We were driving back from The Fringe in Orlando and stopped at Harry’s Seafood in Lakeland for dinner. We were seated very quickly in the back of the restaurant and then the waiting began. Once our server finally showed up, he was an extremely polite and friendly guy, but unfortunately that doesn’t make up for the continuous waiting and incorrect things that happened with our meal. Our waiter brought out some bread.
It was warm and crusty and the herbed butter was tasty. Good thing we had it because the wait was pretty long for our entrees. Loren ordered the redfish with a side of collards.
He enjoyed them both. The fish was cooked well and not overly spicy. I ordered the crawfish etoufee.
When the waiter took my order, he asked if I wanted green onions on it or not. I said no, but when it arrived it was covered in them. I sent it back and from what was returned back to me, I can only surmise that someone just took it back to the kitchen & picked them all off of the same dish. It was a bit spicier than I remembered from the last time I had it here. I ended up taking half of it home with me. We decided to try the chocolate bread pudding for dessert.
This was an unusual dish. It was brownie-yet-bread like and went very well with the sauce and ice cream. We both enjoyed it. It wasn’t overly chocolatey, but interesting. Here’s where the waiting started again. We actually watched another table get seated and then walk out when no one ever came to take their order. Loren’s drink order was wrong and the amount of time we spent just sitting there waiting was ridiculous. I don’t know if they were short staffed or what, but they definitely needed better coverage in the back area where we were seated. Total bill with a drink was $44.
Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill
101 N Kentucky Ave
We have a habit of getting out of the house later than expected for dinner on Friday nights and most places are just mobbed. We drove into Dunedin thinking we’d eat at Casa Tina, but there was a line out the door, so we walked down the street to Cafe Alfresco. The restaurant was busy, but not full, and pretty quiet which we kinda like. We started off with potstickers.
Yum! These were perfectly fried with a tasty, slightly spicy filling. I could just eat a plate of these and be happy. Loren’s dinner came with a salad and I went ahead and ordered one for $1 as well.
The rolls were warm and soft and very tasty. For his entree, Loren got the chicken piccata.
He tried to explain to me the difference between a good piccata and a not so good one. This was a good version, the chicken was perfectly cooked and the sauce was buttery and lemony, but not overly so, and the capers made the perfect accent to the sauce. He was a happy guy. I went for the Friday night fish & chips.
It didn’t have an overly crunchy batter on it, but it was good. The fries were nice and crunchy and the cole slaw had just enough tang and sweet to it. We were really bad tonight & got two desserts.
Loren wanted some carrot cake and I got the raspberry cheesecake. Both were delicious. He said his cake was moist and flavorful and mine was creamy and decadent. We were quite stuffed by the time we rolled ourselves out of there. Total bill with a drink was $49.
344 Main St
I really should learn to listen to myself. The last time we ate at Grind House before a show at Ruth Eckerd Hall, I vowed not to do it again and yet, that’s where we went for dinner tonight anyway. They were crowded when we got there, but there were still some empty tables. The bartender greeted us, brought us menus, and took our drink order. He also brought out our water and iced tea. When our waitress finally came by to take our dinner order, I gave her the free appetizer coupon we received last time we were here (because of issues with our food) and we ordered the spinach dip.
They were having a special tonight for buy one, get one free fish & chips with the purchase of two drinks. Since I had ordered water, I told the waitress to bring me a Mr. Pibb instead. Our appetizer came out, but the waitress didn’t bring my drink. The spinach dip was really good. It was creamy and had good flavors and the chips were hot and fresh. Our fish & chips came out and the waitress asked if we needed anything else and I said my drink. She wandered off, but never came back with the drink.
The fish & chips were really good. The batter is so crunchy and the fish was silky and flaky. The fries had a nice crunch too. Again, our waitress returned and asked if we wanted anything else. I ordered a dessert and she realized again that she hadn’t brought my drink and asked if I wanted it to go. Ummm, no, I wanted it with my meal. The brownie sundae was very yummy though.
