Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hawaii Style Cafe, Hilo, HI

I was excited when Hawaii Style Cafe opened their second location in Hilo this week. We have been anticipating it for months after learning that the wildly popular Hawaii Style Cafe of Waimea would open in Hilo. It's located in the new shopping area between Manono Street and Hinano Street, just makai of Kekuanauoa Street (Near Big Island Candies). Foodies will be happy to know that this is also where the popular Japanese restaurant, Miyo's has opened. But, that's for another post.

I've been twice this week, once for lunch and once for breakfast. The saimin with New York steak was excellent, and the veggie burger and fries were nice. It's hard to make a veggie burger nice, but the wonderful ciabatta bread bun made it nice. Today, I had the traditional egg breakfast with pancakes just to see if it was the same as Waimea, and it was. The pancakes are enough to feed a family and have some left over for the family pet. But, even as big as they are you want to keep eating because they are delicious.

The new buildings are Hilo metal shed tacky, but the inside is well-appointed. You can see how they've tried to bring some of the look and feel of their other restaurant to the Hilo location, but this is new, fresh, spacious, and by the way, busy for now. Expect a wait. This is always true of new restaurant openings in Hilo. But, success here is pretty much guaranteed. It's in a great location, particularly for college and university students. The prices are good. All in all, now the best breakfast restaurant in Hilo by far.

Congratulations on the opening and thanks for bringing good food to Hilo. My only suggestion is that closing at 2 and opening at 5 might meet the needs of your Waimea location, but I think demand will push you to stay open all day.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Beach Tree, Kohala, Hi

Beach Tree is the absolute best resort beach bar restaurant on the Big Island of Hawaii. The quality of the ingredients truly stands out as fresh, local and top notch. 80 percent of the food is from local sources. Still, the truffles are French, olive oil was top shelf, and the meats and veggies delicious. The great thing is that the prices are comparable to all the other beach bar restaurants on the Kohala Coast. The place is beautiful and the service attentive and friendly. You have to finish with the Bon Bons. Wow!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Paul's Place, Hilo, HI

A tiny place with big flavor. This three table restaurant specializes in waffles they serve all day. I had their Benedict which was almost eggs Benedict but better. It was a nice surprise. It's located near the Hilo farmer's market. Tasty breakfast for sure. I saw they had sandwiches as well. I will be back to try them for sure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Best Food of East Hawaii 2012

Rather than simply disagree with other best of lists, I thought I would publish my own. I am going to expand my list to all of East Hawaii, from Waimea to Volcano. That way I can include restaurants I feel are of note. I want to say that I have not eaten in every single restaurant but almost. I am going to also mention a runner-up in some cases:

Best Restaurant
Merriman's, Waimea
Kaleo's Bar & Grill, Pahoa, runner up

Best Burger
Village Burger, Waimea
Cronies, runner up

Best Mexican Food
Lucy's Taqueria
Luquin's, runner up

Best Fish
Seaside Restaurant

Best Steak
Merriman's
Kilauea Lodge, runner up

Best Pizza
Pizza Hawaii & Deli

Best Thai Food
Ning's, Pahoa
Thai Thai, Volcano, runner up

Best Breakfast
Hawaii Style Cafe, Waimea

Best Family Restaurant
Cafe Pesto

Best Vegetarian Food
Puka Puka Kitchen

Best Smoothie
Short N Sweet Bakery & Cafe

Best Sushi
Ocean Sushi
Miyo's, runner up

Best Italian Food
Cafe Concerto
Cafe Pesto

Best Value
Hilo Bay Cafe

Best Shave Ice
Wilson's by the Bay

Best Chinese
Sky Garden Restaurant (Imiloa Astronomy Center)

Best Local Food
Verna's
101 Cafe, runner up




Pescatore, Hilo, HI

Recently the Hilo Tribune Herald Newspaper released it's "Best of" for 2012 and the number one rated Italian food in Hilo was listed as Pescatore, downtown Hilo. We had not been there in a long time and decided to give it a try. The familiar 1970's decor hadn't changed a bit. The waitress was very nice. There weren't many choices on the menu but the kitchen was very accomodating with our changes to the standard menu items. I had the special veal parmigiana, not normally on the menu and my friend had an angel hair pasta with a creamy pesto sauce and vegetables.

At first I said to myself, this is not veal, it's cube steak or something, but not wanting to think they were not serving what they were advertising, I just left it as veal that was tough as shoe leather. The tomato sauce was insipid and uninspired. My friend's vegetable pasta creation rated an "I am never eating here again." rating.

When asked how I liked the food I grunted and the response came back, "So glad you liked it." Dinner was overpriced and there were no redeeming qualities to make up for the less-than-stellar food.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Village Burger, Waimea, HI

Before I get into telling you about Village Burger, let me digress a moment to explain something I've wondered about. One of the northern towns on the Big Island of Hawaii is called Waimea (meaning: red water), but the post office, and various signs and businesses call it Kamuela (meaning: Samuel after Samuel Parker). When eating at Village Burger I asked about this confusing name and was told that there was so many towns in Hawaii called Waimea that they named the post office Kamuela, but that locals (and apparently the highway department) calls it Waimea.

So, in the large shopping center you'll find Village Burger, the best on the island, probably best in the state, and perhaps one of the best in the World. These aren't just burgers, they are true works of art, starting with the finest meats (or vegetables) money can buy. The featured burger is made from a Big Island variety of Kobe beef. It's almost too tender. I like my burgers with a bit of a bite to them, but, honestly, a true eating orgasm. They have lamb burgers, vegetarian mushroom burgers and taro burgers, among other styles of straight beef burger.

The wasabi french fries are a nice touch, and the service is amazingly friendly and fun. I like to go into the food court and get a smoothie from the Dairy Queen as a very nice addition to the meal. By the way, Dairy Queen's new fruit smoothies, particularly the ones made with Splenda (if you go for that kind of thing) are very nice.

We plan our trips around the island in such a way that we can stop and get burgers here. You should too.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lava Lava Beach Club, Waikoloa, HI

We ate at the newest beach bar restaurant along the Kohala Coast. It is beautifully situated with a fantastic sunset view. The menu includes the usual set of custom tropical drinks. We started with the artfully flavored edamame beans (plenty for two). Next course was gaspacho (of course). The soup was not a traditional gaspacho and had more of a Mexican flavoring and thick tomato soup. But it was nice.

