Straight from a Big Island foodie, here are some dining experiences to look forward to on your Hawaiian vacation. From local favorites available at street corner and roadside stops to high-end luxury dining found throughout the Kona Coast’s expansive resorts, there are incredible dining options for every taste across the Big Island. But for the adventurous types, exploring the cutting-edges of a culinary scene is a necessity throughout every trip, so if you’re looking to push the envelope during your stay, these five venues will satisfy that appetite.
Continually positioned at the top of Hawaii best-of lists, ‘ULU is as close to perfect as you can get. Positioned right on the oceanfront within the Four Seasons Resort, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a romantic evening or simply dine in comfort as the ocean air breezes by. Locally-produced seafood, meat, and produce compliment culinary stylings inspired by the Pacific Rim, Polynesian, and Asian flavors that naturally collide in Hawaii. If you’re only able to visit one fine dining establishment on the island, it would be hard to argue against ‘ULU.
Misoyaki Kampachi served with hamakua mushrooms, Kekela squash, and bata dashi.
Charred Hawaiian Hapu’upu’u (sea bass) with lemongrass creamed Hilo corn, romesco, and yuzu beurre blanc.
A culinary institution of Hawaii for a quarter century, Chef Peter Merriman’s various ventures across the islands are of particular note thanks to the fresh, locally-grown ingredients and commitment to presenting high-end interpretations of classic Hawaiian staples. Nominee of several James Beard Awards and winner of a Hale ‘Aina Award, Merriman’s continues to be an acclaimed restaurant and a must-visit for those with sophisticated tongues.
Wok-Charred Ahi with won bok cabbage slaw and wasabi soy sauce
Day-caught Mahi Mahi, seared with basil and garlic, served with pumpkin and chevre ravioli, Honopua Farms collard greens, bell pepper and macadamia nut romesco.
Another fixture within the Four Seasons Resort is Hualalai Grille, an American steakhouse with a respectful nod toward local culinary traditions. Positioned just off the 19th hole at the Hualalai Golf Course, it’s the perfect spot to grab a cocktail and some dinner after a day on the links or for a romantic outing for two.
Chateaubriand, slow roasted Big Island bone marrow served with garlic mashed potatoes and keawe-smoked Hilo corn.
Pacific Mahi Mahi, pan roasted and served with Manilla clams and vegetable salsa verde.
A lovely dinner establishment featuring an oceanfront view and live music, The CanoeHouse brings both local ingredients and Hawaiian cuisine to those lucky enough to dine there. The menu is well-balanced and offers plenty of seafood and land-based dishes, ensuring everyone will leave satisfied.
Nori-wrapped tempura ahi, day-caught and wrapped in seaweed served with stir-fried bok choy, Hamakua mushrooms, shiso aioli and togarashi-spiced buerre blanc and fried fingerling potatoes.
Wok-tossed Kona lobster, tossed with roasted Hamakua alii mushrooms and lup cheong, served on a bed of local greens and paired with Shoa Xing wine and soy butter sauce.
A relative newcomer to the Big Island dining scene, Pineapples is a family-owned restaurant located in downtown Hilo in the historic Pineapple Building. Sourced from an exhaustive list of local vendors, Pineapples’ cuisine includes familiar island options like burgers, wraps, and fresh seafood dishes, but their creativity throughout every stage of the menu serves as an impactful reminder of just how good old favorites food can be.
Lemon Macadamia Chicken, marinated and grilled in lemon macadamia beurre blanc, served with seasonal vegetables or Jasmine rice.
Coconut-Crusted Fresh Fish, panko and coconut crusted day-catch with grilled pineapple, seasonal vegetables, and Teriyaki beurre blanc drizzle in a stir fry.