While the Big Island may not necessarily be known as the culinary capital of Hawaii, there are many options for excellent cuisine. For those wanting to venture outside of the resort restaurants, here are my top 5 favorite “hidden gem” spots to grind on the Big Island.
The Fish & The Hog
Located in Waimea, The Fish & The Hog features some of the best BBQ I have ever experienced, along with a fantastic cocktail menu. From the brisket and ribs to the fish tacos, you really cannot go wrong with this menu! Personally, I love the brisket French dip with sweet potato fries. Be sure to save room for their incredible banana cream pie!
Willie’s Hot Chicken
Willie’s Hot Chicken opened in Kona in early 2020 (a GREAT time to start a restaurant) yet has become a hit with locals and is hopping most nights. They offer a simple, yet delicious chicken menu coupled with varying spice levels. (Author’s note: “White Hot” will melt your face!) My favorite is the “Nashville Hot” chicken tenders and side waffle (with fireball syrup), paired with either a Kona Brew or Ola IPA.
Pau Hana Poke
Located by Costco in Kona, Pau Hana Poke has amazingly fresh Poke with very generous serving sizes. Stop by after your Costco run, grab a few poke bowls, and pop down to Pine Trees to sit and watch the surf!
Located off of Palani in Kona Town, Kona Crust offers amazing New York-style pizza for takeout. The “Royale with Cheese” and “Kona Supreme” are my family’s top selections. Be sure to throw in an order of garlic knots to go with your pie!
Quinn’s Almost by the Sea
OK, so this one isn’t some “hidden” gem, with its prime location right off of Palani/Ali’i Drive, but the fish and chips are too good to not include on this list. A lively atmosphere, coupled with an impressive beer/wine/spirits list make Quinn’s a must-visit spot in Kona.
Whether you call the Big Island home, or are planning a visit, be sure to check out these amazing, locally-owned restaurants!
If there’s a spot that I’ve egregiously left off of my list, be sure to let me know or drop a comment below. Always looking for new spots to grub!