Where to Find the Best Hawaiian Food on the Big Island

The largest of the Hawaiian islands and the youngest piece of land on Earth, the Big Island is something special. The same goes for the local cuisine — while you’re here, you should try plate lunches, hand-pounded poi and kalua pork. Here’s our list of places serving up tasty local-style dishes.

We have cross-checked our picks with top sites like Frommer’s, Hawai’i Magazine and Tripadvisor to make sure we’re offering you the best Hawaiian (local) food to enjoy on the Big Island. Bon appetit!

Big Island Grill
Photo: Big Island Grill

Big Island Grill

If you’re in the mood for a hearty Hawaiian home-cooked meal then Big Island Grill is where you’ll want to take a seat. They’re cooking up local favorites with friendly service. It’s plate lunch style, but there’s a nice range of menu items, as well as daily specials. Their teriyaki chicken with rice and mac salad is always a good choice, but if you’re really hungry, go for the super loco moco. During Covid times, Big Island Grill is open Monday through Friday 10:30am to 2pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday. FACEBOOK

Cafe 100
Photo: Cafe 100

Cafe 100

Richard Miyashiro began his restaurant career on the Big Island back in 1946. A WWII veteran, he named his Hilo eatery as a tribute to his 100th Infantry Battalion. Cafe 100 claims to be the “Home of the Original Loco Moco,” and there’s an entire section of the menu dedicated specifically to the uniquely Hawaiian dish. If you’re in Hilo, this is the best place to sample the local cuisine. During Covid times, Cafe 100 is open Monday through Friday 7am to 7pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday. cafe100.com

Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ
Photo: Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ

Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ

Chef Ippy is a local boy, born and raised on the Big Island, and he’s cooking up a plate lunch with a twist. His menu also has a good selection of salads, sandwiches and seafood plates. The “Furikake Beer Battered Mahi Mahi” gets our vote, but whatever you order, it will be fresh, locally sourced and tasty. During Covid times, Ippy’s is open daily 11am to 9pm. chefippy.com

Photo: Lava Lava Beach Club

Lava Lava Beach Club

This casual beachfront restaurant offers “Low & Slow Baby Back Ribs” served with a hoisin-guava BBQ sauce and coconut coleslaw on the side. The Lava Lava Beach Club serves farm to table food for diners with their toes in the sand and mai tais in hand. There’s a liquid happy hour every day from 3pm to 5pm. During Covid times, lunch is served 12pm to 4:30pm, happy hour is 3pm to 5pm, and dinner is 4:30pm to 9pm. lavalavabeachclub.com

Photo: Punalu’u Bake Shop

Punalu’u Bake Shop

This popular bakery is halfway between Kailua-Kona and Volcanoes National Park. It sits on four acres of tropical gardens, so it’s an ideal place for stretching your legs or relax on the lanai and enjoy some shoyu pork or the baked fish plate lunch. During Covid times, Punalu‘u is open weekdays 8:30am to 4:30pm and weekends 8:30am to 5pm. bakeshophawaii.com

poke Hawaii
Photo: Umekes Ali’i Plaza

Umekes Ali’i Plaza

Umekes serves traditional Hawaiian cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients — as their saying goes, “so fresh it’s off da hook!” They’ve got lau lau (steamed tender pork wrapped in taro leaves and slow cooked) served over rice or you can try the “Next Level Lau Lau” which combines lau lau with the rice, gravy and egg of a loco moco. Make sure you schedule a few moments for the food coma that’ll follow your meal. During Covid times, Umekes is open daily 11am to 9pm. Happy hour is daily 2pm to 5pm. umekesrestaurants.com

Did we miss your favorite restaurant?

Meet our always-hungry team of foodies have compiled this list. Please let us know if we’ve missed your favorite eat@localgetaways.com

Clean Plate Club

Clean Plate Club

The job of delivering the best possible content for our restaurant recommendations can not be left to one person. Click here to meet the team behind the Bay Area Clean Plate Club.

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