While there are a ton of “Top Big Island Restaurants” blog posts across the internet we wanted to compose something slightly different. As someone that has lived on the Big Island 20+ years these are restaurants that we find ourselves consistently wanting to eat at. These are a variety of restaurants and not necessarily the best (if you only ate at those you would go broke), but places we find ourselves at often. As a whole we prefer the local, family owned businesses with a hometown feel. They are not in any particular order.
The CanoeHouse at Mauna Lani
The CanoeHouse at Mauna Lani consistently offers high quality dishes on an oceanfront setting. The bar also offers a selection of nice tropical drinks and if you just sit at the bar you can enjoy the view. While typically we like to order dishes we like, the CanoeHouse has a 4-5 course fixed price dinner option and we have been impressed with it every time and highly recommend it. If you would like to order from the menu there is an array of unique options that you will not find at many other Hawaii restaurants as well as some of the favorite dishes of Hawaii. If you are looking for a fine dining experience on the Big Island, this would be my first choice.
Poi Dog Deli in Kailua-Kona
If we are in Kona, this is my favorite place to stop off at. Not fully sure where they got their name, but their menu does not include poi items. It is a sandwich salad restaurant that has an affinity for dogs and rescued dogs in particular. Dogs are welcome here so you will see dogs there from time to time eating out of a bowl with their owner. We have tried several of their sandwiches and some of their salads. All of them have been exceptional. It does take some time to prepare a high quality, hot sandwich so you will be given popcorn with a selection of toppings to munch on while you wait. In Kona and looking for a place to stop and get a quick bite to eat? Poi Dog Deli is the place.
Dinner at HaLani or HaBar at Mauna Lani
As a family, this is our favorite spot. While the HaLani does offer a traditional seating restaurant, we choose to sit out in plush couches just off the bar area. There is a large grass lawn area and games for the kids to run around and play while we enjoy a casual dining atmosphere. All of the food here has been good and includes some American favorites such as homemade pizzas as well as offer some local Hawaiian favorites.
They do serve lunch here, but we really enjoy the dinner experience.
FORC in Waimea
FORC is a newer restaurant to the Big Island scene, but is owned by a chef that has been in the business on the Big Island for over 25 years. FORC stands for Farmer, Ocean, Rancher, Cook and gives you insight to what you might find on the menu. What I love best about FORC is that the menu changes a few times a year so you get a change of options and most of the products are sourced from local companies. If you are a fish eater, I highly recommend ordering the whole fish. It will feed at least two people. The fish will be prepared and served whole at the table and is excellent! They also offer a nice selection of drinks from the bar. For the martini drinkers, try the Ube Lemondrop Martini.
MOA Kitchen in Waimea
This is a casual dining place that offers yakatori, soups, as well as a sushi bar. While sushi is not the focus of their restaurant, the quality is always great. If you enjoy sake, there is a nice selection of sakes. It offers a fun atmosphere and overall a unique menu, which many of the items you will not find at other restaurants. Weather you are looking for a soup, sushi, or yakatori the quality is always consistently good. It is a smaller restaurant with limited seating so you will want to be sure to reserve a table. We live in Waimea and are constantly looking for good take out food so probably eat from here most often and the food is consistently good.
Rob Dalton has lived on the Big Island of Hawaii and been owner at Waikoloa Vacation Rentals for over 20 years.