It needed to be in a slightly larger bowl because every time we put a spoon in, the whipped cream started flowing out the sides. You’ll notice I didn’t say it needed less whipped cream. That would be just silly. The brownie was soft and chewy and very tasty. I was half expecting our waitress to charge us for the drink I never got, but instead, she charged us for the appetizer that we had the free coupon for. Someone else saw that we had our check ready to go so I had to explain to them that we shouldn’t have been charged for the appetizer. It’s such a shame that we’ve had such terrible service here because most of the time, the food is really good. Total bill was $18.
Grind House Bar & Grill
1500 McMullen Booth Rd
I think we’ve eaten at just about every restaurant in Oldsmar a few times over, so back we went again to Daddy’s Grill. Loren got a roast beef sandwich with fries and I got the fish sandwich and soup special.
The fish is cod and the shrimp soup is very thick and creamy. We find most of the food here to be relatively bland, but overall it’s ok for a quick and inexpensive lunch. Total bill was $17.
3682 Tampa Road
We stopped by Cuban Breezes for lunch today around 1pm and it was packed. We luckily snagged the last available table. I had no idea Sunday afternoon was such a busy time for them. Loren ordered his usual lechon and I went for something light today, the grilled mahi with rice/beans and a side salad.
Both dishes were really good today. The pork was tender and flavorful and the mahi was some of the best I’ve eaten. It’s cooked perfectly, tender and flaky, with just a hint of seasoning. Definitely something I’d order again. With a drink, the total bill was $19.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
The plan tonight was to eat dinner & then go watch the sunset on Indian Rocks Beach, but dinner at Jimmy Guana’s took a bit longer than expected. It was busy and we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table, but we were very happy with the table we ended up with. Back of the restaurant, overlooking the water and secluded enough that we could actually hear each other and have a conversation over the live band that was playing.
We started out with some gumbo and grouper nuggets.
The gumbo had sausage, crawfish, and a nice spice blend which gave it a lot of flavor. It wasn’t very spicy at all. The grouper nuggets were pretty good. Loren liked the spicy sauce that came with them.
For dinner, he ordered the blacked mahi sandwich and I got the fried grouper sandwich.
Loren liked his a lot more than I liked mine. Actually, the grouper was ok, but after the nuggets, it was just too much of a one note taste in my mouth. Total bill was $40.
401 2nd St
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Had lunch at Daddy’s Grill today. One of the specials was their fish on a bun sandwich plus soup for $8.
The soup today was a shrimp chowder. It’s a meal in itself. Really thick and creamy. I would have liked it to come out ahead of the sandwich, but instead it came out slightly after. The fish on a bun is cod and it’s ok. Crispy on the outside and white flaky tender fish inside. For the price, it’s a pretty good deal for lunch.
3682 Tampa Road
We decided to try the Island Outpost in Dunedin for lunch today. It was pretty busy for 1pm on a Monday and the waitstaff was completely overwhelmed.
When the hostess seated us, she mentioned they were out of the pulled pork and one other item. After we’d been seated, we waited for a very long time before our waitress came to take our drink order and then she mentioned that they were also out of several other items on the menu including most of the appetizers. They did however have the ahi tuna.
It was pretty good. A little spicy around the edges, but otherwise a nice piece a rare tuna. Unfortunately, the plate remained on our table through the entire meal.
Loren ordered the baby back ribs with a side salad and I got the haddock special that came with a salad and onion rings.
When the waitress brought our entrees, I noticed neither one of us had salad dressing and she said she’d bring some. Sadly, that never happened. In fact, she didn’t stop by our table again until it was time to bring us the check.
The haddock and onion rings were pretty good. The batter was crispy and it was a nice piece of fish. Loren’s ribs, however, were not good at all. We had false hope as we walked into the restaurant because we could smell the BBQ, but his ribs had no flavor. It was very disappointing, especially since neither of us could eat our salads either.
Total bill was $30 and I don’t expect that we’ll be back again.
466 Causeway Blvd
We were going to eat at Bonefish tonight, thinking we could get there before the crowd, but even at 5:30pm, they already had a 30 minute wait. So, instead we drove into Dunedin to see if Walt’s Seasonal Cuisine was busy. At it turned out, we were the first customers there for the evening.
