Restaurant Guide: Four Perfect Days
We have assembled the ideal breakfast, lunch and dinner itineraries for Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. This is a gourmand’s fantasy trip—we set aside all earthly concerns, including logistics, calories and budget. Enjoy these, our recommendations for four flawless days’ worth of Island dining.
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Ladies, let the fantasy begin the night before, in your Mauna Kea Beach Hotel “enhanced” guest room, perusing the enticing menu of room-service therapy, er, breakfast. Hang your order on the door, then wake up to fresh, hot coffee, iced pomegranate soda, Kohala pink grapefruit, chef’s local spinach-mushroom omelet with Boursin, house-smoked bacon, nine-grain and sourdough bread to brown in your own toaster. For “dessert,” breakfast bread pudding with vanilla sauce, whole Waimea strawberries and a bottle of Champagne. Consume leisurely in bed, on the lānai or au naturel in the ocean-view bathtub (without the toaster). Mandatory nap. 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Kohala Coast, (808) 882-7222.
Lunch requires a driver, preferably handsome, for the trip mauka to Waimea’s latest eatery, Pakini Grill, aka “Cattlemen’s the next generation” (yes, the brands are still there from the previous restaurant). Honokaa brothers Ryan, Justin and Brandon Lee and chef Keoni Regidor serve a sassy selection of sides to share: fried rice, warm mozzarella-spinach dip, housemade spicy kim chee and takuan (Japanese pickles), miso Portuguese steamer clams in a broth so good you’ll want a spoon and 21-ounce “muscle mugs” of ice-cold draft beer. In case you’re wondering about the restaurant’s name, a pakini is a galvanized washtub like the boys’ dad would take out spear fishing, balanced on an inner tube. 65-1144 Mamalahoa Highway, Kamuela, (808) 885-3333.
The Kailua-Kona romance begun in 1969 with Shirley and Hugo von Platen Luder, and continues today with son Eric. From the Alii Drive waterfront, Huggo’s offers what Hawaii restaurants covet: killer sunsets, today’s fish from right out there, great Island music and a long, delicious tradition. Treat Handsome Driver to Kona Bay Cioppino, while chef Konrad Arroyo’s “small-plates” menu tempts you with tempura-battered fern shoots, Kona lobster-ulu cakes, guava-braised baby back ribs, ginger-steamed clams or local oysters. Dare to finish the mile-high Hualalai Ice Cream Pie, and dance it off next door, barefoot in the sand, at Huggo’s On The Rocks. 78-5828 Kahakai Road, Kailua-Kona, (808) 329-1493.