Right on the central-western side of the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kona District is a lush green paradise, famous for coffee plantations, important Hawaii historical sites, and snorkeling and diving.
Even Hawaiian royals chose this spot to vacation starting in 1838, so you know it might be something special!
Kona is a fantastic base for your upcoming Hawaiian vacation because it has phenomenal restaurants that use local produce, seafood, and flavors to create unforgettable meals.
15 Best Restaurants in Kona, Hawaii in 2023
You’ll need delicious meals to keep you going on your busy Kona Hawaiian vacation. Kona is the perfect jumping-off point on the Big Island.
With Hilo and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as quick day trips and snorkeling right offshore, your days will be filled with excitement and fun! After a day of adventuring, you’ll be ready to chow down, and Kona is just the spot to do it.
Thanks to the volcanic soil and frequent rain in the highlands above Kona, coffee, avocados, tropical fruits, and more grow well in the Kona-Kailua district. Local chefs use this fresh produce to create delicious farm-to-table meals.
With less than 25,000 full-time residents, Kona town is packed with some of the best eateries in Hawaii. Read below for our list of the best restaurants in Kona, Hawaii.
1. Beach Tree Bar and Lounge
Beach Tree Bar and Lounge, connected to the Four Seasons Hotel, is a great spot to watch the waves and soak up the sun, cocktail in hand. Just feet from the blue waters of the Pacific, the casual, beautifully set bar is all about embracing island time.
They’re known for handcrafted cocktails, local craft brews, and an extensive wine and champagne list if you’re looking to celebrate. The food is delicious and made with a lot of local treats like the catch of the day ceviche!
2. Da Poke Shack
Hawaii is the birthplace of the delicious and healthy poke bowl, but Da Poke Shack made it popular. They use fresh, never frozen, and never from yesterday, fish served with your choice of rice, vegetables, and sauces.
If you’re not into fish, they offer shrimp, pork, and vegetarian options. This place is popular, so get there early to snag an outside table or take it to go for a beach picnic!
3. Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill
Family-run Jackie Rey’s has been a fixture of the Kona community since 2004. Dishes are made with local organic produce, locally caught fish, and homemade food.
Everything is served with an Aloha smile alongside craft cocktails, beer, and quality wine means you’ll feel right at home at Jackie’s.
The food is a combo of American, Italian, and Hawaiian, so everyone can find something good. They have starters to share, plates with the daily catch or local meats, and tasty desserts to end the night.
4. Broke Da Mouth Grindz
Fast, casual, and Asian-influenced, Broke Da Mouth Grindz is a local favorite in Kona. This is a great spot to pick up some tasty treats for your beach picnic.
They’re best known for the garlic furikake chicken, which is fried chicken coated in a sweet and savory sauce sprinkled with furikake. They also serve up classic American burgers, pork belly adobo plates, and bibimbap.
5. Kona Brewing Company
One of the best ways to get a feel for a place is through their local brews, and you can do just that at Kona Brewing Company’s Kona Pub. First opened in 1998, you can tour the brewery first and then dig into some grub and brews next door.
They have a long list of craft beers from IPAs to golden ales to coffee porters. If you’re not into beer (or under 21), they also have non-alcoholic drinks!
The on-site restaurant serves tasty food to accompany your beverage. On Sundays and Mondays, they also have local food trucks dish out their best!
6. Umekes Fish Market and Grill
Forget farm-to-table, Umekes is all about a boat-to-bowl experience. Only serving the freshest and most local seafood straight from independent local fishermen, this is the place to try Kona’s famous seafood.
You can grab sashimi, poke, oysters, grilled ahi, and shrimp cooked with lots of flavor and care. If you’re not into seafood, they also source local meats and produce from local farmers and ranchers for delicious hot plates.
7. Papa Kona Restaurant
If you’re looking to start the day with a luxurious brunch, Papa Kona is just the place. With an extensive breakfast menu featuring local fruits, fresh scrambles, and breakfast sandwiches, you can find anything you want for the most important meal of the day.
They also serve lunch and dinner featuring Hawaiian and Asian takes on American classics. Kalua pork arancini and quesadillas are local favorites!
8. Shaka Tacoz
This taco food truck, which is parked in the charming town of Captain Cook, is quickly becoming a local and visitor favorite thanks to their out-of-this-world tacos and burritos at reasonable prices.
Choose between pork, chicken, Asada, veggie, or fresh fish to be topped with classics like lime crema, pickled onion, and their housemade Shake Sauce. Enjoy it with their beautiful view of Kealakekua Bay!
9. Kaaloa’s Super Js
For authentic Hawaiian food, there’s no better place than Kaaloa’s Super Js. They’re known for their laulau, which is cooked taro leaves wrapped around tasty fillings like pork or fish cooked in coconut cream.
