Is there anything more magical than enjoying fine dining cuisine in the heart of paradise? Definitely not. That’s why if you’re visiting the Big Island, reserving a table at an upscale restaurant is an absolute must at least once on your trip. Just be ready to want to repeat that experience every night thereafter upon getting a taste of the full tropical fine dining aesthetic. Thankfully, you can easily get started on that journey by setting your sights on these 10 high-end island restaurants.
Ulu Ocean Grill
Located in the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Ulu Ocean Grill goes big on the Pacific Rim cuisine while taking a farm-to-table approach. By closely working with over 160 local farms, about ¾ of all the food they serve comes straight from the Big Island’s bounty. Then, they use proven culinary practices to prepare their dishes in the oven, wok, and even over an open flame.
Their menu changes with the season, but you can expect fares like Charcoal BBQ Octopus, Broiled King Crab Legs, and Misoyaki Kanpachi. For the ultimate dining experience, book a table out on the lanai at sunset. With that move, you’ll get to sip cocktails and dine on the finest fare around while the sky lights up in vivid hues over the oceanside.
Resident’s Beach House
Craft cocktails and all-day pupus are the names of the game at Resident’s Beach House. This casual bar puts you right on the beachfront in Kailua-Kona. The best time to arrive is at sunset, of course, but the views stay phenomenal from open to close.
While watching the waves lap at the sandy shores, you can keep many exquisite drinks coming your way, including their popular strawberry-lime-guava cocktail dubbed Tom’s Pink Shirt. Want to go beyond cocktails? They have local craft brews, champagne, and wine plus non-alcoholic beverages, too. When you’re feeling a little snacky, order up the Ceviche, Blackened Mahi Mahi Tacos, or other bar bite delights.
Another Four Seasons Resort Hualalai production, Hualalai Grille lets you enjoy an open-air dining experience right on the 18th green. As players putt their way to victory, you’ll get to satisfy all your cravings for fresh island fare. Swing by before 5:30 pm to enjoy drinks from the full bar plus small bite delicacies, like Shrimp Cocktail, Mochiko Chicken, and Ahi Poke Nachos.
Whenever you’re in the mood for an upscale dinner, they can do that, too. Just come by after the lounge hours for incredible starters, salads, and entrees galore, including their A La Plancha for Two. Just be sure to save room for dessert or risk missing out on their Macadamia Nut Toffee Ice Cream Pie and other awesome creations.
As an integral part of the Mauna Lani Auberge Resorts Collection, Canoe House serves as the place to go in Waimea for a fine dining experience to remember. At the heart of their operations, they have all the best Hawaiian-Asian fusion dishes, like Warayaki, Smoked Pork Jowl, and Wagyu Rib Eye. But if you want to go all out, you cannot miss their six-course tasting menu.
Their beach house aesthetic is second to none, too. As you settle in their indoor-outdoor dining area, their dazzling firepits and tiki torches set the mood for farm-to-table island fare. Then, their open ocean views complete the picture of perfection, taking your fine dining experience to the next level.
When you want fresh local fare for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, just jet on over to Halani to get your fill. Also located in the Mauna Lani Resort, this open-air eatery rolls out all the best island fare on the double. They open their doors bright and early, too, allowing you to fuel up for your adventures with cold-press juices, Acai Bowls, and Ube Pancakes, just to name a few things.
Later in the day, they expand their offerings to include surf and turf creations galore plus handcrafted cocktails, beer, and more. With so many things to try all day long, you’ll definitely want to come back again and again to get a taste of it all.
When nothing else will do but French cuisine in an upscale setting, you can count on La Bourgogne to come through in a big way. A definite Kailua-Kona favorite, this restaurant boasts all the charm of the European countryside while sitting right in the middle of paradise. Their menu is equally impressive, featuring all the classic French dishes you could ever want.
Their high-end wine list promises to kickstart your visit in an instant, especially if you choose a bottle from the Reserve Vintages collection. After that, you can whet your appetite with Frog Legs Provençale, Escargot, or Lobster Bisque. As for the main course, think Veal Normandy, Sweetbreads, and Duck Confit. Dessert is a must, too, ranging from Chocolate Grand Marnier Souffle to Profiterole.
Since 1969, Huggo’s has proudly served as an iconic place to enjoy an upscale meal on the Kona waterfront. Their oceanfront restaurant is pure elegance from end to end, promising to delight you with beauty all around. Then, they aim to elevate every visit by serving up handcrafted cocktails, seafood and steak creations, and delicious desserts.
For a taste of famous local fare, don’t miss the opportunity to dine on Huggo’s Signature Teriyaki Steak. If you’d rather sample fresh-caught seafood, go with the macadamia nut-arare crusted Kahakai. To avoid any regrets, save room in your belly for their Haupia Cake “Broke da Mouth.” When it comes to this dessert, the name truly says it all.
Chef Peter Merriman leads the way to greatness at his popular Big Island restaurant, Merriman’s. With a trip to this eatery, you’ll land in a quintessential upcountry setting filled with endless Hawaiian hospitality. As you get settled in, it’ll become quite clear that they take the farm-to-table approach seriously. Every last item uses ingredients from local ranchers, farmers, and fishermen to bring you the freshest flavors around.
For a memorable sampling of all they have to offer, go for the prix fixe menu, giving you three courses paired with the perfect flights. The selections change often, but you’re likely to find delicacies like Hawaiian Shoyu Poke, Butcher’s Cut Lamb, and Lilikoi Mousse.
Whether you’re looking for island-inspired cuisine or just want an ultra-juicy burger, Pineapples promises to satisfy all your cravings. From Poke Towers and Coconut Crusted Fresh Catch to BBQ Kalua Pork Sandwich and Lava Burger, they have a little something for everybody. Local brews, handcrafted cocktails, and a huge wine list round out their offerings, making this a great place to land when you’re in Hilo.
Although their food and drinks are the stars of the show, for sure, their open-air eatery design adds to the magic. No matter where you sit in their restaurant, you get a view of all the action happening in the downtown area.
Brown’s Beach House
Well-known as an AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in the Fairmont Orchid, Brown’s Beach House brings on excellence in everything they do. Their commitment to creating decadent Hawaiian cuisine puts them at the top of the charts. Plus, their breathtaking oceanfront setting lets you enjoy the beauty of the Big Island to the fullest.
Since every last course is as good as the last, you’ll want to bring a big appetite. By doing so, you’ll get to start with exquisite creations like Coconut Red Curry Lobster Bisque, Pork Belly, and Ahi Poke. After that, it’s time to savor their Big Island Ka’u Coffee Venison, Five Spice Duck Breast, or Kabocha Pumpkin Gnocchi. Once you let your belly settle, treat yourself to the Kona Coffee Mud Pie to finish your meal off right.
You really cannot go wrong no matter which Big Island fine dining restaurant you choose. So, pick a spot at random if you simply cannot decide where to go first. Then, get ready to visit them all at least once to find your absolute favorite of the bunch.