best bets.
The food is well done and the atmosphere is nice although if you drive another 20 minutes north you’ll probably prefer the food and ambience of Huggo’s. The small dining area means the best way to guarantee a table is by reserving one.
The Coffee Shack
One of the most stunning views of any restaurant in Hawaii the shack part of its name is appropriate but the view more than makes up for the architectural shortcomings. With limited dining space it’s always packed. It may be a challenge to find parking. Reservations are not available here. The food is solid with some excellent baked goods.
We hope you agree that these are the best restaurants Big Island Hawaii has. I’m Byron the owner of Kona Honu Divers and Kona Snorkel Trips and I enjoy visiting some of the top restaurants on Big Island with my significant other Zazz. After living on mainland until the age of 27 I have had some pretty great cuisine. I do miss the restaurants on mainland and I’m always in search of the best restaurants in Kona and the rest of the Big Island.
Zazz is vegetarian so we are always in search of good vegetarian cuisine because Byron also eats vegetarian occasionally deviating with a meat dish every now and then.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best restaurants in Kona, Hawaii?
These are the best Kona restaurants as of November 2022
What are the Big Island local favorites?
The Coffee Shack, Chubby’s Diner, Big Island Grill, Pine Tree Cafe, Broke Da Mouth Grindz, Huggos, Merrimans, Meridea, Willies Hot Chicken