My husband and I are heading to the Big Island next week for our first-ever Hawaiian vacation. The main premise of the trip is to see the volcano, but we'll also be spending some time near Kailua Kona. I've printed out all the old trip reports and threads I could find, but most of them are pretty darn old. Does anyone have any good current info on the chow scene? I'm not too interested in fancy food on this trip, although I'm happy to drive up to Merriman's if everybody tells me it's totally worth it, but we're not into the resort places. What I'm mainly interested in are recommendations for plate lunch, pizza, burgers, ice cream and fish tacos, in either Kona or Hilo regions; also great places in the Kona area to sit outside and drink booze. I figure in Volcano (assuming it's not evacuated) we'll probably go to Thai Thai and Kilauea House while we're there, but I'm pretty easy. I want a low-stress vacation, but I want my food to taste good, too.
Places on my short list so far:
Kona Brewing Company
Cafe Pesto in Hilo
Any thoughts? I appreciate any insights!