When it comes to Big Island restaurants there are simply hundreds to choose from. Most Big Island guidebooks try to list most, if not all, restaurants around the island in order to give a comprehensive overview of everything that's available. I've always found this a bit overwhelming. For me, one of the best parts of exploring somewhere new is checking out some of the best and most interesting restaurants, and it always helps to start with a few good recommendations. I'll always try check out the places a friend recommends before flipping through a guidebook or doing a search on Yelp to try and find something that "looks good".
So, while a guidebook that lists all the restaurants on the Big Island can be a valuable resource (and I have some recommendations for these guides), I think getting a few great recommendations is more valuable. Imagine if you asked a friend to recommend some restaurants and they listed fifty or a hundred that you might want to check out. Not exactly helpful, right? What you really want to hear about is a few great places to check out.
The Big Island has just about every kind of restaurant you could want—from familiar fast food chains to tourist traps to hidden local gems that shouldn't be missed. I've eaten at all of these types of Big Island restaurants and I have a few recommendations that mostly fall into the category of local gems that shouldn't be missed. You know how it is—it's always great to try new things but somehow you keep going back to your old favorites that always hit the spot.
These recommendations for Big Island restaurants are broken up by location: Restaurants in and around Kona and restaurants in and around Hilo.
The sunny Kona side of the Big Island is where most visitors stay and play, so it's no surprise that most of the restaurants on the island are in and around Kona.
While Hilo is a bigger city than Kona, it's not as much of a tourist destination. This means that the restaurants here cater to locals—so you know they have to be good to stay in business.