HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
Dining Out in Hilo
Hilo is not a night-time city. Its location on the eastern – sunrise – side of the island, and its legacy of an agricultural economy, have given it what might be called an early-to-bed-early-to-rise ambiance. So, in almost every restaurant, lunchtime draws more patrons than dinnertime; but as most travelers know, lunches are an excellent way to try new restaurants.
Hilo does have a good variety of places to eat, at reasonable prices, whether at mid-day or in the evening. Here are some suggestions for dining out – though please don’t construe them as “reviews.” They are all popular with local folks, and for dinner at some of them (noted with a *) you should probably make a reservation.
SEASIDE * The name is only a slight misnomer, as it stands across the road from the ocean, in the Keaukaha neighborhood. But it’s perhaps the best place in Hilo to order fresh fish; the day’s catch will have come from that morning’s auction at the nearby Suisan dock, and some fish will have been netted from the huge fishpond over which the restaurant is perched.
(1790 Kalanianaole Ave. 935-8825)
HILO BAY CAFÉ * Incongruously located in a shopping-mall parking
lot, between a Wal-Mart and an Office Max, this place is always ranked (in newspaper polls) among the “best” restaurants in Hilo. Its menu is based on fresh local ingredients, and although the cuisine is distinctly modern (some would say “California-style”), everything is served in local-size (i.e. big) portions. And there are delightful surprises: after you try the onion-rings with what they call “balsamic ketchup,” you may never shake a bottle of Heinz again. (315 Makaala St. 935-4939)
KUHIO GRILLE If you want to try a really local sit-down
restaurant, this is the place. Sited in a strip-mall that includes a Starbucks, this informal eatery makes wonderful comfort food, and is famous for Hawaiian-style platters, especially those featuring the huge “one-pound laulau.” (Prince Kuhio Plaza, Suite A106. 959-2336)
CAFÉ 100 One of the oldest-established places to eat in town, Café 100 is really a drive-in that does a huge take-out business. But it does have outdoor tables under roof; and for local plate-lunches, it has no equal. Everything is served, of course, with the classic “two scoops rice.”
(969 Kilauea Ave. 935-8683)
CAFÉ PESTO * A few steps from the downtown Farmers’ Market stands one of the most popular restaurants in town. It’s big, and sometimes crowded, but the food is consistently good. Pizzas there feature clever combinations of ingredients, and the dinner-size salads (especially the “lava” salad that looks like an erupting volcano) are a joy to behold as well as to eat. Pesto’s menu is not unique, but the place always ranks high in newspaper polls, and is perhaps everybody’s “second choice,” after their own personal favorite. (308 Kamehameha Ave. 969-6640)
MIYO’S * Among Hilo’s many Japanese restaurants Miyo’s stands out, both for its traditional country-style cuisine, and – as it’s located in the Waiakea Villas complex (near our real estate office) – for its beautiful views over the Wailoa ponds. (400 Hualani St. 935-2273)
OCEAN SUSHI DELI As the name implies, the specialty of the house is sushi; also sashimi, of course, and most of the familiar Japanese lunch and dinner platters. Extremely informal, Ocean Sushi is among the least expensive of the really great restaurants in town. (250 Kiawe St. 961-6625)