South Kona restaurants: the 5 best places to eat in 2021

Like most of the country the pandemic has caused a number of restaurants on the Big Island to close – some permanently and others just temporarily. Our up-to-date guide for summer 2021 profiles the best of what’s open again in South Kona. From Kainaliu to Captain Cook, these eateries are great places to enjoy a meal along the picturesque Mamalahoa Highway. Whether it’s pizza, tacos, fried fish, burgers or coffee and a sandwich at sunset, it’s all on the Kona Coast.

1. The Coffee Shack

There’s no place better to sit and have a coffee than The Coffee Shack. With a panoramic view over the Kona Coast (26 miles of uninterrupted horizon line) it’s the perfect pit stop on your way to or from Kona. The Coffee Shack serves its very own coffee grown on the slopes below the restaurant, where 85 year old coffee trees produce Kahauloa Estate Coffee.

Menu highlights include the Pan Sautéed Ono Fish sandwich, the Papaya Special (Half Papaya filled with mixed fruit, lilikoi yogurt & coconut, served with two scrambled eggs with cheese, and coconut pound cake). And don’t forget the French Toast (made with homemade Luau Bread and sprinkled with powdered sugar) or the Kona Lime Pie!

Open Thursday through Monday, 7am to sunset. Closed Tuesday & Wednesday

83-5799 Mamalahoa Hwy,
Captain Cook, HI 96704

808-328-9555

https://www.coffeeshack.com

Drive time from Horizon: 15 mins (8.8 miles)

2. Black Rock Pizza

Newly established, Black Rock Pizza has quickly become a popular eatery with both locals and tourists. Pizzas are made with fresh artisan dough (made daily) and gourmet sauces. Dine in or take out, they have a large menu of pizzas and salads, along with local craft beer on tap.

Menu highlights include the Local Boy pizza (Kalua Pork, Ham, Bacon, Red Onions, Mushrooms, Topped w/Smoked Mozzarella) and the Mexican (Refried Bean Base, Mozzarella, Seasoned Taco Meat, Red Onions, Black Olives, Topped with Chopped Romaine Lettuce, Cold Tomato, crushed Crunchy Tortilla and a Spicy Sour Cream Drizzle).

Open Monday through Thursday 11 – 8 pm, Friday and Saturday 11-9pm and Sunday 10-8pm

82-6127 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook, HI 96704

808-731-6162

https://blackrock.pizza

Drive time from Horizon: 18 mins (10.3 miles)

3. Shaka Tacoz

Shaka Tacoz has quickly become the best place to get the tastiest tacos on the Big Island. You can’t miss the big blue sign right on the highway in Captain Cook. Order at the food truck and then eat inside with a great view out over the ocean. The perfect place for a quick stop when the hunger pains hit after a day of snorkeling or relaxing at the beach!

Menu highlights include everything taco! Choose from pork, chicken, beef, veggie or fish. All tacos are served with onion, cilantro, cheese, lettuce, pickled onion, Shaka sauce, and lime crema.

Open Sunday through Thursday 11-8pm and Friday and Saturday 11-9pm

82-6167 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook, HI 96704

(808) 896-7706

https://shakatacoz.com

Drive time from Horizon: 18 mins (10.5 miles)

4. Rebel Kitchen

Rebel Kitchen prides itself on fresh flavors, local ingredients and their very own hot sauce! Hawaiian-inspired burgers and sandwiches are served along with salads. The menu is sourced as much as possible from local farmers, butchers and fishermen.

Menu highlights include the Blackened Ono sandwich, the Rebel Burger (made with Big Island grass fed meat) and the Thai Steak salad. And don’t forget to try their amazing sauces – Kona Ketchup, Hawaiian Fire Sauce and Mauka Mustard (also available to purchase in-store or online).

Open Tuesday through Saturday 11-8pm. Closed Monday & Tuesday.

79-7399 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI 96750

808-322-0616

https://rebelkitchen.com

Drive time from Horizon: 24 mins (13.8 miles)

5. Teshima’s Restaurant

This Big Island institution is still going strong. Originally a family-owned store, this eatery has been operating as a Japanese/Hawaiian fusion restaurant since 1957. Specialties include shrimp tempura and sukiyaki.