Let me preface this review by saying the food tonight was absolutely better than we get at most places; however, my expectations when I end up paying $73 for dinner are a lot higher than if I’ve spent $30. I didn’t feel that the experience tonight was worth the price. Granted, it’s a lot of little things that added up to that feeling, but because my expectations were so high and we’ve had wonderful experiences here before, I just left somewhat disappointed.
We sat down, ordered our water and iced tea and were served some bread and oil.
I know this is silly, but this was the first thing I thought was off tonight. The bread was just served in this little bowl. No napkin or cloth under or around it to help keep the warmth in. It just came across as tacky to me. Don’t get me wrong, the bread was warm and tasty, it was just the presentation that turned me off.
Another couple came in at this point and sat at the bar. I overheard their conversation with the waitress to discover that Walt had the night off. Later in the evening, I heard the couple ask the chef if he was calling for help when he had his phone out and he said no, he was just looking up a recipe. So, maybe the key to dining at Walt’s is knowing that Walt is in the kitchen.
Loren started out with a house salad and I got the soup which was butternut squash with blue crab.
Loren liked the ginger dressing on his salad. He said the nuts on the salad were both sweet and spicy. My soup had very subtle flavors, in fact, too subtle for my tastes. It was very thin and the crab was overcooked. It was a little rubbery.
At this point, we heard the waitress telling the other customers what the special was tonight. Don’t you hate it when you’re not told the specials and you get to overhear them at another table after you’ve ordered?
For his entree, Loren chose the surf and turf which is steak and scallops and he ordered asparagus as his side.
The steak is where the chef shined tonight. It was perfect. A nice sear on the outside, cooked a perfect medium and was incredibly tender. Loren loved it. The scallops were sliced thin and had a mango vinaigrette on them that completely overpowered the flavor of the scallop.
I ordered the crab crusted grouper with garlic mashed potatoes.
It had a sherry butter sauce on it that I couldn’t taste at all. It was a thick grouper filet that basically had a crab cake on top of it. Individually, each piece was pretty good, but the crab cake had very strong flavors that overwhelmed the grouper.
For dessert, we tried the chocolate cake.
Let’s face it, first bites are everything and this one just didn’t wow. The cake was very dense, but not overly moist. It was good, but I’ve had better. And since I’ve been picky all night, I just felt like some homemade whipped cream would have been much better than stuff out of a can.
Service tonight was also lacking. My water glass was completely empty for quite a while and Loren’s iced tea also got down to the bottom. Plates weren’t cleared as quickly as they should have either. Again, it’s all about expectations. If I’m spending $73, I want the entire experience to feel worth the money.
Walts Seasonal Cuisine
1140 Main St
We headed out to Tarpon tonight to go back to the Zante Cafe. We needed some awesome food and they didn’t disappoint. The owner seemed a bit frazzled as the restaurant filled up, but they still managed to bring out one delicious course after the next. Their kids tend to the dining room and the youngest was more interested in playing than helping out. But, our drinks stayed filled and they were pretty good at clearing away plates. It’s a very laid back place, so expect to spend about 2 hours here for dinner. Everything is made fresh and well worth the wait.
First out were their homemade rolls.
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a slight hint of garlic, served fresh out of the oven. It’s a good thing they just serve these one at a time, otherwise, I’d fill up on bread without thinking twice about it. Next up was the gumbo.
The flavors are delicate in this gumbo, but you can taste the freshness of all the ingredients. Chicken and sausage in a light, flavorful broth. Again, I could eat so much more of this and be incredibly happy.
We ordered the Crawfish Vol Au Vent for an appetizer.
Crawfish, mushrooms, and onions in a creamy sauce served over heart shaped puffed pastry. I’m guessing the heart shape was because it’s Valentine’s weekend, but regardless it was yummy. There were lots of crawfish and mushrooms and the sauce was lightly spiced.
Loren ordered the seafood fra diablo with a spice level of 2 out of 5.
Crawfish, shrimp, mussels, scallops and veggies in a creamy, spicy sauce over spaghetti. It had a lot of flavor and it all blended well together. Loren would have preferred rice to spaghetti and he’s not a fan of cauliflower, but he still enjoyed the dish.
I ordered the Paneed Tilapia w/ Crawfish and Tasso in Brandy Cream.
