For its size, Hilo has plenty of eating options. You can eat well even on a budget, especially if you like fresh ahi and other locally caught fish. For an inexpensive, delicious and utterly local meal, try poke (cubed raw fish tossed with various flavorings) by the pound or in a ready-to-eat bowl.

Fine dining exists here, although the dress code might be very casual to urbanites. Health foodies can find vegetarian fare, trendy acai bowls, house-made krauts and kombucha on tap. All restaurants are nonsmoking.

Don't miss Hilo's two farmers markets: the downtown market is a bustling spectacle, with dozens of vendors selling produce and prepared foods, plus clothing and gifts. But beware of non-local goods, from mainland vegetables to cheap crafts made in China. The Kino‘ole market is modest in scale, but staffed by the farmers themselves; everything is locally grown or made.


Pack a Hilo-style picnic with tasty bites from an okazu-ya, akin to Japanese deli. These takeout shops sell dozens of prepared dishes, including musubi (rice balls), maki (rolled) and inari (cone) sushi, chicken long rice (clear noodles), tofu patties, shrimp and vegetable tempura, nishime (root-vegetable stew), teriyaki beef, broiled mackerel, Korean or nori (dried seaweed) chicken and countless other foodstuff.

Arrive by mid-morning for a decent selection and bring cash. Vegetarians won't go hungry but okazu-ya are geared to meat eaters. Try Kawamoto Store or Hilo Lunch Shop.