Restaurant review: The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill

The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill is a South Kona institution. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Korner Pocket is in Kealakekua close to Highway 11. Open every day, they also do a Sunday brunch. A great place to stop on your way south!

We arrived for lunch mid-week and there were plenty of tables. There is also easy parking in the parking lot in front of the restaurant. You can choose to eat inside or outside where there is a covered lanai. The service was great and the menu has some great options. 

Of course it is a sports bar and this is well-catered for with nine TVs and two pool tables. It can be a little noisy inside but there is a great outdoor lanai with seating which we found to be perfect. 

The menu

Korner Pocket uses fresh, grass-fed beef for their hamburgers, served on locally-made fresh buns. They also offer – slow-cooked prime rib, spicy poke nachos, fish and chips, tacos and salads, as part of an extensive menu.

What we ordered

(Above) Blackened Ono Sandwich $16.95 – Lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion & aioli on a French brioche bun with a side salad.

(Above) KP Patty Melt $14.95 – Toasted rye, sautéed onions and Swiss cheese.

We took advantage of the outdoor seating which is to the left as you walk into Korner Pocket from the main parking lot entrance (the outdoor seating is located behind the screen in the photo below).

The fish sandwich was delicious and perfectly cooked as was the KP patty melt. 

The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill is a great place to grab a quick lunch, or to watch the game, or to simply spend the afternoon or evening having a leisurely meal. 

Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill

81-970 Haleki’i Street 
Kealakekua

Hawaii 96750

Ph. 808 322 2994

Hours: Mon – Thurs 11am – 8pm, Fri – Sat 11am – 9pm, Sun 9am – 8pm

https://kornerpocketkona.com

Authored by

Restaurant review: Menehune Restaurant

Menehune Restaurant is located on Mamalahoa Highway in South Kona, just south of Captain Cook. They serve a great variety of breakfast and lunch dishes. Open from 6am to 3pm. A handy pitstop on your journey south!

We arrived for lunch early in the week and there were plenty of tables. There is also easy parking in front of the restaurant. The service was super friendly and the menu is extensive.

The menu

For breakfast choose from – a range of omelettes or waffles, or go for their classic breakfast options – like biscuits and gravy, a breakfast burrito, a wrap, or a turkey & Swiss croissant. For lunch choose from sandwiches, wraps, burgers, salads or fish and chips.

What we ordered

(Above) Fish and Chips – beer batter crispy fresh caught fish, French fries, citrus slaw, and tartar sauce ($26.95)

(Above) Ono sandwich with avocado and slaw ($29.95)

The fish and chips were tasty and the portion was large. The Ono sandwich however, was overpriced for what it was and wasn’t as flavorful as expected. This was disappointing. We do like to support local businesses but the prices at Menehune Restaurant are on the steep side. If you’re looking for a lunch spot on your way out of Kona there are other restaurants to choose from such as the Coffee Shack that might be a better option in this area. 

(*Please note, we haven’t tried their breakfast menu).

Menehune Restaurant

84-5227 Mamalahoa Hwy 
Captain Cook

Hawaii 96704

Ph. 808 238 0627

Hours: Mon – Sun, 6am – 3pm

https://www.menehunecoffee.com/restaurant/

Authored by

Restaurant review: Taka Sushi Grill Chinese Cuisine

Taka Sushi Grill Chinese Cuisine is tucked away in the Coconut Grove Marketplace on Ali’i Drive. They serve a great selection of sushi as well as Chinese dishes. Open all day for lunch and dinner, this quiet restaurant is great for a quick lunch or a dinner feast!

We arrived early in the week for an early lunch and were seated quickly. The restaurant has only a few tables, plus seating at the counter, although there is a back room for large groups. Unless you’re seated at the table by the window there aren’t views of the ocean. Parking is easy, the Coconut Grove Marketplace almost always has adequate parking in the lot behind the marketplace, and it’s just a short walk to the restaurant.

The service is good and the only problem we had was deciding on what to choose from their vast menu!

The menu

A large selection of sushi rolls, sashimi/nigiri as well as chow mein noodles, chicken and pork dishes.

What we ordered

(Above) Dublin Roll – Spicy tuna crabmeat topped with yellowtail and avocado ($14.95). Unagi ($6.95) and Seared Sake (Nigiri) ($7.95).