The tilapia filet was thick and cooked perfectly. It was flaky and tender with a crisp breading. The crawfish and mushroom brandy cream sauce really complemented the fish well.
At this point, we really were quite full, but I wanted to try the bananas foster.
The owner/chef comes out and flambes it right at the table. It was delicious served over vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. It had a nice carmelization and was a perfect ending to a wonderful meal.
And even better, we had a $25 Restaurant.com coupon, so the bill before tip ended up being $42. Absolutely the best $42 we’ve spent on food so far this year.
Zante Cafe Neo
13 N Safford Ave
Tarpon Springs, FL
After trying three different places for lunch today only to find none of them were open on New Year’s day, we decided to just drive up US 19 and stop wherever there were cars in the parking lot. We ended up at Longhorn in Palm Harbor.
Our last experience here was very good, today’s experience was lacking something. Sometimes, it is just the little things. Loren opened up his silverware to find a rather nasty looking fork. He laid it to the side of the table, but our waitress didn’t notice it when she took our drink order. When she returned, he showed it to her and she apologized, but never brought him back another salad fork. Like I said, sometimes it’s just the little things.
Loren ordered a salad and there was some yummy bread brought to the table.
It was a fairly big salad. The bread was warm and fresh, just the way I like it. He ordered an 8oz sirloin with a baked potato.
He said the steak was good, but the potato didn’t seem very fresh. They definitely know how to cook steaks correctly here. Order it medium and you actually get a medium cooked steak.
I was making an attempt at eating healthy for the new year (like that’s gonna last), so I ordered the grilled trout with a sweet potato.
It was pretty good. Tender and flaky, with a fairly mellow flavor. It had some big chunks of garlic on it. The sweet potato came with cinnamon butter, which was actually butter with cinnamon and sugar just sprinkled on top. I was expecting it to have already been whipped in with the butter. Most of the potato was good, but one end was not. Personally, I wouldn’t have put that potato on a plate.
Overall, it was just an ok experience. Total bill was $29 with a drink.
35645 US Highway 19
Palm Harbor, FL
Greek City Cafe just opened up in Clearwater near Kohls and Countryside Mall so that was our destination for dinner. It’s a very casual restaurant, you order at the counter and they bring the food out to you.
Loren ordered a blackened grouper sandwich with fries and a Greek salad.
This was probably one of the smallest grouper sandwiches we’ve seen, but he said it was very good. It came with a spicy spread, he thought it may have had some horseradish in it.
The fries were hot, fresh, and crisp. They had some seasoning on them, maybe oregano, that made them very flavorful. I got the potato salad with my meal. It was different. It had a little bit of something spicy in it that you didn’t really taste until the end of a bite.
We both got Greek salads with our meals. You name it, it was in this salad. I had to deconstruct mine to take off the peppers, onions, and green peppers. It also had cucumbers, tomatoes, potato salad, feta, an olive, and somewhere in there was a little bit of lettuce. The dressing was tangy and tasty.
I ordered the pastitsio.
It was pretty good. It had a brown sauce on it which was different. I’m used to it having some sort of marinara red sauce. It had a good overall flavor and texture.
The dessert counter is always my downfall. We got a piece of chocolate cake and something called a Bomb to take home.
The cake, pictured on the right was good. It had chocolate cake with chocolate mousse layers inside, covered with a chocolate shell. The Bomb, however, was awesome. Wow! It had a white creamy filling with a fudgey cake bottom and the same dark chocolate shell. I could have eaten a few of these and still wanted more. It’s a dessert to go back for.
Total bill ran us $30. Loren thought it would have been better if they just made it into an actual order at your table and bring out the food in phases kind of restaurant instead of everything coming out at once. Overall though, the food was very fresh and flavorful. This is certainly a place we’d go back to for some quick Greek food.
Greek City Cafe
2518 SR 580, Ste C
We were on our way to Tampa to see the musical “9 to 5″ and found a little Peruvian restaurant called Machu Picchu on Hillsborough Ave near Dale Mabry. It’s not a very big restaurant, set up like a diner, but the folks there were very friendly.
This being our first time trying Peruvian food, we asked the waiter what he recommended and he brought us out a mockup of their new menu which included photos of the dishes. He said seafood was the way to go, recommending a dish resembling paella. They also had a goat special that Loren ordered, but found out they had just run out, so he ordered another of the seafood dishes.
