21 best restaurants in Kailua Kona: try these delicious Gems on the west side of Hawaii (updated 2023)
If you are looking for some delicious places to eat on the west side of the Big Island around Kailua Kona or Kona town as most locals call the area, there’s plenty of delicious places to enjoy around town. The food ranges from local mom and pop venues, food truck venues to better dining venues around town. There’s plenty of options that won’t break the bank or to a nice splurge for a perfect dining experience in town.
Check out all these fantastic top places to eat in Kailua Kona to put on your bucket list of places to enjoy around Kona now.
The food scene in Kona
Kailua-Kona, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, offers a vibrant and diverse food scene that caters to both locals and tourists. From trying what’s fresh and local with farm to table grown ingredients, fresh seafood, local foods and regional Hawaiian cuisine
While you are visiting the islands, don’t forget to try local Hawaiian style food with traditional Hawaii dishes like laulau, kalua pork, lomi salmon, poi and poke give you some authentic and delicious food to enjoy in Kona.
The food scene in Kailua-Kona continues to evolve and adapt, influenced by local traditions, the island’s natural bounty, and the cultural diversity of Hawaii. With its array of flavors and culinary delights, Kailua-Kona is a food lover’s paradise. Keep in mind that new establishments and trends may have emerged since my last update, so it’s always a good idea to check for the latest information before visiting.
Top 21 best places to eat in Kailua Kona now
Affordable dining options around Kona
You’ll find some affordable to cheap restaurants and mom and pop venues to eat and also support local small businesses in Kona below.
1. Friday night food truck experiences at the Kona HPM parking lot
If you like food truck venues, then head out to Kona and the HPM parking lot for Friday truck food nights With plenty of options for some good and cheap eats for a Friday night, you have your choice of local food vendors offering custom pizza, Kombocha floats and drinks, Thai food, Mexican food, local coffee and specialty foods along with some delicious pastry and dessert vendors.
Check out the Facebook Food Truck Friday page here for more details and updates to a delicious and inexpensive outing on Friday nights.
2. Kona Grill House
Delicious fish burgers, poke and other fish specialties draw a local and tourist crowd to this popular and affordable venue that delivers on taste, quality and price. Other specialty grilled items include burgers, prime rib, duck, and yummy lobster mac and cheese
3. Ono Home Kitchen
Chinese and breakfast/brunch fare in this tasty and affordable establishment located in Kealakekua. A fusion of Chinese and Hawaiian flavors, try their chicken chow fun, walnut shrimp, saimin, loco moco, beef June and furikake chicken along with other signature Chinese style dishes that are tasty and affordable.
81-6587 Mamalahoa Hwy Ste A 201 Kealakekua, HI 96750
4. Da Poke Shack
Everyone’s favorite poke to go spot in Kona with so many delicious options to choose from. Da Poke Shack serves many different bento options, poke bowls and other local foods at affordable prices all to go with just a few outdoor tables to eat from outside the eatery or take it to the beaches close by.
76-6246 Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
5. Cultivate Good Food
Fresh farm to table vegetarian to vegan choices that are plant based. in this delicious restaurant. Mostly offering salads, wraps, chick pea soup, healthy sandwiches and delicious tropical flavors and drinks
79-7411 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua, HI 96750
Moderate priced restaurants in Kona
For a little bit more variety and good food, you’ll find these moderate priced restaurants offer amazing quality and prices.
6. Foster’s Kitchen
Serving American bistro fare and located across from the ocean with gorgeous upstairs dining, the restaurant offers fantastic local flavors with quality ingredients and dishes made from scratch in a beautiful environment. Ranging from tasty burgers, crab cakes, local mahi mahi, delicious fish and chips and their signature lychee martini, you’ll have an exceptional dining experience here.
7. Ola Brew
Offering world class local brews, hard teas and ciders along with delicious local style foods, you’ll enjoy a visit here. Using island grown ingredients for their brews, drinks and foods, try their beer flights or delicious ciders. The food choices are above par with flat bread choices that are yummy, blackened tacos or chicken tacos, pizza and elevated bistro fare to match the yummy drink choices.
74-5598 Luhia Street, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
8. Umeke’s Fish Market and Grill
A local favorite in Kona town with popular fish dishes, poke, fish tacos, ahi katsu and many other local favorite foods in this popular establishment. Most dishes are offered in bowls that you can custom order your entrée, sides and other ingredients to fit your flavor profile and taste buds along with choice of sides.