(Above) Sesame Balls – sticky white flour dough filled with a sweet paste ($6.25).

(Above) Edamame ($5.75).

(Above) Sunset Blvd Roll – Spicy tuna and yellowtail crunch with unagi spicy sauce ($13.95).

(Above) Dragon Roll – Crabmeat mix, shrimp tempura and eel, topped with avocado. Served with eel sauce and tobiko ($14.95).

Taka Sushi is a great place for fresh sushi. All of our dishes were excellent,  in particular the eel. The only disappointment was the heavily salted edamame but that’s just a personal preference. If you’re looking for sushi for lunch or dinner near the Kona waterfront, be sure to head to Taka Sushi.

Taka Sushi Grill Chinese Cuisine

75-5803 Ali’i Dr B5, Kailua-Kona

Hawaii 96740

Ph. 808 491 2321

Hours: Mon – Sun, 10:30am – 10:30pm

https://www.takaorder.com

Authored by

Restaurant review: Foster’s Kitchen

Foster’s Kitchen (Kona) is located amongst the strip of restaurants on Ali’i Drive, with a picture-perfect view over the ocean. The restaurant offers a casual dining experience with an extensive menu. They pride themselves on purchasing directly from local famers and producers with a commitment to certified-organic products where possible.

Foster’s Kitchen is currently open Monday to Sunday from 11am to 10pm. We arrived midweek for an early lunch soon after opening and were among the first to be seated. The entire restaurant seating area is a patio space, with lovely views, and a breeze that comes right off the ocean. Note, there is some road noise from Ali’i Drive, especially if seated close to the road.

Make sure to take advantage of the free parking lot behind Foster’s Kitchen which is accessed via Kuakini Highway. The service we experienced on our visit was quick, friendly and efficient.

The menu

From bruschetta and marinated calamari appetizers, to ahi stir fry, fish tacos and shrimp & grits – Foster’s Kitchen has a large menu. They also have salads, burgers and sandwiches, plus an extensive children’s menu.

What we ordered

(Above) Fried Green Tomatoes – breaded green tomatoes, fried golden brown and served with a Cajun remoulade dipping sauce ($13).

(Above) Tomato Bisque Cup – Hot savory tomato bisque topped with avocado mousse and micro greens. Served with gourmet grilled cheese with caramelized Maui onions on sourdough bread ($10).

(Above) Seared Crab Cakes – traditional lump crab cakes served with Cajun remoulade, lilikoi slaw and microgreeens ($22).

(Above) Calamari – calamari marinated in fresh herbs, chardonnay, and garlic – lightly grilled. Served with grilled white truffle lemons and a herb-infused oil ($15).

(Above) Seafood Puff Pastry – puff pastry filled with a mixture of crab, shrimp, Macadamia nut pesto, and cheese, then baked golden brown, brushed with fresh pesto, and sprinkled with parmesan ($15).

(Above) Cheesecake – Graham cracker-crusted scratch-made no-bake cheese cake with a lilikoi topping. Finished with whipped cream and strawberries ($8).

(Above) Banana Pudding – buttery crispy puff pastry shell with house-made vanilla pudding and bananas, caramelized with local dark rum ($12).

Foster’s Kitchen was a relaxed dining experience. Some of the appetizers were more successful than others, in particular the calamari flavors didn’t quite gel, and the seared crab cakes came with a Cajun remoulade that was too hot, overpowering all the other flavors. However, the seafood puff pastry was delicious and the fried green tomatoes were also very tasty.

Foster’s Kitchen is a great place to have lunch or dinner in Kona with an ocean view. They also have another location in the Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa.

Foster's Kitchen Kona

75-5805 Ali’i Dr, Kailua-Kona

Hawaii 96740

Ph. 808 326 1600

Hours: Mon – Sun, 11am – 10pm

https://www.fosterskitchen.com

Authored by

Restaurant review: Bianelli’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta 

Bianellis Kona
Photo credit: HawaiianIslands.com

Bianelli’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta is a family owned and operated restaurant that was first established in 1989. For over thirty years they have been using only the freshest ingredients available and supporting Big Island farms by using locally-sourced produce.

The restaurant is famed for its pizza crust. The crust has a thick edge, and is perhaps a little sweeter than traditional pizza crusts. Their pasta source is a combination of white wine mushroom sauce blended with marinara.