We started out with some calamari.
It was a little chewy for my taste. It also had a piece of fried yucca on the plate which was pretty good. Loren ordered the fried fish in a seafood bisque, Pescado a lo macho.
It was tasty. The batter on the fish went nicely with the sauce. It also had calamari, shrimp and mussels. He said he would have liked some veggies instead of all of the other seafood, but overall it was very good. They also gave him a hot sauce that added a little kick. I would definitely order this dish again.
The paella dish I ordered also had shrimp, calamari, octopus and a mussel in it. It was called arroz chaufa de Mariscos.
There was enough on this plate for at least two people. The flavors were very subtle, but everything was cooked perfectly. I ended up taking half of it home.
Total bill was $35. The dishes were very authentic and even as they were trying to close up for the night, more customers kept coming in, which is a wonderful sign in this economy.
3974 W Hillsborough Ave
We buy quite a few coupons on Restaurant.com, but occasionally we make a mistake on which dollar amount to purchase. Loren mistakenly bought a $25 coupon for Mecafresh where you have to purchase $50 in food. It would be impossible for the two of us to spend $50 there, but today his sister and mom came for a visit, so we had enough people to use the coupon.
We had a variety of dishes around the table and everyone really enjoyed the food.
His mom ordered the Long Noodle dish.
She liked the broth and all the fresh veggies and kept saying how good it was. His sister ordered the Pink Tacos.
Alex got the turkey club.
Loren ordered the Ahi Tuna salad. Love the fresh tuna on this one.
And I ordered one of their specials today, the Valentino, which was a meatball panini with mozzerella and tomato sauce.
It was tasty. I don’t think I’ve had meatballs here before, but it’s definitely a sandwich I would order again. Most of the time I get a half sandwich and some lobster bisque, so I totally forgot how big their whole paninis are.
After the $25 coupon and with 4 drinks, the total came out to $27. It was a lot of fresh, delicious food for a very good price.
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
Had lunch with the boss today at a place I hadn’t been to in a long time, Wahoo’s Waterside Pub in Redington Shores.
If you like fresh fish, this place is fantastic. It is literally a couple hundred feet from a fishing boat dock and fish market, and Jimmy cooks it up right! Located on the intracoastal, the view from the back deck isn’t bad, either.
Today’s fish special was Bar Jack, served as “fingers”. Fritz got them blackened and really enjoyed them. I opted for a bronzed Grouper sandwich, which was awesome, as always.
They’ve changed their menu since I was last there. Used to be a folded photocopied page. Simple but effective. Now, it looks like they’ve streamlined the menu, taking a few things off of it, and gone with a full-color design on glossy paper. Still just one page folded. Still simple, but effective.
Left my camera at home, so no photos. Go for the fish. You can’t go wrong with whatever is on special.
Wahoo’s Waterside Pub
17801 Gulf Blvd
Redington Shores, FL 33708
Went to Miami to run the “12 Hours of Miami” race at Homestead International Raceway this weekend. On the way there from Tampa, we had brunch at a Cracker Barrel. It was good, but it’s Cracker Barrel… you either like Cracker Barrel or you don’t, but I ain’t blogging about it! We also ate at the same Cracker Barrel again on the way home Sunday, it was good then, too. Saturday, we had an early breakfast at Denny’s (conveniently next door to our hotel, which was curiously not a “La Quinta”, which I was sure was Spanish for “next to Denny’s”), and it was pretty good… it’s about the only thing that Denny’s does well. Somebody made a Wendy’s run for chicken sandwiches during the race… any food is awesome after 2 hours behind the wheel of a race car, and that was no exception. And late, late after the race Saturday night, we ate dinner at Denny’s… which was marginal at best, but what else are you gonna do when you’re hungry at 11pm?