74-5599 Pawai Pl Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
9. Kamana Kitchen
Delicious Indian style cuisine is what you’ll get at Kamana Kitchen at their Kona location with a spice level that you get to decide on your dishes.
You’ll enjoy all their favorite classics done well like their Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori Chicken, Butter Chicken and even for vegetarians, try their vegetarian Thali plate and you’ll be satisfied. Appetizers to try here are their delicious samosas, vegetable samosas and Raita.
Address: 1235 Kilauea Ave Ste 180 Hilo, HI 96720
10. Willie’s Hot Chicken
Everyone love’s this spot for Nashville style chicken served in a multitude of ways. Try their chicken tenders, fried chicken, chicken sandwich, Hawaiian sweet spicy chicken wings or their Jerk chicken and it is all good and tasty.
74-5599 Pawai Pl, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
11. Fish Hopper Seafood and Steaks
A local favorite restaurant on the bay front area of Kona serving mostly fresh fish and seafood with their signature steak entrees. Try their delicious coconut shrimp, shrimp trio, mahi mahi, Big Island fish tacos, crab cakes or their ultimate seafood pasta and you’ll be in seafood heaven.
12. Fumi’s Kitchen
Serving Korean and Japanese cuisine in Kona, the food here is basic and good and prices are reasonable in this traditional styled eatery. Try their popular dishes including: sushi, Hawaiian ahi roll, nigiri, shrimp tempura, beef teriyaki and many other classic Japanese dishes to choose from that are all good to eat.
75-5799 Alii Dr, Bldg. A7
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
13. Kaaloa’s Super Js Authentic Hawaiian
Why drive all the way to Captain cook area for local grindz, because it is authentic and good food at good prices. Super Js is real local style food serving typical local favorites like lau lau, Kalua pork and cabbage, lomi salmon, and macaroni salad.
This small mom and pop shop is real local and the lines do get busy during lunch time but friendly smiles and aloha service makes it worth the wait at this local diner.
Try anything in a two item plate or some haupia chocolate or their sweet potato haupia pie and your set for a great meal.
Address: 83-5409 Mamalahoa Hwy Captain Cook, HI 96704
14. Kenichi Bento Box
If you love eating Bento Box style, then head over to Kenichi for some yummy food and take out to go. Located in the Keauhou shopping center, you’ll enjoy a fabulous meal here at affordable prices. Things to try here include: shrimp bento, karaagi chicken bento, combo salmon, saba, nishimi and everything here is delicious and beautifully packaged as a bento box. A nice modern space makes this a fun dining experience or take out for some outdoor eating experience close by.
78-6831 Alii Dr, Ste D145
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
15. Huggo’s on the Rocks
This favorite and famous drinking and eating spot right on the bay has fantastic views of the bayfront with delicious drinks and foods to match. Offering a variety of bistro style fare, try their Kailua pork nachos, mahi mahi, fish and chips or burgers along with their signature Mai Tai or Pina colada tropical drinks and you are all set for a fantastic meal with views to match.
75-5824 Kahakai Rd Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
16. Huggos Restaurant
Huggo’s Restaurant is one of the those classic seafood restaurants that is always consistent and having been around for over 50 years, the food here is spot on for seafood, salads, cocktails and even steak if you are craving something different.
You’ll find that the gorgeous views, casual vibe and friendly service matches the food offered to eat here at Huggos.
Address: 75-5828 Kahakai Rd, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, Phone: 808-329-1493
17, Kona Brewing
A popular favorite and local craft brewery on Kona and in the industrial area of town. You’ll enjoy trying all the favorite brews here to include their tastng flights, Wailua Wheat, IPAs, Longboard and many seasonal flavors to enjoy.
Outdoor / indoor dining with lots of food to compliment your tasting experience here at the brewery.
Address: 74-5612 Pawai Pl Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Fine dining experiences around Kona
For a real treat in Kona, consider these fine dining venues for that perfect dining experience in Hawaii.
18. Jackie Reys Ohana Grill
A delicious and beautiful dining venue in Kona town, Jackie Reys is a classic place for a wonderful meal. Try their signature dishes like the crab cakes, seafood trio, fresh catch of the day, pork chops, Mac Nut Ahi tartare and you’ll enjoy your dining experience here. Happy hours are also fun and affordable to visit prior to their regular dining service daily.
75-5995 Kuakini Hwy Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
19. Magics Grill
In between moderate to fine dining with exceptional dishes served in innovative and fresh ingredients, Magics Grill is a beautiful dining venue on the beach. So many delicious dishes to try here from their pork belly, fish tacos, ahi seared steak, roasted beef poke and the yummy dirty ulu wedges.