Bianellis is currently open Tuesday to Saturday. We arrived on a weekday in the early evening. The restaurant was already quite busy and we had no trouble getting a table outside. There is easy parking in front of KTA. The service was quick and efficient, and even though they had recently upgraded their payment software it was no problem to split the bill.

The menu

Bianelli’s offers a traditional Italian menu. From gourmet pizza, pasta dishes, calzones, sandwiches and salads – the menu is extensive.

What we ordered

(Above) The Gourmet Vegetarian – artichoke hearts, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, onion and fresh basil. (12″) ($24.45)

(Above) Greek Salad – Locally-grown lettuce, green peppers, onions, green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and garlic vinaigrette. ($15.95)

(Above) Bianelli’s Combo – Our fresh baked crust topped with mushroom, pepperoni, ham, sausage, green pepper and black olives. (12″) ($24.45)

Bianellis was a very relaxing dining experience – we were even visited by a friendly local chicken during our meal! (we assume it did not subsequently become part of the menu). Our dishes were tasty, although the pizza crust was sweeter than I would have liked and the artichokes dominated the flavor of the vegetarian pizza. However, overall Bianellis is a perfectly pleasant Italian restaurant.

Bianelli’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta

78-6831 Ali’i Dr, Kailua-Kona

Hawaii 96740

Ph. 808 322 0377

Hours: Tues-Thurs 4 – 8pm, Fri-Sat 4pm – 8:30pm (closed Sun-Mon)

https://bianellis.com

Authored by

Restaurant review: Keei Cafe

Keei Cafe Front
Photo credit: HawaiianIslands.com

Keei Cafe is a family owned restaurant specializing in American-Hawaiian fusion dishes. Located in Kealakekua, this restaurant has been a local favorite since 1995. It was originally in Honaunau but has been at its current address since 2005.

The owners source as much of their menu from local ingredients to prepare creative and delicious dishes with nightly specials.

Keei Cafe is currently open 5pm-9pm, Tues-Sat. We arrived on a weekday in the early evening. The restaurant was almost empty and we didn’t have to wait for a table. There is easy parking around the back of the restaurant.

There are plenty of tables and plenty of airflow. There is a separate dining area for large groups and smaller tables on a balcony area facing the highway. On the evening we were there a musical duo were playing – unfortunately, this combined with the wooden floors and more diners, meant there was quite a lot of noise and it did reduce the enjoyment of the space somewhat.

The menu

The menu is a mix of American-Hawaiian flavors. Choose from appetizers like eggplant rolls, ahi poke nachos and baked brie. As well as salads with locally grown ingredients there are pork chops, seafood pasta and spicy fajitas. Dessert options include, warm tropical bread pudding and warm macadamia nut pie.

What we ordered

(Above) Vegetarian Black Bean Soup. A hearty housemade soup topped with sour cream and fresh salsa. Served with a warm tortilla ($8.95).

(Above) Caprese Salad. Local vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices, tender basil leaves, sweet maui onions drizzled in extra virgin olive oil, and our housemade balsamic reduction glaze ($10.95)

(Above) Roasted Half Chicken. Experience Keei Cafe’s yellow Thai curry sauce or white wine peppercorn gravy, with your choice of white or brown rice, whipped potatoes & a vegetable medley ($25.95).

(Above) Cioppino-Fisherman’s Stew. An assortment of fresh seafood including mussels, shrimp, scallops, squid, and fresh fish in a rich tomato/white wine broth. Served with crusty bread ($13.95).

(Above) Pasta Primavera. Your choice of chicken or tofu with sauteed vegetables, smothered in a basil pesto or marinara sauce and topped with grated parmesan cheese ($21.95).

Keei Cafe 15

(Above) Warm Lava Flow. Rich chocolate flourless cake with a molten chocolate center. Served with seasonal sauce, chocolate and caramel drizzle ($7.95).

Keei Cafe was a relaxing dining experience, however it did get a little loud with the musical duo’s performance. Our dishes were tasty, although the vegetarian black bean soup was lacking in flavor. Overall Keei Cafe is the perfect spot for dinner in Kealakekua.

Keei Cafe

79-7511 Mamalahoa Highway

Kealakekua

Hawaii 96750

Ph. 808 322 9992

Hours: Tues-Sat, 5pm – 9pm (closed Sun-Mon)

https://www.opentable.com/keei-cafe

Authored by

Restaurant review: Rebel Kitchen

Rebel Kitchen specializes in Hawaiian-inspired burgers, sandwiches & salads. They also make their own range of hot sauces which are sold on site. 