The big cheesy rigatoni meal was as hit and the Hawaii Nei Filet was nicely prepared. A 6.5 ounce Big Island grass fed beef filet. This is the most expensive thing on the menu bit the cost is in the quality not the portion size. If you are used to eating in steak houses be prepared to savor rather than feast. I will be eating here again. Make sure to make reservations on their website to assure quick seating

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Best Las Vegas Buffets

There are two buffets that I feel are equal in quality, and belong at the top of the list of buffets in Las Vegas. The one with the bragging rights of being the best according to local sources is the buffet at the M Casino. It has a very wide selection of excellently prepared foods. In particular, if you like Thai and Asian dishes this is the place for you. I thought the Mexican food dishes here, particularly the tamales were very nicely done. My friends like some of the side dishes such as the sweet potatoes, creamed spinach and creamed corn. They had an ok selection of sushi and sea food. The desserts were wonderful and big bonus, beer and wine are included in the price of the buffet. The buffet restaurant has a very open feeling with a large video display that was very attractive. The M Casino is a little off the beaten track.

I think my favorite is the buffet at the Rio Hotel and Casino. It has foods the M doesn't have, like crab, and prime rib. While the both have excellent selections, for me the selection of foods at the Rio were just more to my taste. They have a very wide selection of deserts, a nice selection of sushi and fish, and the slab of prime rib you get looks like it should be served in one of those Renaissance restaurants. The lines can be a bit long to get into this buffet unless you are a VIP or Diamond Club member, where you have your own small semi-private dining room.

Both buffets are excellent, and if you have the chance you should try them both. Leave some comments about which one you like best and why.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Veranda (Four Seasons), Las Vegas, NV

I had breakfast here and it was truly wonderful. I had the smoked salmon. There was almost too much salmon to eat with a single bagel. Of course it came with all the usual accoutrement. My friend had the mini Belgian waffles which came with berries and cinnamon butter. Very nice. The coffee was superb, the orange juice fresh and the service delightful. The lunch and dinner menus looked very reasonably priced.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Border Grill (Mandalay Bay) Las Vegas, NV

Excellent ceviche. The menu is quite eclectic and tasty. Service is excellent and friendly. The portions are quite large so be careful not to over-order. The quesadilla is off the chain good.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cafe Concerto, HIlo, HI

Small restaurant, small menu, big taste. I really enjoy this small Italian restaurant across from the court house on Kilauea Avenue, in Hilo. Last night I had the Pasta Putanesca, and it was wonderfully flavored. My friend always has the Penne Pesto and love it. One of my favorites has been the pasta with clam sauce. We shared the Caprese Salad and it was more than enough for both of us, with some left over. It was very nice. This restaurant does not serve alcohol, but you can bring a bottle of wine with you and they will provide glasses and an opener. I found the people who work here lovely people, and the small restaurant is charming. This is one of my top recommendations for Italian food in Hilo.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hawaii Style Cafe, Kamuela, HI

Along the road to and from Waimea to Kawaihai, you will find a small breakfast-lunch cafe that serves an excellent breakfast and lunch. They are only open part of the day. The restaurant is about 31 years old, and has been under the ownership of the Kao'o family for the last 19 years. We were served by Kim who has been a waitress at the restaurant for all 31 years, and it's obvious that other than the food, she is part of the reason for this restaurant's longevity and success. We really felt welcomed by all the staff, and we were lucky enough to be served by Kim.

Now to the food. Most breakfasts come with a choice of pancakes. This is kind of a joke, because the pancakes themselves are at least two meals for the average person, and very delicious. The hashbrowns are nice and crispy, the way I like them. Eggs are eggs, and the were nicely prepared. The meat. OMG, I ordered the ham steak that was on special, and my friend had the bacon. The ham steak was gigantic and very nicely cooked. It was too big to eat in a single meal and I didn't even have the pancakes. The bacon came with about 10 strips, a huge portion. One of the things I noticed about their meats is that they were not over-seasoned, as breakfast meats often are. I didn't feel like my salt content was over budget. This allowed me to salt the things I wanted salted and leave those I wanted more plain, the way I like them. It was perfect.

One thing you should know, the restaurant only accepts cash, but there is an ATM in the restaurant for your convenience. Also, we have been here on the weekends and lines can be long, so if it's a nice sunny Saturday, expect to wait for a table. We were there on a Tuesday morning and while the place was full we got a booth within minutes. This is a Kohala must-eat restaurant. Kudos to the staff for being awesome.

Hau Tree Gazebo Bar, Kawaihai, HI

If you are looking for Hawaii style and romantic, The Hau Tree Gazebo Restaurant offers outdoor seating at the sand's edge in the beautiful Mauna Kea Hotel grounds. The sun sets directly offshore of this well-appointed restaurant/bar. It has a small menu compared to the Manta Ray Restaurant also on the grounds, but casual dress, casual atmosphere, good food and beautiful scenery make up for having fewer choices. It's a bit pricey, but not unexpected in this particular hotel. I had the fish and it was well prepared and tasty. Not a regular item, the beet gazpacho soup was absolutely wonderful, and if you've been reading my blog you know I love gazpacho. I am not even a big beet eater, but this was wonderful. The food was as expected for an outdoor bar that also serves burgers, but the sunset was captivating. A very romantic evening for sure.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Thai Thai Restaurant, Volcano, Hawaii

I really like this restaurant. I consider it the second best Thai restaurant in East Hawaii. The Thai food here is really tasty, particularly good is the pad thai. I have eaten through some of the menu and have enjoyed all the Thai dishes I've eaten here.

Having said that, yesterday I was just not in the mood for Thai food, but my partner was so we went there to eat. I made the distinct mistake of ordering the Teriyaki burger. Bluntly, this is punishment for not ordering Thai food. Don't do it. The burger had no teriyaki sauce, nor was it teriyaki in any form, in fact, it was barely what I would call a burger. There was a patty that rivaled the 99cent patty at McDonalds, and the toppings weren't that great. It was also served on a dry bun with little packets of mustard and ketchup. The frys were tasty. But, for $10, felt like it was more of a tax for not ordering their Thai food. It was so disappointing it made me feel bad about a restaurant that I normally like. So, beware, the burger here is to be avoided.