77-6452 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Specialty foods and dessert places in Kona
There’s always great places to snack, dessert or hang out and just enjoy some good food and drinks. Here are some of our recommendations in Kailua Kona.
20. Scandinavian Shave Ice
A real local favorite and fixture here in Kona, you’ll find your perfect shave ice combination to try here.
Favorite combinations to try here includes Lava Flow, which had strawberry, pina colada, and ice cream, Hawaiian Sunset (papaya, mango, and passion fruit), Maui Wowie and Hawaiian Sunrise
Address: 75-5699 Alii Dr Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
21. Paradise Bakery Hawaii
You’ll enjoy trying all the delicious baked goods here at Paradise Bakery in Luhia Street. Unique donuts, fritters, malasadas, chantilly cake, really any of their yummy desserts and baked items.
Unusual donut combinations includes: Smores, banana / bacon / peanut butter, strawberry shortcake, dragon fruit berry and pineapple mac nut fritter.
Address: 74-5533 Luhia St Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
More inside tips to eating around Kona
Fresh Seafood: Being located on the coast, Kona is renowned for its fresh seafood. Take advantage of this by trying local specialties like poke (marinated raw fish), grilled fish, or seafood platters. Look for restaurants that source their ingredients locally for the best flavors.
Farm-to-Table Experience: Kona’s rich agricultural scene offers a variety of fresh produce. Seek out farm-to-table restaurants that incorporate local ingredients into their dishes. These establishments often provide a unique and flavorful dining experience, showcasing the region’s bounty.
Coffee Culture: Kona is famous for its coffee, so make sure to indulge in a cup of freshly brewed Kona coffee. Look for coffee shops or cafes that serve locally grown and roasted beans for an authentic taste. Consider taking a coffee farm tour to learn more about the coffee-making process.
Cultural Fusion: Kona’s diverse culinary scene showcases a fusion of Hawaiian, Asian, and international flavors. Explore the variety of cuisines available, from traditional Hawaiian dishes to Asian-inspired delicacies and international fare. Don’t be afraid to try something new and embrace the unique blend of flavors.
Food Trucks and Stalls: For a more casual and authentic experience, seek out local food trucks and stalls. These hidden gems often offer delicious and affordable eats, including popular Hawaiian dishes like plate lunches, loco moco, and kalua pig. Follow the locals’ recommendations to discover the best spots.
Happy Hour Specials: Many restaurants in Kona offer happy hour specials, typically in the late afternoon or early evening. Take advantage of these deals to enjoy discounted drinks and appetizers. It’s a great way to sample different establishments and flavors without breaking the bank.
Reservations and Wait Times: Kona can get busy, especially during peak tourist seasons. If you have specific restaurants in mind, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance to secure your spot. Additionally, be prepared for potential wait times, particularly at popular dining establishments.
Explore the Waterfront: Kona’s waterfront area is lined with restaurants offering picturesque views of the ocean. Consider dining at one of these establishments for a memorable experience. Watching the sunset while enjoying a delicious meal is a highlight not to be missed.
Local Recommendations: When in doubt, ask the locals for dining recommendations. They are often the best source of insider tips on where to find hidden gems and authentic culinary experiences in Kona.
Embrace Aloha Spirit: Above all, embrace the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of Kona. The local culture values hospitality and the spirit of aloha. Engage with restaurant staff, fellow diners, and immerse yourself in the warm and friendly ambiance that makes dining in Kona a truly enjoyable experience.
Beyond the delicious food, dining in Kona is a celebration of the aloha spirit. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere, combined with breathtaking ocean views, creates a memorable dining experience. Engage with the locals, immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, and let the flavors of Kona leave an indelible mark on your culinary journey.
Other Kona topics to explore
Conclusion to eating out in Kailua Kona
Exploring the culinary scene in Kona is a delightful adventure that tantalizes the taste buds and celebrates the region’s flavors. From fresh seafood and farm-to-table experiences to the renowned Kona coffee and cultural fusions, the dining options in Kona offer something for every palate.
By embracing local recommendations, trying food trucks and stalls, and venturing into waterfront establishments, you’ll uncover hidden gems and savor authentic Hawaiian cuisine. Don’t forget to take advantage of happy hour specials and make reservations in advance to secure your spot at popular restaurants.
Those are some of our local favorite places to eat around Kona. If we missed any other good dining spots to share around town, please share them in the comments below. I’m sure our readers would love to read about other local favorites that we have missed in town.