There are so many great food options on The Big Island, you will have no trouble finding a delicious place to eat. We hardly had a bad meal during our week in Hawaii, and a lot of the restaurants use very fresh ingredients. That being said, this list highlights the best of the best, and is intentionally short. These places were so good that we ended up changing our plans and going back to almost every one. If you are on The Big Island, you really should give these places a try. And go there early in your trip because you won’t be able to resist coming back a second time!
Peaberry & Galette Caféwww.peaberryandgalette.com Keahou Shopping Center, 78-6831 Ali’i Dr, Kailua-Kona
Peaberry & Galette is a cute, small french creperie tucked away in the Keahou Shopping Center, away from the tourist madness and inflated prices of downtown Kailua-Kona. They serve up authentic french crepes with fun, innovative toppings that are large enough to satisfy even the hungriest of breakfasters. If you want something lighter, their crepes are big enough to share (but we didn’t!). My favorite crepe was the chocolate & banana with vanilla ice cream, but I am a sucker for the chocolate and banana flavor combo. We also tried the caramelized apple crepe, which was great, the green tea & azuki beans crepe, which surprised us when it became one of our favorites, and a couple of savory crepes which were quite tasty. My family is pretty picky about our espresso and Peaberry & Galette passed the test with some excellent cappuccinos. This place is a great find with its sweet and savory crepes and a friendly café-atmosphere without the tourist-trap prices.
Annie’s Island Fresh Burgerswww.anniesislandfreshburgers.com 79-7460 Hwy 11, 15 min south of Kailua-Kona
I absolutely love this place and I wish I could take the whole restaurant home with me! Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers has a fun, casual vibe with palm trees growing right through the floorboards. Locals like this place and you can see why. Annie’s is not just your average burger joint. Their big, juicy burgers come from grass-fed island-raised cattle and they imagine up all kinds of unique variations for their mouth-watering burgers and sandwiches. The South Kona Saute Burger with steak sauce and sauteed hamakua mushrooms was delicious and the BBQ “South Point” Buger with avocado, cheddar and an onion ring hit the spot. Even their Classic Burger was one of the best I have had, and easily the best burger I’ve had in Hawaii. All of their ingredients are fresh and local and it makes a huge difference. If you like basil or garlic, then you have to try the garic basil french fries tossed with sweet sauteed garlic and fresh clumps of basil hand picked from their backyard garden. That garden of theirs produces some pretty incredible mint that they muddle up to make flavor-packed mojitos that we couldn’t resist! Our server even ran out back in the dark to pick more mint for our drinks. Annie’s is very vegetarian-friendly too, with a flavor-packed Mala Burger made from chickpeas, carrots, poblano peppers, herbs, garlic, and onion that can be made vegan-friendly as well with a ciabatta bun. Their vegetarian options easily competed with the meat-options, a rarity for a burger joint. Do yourself a favor and put Annie’s on your list and make sure you get a mojito!
Island Naturals Market & Deliwww.islandnaturals.com 3 Locations:
74-5487 Kaiwi St, 15 min south of Kailua-Kona (We went to this one. It’s in the same strip as Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers.)
1221 Kilauea Avenue, Hilo
15-1870 Akeakamai Loop, Pahoa
Island Naturals Market & Deli offers high quality natural foods, many of which are organic. This is an excellent place to pick up picnic supplies including freshly baked bread, artisan cheeses, tropical jams and fruit, french pressed coffee, and beer or wine. The Kailua-Kona location has a nice sitting area with an outdoor patio next to the bakery and coffee bar. Locals shop here.
Pine Tree Café73-4040 Hulikoa Dr, Kailua-Kona (10 min north of Kailua-Kona)
Tucked away in a strip mall halfway between the airport and Kailua-Kona, The Pine Tree Café is a hidden gem. They cater to locals (I think we were the only tourists there), and don’t care much about ambience, but the food is great. They have lots of flavor-packed asian-inspired sandwiches and Hawaiian plate lunches that shocked us with how good they were! We loved the katsu chicken and the teriyaki burger, and their fish and chips were good too. If you’re looking for a cheap, casual, and delicious lunch, you really can’t go wrong here. The Pine Tree Cafe would make a perfect stop if you are going between Kailua and the Kona airport, or if you are picking up a 4WD car from Harpers Car & Truck Rental next door. We found Pine Tree on our last day, and wished we had found it sooner!
What’s Shakin27-999 Mamalahoa Hwy, Pepeekeo (15 min north of Hilo on the scenic route)
Near the north end of the Pepe’ekeo Scenic Drive is the little roadside stand, What’s Shakin. I’ve had a lot of smoothies over the years, but What’s Shakin served me the very best I have ever had. I tried six of their smoothies and each one was like heaven in a cup. Their blends of tropical fruits are perfection, and when they add a little coffee or chocolate to make one of their dessert-style smoothies the result is pure bliss. Take a stroll in their backyard among rows of dragonfruit, coconut palms, pineapple plants, and avocado trees, just to name a few, all of which go into their all-fruit smoothies. They serve good food too – mostly wraps and sandwiches that are loaded with fresh veggies and their home-grown avocado. What’s Shakin makes the perfect lunch stop on your way up the Hamakua Coast and tied for my favorite meal on the Big Island (tied with Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers).
Hilo Farmers marketwww.hilofarmersmarket.com 400 Kamehameha Ave (Downtown Hilo)
Wednesdays and Saturdays 6am-4pm
Smaller market on all other days
I love a good farmers market, and the Hilo Farmers Market is no exception. We loaded up on giant avocados, strawberry papayas, mangos, baby bananas, lilikoi jams and butters, fresh veggies, and dozens of other tropical fruits we had never seen before. Try something new! A lot of the produce will need a day or two to ripen, so try to go early in your trip. A giant avocado sliced and seasoned makes an easy and cheap picnic lunch! Across the street from the food market is a craft market, but we didn’t find anything we hadn’t already seen around the island.
These were my absolute favorite places to eat on The Big Island and I hope you enjoy them too! I am always looking for new hidden gems so if you know of other great finds, let me know in the comments!