Local Food On the Big Island of Hawaii

Find Markets, Restaurants, and More from Kona to Hilo, Naalehu to Waimea

The Big Island of Hawaii is awash in delicious local eating. Various climates grace the largest of the Hawaiian islands, meaning an incredible range of produce can be grown there. Ranches in the northern part of the island provides cattle, coffee plantations grow some of the best coffee in the world, and the vast blue sea yields fish straight off the boat.

  • 01 of 07
    Image of Hilo Farmers Market Sign
    Hilo Farmers Market Sign. Photo © Molly Watson

    There are some amazing farmers markets all over the island of Hawaii. The Hilo Farmers Market is the biggest. The Waimea Town Farmers Market and the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market are also worth a visit for the variety of produce, freshness of the prepared foods and Hawaiian specialties, and local crops like coffee and orchids.

    Know before you go: check out what's in season when with this Guide to Hawaii Produce.

  • 02 of 07
    Hana Hou Cafe In Naalehu, Hawaii
    Hana Hou Cafe In Naalehu, Hawaii. Photo © Molly Watson
    Hana Hou on the Big Island has an impressive claim to fame: it is the southernmost restaurant in the United States. I found their stand-out homemade pies and fresh, Hawaiian menu to be more impressive. If there is "mac pie" (macadamia nut cream pie) in the pastry case, be sure to order a slice with a cup of the perfectly brewed, locally grown coffee. The plate lunches are great, but the daily specials – things like papaya chicken salad and local ono chowder – are where the real eating...MORE action is.
  • 03 of 07
    Da Fish House Lunch Wagon
    Da Fish House Lunch Wagon. Photo © Molly Watson

    Da Fish House in Kawaihae sells supremely fresh fish, usually cut to order. Amazing poke (raw fish salad) is also sold out of the case in this squat, bright blue concrete building on the Akoni-Pule Highway. The lunch truck across the parking lot cooks up classic Hawaiian fish sandwiches made with that supremely fresh fish, as well as cheeseburgers and daily specials like Korean-style chicken wings and other Hawaii plate lunch items.

  • 04 of 07

    GJ's Huli Chicken

    Huli Chicken Cooking
    Huli Chicken Cooking. Photo © Molly Watson
    GJ's is a roadside stand that cooks huli chicken and huli ribs (the meat is marinated in a soy sauce-based marinade and then cooked over hot open coals to crispy juicy perfection) and serves them plate lunch-style (with rice and macaroni salad) to passers-by in Kawaihae on Fridays, Waimea on Saturdays, and Honoka'a on Sundays.
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Pico's Bistro

    Pico's Bistro on the Big Island of Hawaii
    Pico's Bistro in Ka'apau, Hawaii. Photo © Molly Watson

    Pico's Bistro in the little town of Ka'apau way up north past Hawi serves up delicious burgers (beef, lamb, and fish) as well as kebabs and other grilled goodies. Local is the name of the game here, with fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit from local growers.

    Pico's Bistro is open 11:30 am - 8 pm Wednesday through Monday, although I'd recommend calling ahead just to be sure since they sometimes close for catering jobs. Call (808) 884-5555.

  • 06 of 07

    Honor System Farm Stands

    Macadamia Nut Farm Stand
    Macadamia Nut Farm Stand. Photo © Molly Watson

    There are tended farm stands in Hawaii, of course, but the Big Island is also dotted with honor system stands where piles of macadamia nuts, mountain apples, mangoes, papayas, and other produce are placed on tables or milk crates with a sign telling you how much to leave in the jar or box for your purchase. They make the whole island feel like one incredibly beautiful small town.

  • 07 of 07

    What's Your Favorite?

    Scored Mango. Photo © Molly Watson

    Do you have a favorite food or restaurant or market on the Big Island? Tell us about it! Share your favorite local find at Readers Favorite Hawaii Local Foods (or, of course, you can just read what others have to say!).