Ah, but there was one meal that stood out! Friday night, we had time to kill, it was early, and we were hungry. We made our way to a seafood joint down the street from the hotel after searching for some Puerto Rican place that apparently burned down and was nowhere to be found. The place was a tad fancier than we were dressed for, but it’s Florida, and we figured we probably wouldn’t be the only t-shirt wearing racers to stroll in there this evening. (and we weren’t)
The menu was loaded with awesome-sounding seafood dishes. Lots of fresh fish, some steaks, just all-around good stuff. But, it was all a little pricey. Not much under about $16-18. But, then the waitress reminded us of their $9.99 specials. While a nice bronzed Mahi sounded really good… for about half the price, steak and shrimp sounded better. Two of us went with that. Everyone else got seafood dishes.
Of course, the two of us who did the $9.99 steak special also bit on the conch chowder without realizing that it was a $7 bowl of soup! So, we ended up spending $17 on dinner, anyway. But, let’s back up a little. First, there was bread…
It was really good bread! A light crunchy crust on the outside, soft, warm and delicious on the inside. As you probably know from reading this blog, if *I* bother to comment on the bread, it’s GOOD bread. Then our conch chowder showed up in these neat little pewter pots that kept it piping hot. We both agreed that we could have just eaten the soup and some bread and been good for the night. It was a good-sized bowl of soup and very hearty.
The entrees came without too much of a wait. Seeing the $9.99 special next to the other entrees made it clear what the difference was. Our steak and shrimp came with fries rather than a choice of two fresh sides, and didn’t have that “gourmet” look about it. I should have passed the camera around the table to get photos of the other dishes, as they all looked very good. The specials weren’t bad, but to be fair, they’re not what I would judge this restaurant on.
The shrimp were well-cooked, good crunchy batter and with a decent sauce. The fries were fries. Absolutely nothing special about those fries. The steak was surprisingly good, even though they overshot “medium” and went right into “medium well”. The beef was tender and juicy, can’t complain for the price.
I just looked this place up on Urban Spoon to find some weak reviews and a low “like” percentage. All I can say is, if you go here, plan on spending $20-25 per entree. You can get cheap here, but you get what you pay for. Spend the money and you won’t be disappointed!
11 SE 1st Ave
Since Boston Cooker was closed last week when we tried to go on Sunday, we figured we’d try again on Saturday night instead.
This time we went for the lobster bisque instead of the clam chowder.
It had a really nice flavor. Very smooth with a hint of sherry. And don’t forget about the fresh baked yeast rolls. I managed to down three of them before I remembered I needed to save room for my entree.
Next up, salad.
Served family style with a light creamy dressing on it. Loren ordered the mahi special they had tonight.
He said the fish was good, but the sauce was pretty bland. As for me, I come here for one reason and one reason only, fried Ipswitch clams with bellies.
It’s a taste of childhood for me and there are few places around here where you can get them. Tonight’s were a little smaller than usual, but more tender. I also like the red potatoes, but never have room enough to finish them. Must be all the yeast rolls.
I got a piece of their Boston Cream Pie to go.
I’ve never understood why it’s called a pie when it’s obviously cake. The cake was very fresh and moist. I’m used to more of a vanilla pudding filling and this was an actual cream-type filling. Still satisfied my sweet tooth sitting on the couch later in the evening.
For $47, I got my fried clam craving satisfied.
3705 Tampa Road
Day 8 of our vacation we had reservations for lunch at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company. On the way there, we stopped at the World Botanical Gardens to check out Umauma Falls.
What a beautiful 3 tiered waterfall. We’ve seen numerous waterfalls on our trip, but this one was simply gorgeous. The actual gardens aren’t as nice or plentiful as the Hawaii Botanical Gardens, but the waterfall is definitely worth the admission price.
The Hawaiian Vanilla Experience Lunch was pretty interesting.
Their vanilla in infused in all of the lunch items. The vanilla lemonade was really tasty. Lunch was a chicken sandwich with salad and roasted potatoes and a vanilla bread pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert. You also get to hear the story of the vanilla farm and get to visit the shade house where they grow the vanilla plants. Trust me, after this visit you’ll completely understand why vanilla is so expensive. Lunch and tour for two was $70, plus we ended up buying a few vanilla souvenirs as well.
After lunch, we went hiking through another cave and then walked around Kalopa State Park. The park was beautiful and very serene. We headed back to Hilo and stopped at the Hilo Bay Cafe for dinner.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t made reservations, but luckily there was plenty of room at the bar, so we ordered dinner there. I think this was our best meal of the trip.
