Hawaii Island’s Hottest New Restaurants of 2017

By Karen Rose

The Island of Hawaiʻi is a food lovers dream. With plenty of locally sourced produce, fish and meats, Big Island chefs have an abundance of sustainable, fresh products to choose from. Every year, the draw of paradise entices culinary professionals to indulge in new ventures and incorporate the flavors of paradise into their dishes. This year is no different, and here are some of the best new restaurants to open their doors on the Orchid Isle. Bon Appétit! Or as they say on the islands, kau kau!

Gertrude’s Jazz Bar

Gertrude’s Jazz Bar. Photo: Karen Rose.

Raising the bar on bars, Gertrude’s Jazz Bar recently hung their shingle on Aliʻi Drive in Kailua-Kona and has been bringing great food, great music and a well-rounded art scene to Hawaiʻi Island ever since. With a menu boasting everyone’s favorite comfort food, diners enjoy dishes as creative as their names. Chef Leif James whips up an incredible ‘New York, New York Steak,’ a Kona Butcher Shop dry-aged beef served with sweet frites. For Italian lovers, ‘That’s A’more Meatballs’ with tomato butter and fettucchini is as lovely as its name. For poultry fans, there is ‘Lovely Hula Hen,’ a cornish game hen served with sweet potato root mash. Those who enjoy seafood will delight in the ‘Alfredo Astair,’ a fettucchini dish with garlic shrimp and parmiggiano reggiano. All of this with live jazz music and a view of the Pacific Ocean!

Al Vicolo

Al Vicolo. Photo: Karen Rose.

The newest kid on the block is straight from Italy and serving up authentic Italian cuisine at Al Vicolo. Located at Kawaihae Harbor near Waimea, the menu is loaded with incredible dishes and a lovely wine list. Dine in true European style and take the time to enjoy every delicious bite while savoring every sip of Italian vino. With cheeses imported from Italy and recipes straight from nonna’s kitchen, it’s like spending an evening at a sidewalk cafe in Venice. Ciao bella!

Foster’s Kitchen

Foster’s Kitchen. Photo: Karen Rose.

Featuring the freshest farm-to-table food available, Foster’s Kitchen in Kailua-Kona offers seasonal menus and utilizes in-season produce in their specialty dishes. For example, dragon fruit rules the summer menu with hand-crafted cocktails, salads and even fresh poke made with this juicy, exotic fruit. If it’s in season, it’s on the menu. Other surprising delights are the shrimp and grits and the extensive dessert menu. In less than a year, the family run business is already well known for their creative and unique adult beverages not found anywhere else on island. Open for lunch and dinner, Foster’s Kitchen is a lovely location to enjoy the open-air environment with lovely ocean breezes and fresh delicious food.

The Tap Room

The Tap Room. Photo: Karen Rose.

Beer lovers rejoice! The Tap Room, located in the beautiful Hilton Waikoloa Village, is the Big Island’s premier gastropub, incorporating good food into a traditional drinking establishment. When most people think of traditional pub food, high quality dishes don’t generally come to mind. However Chef James Niesen has changed the rules of the game and bought tasty, unique creations to Hawaiʻi Island’s latest brew house. With menu items like Lobster Tator Tots made with sriacha aioli, lobster and pico de gallo, there’s a variety of dishes to pair with your favorite beer and ale. The Tap Room also features what are arguably the best Poke Nachos on the island. Made with yellowfin tuna, unagi sauce, furikake, sriacha aioli and nori dust, they may just become the signature dish of paradise.

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