Kilauea Lodge Restaurant, Volcano, HI

This is where I go when I want to feel like I'm in Europe. The atmosphere was once pure hunting lodge, and can now best be described as hunting lodge-Hawaiian fusion. The menu is still on the more hunting lodge side. Start with the Hunter's soup with a rabbit base. A dash of salt and pepper and it's perfect. My friend had the mushroom risotto and loved it. I had the meatloaf, which is a 45 minute wait for cooking. I think it should have been more like a 55 minute wait because my meatloaf was underdone. Someone asked me why I would order meatloaf at a nice restaurant like this one and all I could say was that I was in that kind of mood. Every time I come here I am left with the same feeling. This is a good restaurant with good food and great service and interesting atmosphere, but it would take so little to go from being good to great. It's either that local attitude of "this is good enough" that seems to pervade the Big Island restaurant scene, or some reason I'm unaware of. One comment I always make, because we like olive oil with our bread, is that they should invest in a higher quality olive oil. The stuff they serve is certainly not virgin, let alone extra virgin, and has zero flavor. Sad, because the bread is kind of tasteless, and this would add some flavor. My suggestion to take this from good to great is to add some color and zest to the plating skills, and get a recipe for some tasty bread, and invest in some tastier olive oil. The one that is sold locally in markets that has the best flavor is Colavita. I'm sure it's available to restaurants. Overall, I will eat here again and again. I recommend this restaurant, but see if you don't feel the same as I do, good, but could easily be great.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ken's House of Pancakes, Hilo, HI

Ken's House of Pancakes is a Hilo tradition or something. It is always voted best breakfast because most of the time it's the only breakfast for miles. There are a few other options, but Ken's serves a pretty mean breakfast. There are all sorts of omelet options, egg plates, all served with either toast or an order of pancakes. One of the special things about the pancakes at Ken's is that you can top them with some very nice tropical syrups in addition to the more traditional maple syrup. Breakfast is served 24 hours a day.

Ken's has a huge menu with everything from loco moco to steak. The burgers are pretty decent, and if you are of a mind to have "all you can eat" check out the daily specials like taco Tuesday. Whenever anyone orders the really large saimin soup the gong is struck and the entire staff yells SUMO! After ten years, a bit tiring to hear this, but alas, it's for the tourists, or anyone coming in late at night that might consider falling asleep in the booth.

For the most part, Ken's is diner food and you get large portions for a decent price. There is really only one thing on the menu I will never order again and that's the chili. It is just plain horrible. So, stay away from that and you'll be just fine with the food here.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Holuakoa Gardens & Cafe, Holualoa, HI

Nestled on the volcano above Kailua-Kona, is the small artistic town of Holualoa. The primary industry of this town is art, lined with art galleries from one end to the other. The Holuakoa Gardens & Cafe is a very nice restaurant (and separate coffee shop) in the center of town. Eat in an outdoor environment covered by beautiful trees, a flowing river and pools filled with beautiful fish. The food here is a bit upscale but we gave it an 8 out of 10. The fresh squeezed lime aid was very delicious and refreshing. We ate from the brunch menu, which had a wide variety of dishes. I at the huevos rancheros, which was not exactly traditional, with a flour tortilla served on the side, black beans, eggs of course, and country potatoes. Huge portion. I couldn't finish it all. It was tasty. My friend had the polenta and vegetarian lasagna, and said it was good. Also, he ate about half and brought the rest home. You should definitely check out Holualoa for the many art galleries and when you're there this is the place to eat. Oh, and check out the big pink hotel. Go in, and ask to go to the bathroom. You are sent down a precarious path to a bathroom cantilevered out over a cliff with the most breathtaking view of Kona ever. So whether you need to go or not, bring a camera and take a photo out the window!

Up Country Bakery & Cafe, Captain Cook, HI

If you want to eat where the locals eat, this is the place. Fantastic bagel sandwiches for lunch or breakfast, all served on freshly baked bagels. There is a nice selection of specialty coffees, and smoothies as well. The cabinet are also filled with delicious looking breads and pastries. The people here know people by name and are incredibly friendly, even to a newbie. It's conveniently located a block away from the Manago Hotel, so if you're staying on the cheap, you can eat like royalty. I had the bagel and log, while my friend had a very nice farmer's special breakfast bagel. Both were very yummy and I give this place high marks. Good job! And thanks Marco for making us feel so welcome. We'll be back.

Mi's Italian Bistro, Kealakekua, HI

Mi's served a very nice Italian meal. The menu was nicely varied, and the food was nicely prepared. This restaurant is very good by Big Island standards. If you eat at fancy Italian restaurants, you may find that the food here is simply good, not write your mom, great. The restaurant is nicely appointed and romantic. One suggestion I'd make is to put some dark curtains around the kitchen. Glass windows surround the kitchen, brightly lit with glaring fluorescent lights that kind of kill the mood, and kind of ruin what the atmosphere they have obviously worked hard to create. I had the Italian Sausage rigatoni. It was spiced nicely and the bread was tasty. My friend had the baked polenta and said it was good. I'm not going to rave about this place, but if you want a nice meal and you're in South Kona, eat at Mi's. You won't be disappointed as long as you're not expecting a 5 star restaurant.

Kea'au Wine Market, Keaau, HI

Sadly, the Kea'au Wine Market is no more.

Here was my review for the sake of history.

Behind many a great meal is the perfect wine. I found this gem of a wine store tucked away in the Kea'au Farmer's Market, diagonal across the street from McDonalds. It's a small store but has a wealth of different wines from around the world, carefully selected by the owner for having something special to offer. Too may times I've been in wine stores that have whatever is trendy, or has the right label. This store has what is wonderful, and you will walk away with more than wine, you will walk away with an education. They make sure you know what you're buying. The great thing is that you get incredible wines and I think almost every wine in the store is under $20 and most around the $13 price point. So, affordable great wines and an education, you can't go wrong. The farmer's market also has a really nice selection of locally grown veggies, and I really like the smoothie place on the end. Go for the wine, take home some veggies to eat with it, and treat yourself to a VERY nice smoothie.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Yen's Cafe, Hilo Hawaii

Yen's Cafe was recommended to us by a foodie as her favorite restaurant in Hilo. Yen's serves a combination of Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. The flavors are bold, fresh and different. I haven't eaten in enough Vietnamese restaurants to know what authentic Vietnamese food tastes like, but I can imagine it's something like this. All the vegetables are grown by the restaurant owners, and wonderfully prepared. I had the number 20, which is a rare steak and noodle soup that was so delicious I ate every bit of the very large portion. I tasted the crepe and vegetables my friend had and they were perfectly prepared and delicious. The prices were very reasonable and the family-served food is very friendly and warm. It's a bit off the beaten path on Wainuenue, near Kinoole Street. If you like Asian cuisine, this is a must!

