Hilo Bay Cafe

One wouldn’t expect to find a place such as Hilo Bay Cafe in Hilo. Just take a look at this place.

Hilo Bay Cafe Front Inside Hilo Bay Cafe Bar

Where are we? It looks like some chic jazz cafe in San Fransisco or something. Well, I’ve actually never been to one, but it feels like this would be something like it. A full bar, warm lighting, and light jazz music are some of the first things you’ll notice as you walk in. The staff is very warm, friendly, and professional.

Sometimes it’s nice to “get out of Hilo”.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

I started with one of my favorite beers (and they have it on tap!), a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I got so excited to drink it that I almost forgot to take a photo.

We were served a plate of bread and butter.

Wonderful Baguette

This baguette was one of the best I’ve ever had. The crust was very rich, hard and crusty. Inside was moist with a very dense crumb — chewy and tasty. So good. Anybody know where they get their bread from?

French Onion Soup

The French Onion Soup ($5) was good and came with a generous amount of stretchy cheese. I only wish that the toast in the soup was more toasty, since it was more soggy than anything.

Spinach Salad

Warm bacon spinach salad with blue cheese and apples ($8). This was really good. The bacon was really hearty, and the cheese was rich. The spinach was fresh with a nice tangy sweet dressing. Apples were a nice touch too.

Half of a Bay Burger

Blue Bay Burger with Gorgonzola Cheese and Garlic Fries ($8) — half portion shown since I shared it. This was great. The burger tasted very fresh and was nice and thick… it went great with the gorgonzola cheese. The tomato and lettuce were really fresh too. Fries were crisp with a subtle garlic flavor — very good.

Blackened Ahi with Baby Romaine

Also ordered was a Blackened Ahi Caesar with Organic Baby Romaine ($9). This one was said to be really good. I got to try the Ahi and it was very flavorful and fresh. The romaine looked nice and crisp too.

I’ve already been here a few times, and Hilo Bay Cafe never fails to impress with their fresh organic ingredients, relaxing ambience, and great drinks. Their prices are also very reasonable. Highly recommended!

Hilo Bay Cafe
315 Makaala Street, Hilo, HI 96720
Phone: (808) 935-4939

53 Responses to “Hilo Bay Cafe”

  1. Richard Says:

    I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 9 years, and been to quite a few excellent restaurants during that time. I have to say that Hilo Bay Cafe does indeed remind me of a good SF restaurant. Their food, ambience, and service are the best in Hilo. I’ve heard that said about Cafe Pesto, but in my opinion, Hilo Bay Cafe is much, much better.

  2. The Lou Says:

    What??!! They serve that kind of food in Hawaii??! Just Kidding! Great website, longtime lurker and finally thought i would post a comment. That beer looks very refreshing right now! (walks off to grab a sam adams from the fridge).

  3. kelly Says:

    so whea da cafe’ stay in Hilo?…

  4. James Says:

    Lou, thanks for finally posting a comment! It’s wonderful hearing from a reader… welcome aboard. :) i love sam adams too!

    kelly, thanks for the reminder. i just put their address on the post. they are right next to the foodcourt near walmart and officemax.. cannot miss it!

  5. kelly Says:

    wow brah…da buggah look upscale foa be ova deah…. i figuah da buggah might be in downtown hilo soeweah…….i wondah if dey get da kine “local grinds”…but interpreted in a more “high maka maka” place??……like maybe chicken katsy ovah spinach leaves….or maybe one locco ovah saffron rice??

  6. Howard Says:

    We went to Hilo Bay Cafe several times last winter. Dinner is as elegant as you have described, but your readers might want to know that HBC is also very casual, and just as tasty, at lunch. This was easily our favorite restaurant in Hilo.

  7. jodi Says:

    wah, I wanted more plate lunch. But the ahi looks good! :)

  8. James Says:

    kelly, loco ova saffron rice? lol… your comments are great!

    Howard, i’m glad that your brought that up. Hilo Bay Cafe really is a very casual restaurant, even at dinner time. I would still feel comfortable going there with rubba slippas! Thanks for posting.

    jodi, haha… no worries! i cannot afford this kine food all the time, so plate lunch style places will always prevail… especially da locos!

  9. James Says:

    Richard, sorry about delaying your comment. My filters caught it for some reason and I just saw it. I agree, Hilo Bay Cafe is better than Cafe Pesto. The quality of ingredients is higher and fresher. Thanks for posting!

  10. Nick Gogerty Says:


    Your site makes me hungry :)

    Nice work.

  11. Arabel Says:

    Just found your website by accident and spent way too much time reading EVERYTHING! It’s great to see your comments on the restaurants in Hilo. I have always driven by Kandi’s but never thought to stop. You should also check out Hilo Noodle. It’s a favorite at our office and come to find out, many of my friends like to stop by to pick up food to take home.

