Merrie Monarch Festival participants, welcome to Hilo! Many of you are returnees, know your way around our quaint town and have your favorite places to eat. For newcomers, here is a quickie foodie guide of some of my favorite places to eat your way around the town.
1. Big Island Candies, located on 585 Hinano St., perpendicular to the airport road or Kekuanoa Street, is a great place to get your “omiyage” to take home as well as some interesting snacks. Chocolate-dipped arare, or rice crackers, and cuttlefish, as well as their famous chocolate-dipped cookies, are just some of the many items that are available at their showroom and store. I love to just go in to look at the decorations, always changing and of the caliber of something out of a showroom in New York City!
2. Miyo’s is across the street from Big Island Candies in Manono Marketplace, so when you pull out of Big Island Candies parking lot, go to the parking lot right in front of you. Open for lunch and dinner, Miyo’s is a local favorite for Miyo’s salad and dressing and wonderful sesame chicken. All dishes ordered will not disappoint you.
3. On the other side of the Manono Marketplace building is Hawaiian Style Café. If you want to eat just one meal a day, their servings will hold you … they are huge!
4. Keep going down Kekuanaoa Street and turn into Hilo Shopping Center. Island Naturals is a great health food store with a great deli. There is outdoor seating. Next to Island Naturals, tucked in the back is Maona’s, in the old Dick’s Coffee House/Green Onion spot (for you old-timers). Walking further down, Restaurant Miwa has great sushi, Lanky’s Pastries will satisfy your sweet tooth, Sunlight Café for a variety of dishes, and Happy Valley Seafood Restaurant for Chinese food.
5. Hilo Farmers Market is a must. Open every day, but the two main days are Wednesday and Saturday. You can find organic vegetables, fruits, and handcrafted items.
6. Café Pesto is a stone’s throw from Hilo Farmer’s Market on Kamehameha Avenue in the S. Hata Building. Their pizzas are made in their wood fired oven, but their salads and entrees are also quite good.
7. Non-food related, but walking along Bayfront or Kamehameha Avenue, make sure you visit Hawaii Pacific Tsunami Museum and then go to Sig Zane for a muumuu or shirt.
8. Cronies, on the corner of Bayfront and Waianuenue Avenue, is a sports bar with great burgers and fish and chips.
9. On Keawe Street, Pescatores serves great Italian food. Indian food is next door, and across the street, Ocean Sushi serves sushi and Japanese food. Going toward Puna on Keawe, across KTA Super Stores is Pineapples, a great place for a drink and dishes featuring local Big Island products. Nori’s Saimin and Things is located at 688 Kinoole St., and is a great place for a late night bowl of saimin.
10. KTA Super Stores has several stores, including the Downtown store mentioned above, but their flagship store in the one at 50 E. Puainako Street. If you want a snack, “omiyage”, sushi, bento-to-go, poke, this is the place to go. They are awarded the Hawaii Tribune Herald’s people choice for their bakery, poke, and catering.
11. Venturing to the other side of the street, to Waiakea Center, two of my favorite restaurants are Hilo Bay Café for their interesting entrees, for me, their purple sweet potato, flax seed burger, or portabella burger, and next door, 1 Plus 1, a wonderful Chinese, Vietnamese restaurant. Their duck fun soup is a favorite, as well as their chicken eggplant, served with salad and rice.
12. Hilo Rice Noodle is about a mile away, located at 1990 Kinoole Street. Serving Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food, I like their Vietnamese cold noodles with spring rolls.
13. Always busy, Ken’s House of Pancakes has great breakfasts. Keep going toward Keaukaha, there is Pond’s, Dining at the Water’s Edge for lunch or dinner . Going pass Keaukaha, Seaside Restaurant is a great place for seafood but is only open for dinner. It is at 1790 Kalanianaole St.
14. Right across the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium where the Merrie Monarch Festival is held is Don’s Grill at 485 Hinano St.. They have great rotisserie chicken and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, closed on Monday.
15. Two Ladies Kitchen makes great mochi and manju so make sure you get your box of goodies to take home. If strawberries are available, their strawberry mochi is to die for but you should place an order. Located at 274 Kilauea St., their phone number is 961-4766. Owner Nora Uchida is very particular so she might ask you when you are going home to be sure her mochi is still fresh by the time you get home.
16. There may be food vendors at the various Craft fairs around town. Sangha Hall, Hilo Shopping Center are just some of the popular craft fair locations. Check the Hawaii Tribune-Herald for more information on craft fairs around town.
17. Support Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Program. The Bamboo Hale is open from 11-12:15 and will be serving the foods of Southeast Asia, but you must call for reservations at 934-2591. The Cafeteria also has some great local favorites for great prices. Call 934-2559 for specials of the day.
There are many more great places to eat in Hilo and I do not have the space to name them all. The list above is just my favorites and does not mean the other places not mentioned are not good. So please support the businesses in Hilo this week, even if they are not in my column!
Please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.