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Top 5 Tuesday: Hidden Dining Secrets of Kailua-Kona

Posted by Eric Helms in Hawaii, Kailua-Kona, Top 5


Booking your Big Island getaway with Tripbound saves you valuable vacation dollars, while giving you access to the best in resort style accommodations.  The resorts in Kailua-Kona are no exception, Kona Reef Resort & the Wyndham Kona Hawaiian are perfect examples of how Tripbound gives you so much more than anyone else.  And now that you’ve padded your pockets with savings, have some fun exploring the island of Hawai’i with all of your senses.

Exotic rainforests wait to be discovered. Sumptuous sandy beaches beckon the weary traveler in need of tropical relaxation.  This is all well and good, but you are on vacation…now start eating like it!  And if you take a little time to get off the beaten path, you will uncover the delicious dining options treasured by Kailua-Kona locals.

1. Hayashi’s you Make the Roll 75-5725 Alii Dr., Ste D101, Kailua Kona, HI 96740  (808) 326-1322

Actual size...

Actual size…

Close to actual size…

Close to actual size…

No frills…no extras…no pretensions.  Just sushi.  Hayashis’ serves up sashimi and rolls that will change your life.  If you think you’ve had great sushi before; you haven’t.  Your “super-secret sushi spot” in the neighborhood shopping plaza, you know…the one you recommend to all your friends, the one next to the TGI Fridays, simply pales in comparison.  Prepare to get lost.  No seriously, this place is nearly impossible to find.  And if by some chance you do make your way there, pray that is open, because the hours are ridiculous inconvenient.  There is no website or dining room. Heck they don’t even have an address.  Ok, ok, that’s actually not true they do.  If fortune smiles upon you, there may be some open seating on one of the three, count em’ three, spacious picnic tables outside.  In spite of all this, the sushi here more than makes up for a little inconvenience.  Unbelievably generous portions of the absolute freshest fish, all at insanely cheap prices, is what truly sets this hidden gem apart from anything else on the Big Island…or for that matter anywhere else.  Take your rolls to go, walk across the street, and chow down while enjoying the view from the break wall.

2. Killer Tacos 74-5483 Kaiwi Street, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740  (808) 329-3335

Killer Tacos

If sharks ordered tacos, instead of killing other fish, they would definitely eat here.

Killer Tacos

The last thing a burrito sees before it dies.

An extremely aggressive name…check.  An even more threatening shark logo…check.  The absolute best Mexican food on the island…umm check please.  Killer Tacos may scare off those casual “south of the border food” enthusiasts with their sparsely furnished restaurant and worn out industrial surroundings.  But it your soul be brave, you’re heart true, and your stomach is growling, then prepare to have your hunger murdered.  Kalua pork, a true island specialty, is piled high in your choice of burritos, tacos, or even a salad.  A simple menu focuses on the authentic flavors of Mexican cooking.  Leave the overpriced, uninspired, tourist driven restaurants behind when you take this culinary detour.

3. Scandinavian Shave Ice 75-5699 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, (808) 326-2522

A family of shave ice before they are eaten.

A family of shave ice before they are eaten.

They say it's what is on the inside that counts, in this case that's true.

They say it’s what is on the inside that counts, in this case that’s true.

Scandinavians have long been known for their relentless use of garden gnomes, affordable modern furniture, and blinding happiness.  But now they will also be known for their delicious shave ice.   Scandinavian Shave Ice, nicknamed “Scandi’s” by the locals, is loved the island round for serving up heaping helpings of this tropical treat.  Don’t you dare call it a slushy, or a snow-cone, you may only call it shave ice.  A giant mound of powdery, melt in your mouth ice, is perfectly paired with any of the 60+ unique flavors. Melona, my wife’s flavor of choice, is hard to beat, but by all means please try. Can’t decide on just one?  Don’t worry because you can mix and match up to 3 flavors to create your own frosty creation. In the middle of all this flavored ice, an ice cream center is hidden; a treat within a treat.  If brain freeze isn’t your thing try one of the delicious frappes, bobba teas, or coffees, that round out the menu.

4. Island Lava Java, 75-5799 Ali`i Dr., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740(808) 327-2161

Yup...this is real.

Yup…this is real.

Morning coffee with a view.

Morning coffee with a view.

 After an idyllic day soaking up the sun, dine Oceanside-style at Island Lava Java.  A full menu of local dishes is capped off with 100% Kona coffee and cinnamon rolls that you will tell your grandchildren about. During whale season, diners are routinely treated to sighting humpbacks just off shore from the restaurant.

5. Huggo’s on the Rocks, 75-5824 Kahakai Road, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740(808) 329-1493

Some rocks.

Some rocks.

Buckle up and unbuckle that belt.

Buckle up and unbuckle that belt.

At the very southern end of the Kailua-Kona break wall sits Huggo’s on the Rocks.  Island style dishes are served in a “toes in the sand” atmosphere.  Spectacular Oceanside views, playful tiki-style décor, and wide ranging culinary selections are what makes dining at Huggo’s simply magical.  Mud Pies here are not for the faint of heart.  A massive concoction of whipped cream, coffee ice cream, and chocolate sauce, makes for one of the richest deserts you may every cross paths with.  Tip: Ask your waiter for some extra spoons so you can pretend this embarrassing amount of sweets isn’t just for you.  Every night the best local musicians are showcased for your entertainment, making it the premiere live music venue in the area.  So go ahead, down that Mai Tai and awkwardly lip sync to Hawaiian songs, you’ll be in good company.

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