We took a 10 day vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii from May 12-21, 2010.  I had plotted out a bunch of restaurants to visit while we were there based on reviews on Urbanspoon and recommendations in the “Big Island Revealed” book.  For the most part, we had some great local food while we were there. 

Instead of making separate posts for all of the restaurants, I’m going to just break it into a few posts about our trip. 

Our flight left Tampa at 8am and we changed planes in Dallas.  We grabbed a quick bite in the Dallas airport at Dickey’s BBQ. 

For airport food, it wasn’t bad at all.  I got a roast pork sandwich and Loren got the brisket.  The mac & cheese was pretty dry, but I didn’t really expect much from it.  Total bill was $19.  Next stop, Hawaii.

Ok, so it was 7 hours to Honolulu, then an hour in the airport, then an hour connector flight to Hilo.  We arrived around 5pm Hawaii time, which to us, was 11pm Tampa time.  But we were still hungry so headed over to Ken’s House of Pancakes for dinner.

We’d read about Ken’s before our trip and it lived up to its reputation.  Lots of good food, enormous menu, and reasonable prices.  Plus it’s open 24/7 which is why we ended up eating there twice during our trip.  Their parking lot isn’t big enough for the steady flow of customers going through there.

On our first night, I ordered some potato soup to start off.

It was thick and rich and quite filling.  Then we both ordered Loco Mocos because that’s what you do when you go to the Big Island. 

Mine was really good.  Kulua pork over rice with gravy and two eggs over easy.  I can understand why people order these.  It’s a hearty meal and the pork was very tasty.  Both eggs and rice were cooked well too.

Loren got the Keiki moco which had a hamburger patty, rice, gravy & he ordered it with scrambled eggs.

He wasn’t as impressed with his.  The hamburger patty was nothing to write home about.  The pork in mine is what really made it good.

And I just couldn’t pass up dessert.  I said it was because I was on vacation, but anyone who reads this blog knows I rarely pass up dessert. 

Unfortunately, the chocolate pie had nuts on it which I don’t like.  But the chocolate, crust, whipped cream and ice cream were all very good.  For $23, we were completely stuffed. 

We went back to Ken’s two days later after our Lava Ocean Adventures boat tour.  If you go to the Big Island, definitely take this boat tour.  It was absolutely amazing.  We were about 20-30 feet away from the active lava flow.  It’s a 35 minute boat ride out & back and then they spend 45 minutes at the lava just going back & forth across the 1/4 mile field.   We actually took the sunset tour on day 3 of our vacation and we were so amazed that we took a sunrise tour on day 10 before we headed back to Tampa.  Here’s one of about 400 photos I took. 

After the lava tour, we went back to Ken’s and had dinner.  Loren got a bacon cheeseburger and I ordered the honey chicken.

Both were pretty good.  The chicken really didn’t taste like it had much honey on it though.  They do a lot of business at Ken’s and the food is pretty consistent for a diner.  Another $23 meal and we were stuffed.

Ken's House of Pancakes on Urbanspoon

For Day 2 of our trip, we started the morning with a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour around Hilo.  It was ok, but I wouldn’t do it again.  Seeing Hilo from above was a nice perspective, but overall, I don’t think it was worth the money.  We saw some waterfalls, the volcano crater, and a little of the active lava flow.  The Lava Ocean Adventures boat tour was way better for the money. 

After the helicopter tour, we checked out some of the local beach parks, then had lunch at the Puka Puka Kitchen.

This was a cute little restaurant with only 4 tables and a little counter by the window.  We both ordered off of their specialis menu.  I got the Chicken Katsu Don Burger with fries and Loren got the Japanese Style Chicken Katsu Curry.

This sandwich was so tasty.  The chicken was fried perfectly and had a sweet sauce on it.  I was one happy camper.  And the fresh cut fries were a nice change.

Loren enjoyed the curry as well.  It was the same chicken that was on my sandwich but in a spicy curry sauce with veggies.  For $16, this was one of the most inexpensive, tastier meals we had on the island.

Puka Puka Kitchen on Urbanspoon

We spent the afternoon at the Volcano Park then headed over the ‘Imiloa Planetarium for the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe” show.  We ate dinner at the Sky Garden Restaurant at the Planetarium.  They had a nice buffet with a lot of different choices including shrimp, noodles, rice, salad bar, teriyaki chicken, veggies, as well as some yummy desserts including a lilikoi dessert that I just loved.  Lilikoi is passion fruit and for the rest of the trip anytime I saw anything on the menu with lilikoi in it, I had to have some.

Day 3, we actually ate breakfast at the Bed and Breakfast we were staying at, The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls.  Beautiful B&B with a waterfall on the property and a great view of Hilo Bay.  Because of the time difference, we were up at the crack of dawn most mornings and wanted to get out and about before they started serving breakfast from 8-9am.  The breakfasts we did eat there were good; eggs cooked to order, Belgium waffles, fresh fruit, and local breads. 

We spent the morning at the Hawaii Botanical Gardens then ate lunch at Reuben’s Mexican Restaurant.  Started out with some chips and really spicy salsa.

 Loren ordered the Ono Fish Tacos.

 He liked them.  Lots of veggies and the fish was cooked well.  I ordered the chicken flautas and was quite shocked when the plate came out.

 There was enough food on the plate for two people, maybe three.  The flautas were huge, plus it came with rice, beans, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, and cheese.  It had a lot of good flavors going on.  I’d definitely order this again, but I’d have to split it with someone. 

And just because I can’t resist, I ordered the chocolate lava cake even though I was so full from lunch.

 It had a good chocolate flavor, but the problem with most lava cakes is that they get cooked too long so the inside isn’t liquid as it should be.  That was the case with this one.  It was solid all the way through. 

Lunch was $42.  Granted we got a lot of food, but I thought the prices were a bit high at Reubens.

Reuben's Mexican Food on Urbanspoon