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Doug's Restaurant Preferences

Doug & Glory travel extensively looking for new ideas for the Lodge, and enjoy good food. In each place we visit we seek out that special restaurant, or one recommended by friends or guidebooks. Here is our Hilo selection..

Hilo Bay Cafe (near Wal-Mart) always has a good crowd, seems to be doing well and the food and service remain good. We see occasional glitches in meeting and greeting incoming guests but that aside you can expect good service and excellent food in a cheery atmosphere. If you order the heirloom salad with olive oil and have either the Fresh catch, scallops or shrimp on top you have a winner healthy meal. The Rosemary Bread with Olive oil is a winner and the wine selection excellant....

Cafe Pesto (downtown Hilo), if you drive around and do a covers count each evening, is obviously the hands down winner in Hilo, it is way bigger than Hilo Bay Cafe and does multiple covers each evening. I don't personally care for the new paint job, taking it from bright white to Government Railway, and the perpetually unfinished kitchen revamp (still unfinished as of Jan 2011) takes away from sitting at the bar, but table service and the food are good and they have a good selection. They also have a branch at Kawaihai on the west side...

Ponds, formerly Harrington's now taken over by Rick and Debbie of Kens, very popular with local diners, is actually the closest to our Lodge of our recommendations. On Kalanianaole near Banyan Drive this long established restaurant has a cocktail bar and dining overlooking the famous "Ice Pond" a natural spring, fed by waters of Mauna Loa mountain. A full bar and reasonable wine selection.

Of several Thai Restaurants, our favorite which is also BYOB is Naung Mai Thai Kitchen located at 86 Kilauea Ave, in a somewhat confusing location BEHIND Garden exchange which is opposite KTA Market on Kiawe St......just up Mamo from the Farmers Market. The food is worth the search, it is a tiny restaurant and the staff will recommend dishes to the uninitiated in Thai food. BYOB no corkage.

Another  favorite is Kens House of Pancakes which is the 24 hour 50's style diner right at the main intersection leading to or from the Lodge. It has a huge menu, 24 hour breakfast, massive omelets and every permutation of "Good Ole" American food with a lot of "LOCAL" favorites......If you are VERY hungry try the "SUMO" where they ring a ships bell and all staff cry out "Sumo" in unison as it is served !! It has the BEST coffee in Hilo, bottomless. No alcohol is served or permitted..

No spy following Doug would fail to notice his visits to Bears Coffee Shop on Keawe St, one Street back from the Bayfront.  Although for a coffee shop the regular coffee could do with improvement, the espressos and breakfast selections are excellent. Try the FRESH papaya followed by the "Big Bad Buster", Ham, cheese and spinach mixed in with eggs in a bowl. For lunch the Tuna stuffed Tomato is hard to beat. Some prefer the Lox and Bagels and waffles with "Fresh fruit only". Owner Terry is quite eccentric and will sit with you to take your order..!!

A new entry to the breakfast scene is Full Moon Cafe on Kalakaua St just up from the Tsunami Museum in Downtown Hilo...just one note get there before 10:30am as it morphs into a lunch restaurant after that. Full Moon has great Omlettes and other regular breakfast fare as well as a juicer for more exotic fruit and vegetable drinks...one of Doug's favorites is Apple, Carrot and Ginger...a real morning eye opener...!! Full Moon also becomes a Thai/American restaurant at night...they have you covered...gaining popularity they must be doing something right..

Before we leave Hilo for Volcano Village we must give honorable mention to one of the FUNKIEST Stores with an unbelievable wine selection. Kadota's is an institution in Hilo.
Located on Hualalai St. a turn inland from Burger King on Kilauea, this store has an incredible selection of wines, liquors, presentation bottles and beers. If you are a REAL wine freak ask to see the climate controlled "Back Room" where Rothschild and Margaux among others all the way up to $400 and $800 a bottle exist side by side with lesser brands in the $100 range.

There is one more special Restaurant located at Volcano Village and that is Kilauea Lodge on the "Old" volcano highway just before arriving at the Volcano National park at about the 25/26 mile marker. Turn in on one of the three highway exits, the Lodge is set back but has a large sign out front. Excellent food by the German chef/owner with a big hearty fireplace/waiting area. Cool at night in Volcano take a Cardigan or light jacket. The Lodge also has accommodations if you don't want to drive 28 miles back to Hilo after good food and wine..

There are literally dozens of "other" restaurants in and around Hilo......but the above selection are our favorites and will keep you busy for the average stay of a few days.


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