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Dinner in Hilo

Toronto, Canada
posts: 38
Dinner in Hilo

We are arriving from Maui mid day and spending 2 night in a Hilo B&B before heading over to Kona. Any suggestions for dinner?

Many thanks!

Hilo, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
posts: 30,264
reviews: 4
1. Re: Dinner in Hilo

Would need a price range ...

Hilo is known for its local food and its Asian food, but isn't known for restaurants with views, ambience, or fine dining ... there are lots of restaurants though.

There are existing topics on Hilo restaurants if you use that as a search term for the forum. Some interesting posts by people who don't post all the time, so it's worth looking them up.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 38
2. Re: Dinner in Hilo

Thanks....not looking for over the top...just good local food....

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
posts: 28,679
reviews: 35
3. Re: Dinner in Hilo

Heading up to VNP while you are in Hilo? :)

Hilo, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
posts: 30,264
reviews: 4
4. Re: Dinner in Hilo

Susanne, I wish that helped, but it doesn't.

Do you mean "local food" as in the specific type of food called local food, or what do you mean?

You should go to the review section and survey the eats, and if you see a few that look good to you, I can tell you if they have a good rep with residents.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 38
5. Re: Dinner in Hilo

Thanks .....did look up Cafe Pesto and Full Moon Cafe....both looked good.

Coalminer....we are planning on spending an entire day at VNP....any suggestions....thanks

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
posts: 28,679
reviews: 35
6. Re: Dinner in Hilo

One day after being in VNP, we had dinner at Koa Shop Kaffee - sort of a non-descript little cafe in a small town on way back to Hilo. Someone who had been traveling to Hilo for about 25 years told me to stop there for their Portuguese bean soup, which was delicious!

We ate at some simple type places in Hilo - nothing upscale. One pizza place that wasn't very good, and then a burger place that was actually pretty good, though I don't eat burgers often. We also at a Aloha Luigis and had a great lunch, but I am not sure if these places are still open - things do change and we were there a couple of years ago. Have fun! :)

Oh - and while we usually packed lunches for our days in VNP, we did have lunch up at the Kilauea Lodge one day, which was great.

And - not for dinner, but after touring the botanical garden, we stopped at What's Shaking - just had ice cream or something, but they had some very yummy looking food.

Edited: 8:43 pm, February 11, 2013
Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
posts: 16,986
reviews: 68
7. Re: Dinner in Hilo

I also don't know what "local food" means. I'm not a fan of Cafe Pesto, it's mediocre tourist food IMO. I do like Hilo Bay Cafe, strip mall ambiance, but pretty good food, fresh fish, reasonable prices.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 38
8. Re: Dinner in Hilo

Thanks again for all your replies.....Hilo Bay Cafe looks good

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 2,627
reviews: 14
9. Re: Dinner in Hilo

We ate at both Cafe Pesto and Hilo Bay Cafe on our trip last month. I agree with SheaG that Cafe Pesto seems more aimed at tourists, but I don't know that I would call it "mediocre". We thought the food was "good but not great". Our waiter seemed a little indifferent, but I would not necessarily describe the service as bad - just not as attentive as some other places that we ate.

For the money, we thought Hilo Bay Cafe was much better - just be sure and make a reservation before you go. We made the mistake of going there on New Year's Eve without one, and almost did not get served - had to wait about 45 minutes for a table for the two of us, and saw several parties of 3-4 people who were turned away.

Our absolute favorite meal in Hilo was lunch at Tina's Garden Cafe. However, I think they do some kind of "hot pot" thing for dinner service, so I can't comment on that. The lunch was fantastic though.

-JimG

Hilo, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
posts: 30,264
reviews: 4
10. Re: Dinner in Hilo

Cafe Pesto is much patronized by visitors, but the Hilo version currently has the nicest ambience in Hilo, as it's in a beautiful historic art deco building, one with 20 foot ceilings. The Kaikodo Building is probably better, but that restaurant closed.

I think Pesto does three things well:

Blue Caesar salad

Soup of the day

Desserts

and that's what I order when I go there.

I think Hilo Bay Cafe is owned by the Island Naturals people, and they have an actual food philosophy, but their servers are known for being kind of lazy and full of themselves -- although it's not consistent. That is, I've experienced it consistently, and I read the same from others, but some don't get it.

It's also very crowded and the tables are too close together, and there are a few downright bad places they stick you, like in the area by the kitchen pickup and the bathrooms. :(

Seaside Restaurant can be nice outside if you eat early enough, but is not inexpensive, fresh fish and price to match. Cooking is not innovative. Windows are plastic and the inside is old and dumpy IMHO.

Ice Ponds is where Harrington's used to be, and I'm not sure how it is.

I don't eat at any of these places; I only go out for Thai food, pretty much, and I like Sombat's (reservations needed, very small, BYOB).

I was starting to like Cafe de Luna, but they changed management and made it into Pineapples, which is getting very negative reviews from residents.

The Full Moon Cafe is another tiny venue, but well decorated with wood and not another place with the chrome leg tables and plastic chairs, which is Hilo style dining all too often. I've only had lunch there, but I think it would be fine, just don't expect memorable. Also I know people who know those owners and they are good people who deserve support.

Lunch options are better than dinner in Hilo.

FYI, for future requests about food in Hawai'i, it doesn't seem you are looking for local style food, given what caught your eye. It's better not to use the word local to mean "what residents like." "Local" has a specific meaning here, and when it comes to food, that usually refers to various foods that were made by plantation workers -- which are often very greasy, and are never remotely healthy -- locomoco, for example.

If you are not on a quest to clog your arteries, then you probably don't want local style.

Do you like Japanese food, bento, sushi?