Puka Puka Kitchen, Hilo, HI

There is only one good place in East Hawaii to get falafel, and that's the Puka Puka Kitchen along Hilo's Bayfront. A small restaurant with big taste. We thoroughly enjoyed the food and the service was great. It is also very conveniently located for people shopping downtown, or visiting Hilo. It's a great stop for vegetarians and health-conscious eaters. You'll like it.

AlohaMexico, Kea'au, HI

To enjoy this wonderful Mexican food you will need to visit the Kalapana Night Market on Wednesday nights. This couple of wonderful cooks has developed a wonderful tasty set of dishes. We had the very delicious cheese and spinach enchiladas served with the most delectable homemade pickles. They also specialize in ceviche. If that's anything like their pickles it will be a wow. They told me they will soon be opening in the Makuu Farmer's Market on Sundays. In the mean time, The night market is worth a visit, and look for the AlohaMexico booth for a real treat. They also do catering so send them an email at chef@alohamexico.com.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Moonstruck Patisserie

Just back to Hawaii from 5 weeks in Europe we were eagerly looking for that extra quality European food possesses. I'm happy to say we found it. The Moonlight Patisserie is a small baked goods restaurant and store downtown Hilo. Just walk in and you already know just by looking at the wide selection of delicious looking pastries that you have gone to heaven. We stayed and ate a quiche for lunch. It was fantastic, and the coffee is brewed fresh in a French press for each person, a very nice touch. Alice, the owner, was so pleasant to talk to we could hardly leave so we had some of her Swiss berry tart. What I loved about this tart is that you could really taste the berries and it didn't feel like a bolus of sugar in your mouth. It was a success. I'm already a big guy, and try not to eat too many pastries, but when I do, it will definitely be from Moonstruck Patisserie.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia

If you find yourself in Philadelphia and you're hungry find your way to the Reading Terminal Market. It's a 10 minute walk from Independence Hall. This fantastic place is a true marketplace, farmers market, gourmet and local foods. I have a couple of recommendations.

Olympic Gyros has very nice gyros. The owner really was concerned that we like the food. That's a nice touch. Another place is Carmen's Cheesesteak. The sandwiches are huge and tasty. More importantly, if you feel like you haven't visited Philadelphia without having a cheesesteak but you're vegan, never fear. Their vegan cheesesteak
Tasted totally authentic. I highly recommend Carmen's.

Restaurant Mykene, Leuven Belgium

This beautiful restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating near the incredible City Hall. I ordered the kangaroo filet. It was served with a vegetable lasagna in red pesto. My friend had what was called a veggie burger but had no bread. The veggie patty was served on a bed of potatoes and smothered with a lovely Brugge cheese.

If you have never had kangaroo before it tastes like a cross between beef and chicken. In other words, very mild beef.

The food was fantastic and the service was fantastic. Look for this restaurant.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Home Cooking

Tonight we ate at home in Utrecht but I thought I would write about it anyway. We had a wonderful squid ink pasta with mushrooms lightly sauteed in butter, salt, pepper and  a sprinkled Sicilian spice mix, and just as they were getting soft I added thinly sliced summer truffles. This was added to the pasta along with olive oil from a private grove in Spain given to us as a gift, fresh mozzarella cheese, and sliced Sicilian sausage that had been cooked in a tasty chopped tomato marinara. This with a nice baguette and it was a perfect meal. The summer truffle sounded better than it was, as it was lightly flavored that the mushrooms overpowered it. All in all, great stuff.

Monday, June 4, 2012

India Port Tandoori Restaurant, Utrecht, Netherlands

Along the waterfront of the Oude Gracht in Utrecht  you will find this lovely Indian restaurant. I ate here alone tonight. I started with a nice glass of white wine served with a complimentary plate of papadam, a peppery cracker accompanied by a spicy mint chutney and a tamarind sauce. Both were excellent. I can usually judge an Indian restaurant by its mint chutney alone. So, I knew I was in for good food. Tonight I had the lamb tikka masala served with rice. I also ordered a side of raita, a yoghurt and cucumber dish I really enjoy and to make things special, a peshwari naan, that had every sweet thing such as raisins in it you could think of. All were delicious. I wish the raita had more cucumber. Everything was spiced perfectly and served piping hot. The service was excellent and the restaurant appears to do a brisk business. The building itself is a low arched restaurant built in one of the tiny wharf warehouses along the gracht (canal). This certainly added to the old-world flavor. I thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Manneken pis

OK, it's not a joke. Anyone who has been to the Low Countries knows that this is a chain of french fry restaurants. That's where Thijs decided we were having dinner in Amsterdam. It was not my first choice, but since I ate here I thought I would write about it. For those of you unfamiliar, Belgium is truly the home of the french fry, not France. The restaurant that claims the first french fry is just down the street from a very famous statue, the one of the little boy pissing that we see in every other garden store in the world. The name of the statue is manneken pis, or literally, statue pissing. French fries, or simply fries, here would be more like what people in the United States would call steak fries. They are big and thick fries. At Manneken pis they are served hot and in a cone and smothered on top with one of a dozen sauces, normally mixed with some kind of mayonaise and then topped with chopped onions. A small wooden fork helps you dig those messy things out of the cone. They are actually quite delicious. OK, it wasn't my meal of choice with all that Amsterdam has to offer, but fries it was. I couldn't eat all mine and shared them with a homeless person sitting next to me. I'm sure it wasn't his meal of choice either. But, I'm sure they were good to him as well.

For more information you can visit http://www.mannekenpis.nl/




Monday, May 28, 2012

De Postkamer Grand Cafe

This lovely cafe is located in the village of Spakenberg Netherlands. The village was once a thriving fishing community. But like many coastal cities in the Netherlands it was frequently destroyed by storms and floods. When the great Zuider Zee was enclosed by dikes these villages were no longer destroyed. In this area entire new areas of land were built up but the fishing was no more. The great fishing boats are still here and used for touring and fun. This cafe is adjacent to the old harbor. Here I had what was undoubtedly the best apple pie anywhere. I've eaten apple pie in Julian California which I'd supposed to be some of the best. But this was ten times better. Have a meal or at least have a coffee and a slice of pie.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Restaurante Aben Humeya, Granada, Spain

Aben Humeya came recommended and it certainly disappoint. First, this restaurant has the most direct and fantastic view of the Alhambra possible. We ate here at 9pm and so saw the Alhambra switch between sunset lighting and the most majestic night lighting. The restaurant itself is simple, basically an enclosed patio. The service was nice, but we waited quite a while for our food. As a nice gesture we were served a complimentary cream gaspacho that was to die for. We had a vegetable risotto that was nicely seasoned and well prepared, along with a pork dish covered in a cream sauce with highlights of chocolate. You couldn't really taste the chocolate, but the sauce was quite nice and the pork was good enough. Without wine the dinner for two of us was only 33 euros, so a fairly good price for a nice place, and a spectacular evening view.

