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Koji's near the Farmer's Market in Hilo


Cafe 100, Hilo




Some of our Favorite Places to 'Ai, 'ai iho (dine)

There are loads of wonderful, interesting, and inexpensive places to eat in East Hawaii.

Here are some comments on a few. Click here for text version to print.



Pahoa, which is four miles past the turn off to our house, is a small one street town with some of the best restaurants in East Hawaii.

  • Ning's Thai Cuisine has some very good Thai food and is a favorite among locals.

  • Kaleo's, is at the far end of the main drag on the left. Seven years ago this restaurant was called Godmothers and I'll always remember the Mai Tai and the excellent dinner. Since 2009 when Kaleo's opened up, the location has once again earned the reputation of the best unknown restaurant on the Big Island. It has an attractive dining room in a very Puna kind of way. You will enjoy eating here.

  • Our neighbor speaks very highly of Paolo's Bistro - a small Italian place.

  • Boogie Woogie Pizza will deliver pizza to the house (small delivery fee) 965-5575 - we haven't tried it yet but again our neighbor loves it and you can't beat the name. See refrigerator magnet for phone number.

  • If you are a fan of inexpensive Hawaiian barbecue then you might like the chain L&L which is on the road heading into Pahoa. It's not spectacular but my wife and I have used it when we were looking for something inexpensive and quick.

  • Luquins - the historic downtown location burned down in January 2017 and has now re-opened and is located on the edge of town behind Long's drug store. The Burrito is gigantic, smothered in sauce, and can easily be sharedas a main course for two. The Chile Relleno is very good as well.


  • Koji's Lunch Shop - 52 Ponahawai St.(take out only). This is our latest find. A real hole-in-the-wall place located near the Farmer's Market. They specialize in Bento boxes and Loco Moco. I tried the Koji Loco which was two burgers and eggs served over rice with wonderfully sweet brown gravy. We also tried the breakfast sandwich (burger, bacon and special egg with lettuce and tomatoes all served on a nice bun). We went up the street a couple blocks to a park and sat at a picnic table to enjoy.

  • Cafe Pesto is downtown on the street facing the bay and is popular for lunch and dinner. They have gourmet thin crust pizza and pasta dishes. There specialty is all things basil/pesto. My wife and I quite enjoyed our meal.

  • New Chang Mai Thai Cuisine - 110 Kalakaua Street, downtown Hilo. This place has excellent food and is open for lunch and dinner. 969-3777.

  • Ocean Sushi - 235 Keawe Street in downtown Hilo. This place has some of the most interesting Sushi and is very popular with the locals. It's also popular with us. My advice, look at what others have ordered and ask the waitress for what they have. Lunch and dinner, closed daily from 2pm-5pm and closed on Sundays.

  • Cronies - 11 Waianuenue Ave in down town Hilo is a large sports bar place. Hockey uniforms in Hawaii? The food is good and they have several beers on tap.

  • If you enjoy an excellent hamburger then try the Hilo Burger Joint  which has a huge variety of gigantic burgers and if it's your birthday they even give you a free burger. The Hilo Bay Burger is a favorite among locals. Look for the bright red building at 776 Kilauea Ave.

  • At the foot of Highway 11 heading towards Hilo from the airport sit two places you might try. Verna's is a drive in type of place and is inexpensive. Ken's Pancake House serves all kinds of food. I think Ken's is overrated but it is arguably the most popular restaurant in Hilo.

  • A famous fast food place is Cafe 100 (969 Kilauea Ave) is one of my wife's favorites though I'm not much of a fan.

  • Pineapples is an open-air restaurant in downtown Hilo (332 Keawe St.). They serve very good food and interesting mixed drinks (closed on Mondays).
  • Another place that renters have recommended is Ponds (135 Kalanianaole Ave.) located on the bay.

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