Local Insights: The Best Authentic Restaurants in Hawaii

The Hawaiian kitchen brings a diverse array of flavors and ingredients to the dinner table. Authentic Hawaiian cuisine is derived from the palate of Pacific Polynesia while adding its own unique profile of seasonings, cooking techniques, and more. The result is a vibrant array of dishes such as Poke, Poi, and LauLau. While many of the touristic locations offer delicious cuisine, we think that sampling the true Hawaiian kitchen is only possible when venturing out of the four star hotels and into the Big Island community. Here is our list of the best places to try truly authentic Hawaiian cuisine on the Big Island.

Umeke’s
Kailua-Kona, HI

Umeke’s fresh Hawaiian Poke bowls (pronounced POH-KAY) are a must-have meal on the Big Island. These fresh, cold salads are typically made with chopped, raw ahi tuna, island spices, and fresh fruits and veggies such as avocado. Umeke’s is a whole in the wall joint in downtown Kona that sources the absolute freshest fish and veggies for their plates. While you won’t find any seating in the restaurant, it’s the perfect place to grab a togo lunch to throw in your cooler and take to the beach. Check out the menu here.

Teshima’s Restaurant
Kealakekua, HI

Teshima’s is a bit of a local institution on the Big Island. The restaurant first opened it’s doors in 1957 with a focus on Japanese and local Hawaiian cuisine. Grandma Teshima owned and operated the business and her delicious recipes are still cooked by her children and grandchildren today. While the restaurant is simple in style, it offers an incredible hospitality that keeps visitors coming back again and again. If you’re able to stop by, be sure to try the tempura—it’s truly incredible. Check out more restaurant info here.

The Fish and The Hog
Kamuela

The Fish and The Hog (formerly known as Huli Sue’s) is a market cafe that offers sustainably caught fish and some of the best barbecue we’ve had on the Big Island. Their BBQ is infamous for a certain tangy-sweet flavor that is common to Hawaiian cuisine yet done here with a particular flourish that is all their own. They also offer an array of handcrafted cocktails featuring fresh Hawaiian fruit that are truly tasty. For more info, check out their Facebook page.

Big Island Grill
Kona

The Big Island Grill in Kona is a regular hot spot for the local community and offers a taste of incredibly authentic cuisine and atmosphere for visitors. The interior of the restaurant is unassuming without the kitsch you’ll find in many tourist trap locations, and every dish on the menu is affordable and expertly executed. We recommend trying out the Shrimp Loco Moco (the corn on the cob is also a must). The large portions make this place a very family-friendly dining experience.

We hope you have the opportunity to try all of these wonderful establishments during your time on the Big Island! If, during your visit, you plan to look around at local real estate and find your own slice of island paradise. We hope you’ll keep us in mind. If you have any questions about real estate, please contact us. Or, if you find a restaurant you’d like us to add to our list, please leave a comment below!

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Annette Mejia, Realtor Broker
Annette Mejia, Realtor Broker

"Everything Annette did for me was from the heart"

As someone that has spent her whole life feeling lucky to work with people in customer service, I vowed then and there to help people like you and me have the experience they deserved when moving to The Big Island. Because let’s face it, this should be the start of the happiest, proudest, and most peaceful period in your life!

For 15 years I have been helping people make the most out of life and real estate on The Big Island and I would be honored to do that for you too. I look forward to meeting you!

Warmest Aloha,
Annette Mejia

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