Restaurante Marrakech, Granada, Spain

We have headed south from Madrid and we are now in the southern city of Granada. After arriving we walked along the Darro River and decided to eat in a small place along the way. In this Moorish/Spanish city we decided to try Restaurante Marrakech. The food was very good, not write home to momma about, but good. The hummus was nicely prepared and plenty of it. I have had hummus, primarily in the U.S. where it has become heavily spiced. This was just nice plain old hummus. The Arabic bread was very delicious, which made everything else seem fantastic. We had an Arabic salad, which was chopped salad in a nice lemon vinaigrette. The falafel was nice, topped with a nice yoghurt sauce. This place, like many here in the city, has a very nice variety of Moorish and English teas. I would give this place high marks. Good service, conveniently located, great value and good food. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Restaurante Palacios Toledo, Spain

We had a wonderful experience at the Restaurante Palacios. This warm and friendly restaurant is a short walk from the great cathedral of Toledo. The interior gives you the feeling that you could be eating here at any time in the last 500 years. There was a wonderful selection of food, but the best deals where the two course meals. There was a wide selection of first courses. I had the gazpacho, as I am eating gazpacho soup everywhere in Spain. It was the first time I had gazpacho with bread in it. It's a matter of taste, but it gives the gazpacho a thicker texture. I'm told this is preferred but then the soup can not be saved for a long period of time. The second courses allowed for a choice by price, with about seven selections in each price category ranging from 8.50 euros to 18.90 euros. I had the carmusas, a local pork stew, with potatoes that was an amazing taste treat. Some of the other dishes local to the Toledo area are pollo al toledana, and perdiz a la toledana. I thought this restaurant served really tasty food and felt that it was a great value. Toledo can be a bit of a maze, so you might have to look for this restaurant, but it's definitely worth finding. It is located on Calle Alfonso X El Sabio.

Lateral, Madrid, Spain

Tapas are the true gems of Spain. With dinner at 10pm, tapas are the wonderful small appetizers eaten any time in the afternoon before dinner, or even as a dinner replacement. Lateral is the local restaurant favorite of our host here in Madrid. He told us that it's the best value for money, and definitely serves some of the best tapas in Madrid. When looking for it on Calle Velazquez, you will see that it is spelled with the last L backwards. Each item on the menu ranges between about 3 and 7 euros. We had crepes de setas (mushroom crepes), crema fria trigueros (cold asparagus in cream), quesadillas de acelgas champignon (spinach and mushroom quesadillas, and one of my personal favorites), tortilla espanola (Spanish tortilla), tartar aguacate con gamba (a really wonderful chopped avocado and shrimp), albondigas ternera (fantastic meatballs), patatas (spicy quartered potatoes), rojo pimientos rellenos (small red peppers -not spicy- stuffed with meat YUMMY), bread and for dessert, a chocolate tart and crepes dulces. That may seem like a lot of food for three people, and it was but we ate every bit of it, and the price only came to 61 euros, and that included beer and coffee for the three of us. Lateral was certainly one of the most delicious places we've eaten at so far in Spain. When in Madrid, I definitely recommend this place for both the food and its modern design. Service was fantastic.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ritz Madrid

Ok, this was not a dining experience but something to talk about anyway. After touring the Prado and seeing some of the most unusual and unexpected artwork imaginable, we decided to sit in the Ritz Garden restaurant for a cold drink to relax. There were three of us, two of us had a Coca Cola and the other a cafe Americano. There were as expected, even though the service was extremely slow. I think they were hoping we thought we got our money's worth, as the bill came to 35 Euros, ($44). Honestly, it wasn't that special. It's not as if we met Brad Pitt or anything.

La Casa de los Garcia -Serrano

Tonight was a special dining night, the kind of night you can't get in a restaurant. We are staying in the home of one of Madrid's finest cooks. Tonight's meal began with a lovely gaspacho de tita, a delicious and flavorful gaspacho with all the trimmings. With the bowls cleared and the delicious flavor of the gaspacho still on our tongues we began shelling and eating the gambas blanca de vuelva cocida, a light and tasty shrimp dish. Next came the warm torta del casar extremadura, a soft and strong cheese in a shell. The extreme flavor of this cheese was not for everyone, and luckily we were eating under the Iberian stars, so that the odor was not offensive to others at the table. Served next were the manchego castilla la mancha, an aged and slightly hard manchego that went perfectly with the first class jamon de jabugo vuelva de andalucia, finely stripped aged ham, and the tomato kumoto con ajo y aceite de oliva, a special fuerte tomato mixed with strong garlic and olive oil straight from the family's farm. To fill out the meal there was a delicate tortilla espanola and two types of pan. This could not have been a more perfect meal.

Cafe de Oriente

The Cafe de Oriente sits in the fabulous Plaza de Oriente nestled between the Madrid Opera and the Palacio Real, a truly incredible park with statues and trees, grass and people. This is a perfect place to relax in the afternoon. This was not really a dining spot for us, but we decided to have a snack an a beer. Of course, I ordered the gaspacho and my friends both had Spanish Tortilla, (Omelette).  The gaspacho was fantastic, as were the tortillas. The Heineken, well was cold and delicious. I highly recommend this as a place to stop in the afternoon for a snack. The menu was large and varied but we focused on the snacks. One thing, as we were leaving, my friend, a Madrid native, said the restaurant was very expensive and we paid for the location. For me, coming from Hawaii, the prices seemed fine. The beers were 4.95 Euro each.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

La Barraca, Madrid

Eating in Madrid is off to a slow start. The family who I am staying with decided to try a famous paella restaurant for my first meal. They had never eaten at La Barraca. It is located near the center of Madrid in a small side road, perhaps a little difficult to find. The walls are lined with old photos of famous people who had eaten there in the past. We had a lovely Spanish wine from the northwest of Spain and an appetizer of jamon, which my Spanish friends told me was only a moderate quality.