Located in the heart of Kainaliu, Rebel Kitchen has a community feel. The owners source as much of their food as possible from local suppliers. They also use eco friendly food packing products where possible.

Rebel Kitchen is currently only open 11-5pm, Tues-Sat. As a result, it’s primarily a lunch spot. We arrived on a weekday in the early afternoon. The restaurant was almost empty and we didn’t have to wait for a table. Kainaliu is a small collection of restaurants, second-hand stores, galleries and other shops on Mamalahoa Highway not far from Kealakekua. There is a usually easy parking in front of the restaurant.

There are plenty of tables and plenty of airflow in an area that is essentially an enclosed patio. There is also seating at the bar.

The menu

The menu is a mix of classic American staples infused with local Hawaiian flavors. Pupu’s (Hawaiian for appetizers) include – nacho steak fries (fries topped with slices of ribeye steak), Hawaiian Fire Wings (deep fried wings in their homemade hot sauce) and Cuban Rolls (pork, ham and cheese rolled in a wonton and deep fried!). Items on their salad menu include – Thai steak salad, BBQ chicken salad and a grilled vegetable salad. Why not try their local grass fed beef patty burgers, or a pulled pork sandwich. They also have a number of specialty dishes including an ono and shrimp dish, cajun pasta, and a creamy veggie pasta. All the buns used in the burgers and sandwiches are freshly made on the premises!

What we ordered

(Above) Blackened ono sandwich. Crispy blackened ono topped with lettuce, tomato and onion on a homemade bun ($14.75). Served with a spicy pineapple coleslaw (red cabbage, onion, peppers, pineapple topped with homemade sauce).

(Above) BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich. Pulled pork in a tangy spicy BBQ sauce topped with lettuce, tomato and onion on a homemade bun ($13.99). Served with a potato salad (a mustard-based salad with red potato, onions, peppers, olives and pickles.

Rebel Kitchen was a relaxed dining experience. The food was delicious and the homemade sauces were very tasty. This local favorite is the perfect spot for lunch when you find yourself in the Kainaliu/Kealakekua area.

Rebel Kitchen

79-7399 Hawai’i Belt Rd (aka Mamalahoa Hwy)

Kealakekua

Hawaii 96750

Ph. 808 322-0616

Hours: Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm (closed Sun-Mon)

http://rebelkitchen.com

Authored by

Restaurant review: Izakaya Shiono

Izakaya Shiono is a sushi and Japanese resturarant, serving fresh fish dishes with locally sourced fish, all prepared by experienced Japanese chefs.

We arrived on a weekday in the early afternoon. The restaurant was about half-full and we didn’t have to wait long for a table.

Izakaya Shinono’s is in the same district as Kona Brewing Company, Umeke’s Fish Market Bar and Grill, and right next door to HiCO (Hawaiian Coffee). There is a parking lot behind the restaurant that serves a number of local restaurants.

There is outdoor seating alongside the restaurant, and also a separate patio area where we found a table in the shade.

The menu

The menu is a mix of sushi, ramen and tempura. We decided to order off the lunch menu and had one main dish with a side of miso soup (included).

What we ordered

(Above). Sushi Nigiri Set – unagi cucumber ($20.50). The unagi was delicious and the sushi was excellent. Extremely tasty!

(Above). Sushi Nigiri Set – Spicy Tuna ($20.50). It was the perfect amount of tuna and the flavors were wonderful.

Unfortunately, the miso soup could have been a little hotter but this is a small complaint. The service was great, the sushi was exceptionally good, and the fish tasty and fresh.

Izakaya Shiono sources the freshest locally caught fish as well as importing the best fish from Japan. Note: the restaurant uses Tamaki Gold Koshihikari, which is considered by many to be the best short-grain rice in the world. All very good reasons to visit Izakaya Shiono for some of the best Japanese on the Big Island.

Izakaya Shiono

74-5599 Pawai Place B4 & B5

Kailua-Kona

Hawaii 96740

Ph. 808 657 4388

Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-8pm

https://www.sushishiono.com/izakaya-shiono/

Authored by

Restaurant review: Teshima’s Restaurant

Teshima’s Restaurant has become a firm favorite among locals and tourists on the Kona Coast. Located in Kainaliu, just south of Kona, they serve a mix of simple Japanese and Hawaiian cuisine. We stopped in for lunch, early on a weekday.

