Big Island Reasonably Priced Eats

Not known as a cheap place to live or visit or eat, Hawaii does have restaurants and cafes that make an effort to keep the prices down. Numerous hole-in-the-wall establishments offer specials, and several restaurants offer reasonable rates for lunch and pau hana (happy hour).

969 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
Invented in Hilo, the Loco Moco is a very local breakfast item with its own following. Most restaurants put their own little twist on the meal. Cafe 100 in Hilo serves theirs in more than 30 varieties, though the basic loco moco is simply rice, a hamburger patty, and Hilo-style brown gravy with an egg on top. The Loco Moco is a cheap and still substantial meal that can be eaten any time of the day.
74-5612 Pawai Pl, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA
It hardly seems like Hawaii could be a part of the United States without its own brewing company. The most popular brewery is the Kona Brewing Company on the Big Island. With its year-round beers including Longboard Island Lager, Firerock Pale Ale, and Big Wave Golden Ale, the brewery sells mostly within the Islands, though its year-round beers can be found elsewhere. Kona Brewing Company also produces three seasonal “Aloha Series” beers that include Koko Brown Ale, Wailua Wheat, and Pipeline Porter. Along with their selection of five “Island Only” beers, connoisseurs will have plenty to taste and may need an extra visit or two to the Brewery! Tours of the brewery can be booked from 10:30am to 3pm daily.
75-5744 Alii Dr #21, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA
For a reasonably priced Island eatery, Kona Canoe Club has pupus (appetizers), salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish & chips, and several local entrees. The location is phenomenal for sunset and every dish is served with aloha!
1 N Kaniku Dr, Waimea, HI 96743, USA
In many ways, the Fairmont Orchid is the quintessential Hawaiian luxury resort. Its big, elegant lobby is blooming with purple orchids and birds of paradise, its enormous, 24-hour swimming pool wends its way around black rock islands, and its 32 lush acres include tropical gardens and a white-sand beach that frames an aquamarine cove. The 540 guest rooms and suites, located in two six-story towers, all have lanais; half have ocean (or partial water) views, the others overlook the spotless grounds. It’s the dream Vacationland, and as such, the mood is jolly round-the-clock. Cheerful staff oversee the long list of activities—canoe excursions, petroglyph hikes, stand-up paddle-boarding, and about a zillion other options are available both on property and off (some activities are complimentary, others cost extra)—and the crowd tends to be a fun-in-the-sun bunch. On any given day, there might be a Canadian family in a heated volleyball game on the beach, or a group of Silicon Valley execs soaking in the hot tub.

Carve out a day to spend at the award-winning Spa Without Walls, where the Hawaian-influenced treatments are performed in 17 treatments rooms, some with ocean views and private outdoor spaces. Them, fuel up on Japanese meats and sushi, fresh seafood, robatayaki (grilled) items, beachside classics, and more at the numerous dining outlets. Along with repeat guests, the hotel’s most frequent visitors are the giant sea turtles that regularly hang out at the Orchid’s beachfront. They’ve become such an integral part of the property that even guests at other hotels drop by for a peek.
45-690 Pakalana St, Honokaa, HI 96727, USA
On the Northshore of the Big Island is a local little drive-in that serves hot malasadas and loads of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options including burgers, pancakes, miso soup, and other sorts of local and American food. The prices are good (a malasada will only set you back a buck or so). It’s a bit of a drive from both Hilo and Kona, but you can enjoy the Big Island’s changing landscape on the way around the top of the island.
270 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
Served with Hawaii’s familiar aloha, the Puka Puka Kitchen cooks up delicious Island food including ahi don, garlic curry, and chicken katsu. It seems like there is a Greek and Indian influence to the Hawaiian flavors which makes Puka Puka unique and worth a visit!
and, Kamehameha Avenue, Mamo St, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
The Huffington Post named the Hilo Farmers Market the best in the United States. For fresh local flavors, the market is open every day except Sunday. The big market days are on Wednesdays and Saturdays where more than 200 vendors including farmers and crafts people gather to sell their goods. If you’re looking for local souvenirs to take home or just a place to grab a quick fresh and tasty lunch, the Hilo Farmers Market will provide a beautiful morning or afternoon of shopping and eating.
75-5663 Palani Rd, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA
A little peckish for lunch, I dropped in at Splashers on a recommendation from a street artist on Alii Drive. Though I was on my own, I quickly felt embraced by the local aloha and friendly atmosphere of the restaurant. I people watched - a group of overdressed business people from the mainland meeting clients in Kailua-Kona sat to my left, a family of four sat several tables in front of me, and a few couples were seated along the railing of the open air grill for prime views of the shops below and the ocean beyond Alii Drive. Blue water cups reminded me of a diner while the open air atmosphere reminded me I was in the tropics. The food (I ordered fish tacos) was filling and flavorful, the bar was preparing for a busy afternoon and evening of cocktails and beers, and staff were fluttering about tending to their late lunch crowd. Sitting on top of the Kona Farm Direct cafe, you will definitely want to grab a coffee after lunch to keep you going the rest of the afternoon.
79-7251 Hawaii Belt Rd, Kealakekua, HI 96750, USA
Teshima’s Restaurant is a historic Japanese diner on the west coast of Hawaii Island in Kealakekua. Welcoming and reasonably priced, the diner serves Hawaiian Japanese comfort food. The set meals are the best value, a sampling of small dishes that might include sashimi, sukiyaki, fried fish, rice, and sides of cucumber, cabbage, and miso soup. The ahi is excellent (and the wasabi so soft and fresh), but the restaurant is really known for its shrimp tempura: Every local we asked about Japanese food told us to try it here. You can get it on its own, or as part of the “deep sea trio” of shrimp tempura, fried fish, and sashimi.
79-7399 Hawaii Belt Rd, Kealakekua, HI 96750, USA
Rebel Kitchen is a welcoming food joint in Kainaliu, just up from the Donkey Balls Factory. Choose from a selection of reasonably priced sandwiches and burgers made from local ingredients (there are a few mains, too, like jambalaya and coconut curry shrimp) or just kick back with an island beer, kombucha, or homemade lemonade. Happy hour is 4–6 p.m., there’s a garden to the side if you want to eat outside, and that oh-so-moreish ketchup and hot sauce on each table? It’s made in-house, and bottles are for sale.
82-6066 Mamalahoa Highway
Loko Wraps is perfect if you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful to eat in the Captain Cook area of Hawaii Island. It’s a Hawaiian take on Mexican tacos and burritos, with local meats (or jackfruit for veggies!) and tangy sauces infused with island fruits. As well as the meat, the wraps (which is what the burritos are called) are filled with coconut rice, salad, and slaw, but no cheese or avocado, so they are filling but don’t sit heavy in the stomach. Juices and smoothies are available, too. Try the dragonfruit lemonade if you can—it’s clearly but subtly flavored and not too sweet.
83-5308 Mamalahoa Hwy # B, Captain Cook, HI 96704, USA
Hit this classic joint for a quick bite after snorkeling at Two Step or exploring Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park. It has a lot in common with the nearby (and popular) Da Poke Shack, but Big Jake’s has its own following—and rightly so. Go for the delicious pulled pork or meaty, succulent ribs done Kansas-style and slathered in a sharp, spicy, fruity sauce (ask for it on the side if chili heat’s a concern). Combo specials include coleslaw and smoky baked beans. This roadside attraction has no indoor seating, but diners can snag a seat at the picnic tables.
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