The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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On Saturday, we were heading up to Hawi to go ziplining and drove though Kamuela to eat breakfast at the Hawaiian Style Cafe.  This is a cash-only restaurant that gives you a ton of food for the money.  

I ordered a loco moco, but it wasn’t as good as the other ones I had on the island. 

I didn’t like the hamburger patty and my over-easy eggs were a bit overcooked.  There was plenty of it though.

Loren ordered their Kalua Pork omelet special which came with hashbrowns and pancakes.

This was a breakfast made to be shared.  The pancakes alone were enough to feed at least 2 people and the omelette was stuffed full of pork.  The whole breakfast was under $20 and there were plenty of leftovers.

Hawaiian Style Cafe on Urbanspoon

After ziplining, we hiked down to Pololu Beach.  Beautiful views from the trail as you head down. 

Then we stopped for some Tropical Dreams Ice Cream in Hawi.  Loren had the Coconut cream and the Ginger White Chocolate.  I got the Tahitian Vanilla and chocolate.  They were all wonderful.  The only thing I didn’t like was that my chocolate ice cream had M&M’s in it and ice cream as good as this really didn’t need anything extra.

We stopped to watch the sunset before stopping for dinner.

Huli Sue’s BBQ in Waimea was our dinner stop tonight.

We split the BBQ Sampler which had pork, ribs, chicken, sausage and brisket plus two sides.  We got cole slaw and corn bread pudding and ordered a couple of extra sides as well, an Oriental Bok Choy dish and some black beans. 

Again, lots of food (this seems to be a theme in Hawaii).  The BBQ sauce had a tang to it and all the meats were pretty good.  The black beans were ok, but the other sides were better.  The Bok Choy completely did not go with the meal, but it was still tasty. 

And I had to get a piece of their famous banana cream pie to go. 

I understand why it’s famous.  It was soooo good.  I took it out to take a bite and almost finished it right there.  Smooth and creamy with a nice crust and topping.  Total dinner was $47 and there were plenty of leftovers.

We actually went back to Huli Sue’s later in our vacation after a very disappointing meal at Manago (I’ll get to that later).  We were just going to get dessert, but ended up getting some BBQ nachos as well as a slice of chocolate cake.

The nachos were good, but I just wanted some sweetness. 

Thick, rich, chocolatey goodness, in a moist delicious cake.  Huli Sue’s makes good BBQ, but their desserts are amazing.  Our little snack run cost us $17.

Huli Sue's BBQ and Grill on Urbanspoon

By Sunday, day 5 of our vacation, we were completely whooped.  But that didn’t stop us from doing some spelunking in Kaumana Cave.   It was a very cool walk through an old lava tube. 

For lunch, we headed over to Pahoa to Kaleo’s Bar and Grill.  We ordered the Tempura Ahi roll for our appetizer.

It was absolutely amazing.  This was one of the best things we ate on the island.  Crispy on the outside, with Ahi, rice and veggies on the inside.  I should have just ordered a second one for my entree.

I ordered the Chicken Katsu, but wasn’t too impressed.

The rice wasn’t cooked well, and the chicken was a little dry.  It definitely needed a dipping sauce, but the one that came with it was a bit too spicy and when I asked for a sweeter sauce, I ended up with an even spicier chili Thai sauce.

Loren was much happier with his meal.  He ordered the Mahi BLT and just raved about it.

And, what did they have for dessert?  Lilikoi cheesecake!  My new favorite dessert in the whole wide world.

It was so good.  Light and creamy with a wonderful passionfruit flavor.  I have got to find a recipe for this pie. $46 for lunch and we left with happy tastebuds.

Kaleo's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

We spent the afternoon walking around the Lava Tree Park, McKenzie Park, and East Point, then headed back to Hilo for dinner at Pescatore’s. 

If there’s calamari on the menu, we usually order it.

Normally, the calamari we get is in rings and not quite as thick as these pieces were.  The batter didn’t have a lot of flavor, but the marinara sauce was good.

I’m always happy when they bring out the bread basket.

Loren started with a salad and I got some pasta fagioli.

They were both ok.  The soup had a nice flavor and lots of veggies in it.

I ordered the fettucine alfredo with shrimp for my entree.

It was ok, but there was a flavor in it that I didn’t care for.  I don’t know what it was, but it just wasn’t one of my favorite alfredo dishes.  Loren ordered their mahi ahi fish special. 

He really enjoyed it.  There were two different sauces on the fish and it came with a pesto spaghetti.  I had heard they had a killer chocolate truffle cake here so I got one to go.

Talk about disappointing.  I don’t know how to describe the texture, it wasn’t smooth at all.  Sort of crumbly.  The flavor was ok, but overall, it was not as good as I had been led to believe.  This was our most expensive meal on the island at $72.  We had much better meals for a lot less money elsewhere.

Pescatore on Urbanspoon


We emptied out the fridge in preparation for our vacation, and Loren was craving a steak so we headed to Longhorn Steakhouse in Palm Harbor.

I’m always happy when fresh, warm bread is brought to the table.

Loren started off with a salad, I just kept munching on bread.

I ordered the Citrus Grilled chicken with a baked potato.  It was one of the items on their specials menu.

The chicken was cooked a little too much on the outside, but the inside was perfect.  It had a slight citrus flavor to it, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  Loren got the bacon scallops with a 7 oz filet.

He was a very happy guy.  The steak and scallops were both cooked just right. Plus, how can you go wrong with anything wrapped in bacon? 

And then came the dessert sampler.

