Big Jake’s Island B-B-Q

Big Jake's Island BBQ -- Premier Slow-Cooked Barbecue Joint in Captain Cook, Hawaii
The Bottom Line:

If you are looking to sink your teeth into some juicy ribs or finger-licking pulled pork, then you should strongly consider a visit to Big Jake's Island BBQ. This informal roadside eatery is serious about its meats, often cited as one of the best places to go on the island for a barbecue. 

- The Local Expert Team

In culinary terms, Hawaii is generally most well known for its extra-fresh seafood options and delicious produce grown on volcanic slopes. These are food options that everyone should try at least once during their stay on the islands. But sometimes you want more than just seafood and fruits. Sometimes, you want a good rack of meat. For those times, consider a place like Big Jake’s Island BBQ.

Big Jake’s Island BBQ is a laidback roadside dining establishment that is best known for, you guessed it, barbecue. You will find this business in the town of Captain Cook on the Big Island of Hawaii, conveniently set up right on the main throughway of Mamalahoa Highway (also known as Hawaii Belt Road). You will find the small restaurant on the east side of the road, recognizable for the massive outside smoker that is busy all day long. 

While there is a small building here, most all of what goes on at Big Jake’s Island BBQ takes place outside. The front of the building is akin to a large roofed patio that is fully open on two sides. Here, you will find a row of picnic tables as well as a cut-out window area where you will order your food. Another series of picnic tables equipped with umbrellas line the corner of the building.

Back to that ordering at the window. Big Jake’s Island BBQ is a very relaxed environment. No dress code, no waitstaff, no reservations. You simply walk up, check out the menu, place your order, find a table, and wait until your delicious barbecue is ready to be enjoyed.  

Before you head out for a big meal at Big Jake’s Island BBQ, a quick word of caution. This place operates not only on island time but on quality food time. The pork butt here doesn’t get served until it’s been smoked for a solid twelve hours, the beef brisket often upwards of 18 hours. Chicken and other items are quicker, with premium cuts being slow-cooked for two hours.

Now, of course, the chefs here don’t expect customers to wait 18 hours before their order is ready; they will have menu items going at all times. However, it does mean that a smart diner here knows when to go and what to expect. Generally, later in the day is going to be better than earlier in the day as more of the food items have had a long time to reach that taste perfection. Be ready, however, for some favorites to be gone by the very end of the day.

Big favorites at Big Jake’s Island BBQ include:

Full or Half Rack BBQ Rib Plate
At $29.95 for the Full RAck Rib Plate and $18.95for the Half Rack Rib Plate, these are the most expensive items on the Big Jake’s Island BBQ menu. Yet they are worth it if you love ribs, with quite a few citing this as the best ribs they have ever had. Remember, these bad boys have been smoking all day long, making them tender and juicy with meat that crumbles from the bone. 

BBQ Pork Butt Plate
For something a touch cheaper ($12.95) but still incredibly declivous barbecue, opt for the pork butt menu item. This is another incredible meal and, as with all of the main entrees at Big Jake’s Island BBQ, comes with rice, coleslaw, and baked beans. 

Insider Tips:
Big Jake’s Island BBQ has an excellent food menu, but they don’t have as many delicious drinks as an option. The bright side of this is that their outdoor seating is BYOB and there’s a corner store-type business, Patel’s Auto Station, that boasts a surprisingly large selection of beers. That beer selection includes Steinlagers which make for an excellent barbecue pairing.