We arrived at Teshima’s on Monday morning at 11:30am in time for an early lunch. Surprisingly it was already busy, but we didn’t have to wait long for a table.

Teshima’s is next to the Buddhist temple at the juncture of the old and the new Mamalahoa Highway. There is parking in front of the restaurant and also in the parking lot directly to the right of the building (in the direction of the gas station).

There is plenty of seating inside, with a mix of booths and tables.

The interior has been nicely decorated and is spacious with large ceiling fans. They do not take reservations but they do accept take-out orders and serve alcohol.

The menu

The menu is an eclectic mix of Japanese and Hawaiian. From traditional Japanese dishes, like sashimi, sukiyaki and shrimp tempura to Hawaiian dishes like ‘Kona Up-Country’ Chop Steak, homemade corned beef hash patties and Kona Coast fried ahi.

What we ordered

(Above). Beef Teriyaki with miso soup and rice ($17.99)

(Above). No. 1 Teishoku – Miso soup, sashimi, sukiyaki, tsukemono, sunomono, rice ($17.99)

(Above). Sakura Tray (Mondays only).  Sushi, beef teriyaki, fried fish, sashimi and served with rice, miso soup, tsukemono, suomono and hot green tea ($17.99)

Service was quick, friendly and efficient. The dishes we had were delicious, and the flavors simple. The range of Japanese dishes isn’t as extensive as a dedicated Japanese restaurant (there are only a couple of sushi options on the menu) but the Hawaiian dishes are very popular with the locals.

Make sure you check out this local institution when you’re next in Kainaliu.

Teshima's Restaurant

Teshima's Restaurant Hawaii

79-7251 Mamalahoa Highway

Kealakekua

Hawaii 96750

Ph. 808 322 9140

Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-8pm

https://www.teshimarestaurant.com

Authored by

Restaurant review: Black Rock Pizza

Black Rock Pizza has become a favorite with locals and tourists. Located in the center of Captain Cook they make a large array of delicious pizzas and tasty salads, plus they have local beer on tap. We stopped by for an early dinner.

We arrived at Black Rock Pizza on a late Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was in a languid quiet phase before the dinner rush.

Black Rock is opposite ChoiceMart on Mamalahoa Highway with a small number of parking spaces directly outside the restaurant as well as adequate parking on a nearby side street.

The interior has been nicely remodeled and there is plenty of seating inside as well as outside in front. But of you want to sit outside (but not look directly onto the highway) there is also a spacious lanai at the rear with views of the ocean.

The outside seating is a big plus when it comes to remaining socially distant from other patrons when eating out, and enjoying the late afternoon breeze. We grabbed a table at the far end with a great view.

The menu

Black Rock has an extensive menu of pizzas and salads (they even do dessert – check out their cannoli) and they make their own special sauces. We ordered the Veggie Head (red sauce, spinach,  mozzarella, red onion, eggplant, zucchini, artichoke, roasted red peppers, black olive) in medium size, and the BBQ chicken (Kiawe Mango BBQ, chicken, bacon, red onion, roasted red peppers and smoked mozzarella) also in medium. They also serve wine and local beer on tap (from the Kona Brewing Company and the Ola Brewing Company).

What we ordered

(Above) Veggie Head ($20) – the pizza was delicious. The crust was just the right thickness, not too thick and not too thin. The sauce was great, and the combination of veggies was extremely tasty.

(Above) BBQ Chicken ($22) – The BBQ sauce was delicious and the chicken was crispy. Great flavor combinations.

The medium-sized (12″) pizza was a lot of pizza for one person and we both agreed that next time the 8″ pizza would have been just the right amount. Having said that, we ate every slice and were well-satisfied!

Service was quick, friendly and efficient. Black Rock Pizza also has an option to pickup uncooked pizzas so you can take them home and bake them in the oven (which might be a good option if you’re far from home). Best to call ahead if you want to pickup during the busy dinner rush. Check out their menu here.

Black Rock Pizza

82-6127 Mamalahoa Highway

Captain Cook

Hawaii 96704

Ph. 808 238 0571

Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-8pm

https://www.blackrock.pizza

Authored by