This had a lot of awesome going on.  Strawberry cheesecake, a caramel apple cobbler with ice cream and chocolate cake.  I was in heaven.  The cheesecake was light and fluffy with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream.  We both dove into that one.  Loren finished off the caramel apple cobbler and the chocolate cake was soft, fresh and yummy.

From start to finish, this was a really good experience.  Our waiter was really good.  Kept drinks filled and cleared away dishes quickly.  Total bill was $48 and worth every penny.

Longhorn Steakhouse
35645 US Highway 19
Palm Harbor, FL
(727) 781-9300

Longhorn Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


We drove over to Brandon today for some Spanish food at La Septima Cafe.  The restaurant’s been there since 1995 and the menu is filled with traditional dishes.

Loren decided to get a taste of a few of them with the “Walk Around La Septima” dish.

This had Ropa Vieja, which is a shredded tender flank steak simmered in a burgandy wine sauce, Picadillo, which is ground beef, olives and capers in a tomato sauce, and Lechon Asado, which is marinated pork, plus yellow rice and black beans.  It was a lot of food.  He liked the pork and beans the best.  I liked the taste of the Ropa Vieja. 

I ordered the Arroz Con Pollo with black beans and some Cuban bread.

The dish had a wing and a chicken breast.  The wing was great.  The flavors in the chicken were really incredible.  The breast, however, was really dry.  All of the flavor was in the chicken skin.  The rice and beans were ok and the bread was good.

We got a piece of their caramel chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

The “chocolate” consisted of a few chocolate chips tossed on top.  The caramel sauce was good, but there wasn’t much of it.  The cheesecake was very thick.  This wasn’t a creamy cheesecake.  It was made with ricotta cheese and had an almost grainy texture.  Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just not a very smooth cheesecake.

Lunch ran us $29.  The food was ok, but I doubt we’d drive back to Brandon to visit again. 

La Septima Cafe
140 N Parsons Ave
Brandon, FL

La Septima on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Brandon, Cuban, Spanish
  • We’ve eaten at so many loud restaurants lately, that it’s so refreshing to actually sit down to a nice quiet dinner.  We headed over to Kado Japanese Steakhouse in Tampa for dinner with our $25 coupon in hand.

    The restaurant was nearly empty.  There was just one table of 4 people when we came in.  Kado is so much less commercialized than the other Japanese steakhouses in town.  It’s like a small family owned restaurant.  As far as we could tell, the waitstaff seemed like generations of the same family.

    I have to say though, it did seem a little awkward to be the only two people at one of the Habachi tables.   The chef went through all the motions, but I’m sure it was a bit underwhelming for him too to not have a big tableful of guests to show off to.

    They start you off with a light, tasty broth.

    It had a nice mellow flavor and was served piping hot.  You can even see the steam.  Next up the salad.

    The ginger dressing was really good.  Since we needed to spend $50 for our coupon, we ordered some egg rolls.

    They were a lot bigger than I thought they’d be.  Good crunch, tasty filling.  I already knew at this point that I wasn’t going to be able to finish my dinner.

    Loren ordered the filet and shrimp and I got the Sumo which is filet, shrimp and scallops.  And of course, lots of goody-goody sauce. 

    The veggies, rice, and shrimp were cooked perfectly, the steak and scallops very tender.  It’s so nice to have a meal where everything is just incredibly well executed.  Believe it or not, we still hadn’t hit $50, so we just had to order dessert.

    I saw cheesecake on the menu, but when it came out, we were both surprised to realize it was deep fried cheesecake.  Wow!  I’ve never had cheesecake like this before.  It was slightly frozen in the center, but otherwise had a nice, crispy tempura shell all around it, plus drizzled in chocolate sauce.  It was an incredible ending to a very delicious meal. 

    After the coupon and with the tip added in, the total dinner was $44.  It was probably one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time for a very reasonable price.  Plus I have leftovers for tomorrow.

    Kado Japanese Steakhouse
    6821 W. Hillsborough Ave, Ste 9
    Tampa, FL

    Kado Japanese Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Japanese, Tampa
  • Given the choice between going to the grocery store or going out to eat, I’m choosing a restaurant every time.  Tonight’s choice was Cafe’ Alfresco in downtown Dunedin.  The patio was really loud, so we sat inside.

    Let’s face it, we both like soup.

    I got the Sicilian white bean soup and Loren got a cup of the creole.  The rice wasn’t quite done enough in his, but overall the flavor was good.  My bean soup was very tasty.

    We got the “must try” appetizer, the Feta Alfresco.

    It’s feta cheese, lightly breaded in panko crumbs, fried golden brown
    and served over red sauce with garlic cheese bread.  Neither of us had ever had feta cheese this way.  At first, the flavor seemed overwhelming, but the more you ate, the more it mellowed out.  The garlic bread was good too.  I doubt we’d order it again, though.  As usual, we were both pretty stuffed at this point, but then came the entrees.

    Loren ordered the salmon salad.

    It was a huge piece of blackened salmon over a salad of lettuce, olives, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and artichokes with a Greek dressing.  He said it was very good.

    I ordered the half portion of the chicken marsala.

    It had a very nice marsala sauce.  The chicken was very tender and the pasta was good.  Both meals came with rolls that were really tasty too.

    And because I just can’t pass up dessert, I got a slice of raspberry cheesecake to take home.

    It was a hard choice between this and the death by chocolate cake.  I’ll have to try the cake next time.

    Appetizer, two soups, two entrees, dessert and a drink for $38.  The food was fresh and had very good flavors.  The only downside was that our waitress wasn’t very good at refilling drinks.  Otherwise, it was a really nice dining experience.

    Cafe Alfresco
    344 Main St
    Dunedin, FL

    Cafe Alfresco on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: American, Dunedin