I had a gazpacho soup, which was fine. It was tasty and served with about 6 different toppings provided by the waiter. Taste-wise, maybe a 6 or 7 but nothing to get excited about. We ordered paella mixta for the full paella experience of both chicken and seafood. After eating half of the food I asked something I would not ask unless I were writing a food blog, as I was their guest, but I asked them to rate the paella. Immediately they all held up 4 fingers on a scale of 1 to 10. I had to agree. I have had much better paella in restaurants in the United States. The arroz (rice was spiced appropriately, but certainly nothing special). One mussel, one small piece of fish, two dry and tasteless gambas (shrimp) and dry and tasteless chicken. All in all, a disappointing first meal in Spain. I've now been promised better experiences, some home cooked meals that I will also write about. I am told that paella is not really a dish that Madrid is known for, so, if you are not looking to get your socks knocked off, this was ok to poor.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Casa de Luna revisited

Here it is, about one month since my last visit and as a bonus it happens to be Cinco de Mayo. Also next week I leave for Spain. So for the next couple of months most of my posts will be about European restaurants. I am blogging from the restaurant so this is real time. The place is packed with a 30 minute wait. I am happy to see its success so far. I ordered a Cadilac margarita $9.90 and the mix was a bit tasteless. But, the drink is plenty strong which may take the edge off the rest of the post. The folks sitting next to me at the bar ordered the nachos. It looks plentiful. They said they liked the tapas. Seated quickly and the server remembered me, a nice touch. They have switched to the full menu now. We ordered the cheese ring again, and the cheese puffs, a quesadilla, gazpacho, carnitas enchiladas and a beef burrito. The cheese puffs were ok, nothing special for a deep-fried food and it's hard to get quesadillas wrong. But then I sent the gaspacho back. Not only was it the worst gazpacho but possibly the worst soup I have ever tasted. The enchiladas were shredded beef not carnitas or if it was carnitas it tasted like shredded beef. I don't know which is worse. The enchilada sauce wasn't. It was spicy tomato sauce with zero Mexican spices. The beef burrito came nicely presented. It should have stayed that way. It was tasteless and pasty. It actually tasted like children's non-toxic paste. The Mexican rice..., ok I don't know how you can make rice more tasteless than plain rice, but somehow they managed to make it less flavorful than plain white rice. Beans yuck. The salsa improved a bit.  I'm now home and had to eat something to get the taste out of my mouth. This was undoubtedly the worst meal I have ever had in a restaurant, of any kind, anywhere. The meal came to $70 with two drinks, two appetizers, and a burrito and an enchilada plate. Way over-priced even if it happened to taste good, which it didn't. This was a 'sinko' de mayo experience for me. I won't be back until they get someone else to prepare the food. Oh, and we stopped at the store on the way home and the checker heard us talking about the restaurant and she said her friends told her the food was tasteless and expensive, so it's not just me. I want to like the food. I want to say nice things. Sorry, just can't here.

Urban Spoon

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hilo Bay Cafe

Hilo Bay Cafe is my favorite restaurant in Hilo. The food is always well-prepared and flavorful and the prices are really reasonable for Hilo. Tucked away in what is commonly called "The Walmart parking lot" This restaurant sits nestled between a couple of cell phone offices and another restaurant that I will review at another time. Started by the couple (no longer a couple) who were the proprietors of Island Naturals. As I understand it, he got the store, and she got the restaurant. It seems, business-wise, to have worked out well for both of them. There is a full bar and a nice wine list to accompany a fairly continental cuisine. Pork chops, pot pie, meatloaf, steak, and even a couple of vegetarian dishes are all tasty. If you happen to be a vegetarian I can speak highly of the roasted portobello  mushroom. I'm not vegetarian and really like the pork chops and the ribs. They also have a nice scallops meal and the specials usually includes the fresh catch, which in Hilo is usually one of the three local fish, ahi, ono or mahimahi. There is always a special entre, which is not simply a menu item marked down for the night, but something usually pretty special. I have eaten here often and I have to say that I usually end of choosing the special, because it is. I've never been disappointed by a meal here. I know that they also really support local growers.  This both supports the community as well as provides the tastiest and freshest produce.

You will notice that I never talk about desserts in my reviews. That's because I am a big guy and have to watch my weight. But I have eaten the desserts here and they are quite nice. Which is why I don't eat desserts here!

The service is excellent and friendly and the restaurant, for being in a strip mall in a chain store parking lot, is actually well-appointed. It gets pretty busy at night, so reservations are always a good idea. Monday through Saturday the are open for lunch until the end of the dinner seating. Sundays they are open for dinner only starting at 5pm. Good value, good food, great service. You can't go wrong.

I first posted this in May and because I've been traveling I haven't been back until now, and it's already August. Last night I had a really wonderful meal. The potato leak soup, one of the specials, was particularly nice. The mushrooms in filo dough were excellent and the beef brisquit was more than I could eat and very delicious. Even the seasoned shoestring fries with truffle mayo were really well done. Kudos again.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

If Can... Vernas

There are several Verna's restaurants on the Big Island of Hawaii. Yes, It seems strange to find a review about Verna's in a dining blog, after all, it's fast food. But, since eating is eating, and I occasionally eat there, they deserve mention. Like most restaurants, it takes navigating the menu to find the gems, and weed out the stones. But, I can say that food at Verna's is probably a bit more than you might expect. First, the thing I love about Verna's is that they are the only ones, big restaurant to small, to get mac salad right. It's actually not only edible, it's tasty and I like it. The onion rings are done just right. Today I had fried chicken there for the first time and it was quite nice. I asked them to hold the rice and give me a larger helping of mac salad, which they graciously did. I've been to about 4 Verna's but the one I go to regularly because it's near my home is the one tucked away in the small shopping center across the street from Kea'au Elementary school. They once occupied the restaurant in front, which is now J&J's, and they now operate in the small strip mall in what was once an adult book store, and before that the last video store in Kea'au. The location, tucked away in the back, has me a bit concerned about their future prospects. But, people who like Verna's I'm sure will seek them out like I've done. So, in keeping with other reviews, where not everything is wonderful, I would recommend staying away from anything that says chili. The chili is homemade, apparently not from a can. I once made the recommendation that they might consider just buying the canned stuff. But, the burgers are nice, the hot dogs are yummy, there is a host of local plate lunches. They have seating inside and out, and I always sit outside because it's so rare in Hilo. Sometimes we get the food to go and sit at the lunch tables at the Herbert Shipman Park at the end of the street. If can Verna's.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A sad end to Pearl's Bakery