Menu highlights include the Japanese breakfast (fried fish, egg, fish cake and Japanese tea), sukiyaki (thin slices of meat, tofu, and vegetables cooked in soy sauce and sugar) and “Kona Up-Country” Chop Steak! Drop in and find out why Teshima’s continues to be a local favorite.

Open Monday through Sunday – 7-2pm for breakfast and lunch and 5-9pm for dinner.

79-7251 Mamalahoa Hwy
Kealakekua, HI 96750

808-322-9140

https://www.teshimarestaurant.com

Drive time from Horizon: 25 mins (14.5 miles)

All these great restaurants are just a short drive from Horizon Guest House and located along the stunning South Kona Coast section of Mamalahoa Highway. 

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Top 5 restaurants in South Kona

Galbi 808 South Kona 4
Photo credit: TK Noodle House

Looking to eat out in South Kona? Check out our top five restaurants in the area. Whether you crave a classic burger and fries, fresh sashimi, or something spicy, it’s all here on the Kona Coast.

1. Rebel Kitchen

This local favorite serves a selection of salads, sandwiches and burgers, as well as specialty dishes – their coconut curry ono and shrimp is dreamy, and why not try their chicken fajita wontons (hand-rolled). Rebel Kitchen believe in using local suppliers as much as possible, sourcing from Big Island farmers, butchers and fishermen. They also sell a range of amazing sauces, their Hawaiian Fire Sauce packs a punch!

Style: Casual dining

Where: 79-7399 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 26 minutes

When: Tues–Sat / 11am–8pm

Online: www.rebelkitchen.com / Instagram @rebelkitchen

Contact. 808 322 0616

2. Galbi 808 Korean BBQ (formerly TK Noodle House) [now closed]

Galbi 808 is part of the TK Noodle House family – they still serve the TK Noodle House menu – but they’ve rebranded and added something new, Korean BBQ. They describe their style as fresh and fast. Offering some of the best noodle dishes we’ve ever eaten – their chicken pad Thai is always delicious – and some tasty salads and soups, as well as the new Korean BBQ mixed plates. Wash it all down with one of their famous bubble tea smoothies (served with Tapioca Pearl) – you know you want to!

Style: Asian Fusion.

Where: 79-7460 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 25 minutes

When: Mon–Sat / 11:30am–8pm

Online: www.cheftk.com / Facebook Galbi 808 Korean BBQ

Contact: 808 324 0070

3. Annie's Island Fresh Burgers [temporarily closed]

Often voted the home of the best burger in West Hawaii, Annie’s is more than a regular burger joint. Committed to using locally sourced organic produce, locally caught fish, and making sure your burgers are made with only the best grass-fed beef (raised on the Big Island of course!), eat at Annie’s and know you’re supporting the local community. You can’t go past the Ultimate Classic Burger to sate even the largest appetite, or try their unique Taro burger, made with locally grown taro. There’s a full bar – get there between 3–5pm daily to enjoy happy hour.

Style: Classic burgers with a conscience.

Where: 79-7460 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 25 minutes

When: Daily / 11am–8pm

Online: www.anniesislandfreshburgers.com / Instagram @anniesburgers

Contact: 808 324 6000

4. Teshima's Restaurant

Since 1957 Teshima’s has been providing a mixture of some of the best Japanese and Hawaiian dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh sashimi, shrimp tempura or Kona beef curry stew, Teshima’s offers a comfortable, intimate dining atmosphere. Come and enjoy the best tempura on the Big Island at this local institution.

Style: Japanese & Hawaiian cuisine.

Where: 79-7251 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 20 minutes

When: Daily / 6:30am–1:45pm & 5pm–9pm

Online: www.teshimarestaurant.com / Instagram @teshimas

Contact: 808 322 9140

5. Keei Cafe

Fresh food, local art and live music – what could be better! Keei Café combines all of these and provides an upmarket dining experience with an eclectic menu. Try their peanut miso salad, or their rack of New Zealand lamb. Reservations are recommended, so call ahead. Cash only.

Style: Hawaiian fine dining

Where: 79-7511 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 23 minutes

When: Tues–Sat / 5pm–9pm

Online: www.keeicafe.net / Instagram @Keei_cafe

Contact: 808 322 9992

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Author: Angus Meek