I started out with a Thai curry coconut soup that was amazing.
Loads of interesing flavors that were amazingly warm, but not too spicy. Loren had a salad and really liked the dressing.
I ordered the hamakua mushroom pot pie with chicken which came with a side salad. This is the way pot pies should always be.
The pastry crust was flaky and perfectly baked. Chicken and fresh veggies in a creamy sauce inside. This is comfort food at its best.
Loren ordered their fish special of the night which was ono over a bed of mashed potatoes, spinach and tomatoes in a beurre blanc sauce.
Perfectly cooked, with wonderful flavors. There was nothing left on his plate when he was finished. And since our entrees had been so good, I certainly couldn’t pass up their version of chocolate lava cake.
Finally! A restaurant that understands that lava cake should have a liquid center. Loren was chatting with another customer at the bar and I had half of this eaten before he even turned around. Wonderful deep chocolate flavors and the vanilla ice cream was a perfect complement.
The entire experience was great. This is definitely a restaurant that “gets it”. The bartender was our waiter and he kept our drinks filled and plates cleared. It was interesting watching him make bloody mary’s all night. He must have made 8 of them while we were there. Total bill was $61 and worth every penny. If you’re in Hilo, make a reservation and eat here at least once on your trip.
Thursday was our last full day on the island. We ate breakfast at the B&B and then headed down to the Volcano Park again to see the Jagger Museum and the end of the Chain of Craters road. We also saw the Holei Sea Arch.
We stopped at Thai Thai Restaurant for dinner in Volcano. For an appetizer, we ordered the summer roll.
I didn’t like it, but Loren did. It had mint and cilantro in it that just completely ruined it for me. Those just aren’t flavors I enjoy.
I ordered the chicken coconut yellow curry at the mildest setting available.
I admit, I’m wimpy when it comes to spicy, but if this is mild, I’d hate to see what hot is like. My mouth was on fire. It had an interesting flavor, chicken and potatoes in the curry sauce, but my lips were tingling after just a few bites.
Loren ordered the ginger chicken.
His was even spicer than mine. He enjoyed it, but still ordered some coconut ice cream for dessert just to cool off his tongue.
The ice cream had bits of coconut in it. Total bill was $50 and it took a while for both of us to regain sensation in our tongues and lips. This is not a restaurant for the meek when it comes to spicy.
Last day on the island and we got up at 3:00am in order to go on the sunrise Lava Ocean Boat Tour. It was just so amazing during the sunset tour that we had to do it again before we left the island.
After the tour, we headed back to our B&B for breakfast then over to the Liliuokalani Gardens for awhile.
We ate lunch at the Kuhio Grille in Hilo. We actually ate breakfast here on our first day on the island. Pancakes and a Belgium waffle that were huge and way more than one person could eat.
Lunch on our last day also consisted of way too much food. I ordered the chicken katsu with some corn chowder. The chowder was really, really thick. It had the consistency of mashed potatoes.
The chicken was a little overcooked. Not the best I’d had on the island. Loren ordered one of their specials, a Philipino combo which had spare ribs, adobo & pumpkin, long beans, wing beans and pork.
He was a happy guy. The meat just fell off the bones of the spare ribs. Wonderful flavors all around. He had no idea that he was eating pumpkin until he asked the waitress what it was. Our final meal on the island ran us $28.
All in all, we had an amazing vacation in Hawaii. At every turn we were fascinated by the scenery. From beautiful waterfalls, to lush green rainforests, to endless lava fields, to flowing glowing lava. We kept saying “Wow”, only to have a bigger “Wow” uttered at the next stop. The food was also wonderful. So many of the restaurants used fresh, local ingredients and it was so apparent in the final dishes.
If you’re interested in seeing the rest of our photos, you can check them out on my Flickr page. We’re slowly getting them edited and posted. Aloha!
We had originally planned to hike down to Waipio Valley, but after several other hikes on the island we realized that was way too ambitious for us. Instead we decided to take a horseback riding tour through the valley which meant we got to ride in a 4WD van both up & down the steep incline road to get there.