If you happened to be driving toward Volcano from Hilo on the Big Island last year you might have noticed a metal building with the name, Pearl's Bakery. I know they had great difficulty opening up due to zoning issues, but when they finally did open, the lunches were nothing short of awesome. I drove way out of my way to eat there. It appeared to be a two pronged attack at business, bakery and lunch. I think the lunch won out. I wrote great reviews in TripAdvisor about it, and really tried to support their success by dragging everyone I knew to eat there. Then, it closed. I don't know all the details but I know it had something to do with the County of Hawaii. I kept waiting for it to open, as I not only enjoyed the food, I enjoyed the owners, the Robeson family. So, this week I happened across their business card and I shot them an email. It turns out they sold the place and are planning on moving to the mainland at the end of the school year, and the really sad thing was this, "The final straw was having our chainsaws stolen while we were having a free community feeding...enough is enough."

I am both sorry to see them go and sorry they had so much trouble trying to start and run what I thought was a great place to eat. I wish them the best of luck on future enterprises. If they do them half as well as they did this, they will go well.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hilo Bay Front

This is not a normal dining experience blog post. Today, I helped two other people walk into every single store and restaurant along the Hilo, Hawaii bay front. We were handing out a piece of paper with basic sign language signs on it in preparation for the deaf cruise ship that will arrive next Saturday. I am writing this because of a few "dining" experiences I had throughout the day.

First, I want to say that for the most part the store owners along Hilo Bay Front were gracious and excited that someone cared enough to prepare them for this upcoming visit. After all, Hilo is heavily dependent on tourism and our goal was to make Hilo the most deaf-friendly city in Hawaii. We want visitors next Saturday to go back to the mainland or Canada and tell people what a special place Hilo is. We were very sensitive to how busy people were and tried to spend a very limited amount of time telling them about the upcoming cruise, and hand them a piece of paper, and if they had time, teach them a couple of easy signs. Overall, it was well met, and people were anxious to learn.

The most positive of those experiences was at Wilson's By the Bay. This is a small ice cream and shaved ice store. The woman there was so appreciative of what we were trying to do she offered us complimentary shaved ice. Living in Hawaii I've had a lot of shaved ice, but I have to tell you, this was no ordinary shaved ice. First, the ice was finely shaved and well-packed. The syrups were very nice, but then the crowning glory is the cream poured over the top. It took a good shaved ice and made it a memorable experience. It's not often that something as common as shaved ice in Hawaii becomes a memorable experience. So, Wilson's by the Bay was not only the friendliest of places, but also served a truly memorable product. If you are on the Bay Front you HAVE TO STOP HERE. This is a must experience.

We ate lunch at Reuben's Mexican Food restaurant. This is always an iffy experience. Most of the people I know won't eat there. But, I am a fiend for Mexican food, good, bad, or indifferent. So, I made the decision of where to eat by offering to pay. I had the carnitas torta, which was surprisingly nice. The bread was authentic torta bread, and the pork was done nicely. My friend had the chipotle chicken torta and liked it as well, and my other friend had the cheese enchiladas. That is normally my staple at Reuben's because it's hard to get cheese, tortillas and enchilada sauce terribly wrong. I've never gotten sick from the food here and the taste is ok, which is a lot more than I can say about other Mexican food experiences I've had in the past in Hilo. Luckily, those places no longer exist.

Walking back to our car we realized we had missed one place because it didn't open until 11am, that was Cronies. Now, I don't eat here very often because it's kind of a sports bar, and that is usually not a draw for me, but when I did it's because their hamburgers are pretty decent. So, I went in to give them the sign paper and tell them about the cruise. It wasn't too busy, but I headed for the bartender so as not to bother the waitresses. I laid the paper on the bar and said, "There is a cruise ship coming next Saturday with about 350 deaf people." In the next instant, a woman wearing both a black person and a personality to match, swooped down on me trying to get me away from the bar telling me the bartender was busy and that she was the manager and if I had any "questions" I should speak with her. And believe me, she was not telling me this because she wanted to "answer my questions." This was the most unfriendly experience I've had in a long time in any place that serves food, was completely uncalled for, and in my mind, a black eye on the wonderful aloha we experienced along the Bay Front. You won't find me reporting any further on Cronies because with all the other places to get a burger, I certainly don't need to go where I'm not wanted. In the future I will be posting suggestions for good burgers in Hilo so if you feel you want to go to a place where you're not likely to get mistreated, you might want to try one of the alternatives. Hilo Burger Joint isn't a bad alternative to Cronies. Of course the best hamburger on the entire island can be found at Village Burger in Kamuela, (Waimea) in the shopping center food court, but we can save that review for another post.

Happy eating and aloha to all the people who were wonderful to us today. And a special thanks to Wilson's By the Bay.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lucy's Taqueria, Hilo, HI

Lucy's Taqueria in Hilo gets it right. It's not perfect, but very few restaurants get everything right all the time. Yesterday I ate there for lunch and shared the carnitas plate and the carne asada plate with a friend. Of course I had the wonderful horchata to drink. No one in Hawaii does carnitas better than Lucy's. No one else seems to get it. Perhaps they have never been to Mexico, or even California. By the way, the best carnitas I've ever had was at a small carnitas restaurant in Tijuana. I've had the burritos, and the tacos (a tiny bit small for my taste), and a few other menu choices. Where Lucy's falls down is in salsa. Their salsas are just not that good. A nice salsa fresca is in order here. Along with salsa, a reasonable pico de gallo with my carnitas and carne asada plates would have been nice. Tasteless chopped tomato and the salsa bar onion and cilantro didn't quite meet the demand for good pico de gallo.

