Kaleo’s Bar & Grill

Kaleo’s Bar & Grill – Asian-American Food with a Hawaiian Twist in a Funky Setting
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Kaleo’s Bar & Grill has the cool vibe of a local watering hole with the exceptional food of a high-quality restaurant. Dishes inspired by the many nations that contribute to Hawaiian cuisine fill the menu with options for everyone. Live music, a full bar, and funky atmosphere make this an oasis for locals and tourists who want great drinks, food, and conversation.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Called the best restaurant on the east side of the Big Island, Kaleo’s Bar & Grill in Pahoa is more than just a place for great Hawaiian-inspired food. This quirky restaurant also features live music and a casual environment that will help you unwind.

While not near the beach, Kaleo’s still provides a great place to relax and enjoy people watching from the patio. Sip on a specialty cocktail or local beer from the full bar to enhance the mood or your meal.

Dishes on the menu feature local favorites, seafood creations, and burgers. The island’s history inspired the creation of many of the restaurant’s specialties. You’ll find Asian-inspired dishes such as Kalbi Ribs and Tempura Fresh Catch. And local favorites such as Guava Glazed BBQ Pork Ribs and Fish and Chips. Salads, burgers, and pasta round out the menu to appeal to the greatest variety of palettes.

Kaleo’s is a casual restaurant that can become very busy, so make reservations ahead of your visit, if possible. Many people come for the live music, but others visit for the great food and drinks in the evening. In fact, dinner is the busiest time for Kaleo’s.

When you visit, try one of the following must-eat dishes from the menu at Kaleo’s:

Coconut Seafood Curry
Coconut Curry comes in two forms on the menu – with chicken or with seafood. Both are equally delicious. However, the Coconut Seafood Curry uses fresh fish, scallops, and shrimp in its Thai coconut curry sauce for a flavorful dish. Local-caught seafood means that you will have the freshest fish in your curry. Coconut milk in this curry mellows the spices a little, making it ideal for those who love the flavors of curry without the mouth-burning heat.

Blackened Fresh Catch BLT
The freshness of the seafood served at Kaleo’s is evident in its changing menu. One of the hallmarks of this change is the house favorite, Blackened Fresh Catch BLT which uses the freshest available fish. Sometimes, you may go and get ono while other times you may have mahi-mahi on this sandwich.

Of course, you have bacon, lettuce, and tomato with the fish on the bun, but this BLT also includes other tasty additions to round out its flavor. Avocado, mango mayonnaise, and sprouts add crunch and texture to an ordinarily simple sandwich, elevating it to a hearty treat.

Kalbi Ribs
Another favorite of the house is the Kalbi Ribs. These Korean-marinated boneless short ribs are unbelievably tender and succulent. The marinade has sweet and salty flavors that make these ribs hard to stop eating.

Dynamite
Vegetables, mushrooms, shrimp, scallops, and fresh fish combine with spicy mayonnaise and bake in a dish to create Dynamite. The simple name comes from the extra kick given by the mayonnaise. This dish is a favorite of locals and frequently recommended to those who prefer an option that does not have chicken, pork, or beef.

When near Pahoa, make a stop at Kaleo’s Bar & Grill when you want a meal that is filling and flavorful or to relax with a drink from the bar while taking in the local atmosphere. You’ll quickly realize why locals and visitors recommend this restaurant on the Big Island’s east side.

Insider Tips:
-Stop by on the way to the newest black sand beach on the Big Island, Pohoiki Beach, also known as Isaac Hale Park. Kaleo’s is the closest restaurant to this new beach.
-Contact the restaurant or check its Facebook page for updates on the live music schedule.
-No street parking is available, but the restaurant has a parking lot with an attendant that it shares with the Pahoa Lava Zone Museum next door. The attendant directs cars to spots in the lot to speed the parking process at this busy restaurant.
-Leave your car parked in the lot before or after dining at Kaleo’s and visit the Pahoa Lava Zone Museum that shares the parking lot.