It’s a little roadside stand along the highway by Captain Cook and while it seems unassuming, people travel across the ocean for their Hawaiian treats.
10. On The Rocks
A Kona staple, On The Rocks, is the best to be on a weekend night. You can have your toes in the sand as you sip on their famous Mai Tai.
Sip your drink with one of their pupus (appetizers), which are Hawaiian takes on classic American bar food like nachos and fries, or enjoy a full entree.
It also has live music featuring some of the best musicians in Hawaii, so be on the lookout for up-and-coming talent.
11. Magics Beach Grill
A Hawaiian vacation is all about the beach. That’s why Magics Beach grill is a must-visit while you’re in Kona. Right on the beach, they serve up Big Island flavors using local produce and meats.
It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset. With sandwiches, salads, tacos, and steaks, there’s something for everyone, so it’s a great family spot.
12. Foster’s Kitchen
Foster’s Kitchen is centered around using the freshest and most local ingredients to create high-quality, nurturing food. They’re big proponents of the slow-food movement, making everything from scratch.
They have an extensive menu with burgers, salads, appetizers, entrees, bbq, small plates, pasta, and more. The food isn’t the only great thing about Foster’s, it’s also waterfront AKA the perfect spot to take in the views!
13. Izakaya Shiono
The sister restaurant of the famed Sushi Shiono is already making a name for itself. They serve Japanese cuisine with a Hawaiian twist featuring lots of local produce.
If you’re in the mood for sushi, Izakaya Shiono has you covered. Non-fish lovers can enjoy Japanese classics like katsu and gyoza.
14. La Bourgogne
For French fine dining Hawaii-style, La Bourgogne is just the spot. They have one of the most extensive wine lists on the Big Island, mainly featuring French wines.
They pair beautifully with their French classics like Osso Bucco or Duck Confit. Just know that they require reservations and have a business casual dress code.
15. Canoe House
Styled after a classic Hawaiian beach bungalow but with elevated dishes, Canoe House is a must-visit when on the Big Island. It’s casual and fun, especially at their Tiki Bar.
Visit for their weekend brunch or sit at the bar and enjoy their small plates. They serve local and imported beers, plus classic cocktails like margaritas, mai tais, and mojitos.
Things to Consider
When visiting Kona, there are many things to take into consideration, so you can have the best trip possible. Visiting the above restaurants will set you up for success food-wise, but here are a few other tips to start your Hawaiian vacation off on the right foot.
Rent a Car in Hawaii
If you want to be able to make the most of your trip to Kona, you should rent a car. Public transportation is not widely accessible, especially outside of towns. Organized tours don’t allow much flexibility or freedom. Plus, they’re way more expensive than renting a car.
The Weather Varies Around the Big Island
Kona has sunny, dry weather most of the time, which is why it’s such a great spot to vacation. However, if you want to check out Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the nearby town of Hilo, it’s best to pack your rain jacket and even a light sweater. The eastern side of the island gets a lot more rain and wind than the Kona western side.
Your Favorite Sunscreen Might Be Illegal in Hawaii
When you’re in the strong South Pacific sunshine, it’s super important to protect your skin with sunscreen to prevent painful, dangerous sunburn. However, be careful which sunblock you pack. In 2018, Hawaii banned all non-reef-safe sunscreens to protect their waters. Here’s a list of reef-safe sunscreens for your upcoming trip to Hawaii.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Kona have good food?
Thanks to the fresh produce coming from the highlands of Kona-Kailua and the proximity to the ocean for the freshest seafood, Kona has excellent food.
What is Kona best known for?
Kona is best known for its coffee plantations, which produce high-quality coffee enjoyed around the world. It’s also famous for deep-sea fishing and hosting the Billfish Tournament annually.
What is Kona coffee?
Kona coffee, grown on the slopes of the Kona-Kailua district on the Big Island of Hawaii, is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. The specific growing conditions create a distinctive flavor and strength.
Is Kona good for snorkeling?
Yes! Kona has fantastic snorkeling. Kahalu’u Beach Park, Kealakekua Bay, and Honaunau Bay all have a wide array of marine life and clear waters close to shore, perfect for snorkeling.
What does Kona mean?
Kona means “leeward” in the Hawaiian language. Leeward means the side away from the wind, which describes Kona’s protected location perfectly. Did you know that in ancient Hawaii, every island had a Kona region that was just the part of the island facing away from the wind?
Best Restaurants in Kona: Final Thoughts
No matter what you’re in the mood for, you can find an elevated, delicious version of it in Kona. With fresh produce and seafood, it’s a foodie’s heaven!
Grab a sunset drink and appetizers at the Beach Tree Bar and Lounge or enjoy fresh sushi at Izakaya Shiono. Whatever you choose, you’ll have a great time!