The music is always too loud. So, if you're going for a relaxing experience, and you don't happen to be deaf, this might really start to bother you. The music also tends to be what I will call cowboy aggressive salsa. If you're not drunk and dancing on the table this kind of music is just annoying. Speaking of drunk, Lucy's has a full bar. This can come in handy, as the wait can sometimes be quite long. Since it's opening, it remains quite full and popular. I like the food here. I will continue to eat here regularly. It's better than other options. Will I hope for more? Of course. Will I get it? Probably not. Will that stop me from eating here. Never.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hokulani's Steakhouse, Keaau, HI

I eat at Hokulani's pretty regularly, not because I like the food, but because other than local and international fast food chains, that's about it. I continue to eat there successfully because I have learned which items on the menu are least offensive. The veggie burger, for example, is a double pattied veggie burger that fills you up, comes frozen from somewhere that knows how to make veggie burgers and requires little more than heating it up. It's nearly impossible to bring up Hokulani's without bringing up what I consider to be the biggest failing of nearly every single restaurant in Hawaii, mac salad. How can you go so wrong? In most cases it's macaroni and mayonaise. In some cases it's potato-mac salad and cooked potatoes are thrown into the mayo. Every once in a while someone will get brave and throw in a little sweet pickle relish. BORING!!! It comes to mind because to me, Hokulani's mac salad is not only boring, it's wretched and I won't eat it. I've tried the onion rings a couple of time and if they are ever forced on me again I'll take them and wring them out and sell the oil to a biofuel company. Whew! They must need to add oil to the fryer after every batch. I tried the steak and forget it. It will only disappoint you. The fish and chips has a fairly nice flavor, with a pretty nice cut of fish in a nice batter, but there is something about it that doesn't agree with me and I start feeling sick after eating the first battered piece of fish. Again, oily oily oily! But, I suppose that is somewhat the nature of fish and chips.

Look, the name builds expectations beyond what it really is. It's not a "steak house" it's a bar that also serves food. It's bar food.

Now some positives. The wait staff have been there a long time and they are very friendly. It has outdoor seating, which in Hawaii is  rare. The restaurant is clean and nicely appointed as a surf-bar. The prices for food are right at what they should be for most items until you start getting up into the steaks. That's when you might start feeling ripped off. Lastly, the burgers aren't too bad. So, a safe bet is a burger and pay the dollar extra to get the baked potato instead of anything that sees the fryer, and you're good to go. Oh, and they generally have nice musicians. If you have to do laundry, you can eat here and do your laundry next door. I know many people that make this a regular habit. Who knew that the laundromat would be a draw for the "steak house?" I guess you're starting to get the picture.

UPDATE: Today I ate the Reuben sandwich and it was served on a marbled rye, and came with a lot of meat and tasted very nice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kaleo's Pahoa, HI

It's birthday for Thijs and we ate at Kaleo's in Pahoa. It's one of the nicer restaurants in East Hawaii, and they have the awards to show for it. Opened in 2008 in a quaint old Hawaiian town, who knew this restaurant would require more than flip flops and hunger. Today, it's a "dress up" restaurant. The food in a word, is delightful. If you like mozzarella sticks, you'll love their mozzarella appetizer, big knobs of battered cheese served with the most incredible tomato bruschetta-like topping. I've eaten here several times in the last year and have enjoyed a nice array of the menu. I haven't been disappointed once, in anything. Great service, nice atmosphere, INCREDIBLE music, well stocked bar, and a nice variety of food at, what I have to say, is a considerable value. I nearly caught myself telling the staff they didn't charge enough. If they read this blog they'll know. Most of the entrees are around $15 with a few of them topping out around $20.

Tonight's dinner for me started with a nice chicken tortilla soup. It was perfectly seasoned and just the right amount of everything, even chicken, which I often find missing when I order chicken tortilla soup. I shared the mozzarella with the birthday boy. Then I ordered something I almost never order in a restaurant, spaghetti bolognese. I usually steer clear of this because basically it's just spaghetti with hamburger in meat sauce, and how special could that be. In most cases, not very special. It can often range from Spaghettios (tm) to Ragu and cheap burger. Tonight was different. When I first took a bite my mouth was ready for a big flavor, and my first reaction was "hmmmm, where's the flavor?" But then after a moment, the wonderful fact that I tasted a delicate cheesy flavor with just enough tomato sauce to call it a bolognese made me smile. I don't think they make fresh pasta, but it tasted like it could have been made just moments before, so kudos on the pasta making. I did mention to the staff that a cheese grater and some nice parmagiano reggiano would have been a nice touch and they agreed.

They have a nice wine list, and plenty of seating, although reservations, particularly on the weekend are recommended. I've seen people turned away by a potential long wait. What they did instead is beyond me. What do you do after you get dressed up and go to Pahoa and then not eat at Kaleo's? Burger King? There are a couple of other nice restaurants in Pahoa but we'll save those for another post. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tina's Gourmet Garden Cafe

I ate at Tina's in Hilo last night. I had eaten there nearly a year ago and had the hot pot menu, served Thursday through Sunday and obviously was not in a rush to get back. But last night we had their standard menu, which is Thai-ish, without being a typical Thai restaurant. I had the hearts of palm salad and it was filled with so many exciting and unusual things I think I would go back just for that! I had the specialty "pizza" which is really a crepe, filled with yummy fish. They should call them crepes not pizzas and I think more people would order them. I don't really like pineapple cooked with anything, so the flavor for me was a bit "off" but that's my personal taste concerning cooked pineapple. I had a smoothie too which had some very nice mint and other flavors added that really made it stand out as a refreshing difference from all the other local fruit smoothies. I thought the meal was a bit overpriced. They don't serve alcohol so the $65 with tip was a bit much for a shared appetizer salad, two entrees and two smoothies. We didn't even order the most expensive things on the menu. Sometimes you pay for ambiance but remember this is a hole in the wall along the Bayfront, so ambiance is not something you'd either expect or get in this case. So if you really need a change in your flavors to awaken your mouth, and value is not a consideration, I would highly recommend eating here. A light meal on a budget could be a shared salad and two smoothies. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Casa de Luna, Hilo, Hawaii

I thought I would start a personal blog about my restaurant experiences rather than simply posting them on TripAdvisor.

Tonight we ate at the newly opened Casa de Luna, on the corner of Mamo St and Keawe St. Hilo, HI. It claims to be a Spanish and Mexican food restaurant. The appetizers (antejitos) were all Tapas and the entrees were all Mexican, so the mix was a bit strange. They are just getting going and willing to listen to feedback. So, I will hold off on any negatives about the food since they are just ramping up to the official opening. I will say that the place has a nice decor and open air, which in Hilo is unheard of. The service was excellent, the prices reasonable, and there is a full bar. The place was full when we arrived but we were seated in a short amount of time. It's nicely located, nicely appointed, and the owners seem to have a great attitude. So, I give this place high marks for the first week, and predict long-term success for the business. We will definitely be back.