The annual 100 best places to eat in the US list for 2015 was published by Yelp this week. A number of Hawaiʻi restaurants make the list, but only one on the Big Island. You will find Da Poke Shack in spot 51, holder of last year’s top spot on the list. Not being a raw fish fan and not getting into Kona very often I can not offer an opinion on that selection. I did wonder what restaurants are best rated for Waimea. Is the list very good?
Yelp’s reviews are reader generated, and as such are subject to a great deal of personal bias. But with a lot of reviews from a large reader base you would hope that the result averages out to something reasonably accurate. Thus I did a quick search on Kamuela, as Waimea is known to the post office to avoid confusion with the other towns of the same name elsewhere in the state.
The top ten does not look that bad…
- Hawaiian Style Cafe
- Village Burger
- Red Water Cafe
- The Fish and the Hog Market Cafe
- Big Island Brewhaus
- Yong’s Kalbi
- James Angelo’s Underground Pizza
- Aka Sushi Bar
The restaurants any local resident would expect to see are there. I would quibble with the placement of some of these establishments on the list, but there are no surprises here. If you really want to read further I will add my own opinions and comments in the remainder of this post…
- Hawaiian Style Cafe Nice to see Hawaiian Style at the top of the list! The food is decidedly not fancy, it is down to earth local grinds. But it is solid and you get a lot for your money. I challenge you to eat a full loco moco and the standard side of pancakes in one sitting.
- Merriman’s The standard high end restaurant in Waimea. It is good, a creative menu with nice use of local ingredients. I have always found the place a little pretentious, and left hungry after the smallish portions. It is also loud, the sound level annoying when trying to converse over the table. I would rather go to Pau in the same business park (see number 8 below). Meriiman’s deserves to be on this list, if down a few more places.
- Village Burger A burger shop that takes the role seriously providing pretty good burgers. The standard burger is good, if a bit spendy by the time you add the necessary options. Even better is the Hamakua mushroom burger, no meat, just a patty made from mushrooms! But in the end, I believe Kohala Burger and Taco is a bit better, but as it is a few miles away in Kawaihae, outside the scope of the search.
- Red Water Cafe Another solid offering. Less pretentious than Merriman’s, but the food is just as good. Easier to get a reservation.
- The Fish and the Hog Market Cafe A creative menu using fresh local ingredients make The Fish and Hog a good choice. Many of the recipes are down to earth, soups and roasts.
- Big Island Brewhaus Known for it’s local brews the Brewhaus also has a decent menu. While it used to be exclusively Mexican fare, once known as Taco Tako, this is no longer true. While the food is solid it is the brew that makes the Brewhaus worth selecting. Brewed on site the beer is quite good, winning national awards. A good choice deserving to rate on this list.
- Yong’s Kalbi I eat at Yong’s every month or so, it is a decent choice immediately across the parking lot from work. Solid Korean fare with large portions for the price. The food is good, very traditional, but does not have the originality and flare of Pau or Fish and Hog. Does it deserve a place on the list? Yes, maybe in the next ten.
- Pau Our standard choice if my wife and I are in Waimea for lunch or dinner. The menu is pizza and pasta with a couple sandwich selections and great salads. Light fare built on a local ingredient list. Light on the pocketbook as well, a great deal for the price. I often get the pizza and salad combo. Deserves to be notably higher in the top ten.
- James Angelo’s Underground Pizza Good pizza, decent price, a classic pizza joint. You can buy a calzone pre-made for later, just heat and serve. Yes, this one should be right where it is on the list.
- Aka Sushi Bar Not being a sushi fan I can not fully rate Aka. it used to be a simple counter on the side of Kamuela Deli. The deli is gone now (no loss) and Aka has their own place, closed Mondays. I usually get the shrimp tempura roll which is very good. Friends and coworkers who frequent the place rate the sushi quite highly.