    Will keep checking back to look for new additions. I appreciate the pictures of the food presentation, too!

    I definitely will refer foodie clients to your site.


  12. Jason Says:

    Ho…Mean da food….I mop da grinds all kine times….

  13. Susan Says:

    Mmmm. Thanks for pointing out Hilo Bay Cafe. We ate there twice during a five day stay in Hilo. The first time we dragged in wearing our hiking boots and no one batted an eye. After finding your blog and devouring the reviews I felt pretty prepared to eat in your neck of the woods. Not so much for the mega tourist epicenter of Kona. We stumbled upon Big Island Gill our last night and thought we’d died and gone to heaven after tasting the roast pork. Yummm & Mahalo!

  14. Cutie Cake » Guest Post! J.D.’s favorite Hawaiian drinks Says:

    [...] she will post the recipe soon!) #2 Water #3 Mango Fandango by R.W. Knudsen #4 Tahitian Limeade by Hilo Bay Cafe #5 Mandarin Lime #6 Hula Bean Chai Drink #7 Orange juice #8 Chai by Samantha #9 Chai by Hilo Thai [...]

  15. Gloria Says:

    Have dined at Hilo Bay Cafe since it opened. Always been happy with food, service and drinks. Went to dinner there with husband and daughter on 02/25/08. As usual, food was good. After dinner, husband and I were finishing drinks. We were told by hostess, if there is nothing else and you are done, there are people waiting outside, “could you please leave.”

    What is that? Have dined many places both here and abroad. Have never, NEVER, been asked to leave. Message: once you’ve eaten, pay your bill and go. Your value has diminished once they’ve gotten your hard earned money.

  16. lexi Says:

    sometimes small restaurants get really crowded. had you been sitting there for a real long time? like over an hour and a half… or twenty minutes after eating.

    if done tactfully, sometimes people do need to be told that if at all possible, there table is needed. all depends on the time perhaps, but that does happen.

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  18. KG Says:

    Yep. One of my favorites…And I eat out almost every day. Hard to find a place that is actually “nice” in Hilo…too many plate lunch shops, not enough fine dining. I agree…you almost get mad at the people in surf shorts and rubbah slippas here…kinda classy…but dat is just what we need to elevate this town’s peeps. If you no can find shoes…go Blanes or Verna’s…just my opinion anyhoo. But great food and full bar with awesome drink specials.

  19. HiloStyle Says:

    KG, where are you from? Why do you even bother living in Hilo? Elevate Hilo town people just because you want your fine dinning without rubbah slippas…Hilo is country living, brah…not even close to what you experience in Honolulu, L.A. or N.Y. There are plenty of nice places to eat…but, if you mean “fine dinning” then yes, Hilo is lacking. And the next time you think that Hilo Bay Cafe (Cafe emphasized) “fine dinning” try to remember that this place is located in the Wal-Mart parking lot, next to a T-Mobile, Fun Factory and chinese food place. Gimme a break you elitist fool.

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  35. Big Island East Says:

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  36. Tony Says:

    Next time you visit Hilo, you must try the newest place called the “Ohana Cafe”. The decor is ala Pesto Cafe, but the menu is more mainstream American (the prime rib is great and you can get a good steak also). Innovative. And must try Ken’s for everyday food that is excellent – a fav of the locals. Take a drive north from Kona to Kawaihai – and try the Blue Dragon just across inside the town, across the road from the port. I have eaten everything from their rather small menu and have only been disapointed once; the blue cheese burger had a little too much cheese and could not tast the meat (but is was damned fine blue cheese). I highly recommend the lamb and the chocholate cake. I moved to Hilo from L.A. about a year ago and am soooo glad. LIfe is a pleasure here, to be sure. I love to cook and am quite the gourmet so I buy my produce from the local Farmer’s Market where EVERYTHING is vine/tree ripened. Don’t buy a lot as it will go bad after a week in the fridge. It is officially open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but there are several vendors there everyday. I get my apple-bananas, papayas, and avocado from my back yard. A friend gives me mangos and eggs from their hen house (organic and better than any store – plus I get them for free). I get my fish from the Suisan fish market on the bay (near the resort hotels) and it is great. There are wild pigs on the island (wild boars) and a friend who live makai (toward the mountain) has them on his farm and hunts them. The Hilo Bay Cafe has a great dish with wild boar sausage made here on the island – a great dinner. The Volcano Inn is currently closed for rennovation after purchase by a new owner. (Insert frown here). I have just started exploring more resaurants here and look forward to many discoveries.

  37. Tony Says:

    Oops! The name is “Ohana Grill”. It is so new I can’t even remember the name. Hahaha.

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