It's directly off the highway and parking can be an issue. Make sure you don't park in front of the neighbors' gate- it's a sure way to get towed. My four criteria for Big Island Restaurants are food quality, ambiance, service and value. This place gets four stars no question.
The food quality here is wonderful. Everything is made with care and attention to detail and you can taste it. They use local sources whenever possible. Eric and I love to split their Eggs Benedict- it's plenty for two small folks like us! The holindaise is sublime- light, airy and with a lemony twang all poured over the most lovingly poached eggs you've ever tasted. They often do a version with a fresh catch of the day and you can't beat the flavor and texture of fish straight from the ocean and on to your plate.
When my Mom visited, I took her down to Honaunau for a bit of snorkeling and dolphin watching and we stopped off for lunch afterwards. I had a delightful Ham and Turkey sandwich (halfway gone before I remembered to snap a pic for y'all!) That freshly baked bread MADE the thing.
Mum had the Papaya Special. I used to think I didn't care for papaya, and then I moved to Hawaii. I had just never had one properly ripened. This one is topped with lime, yogurt and toasted coconut. Heaven.
This place also gets a star for ambiance. Though humble from the outside, (it's not called "Shack" for nothing!) the view is spectacular- every seat comes with a sparkling blue view of Kealakekua bay and acres of world famous Kona Coffee plantations. There is also a breathtakingly tall Haas Avacado tree- Eric and I always speculate on how they manage to harvest it's perfect dark green fruits from so far below. We can't really imagine it but it's too awful to think all those perfect avocados go to waste.
The staff also leave little tins of jam out for the ubiquitous Day Geckos to feast on. It certainly makes a good photo op, even though these fellows are non-native species. You'll have plenty of opportunities to make insurance salesman jokes.
The Coffee Shack earns another star for service. There are no world wearied waitresses here. Each member of the staff brings kindness and enthusiasm to her work- something you don't see much in downtown Kona. I always enjoy their attentive and genuine service.
And of course, all of those stars add up to another star for value. This is one place I never hesitate to send my guests to visit, and the only one I'll beg for a chance to tag along!
What is your favorite restaurant in your neck of the woods?