When you travel, you’re looking for unique experiences. Ones you can’t find anywhere else, in places that stand out in your mind for years to come. If that’s the kind of vacation memory you’d like to forge, then look no further than the Hilo Farmers Market Kitchen.
History of the Hilo Farmers Market
Back in 1988, Richard “Mike” Rankin felt inspired to start a market. At first, only four vendors made the trip, hawking their produce from the backs of their pickup trucks – but that wasn’t the case for long.
Now, 35 years later, this can’t-miss Big Island attraction is one of the best on the island. (Or, if you’re to believe Sunset Magazine’s statement from an issue in 2000, one of the best in the entire West.) Open all year round, locals and tourists alike love stopping in for fresh seafood, homemade cheese, beautiful tropical produce such as sugarloaf pineapple and dragon fruit, and much more.
As you can see, it was already a good time … and that’s before the restaurants made their entrance!
Enter the Kitchen
Some years later, a bunch of foodies got together and asked themselves … wouldn’t we just love to have some street food right here? And all agree that, yes, this was a fantastic idea. Thus was the Farmers Market Kitchen, across the street from the market itself, born.
Today, it is an extremely unique model for cooking and eating. While there are several established eateries there, the fully certified kitchen also rents space to entrepreneurs and small businesses that want to hone their cooking skills on hungry crowds. They can rent the kitchen by the hour, weekly or monthly, bringing you a huge range of foods to try, with a selection that is different by the day.
You’re guaranteed to get:
- Poke bowls and sides
- Burgers featuring 100% grass-fed Hawaiian Island beef
- Daily and seasonal local specials
- A range of dining choices depends on who’s in the kitchen!
If you’re only going to choose one thing to eat, though, make it a poke bowl or a burger. These are the kitchen’s uniquely Hawaiian staples, for which it is famous all over the island and beyond.
Hilo Farmers Market Kitchen is in Hilo, a town on the northeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The farmers market is centrally located only a block back from Russell Carroll Mooheau County Park, right on the waterfront. It is a perfect spot to hit for lunch when doing a walking tour of downtown but is easily accessible from anywhere in Hilo.
-Parking is limited and the farmers market and kitchen are very popular. If you’re meeting someone there for lunch, make sure to arrive with enough time to circle the block several times while you wait for a spot to open up.
-Outdoor seating, like parking, is limited. If you want to take your food to go, you won’t have long to wait, but if you hope to eat at the kitchen, you’ll again need to give yourself extra time. Note that there is no indoor seating.
-In Hilo, unlike in the rest of Hawaii, locals call shave ice “ice shave.” Show off your knowledge by heading to Kula Shave Ice and ordering an ice shave in your favorite flavor.
-Many of the kitchen’s vendors go home once the crowds die down, so for the full Farmers Market Kitchen experience, go during the busy lunch rush!
-Check out the Hilo Farmers Market website to learn about their current vendor categories and their featured vendor of the month, so you can hit up the farmers market with intention after you stuff yourself on gourmet Hawaiian grub.