There's a variety of restaurants here, a lot more than one would expect for a small town with not all that much tourism. I once counted the eating places in Downtown Hilo and found that there were 36 of them.

Disclaimer: This is not a Hilo Restaurant Guide and so I won't even try to be objective.

I'm not the only one who made a web page with Hilo restaurants, but either the link has moved or it isn't there anymore. Oh well. Some of the restaurants aren't there anymore too.

Japanese food:
Our family's favorite is Nihon (on Lihiwai St. between the Suisan Fish Market and the hotels, right next to Liliuokalani Gardens). This is partly a result of the time when we went out to dinner with a 2-year-old (who got a bit older in the mean time). Nihon has Keiki menus that can be colored in and it isn't so small that one (fairly quiet) kid would make enough noise to disturb everybody in the place. And, not to forget: the food is good. Nihon is closed on Sundays.
There's also some smaller places like Miwa's (in the Hilo Shopping Center), Miyo's (in Waiakea Villas), and Satsuki's (downtown, on Keawe St., mauka side).
Nihon and Miwa's do take-out sushi (or did the last time I asked), the other ones I don't know.

Chinese food:
Our favorites are Kow's Restaurant on Kawailani (one block mauka from Waiakeaweana School) and New China Restaurant on Kilauea Av., across from downtown Longs. Both are very reasonable (in the true Hilo pidgin sense of the word). New China is closed on Wednesdays.
Other than that there's Ting Hao (seafood) in the Naniloa Hotel, Mun Cheong Lau downtown.

Local food:
Most definitely Kuhio Grille. They make the most bestest laulaus ever. The owner is a Waipio Valley taro farmer - and so knows where the taro comes from -. Numerous other stuffs (including perfectly safe-for-tourists foods like grilled cheese sandwiches), daily specials, takeout and catering available. Special recommendation: try the fried rice. It isn't exactly health food, but soooo ono. Kuhio Grille is open 24 hours on weekends.
For a local fast food place there's Cafe 100. It has plate lunches, a variety of locos (not only loco mocos), real local chili (which some people really don't like because it is fairly sweet) and lots of other stuff.
I'd count most non-chain fast food places mentioned below to local food as well.

Let me lump the rest together as other food (in no particular order):

Restaurants that aren't anymore ...

Fast food:
Of course there's Cafe 100. When I was working at the CSO, we (or some subset of us) used to almost always eat lunch at Cafe 100 because it is very close to the old office and you can't get very far in a 1/2 hour lunch break. Those of us who refuse to drive some place for lunch now bring their own and eat at the office.
There are also lots and lots of (other) little local plate lunch and similar places: Lo's International Food (they are the people who make the rainbow (etc.) bread), L&L Drive In (in the old Downtown KFC location), Dotty's Coffee Shop, T's Saimin, K's Drive In, Jimmy's Drive Inn, to name a few.
But of course there's also all kinds of fast food chain places here. There's: 5 McDonalds, Burger King, 2 Subways, 3 Pizzahuts, Domino's, Little Cesar's, Panda Express, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jack In The Box, Taco Bell, no Wendy's (there used to be one - had a pretty good salad bar too).

General comments (details, details ...):

The only kind of restaurant I really miss here is a Greek one. There is one in Kailua-Kona now, Cassandra's Greek Taverna, they moved to a more visible location across from the King Kam now. Don't know when, but before March 2002 and after May 2001 - haven't been to Kona inbetween. Food's good and plenty. Norman gave the rack of lamb a 9.6 (out of 10), and I'll eat their moussaka again too. (And no, Sandi didn't bribe me to write this. I just hope they stay open - well ... maybe they could move to Hilo ...)

As some people take interest in this: Cafe Pesto is an entirely non-smoking restaurant.

The "coming from Puna on Sundays" problem

Coming into Hilo from the Puna direction on Sundays, picking up dinner on the way home can be a bit of a problem if you don't want to pick up nationwide chain fast food.
The mall closes at 6. Don't know when KTA's deli closes, but I know that I've never made it. The Waiakea Center Food Court sign says it closes at 9, but it really closes at 8 and the security gurad told me that they just haven't bothered changing the sign yet.
Kuhio Grille ist still open until 9, that's the only local place. Otherwise it is KFC, MacDonald's or Taco Bell (don't know about Little Ceasar's, and we don't go to the Puainako Subway - the Hilo Subway closes early on Sundays).


I'm not affiliated with any of these places, I only say they exist, and I sometimes eat in some of them. - And you can't necessarily judge what I think about them from what I write about them (or whether I don't write anything but their names or nothing at all about them).

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Last modification: Nov. 29, 2000
Maren Purves / m.purves@jach.hawaii.edu