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The best restaurants on the Big Island

From waterfront five-stars to casual walk-ups, these are the very best restaurants on the Big Island of Hawaii

Written by
Lori A May

No trip is complete without sampling local food, and Hawaii is no exception. The Big Island is a dream come true in every respect, from beautiful natural wonders to botanical gardens, and trust us, it’s got the food to match. 

Here you’ll find everything from colourful poke bowls to crunchy tacos, and dine-in restaurants serving up the freshest seafood around. Whether you’re picking up a quick snack or heading out for the evening, the Big Island has you covered. Throw in a few of its fantastic local craft beers and you’re good to go. Here are its best restaurants. 

☀️ The best things to do on the Big Island 
🌴 The best things to do in Hawaii 
🏘️ The best Airbnbs in Hawaii

This guide was written by Lori A May. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Best places to eat on the Big Island

Chef Peter Merriman has a handful of eateries across the Hawaiian Islands, and the flagship Merriman’s in Waimea has been a local favorite for more than 20 years. The focus here is on local ingredients and regional flavor. It’s a pricier night out, but there’s a solid selection of shareable side plates and award-winning entrees, with a wallet-friendly Monday lunch special on shrimp tacos and Mai Tais.

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Manta may be known for its breakfast buffet, but its must-try dish is one of its most popular dinner entrees: the macadamia nut encrusted mahi-mahi. The fish is super tender with a hint of nutty sweetness. No matter when you visit, you’ll experience open-air fine dining on a gorgeous patio overlooking Kauna’oa Bay — oh, and you’ll probably encounter a few resident cats strolling among the flower beds.

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Tempt your taste buds with a variety of fresh poke at this classic shack. Spicy Pele’s Kiss is a local favorite, but you won’t go wrong with garlic and sesame. Or why choose when you can order a plate with four poke selections? There may be a line of folks waiting to order, but the service is fast and friendly. Visit early before the daily menu is sold out.


Fill up on liquid aloha as you settle in for a casual patio lunch. Pair a hand-tossed pizza or Kalua pork tacos with a beer flight, or get your veggie fix with the popular chickpea ‘burger’ served with chipotle yogurt sauce. Love the brews? Visit the Growler Shack for big beer takeout. Note: You’ll find the best parking around the back of the pub.

It may feel like you’re playing hide and seek as you try to find Island Fish & Chips, but rest assured this walk-up joint is real,  tucked deep inside the King’s Shops at Waikoloa set alongside a koi pond. Must-try items include flaky fish tacos, coconut shrimp and the crispiest fish and chips you’ll ever encounter. The sweet pineapple slaw side is an added bonus.


Loco Moco is a must-try no matter which island you’re visiting, but legend has it Cafe 100 is the original home of this Hawaiian dish. It’s a bowl of white rice beneath a juicy beef patty, layered with rich gravy and topped off with an egg sunny-side up. Undeniably a quirky combo at first, but it’s classic comfort food Hawaiian-style. Try it any time of day and be prepared for follow-up cravings.

8. Huggo’s On The Rocks

A popular spot for locals and tourists, this Kona Bay lounge boasts a cozy waterfront setting. Enjoy live local entertainment while you sample a poke bowl and sip one of the best Mai Tais in town. For your main course, try the Bulgogi fried rice bowl featuring island-style marinated beef. Beach bums will feel at home with the sand floor of this super laidback venue.


For a local take on happy hour, visit this waterfront venue for lilikoi (yellow passionfruit) cocktails. You’ll also find plenty of regional flavors on the dinner menu, with pineapple chili glazed pork belly and coconut rice stuffed kabocha squash. Service of speed can be hit or miss depending on how busy the restaurant and lounge are, but the atmosphere and taste are worth the trip.

While there are burgers and plate lunches to be had here, everyone goes to Tex Drive In for the Malasadas; thick, eggy Portuguese donuts sprinkled in sugar and celebrated island-wide. The local favorite is Tex’s Bavarian cream filling. There’s a no-frills walk-up counter certain to have a line-up, but you’ll find plenty of outdoor seating.


Relax along the coast at this beachfront venue where guests are seated with toes in the sand. Liquid happy hour is offered daily 3-5 pm, while the lunch and dinner menus offer a range of island flavors with poke nachos, sizzling shrimp, teriyaki steak, and pineapple chicken bowls. Make a reservation to dine AT sunset over Waikoloa Beach, during which you’ll be surrounded by glowing tiki torches and entertained with live music.

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