On the way to Waipio, we stopped at Tex Drive In for lunch and some malasadas. I’d heard this was THE place to get the Portuguese doughnuts.
We both got a cheeseburger and fries for lunch.
The burgers had a nice flavor and were served on Hawaiian rolls. They were really tasty. The fries were cooked really well too.
Then came the malasadas.
We got a Bavarian Cream, chocolate, pineapple, and raspberry filled one. They were good, but I thought they were really doughy. I was a little disappointed because my expectations had been really high. Total lunch with the malasadas was $20.
Speaking of malasadas, we stopped at Baker Tom’s later in the week to try his and I gotta say, it was a much better doughnut. He talked our ear off when we stopped by and told us all about how he still uses butter and buttermilk and makes them so authentic that he’s had some Portuguese grandmothers come buy from him instead of making them at home.
It was a completely different consistency, texture and taste than the ones at Tex Drive In. We both preferred Tom’s, especially since he had a lilikoi filled one. We also got an apple, blackberry, and a strawberry cheesecake one.
Quick stop at the Waipio valley overlook, then off for our horseback ride.
By the time we finished our ride through Waipio and then the visitor center at Mauna Kea, we were ready to head back to Hilo for some sushi at Ocean Sushi Deli.
The sushi was really good and the rolls were huge. We got some salmon and hamachi as well as a Merrie Monach roll (shrimp tempura, cucumber and unagi), a Big Island roll (ahi, avocado, and macademia nuts), a Sunset Roll (ahi, hamachi, avacado, and tobikko, a Hilo roll (baked mahi, imitation crab, and avocado) and a Rainbow roll (imitation crab, cucumber, ahi, salmon, and avocado).
My least favorite was the Hilo roll. I didn’t care for the baked mahi. The Big Island roll was very interesting. I’d never had sushi with nuts in it before. And though I’m not a fan of nuts in general, the macademia nuts were actually pretty good in it. Prices were really good and they had a lot of items on the menu. For $38, we were plenty happy with our choice of sushi restaurants.
Tuesday was our day to drive around the island. First stop was the Punalu’u black sand beach to check out the sea turtles.
This was one of my favorites stops on our trip. We saw quite a few sea turtles in the water and then this one was coming ashore as we were leaving.
We stopped at the Hana Hou Restaurant for brunch.
By this point in our trip, we realized that the amount of food served everywhere we’ve been is way more than we can eat, so we decided to split a pork loco moco with a side of avocado.
This was definitely a winner in the loco moco category. The eggs and rice were cooked perfectly and the pork and gravy were both delicious.
As you walk in the door at Hana Hou, be sure to check out the dessert case.
There it was. My new favorite dessert, lilikoi pie. I ate half of it before remembering to take a picture.
Awesome flavor, fresh whipped cream, and a nice crust. I was in heaven. I really liked this restaurant. With a couple of drinks, the total bill was $22. If you’re visiting the south end of the island, this is definitely a great place to stop.
We couldn’t drive down to Southpoint due to some road construction, so we headed up the west coast and stopped at some beach parks and the Place of Refuge. We got into Kona around 4:30pm looking for a place to eat. Unfortunately, the first place we tried didn’t open until 5pm, so we headed over to the Manago Hotel. They didn’t open until 5pm either, but we figured we’d wait based on the review we read.
This was by far the most disappointing meal we ate on the island. They have a very limited menu which is on the wall in the dining room. Then they bring you out 4 side dishes before your meal.
Rice, a spaghetti/potato salad, mixed veggies (which tasted like frozen veggies), and black eyed peas which were served cold and tasted like they’d been cooked in sugar. At this point, I think we both realized we had made a mistake in dinner choices.
I forgot to even take photos of our entrees. I ordered the ono and Loren got the ahi. Both were cooked in some sort of lemon garlic sauce and the portions were small. The ono and ahi were both overcooked. At most, ahi should be seared, but this was cooked through and through. Blech! I have a feeling no matter what you ordered, it was going to be prepared the same way. It was $25 for dinner and this was the night we ended up stopping back at Huli Sue’s BBQ because we needed something else to eat. Supposedly, Manago is famous for their pork chops, but I know I wouldn’t go back to find out.
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.
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.
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.
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.