If you’re visiting Big Island, you’re in for some great food. There are some seriously delicious places to eat in Hilo. If you’re in the area, you can’t just drive past town… you have to at least stop for some grub at one of these places.
The town itself is homey, quirky, and a bit hipster – all the perfect ingredients to draw in these unique hole-in-the-wall eateries . And if you’re staying in town, it’s easy to walk to many of these options!
While we were visiting Hilo, we ate at many of these places. We also talked to locals while we were hanging out at Hilo Brewing Company, who recommended many more that we were unable to try. But you can! (FYI: Hilo Brewing Company did not make our list of eateries since they don’t sell food, but definitely visit for a Mauna Kea Pale Ale, yum).
This isn’t a list of ALL the eateries in the area. These are the most locally recommended and the best from experience. Check it out below!
Staying in Hilo? Check out this list of things to do while you’re there!
1.Hawaiian Style Cafe
There are two locations – Hilo and Waimea. Hawaiian Style Cafe is known for their HUGE portion sizes, which is unheard of in the entire state. If you’re looking for the most amount of food while on a budget (and taking home some leftovers), this is your place. We were recommended this spot by many locals. Most recommended their breakfast pancakes, but others raved about their lunch/dinner menu options.
2. Ken’s House of Pancakes
The locals who didn’t mention Hawaiian Style Cafe preferred Ken’s House of Pancakes, a 24/7 spot just outside of Hilo town by the airport. Although some say it’s a tourist’s spot, we drove past here multiple times and saw mostly locals going in and out. That’s usually a good sign of a trusted local restaurant! Although their known for their pancakes (served all day), they also have other menu options which are just as popular.
3. The Temple Bar
If you’re looking to chill out with a beer and munch on some small plates, this is your spot. The Temple Bar is in the middle of town and has a great social vibe. The inside seating area is small, but it’s got a great vibe. We really enjoyed their flatbreads and their beer selection. This was one of our favorite places to eat in Hilo.
4. The Booch Bar
Love kombucha? Tend to eat a plant-based diet? This is your spot. The Booch Bar is a spot created by the makers of Big Island Booch, a locally crafted kombucha sold on Big Island and O’ahu. They have an indoor-outdoor seating area with a chilled out vibe, and it’s located right in the heart of town.
5. Bear’s Cafe
Bear’s Cafe and Deli is your breakfast spot. Period. You have to go here for their Mexican Coffee and order a bagel of your choosing. It’s not the most beautiful of the restaurants, in fact, we did see some bugs hanging around the front (keep in mind that many places in Hilo is basically indoor-outdoor, so of course there are bugs around). While eating there, we noticed many “regulars” reading their paper, drinking their coffee, and meeting their friends. It’s one of those old-school spots where the servers just seem to know everyone inside the restaurant. The café doesn’t even have social media or a website, and they’re that well known in the area. Definitely check it out.
Need more vegan options? VIBE is a really cool place that we stumbled upon one day. It’s a plant-based hipster spot with lite house music and bright colors. They also sell locally crafted items in the back including crystals, shirts/garments, and jewelry. This is the perfect spot to sit for an hour, drink some lavender coffee (recommend!), and unwind with a friend.
I saved the most recommended spot for last. When we asked for restaurant recommendations, it was on everyone’s list of “must-go” eateries. Ponds is located on the edge of Hilo town and situated on the water. The locals we talked to mentioned that it usually has live music and is a popular spot in town. It serves mostly Hawaiian dishes and has something on the menu for everyone. Admittedly, we did not get a chance to visit Ponds (FAIL). But if we head back soon, it’ll be the first place we eat.
Know a Few More Places to Eat in Hilo?