Local cuisine is part of what makes visiting or living on our islands so special, and, in our opinion, one of the finer things in life is enjoying good food. But do you know what the next best thing to enjoying good food is? Watching good food being enjoyed on TV. We’ve compiled a list of some of the Big Island’s most notable restaurants that have earned their time in the spotlight over the past few years.
Whether you’re a regular customer to these local joints or visiting Hawai’i Island for the first time, we hope this article inspires you to continue to support local businesses, because the stories of how each of these restaurants came to be are undeniably unique—and that speaks volumes to how special our community truly is.
Food Network's Best Thing I Ever Ate
Kaaloa’s Super J’s was featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate, Episode “Hidden Treasures” (season 3, episode 8) that highlights the most popular item on the menu: the pork laulau, a traditional Hawaiian delicacy and comfort food.
Somebody Feed Phil
On Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil, “Hawai’i” (season 4, episode 5), Phil discovers his love for huli chicken at the mobile Hawaiian restaurant, GJ’s Huli Chicken, ventures to downtown Kona where he finds traditional Japanese hand food at The Feeding Leaf Kitchen & Okazuya, and visits Kahua Ranch for an exclusive dining experience prepared by one of Merriman’s Big Island’s chefs, using meat from the ranch itself.
Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives with Guy Fieri
Famous restaurateur Guy Fieri takes on the Big Island in season 28 of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives with these popular downtown Kona staples. From traditional poke at Umeke’s to the famous Furikake Chicken at Broke Da Mouth Grindz, Fieri leaves our island community impressed with what we brought to the table. These episodes can be streamed on Hulu.
Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations
This jam-packed episode of Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations, “The Big Island,” (season 7, episode 2) takes us on a journey with host Andrew Zimmern across the island to taste the best our local cuisine has to offer and can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video.
Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship
Short N Sweet might be the only restaurant on the Big Island to be featured on two different TV shows! Owner and baker Maria Short debuted on the popular cooking competition, Holiday Baking Championship, for its 6th season just last year, which can be streamed on Hulu. Her time was unfortunately cut short on the show, but she certainly made our island proud.
$40 A Day with Rachael Ray
World-class chef Rachael Ray paid a visit to the Big Island to try some of the tastiest food across the island on season 1, episode 5 of $40 A Day.
I don’t know about you, but I’m heading to one of these local gems after watching these mouth-watering episodes! We’re so lucky to live in a place with such delicious culinary specialties that attract celebrity food critics and cooking shows alike from every corner of the country.
Which restaurant is your favorite on this roundup?