The unassuming, tan and light brown exterior, marked by a trendy but low-key framed sign, belies the uplifting vibe, creative menu, and unique concoctions housed beyond the glass double doors of Vibe Café. Located on the East Coast of the Big Island, adjacent to Hilo International Airport, this vegan and vegetarian restaurant and coffeehouse is a must-visit for herbivores, health food enthusiasts, and flavor lovers alike.
Upon entering the establishment, you’re met with shiny cement floors, white walls with floating shelves packed with inviting, green plants, and interesting light fixtures. Small tables line the perimeter, around an eye-catching bar area adorned with a pink and green tropical motif. On the wall behind the counter, a pink, fluorescent sign announces the overarching theme of the place: “Good Vibes Only.”
Visitors order at the counter, and their orders are delivered by friendly and knowledgeable servers. As for what to order, well, that’s where this gets fun. The restaurant is fully vegetarian and offers a huge array of vegan options.
The extensive drink menu features something for every palate. Coffees range from typical espresso and americano offerings to exotic riffs on lattes, like vanilla orange blossom and coconut rose. A selection of “rainbow lattes” consists of several non-coffee lattes ranging from the familiar – like ceremonial matcha – to the daring – like beet, activated charcoal, and blue majik algae. For those looking for something a little more refreshing, an assortment of complex lemonades and limeades includes flavor combinations like chili rose, jalapeno, and lilikoi.
Breakfast is served all day, with choices like vegan eggs benedict, and vegan loco moco. Vibe’s twists on toast include avocado, caprese, and “get nuts!” which features a heavenly combination of Nutella, strawberries, bananas, and shredded coconut. Rounding out the menu are a robust selection of salads, burgers, tacos, pizzas, and desserts.
With so many choices, it’s impossible to try everything, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to. To get started, here are a few of our favorite dishes to date:
Different but not unrecognizable, the goldenmilk latte is a happy medium for diners who want to try something beyond their typical morning latte. This coffee-free drink contains warm milk of your choice flavored to perfection with bright and bold spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Packed with nutritional value, this is a great pick-me-up.
Although it’s on the breakfast menu, this refreshing option works at any time of day. A bed of freshly blended acai grounds this bowl that is topped with granola, seasonal fruits, nuts, condensed coconut milk, and honey. And never fear, vegans; this can be modified for you to enjoy, too!
Beet Poke Bowl
A vegan take on traditional Hawaiian poke, this bowl is so tasty, that even meat-lovers can enjoy it. Brown rice, Japanese cucumbers, kimchi, ginger, avocado, wasabi mayo, and furikake complement the flavorful beet “ahi poke” to make this savory dish complex and satisfying.
Vegan Jackfruit “Pulled Pork” Street Tacos
Spiced jackfruit, cashew cheese, lettuce, mango, and avocado salsa are layered in corn tortillas, creating a memorable bite that is just the right combination of sweet and spicy. Who needs meat when you can experience flavors like this?
For those looking for something closer to a traditional, animal-based meal, we must recommend the mushroom swiss burger. This concoction levels up a Beyond Meat burger by dousing it in perfectly grilled mushrooms, swiss cheese, vegan mayo, and topping it all with lettuce, tomato, and onion. We loved every bite of it.
Whether you’re an experienced vegan, or just looking to dip your toe into the waters of meatless dining, stop by Vibe Café on your next trip to the Big Island. With its huge menu and one-of-a-kind flavor combinations, you’re bound to find a new favorite dish. What was yours? Let us know!
-Gluten-free buns and bread are available for an additional fee, so those with dietary restrictions can be free to indulge. Just ask for the upgrade when placing your order.
-Although some items on the menu contain dairy or honey, many can be modified to be made vegan. Ask your server if you see something you’d like to modify.
-On Saturday nights, Vibe Café becomes Vibe AFTERHOURS. The lively evenings feature a DJ or live music, dancing, vegan food, and local beer. Call to check whether this will be happening during your visit.