Cafe Pesto - Kawaihae Harbor

Cafe Pesto - Kawaihae Harbor

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://cafepesto.com/
  • Phone: (808) 882-1071
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Daily: 11:00am - 4:30pm; Dinner: Nightly: 4:30pm - 9:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Diners Club,Discover,JCB,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Fusion / Eclectic, Mediterranean
  • Executive Chef: Moses Tavares
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Cafe, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Akoni Pule Hwy
  • Parking: Public Lot
A word from Cafe Pesto - Kawaihae Harbor
"The best of Hawaii's hidden treasures," claim food critics and locals alike. The menu features fresh local seafood, exotic pizzas, colorful eclectic salads and Asian inspired pastas and risottos.

The harbor settings, rich in Hawai'ian history, provide a backdrop of authenticity and charm to the award-winning restaurant. Visit the stone temple Heiau of Kawaihae harbor to view the ancient shark deities on their sunset vigils.

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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Service
  • Diners' Choice WinnerGreat for Lunch
  • Diners' Choice WinnerKid Friendly
Cafe Pesto - Kawaihae Harbor reviews from OpenTable diners
47 reviews since July 30, 2014
Overall Rating4.5
  • Food4.5
    Service4.6
  • Ambiance3.8
    Noise LevelModerate
95% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (26)fit for foodies (18)kid-friendly (18)good for groups (17)great for lunch (13)special occasion (9)romantic (4)notable wine list (3)scenic view (3)hot spot (2)great for outdoor dining (1)late-night find (1)Show More
  • Good food and service
    David
    Dined on 11/18/2014
    A nice local restaurant with great food and service at reasonable prices. Location is a bit off the beaten path near a commercial port and not great views or ambience but worth the visit for the food.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nice selections
    BRALE1960
    Dined on 11/9/2014
    It was our first visit to Cafe Pesto - Kawaihae. It was quite busy, but was seated without much of a wait. The Caprese was great as with the custom-made pizza and pasta. Lovely desserts and after dinner coffees.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Graybeard
    Graybeard
    Dined on 11/3/2014
    Diverse menu. Difficult to make a choice. Selected two pasta dishes. Both were unique and made with fresh ingredients. Macadamia nut apple Krispy for dessert was excellent. Service was attentive and friendly.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • It is always the little things
    ComanchepilotVIP
    Dined on 10/31/2014
    Nice place. Been here before years ago. Or at least to what was here years ago! Then menu seems confused as to what they wanted to serve . . . Anyway. we decided to eat light. Split a pasta entree between us. Food was very good. I asked for some bread. We NEVER got it. Diners came in and sat next to us. They were brought bread when they ordered. I asked for it. It would have gone well with the pasta. When the waiter brought the check, I said: "no need to bring the bread at this point." The shock on his face was classic. Service was slow. For some reason our service was just 'off.' Watching the other diners - wait staff was much more timely and attentive. Food was good. Desserts were boring. GOOD drinks and drink menu
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Appetizer was my entree
    oregondeanVIP
    Dined on 10/31/2014
    I ordered the "Half Moon Shrimp Nachos" with homemade salsa. First of all the presentation was excellent. It was artistically arranged with 7 or 8 jumbo shrimp on crisp tortilla chips with a mild white sauce and a tasty fresh salsa. It was an appetized which would have served four but luckily for me it was my entre. It was very colorful and the tastes were great. Each of our group of four was very pleased with their choice as well. My wife commented that we should have taken a picture of our table, it was that interesting and attractive. We have eaten here many times and always make sure that every time we visit The Big Island Hawaii we visit Cafe Pesto.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • food was cold
    honeymoon14
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    Went on recommendation of a guide book and it did say sometimes the pasta was sketchy. Ordered the seafood risotto and it came to the table Luke warm at best. Wouldn't go back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Usually great!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 10/20/2014
    We eat here annually during our couples golfvacation and love the experience. Howver,we ate here on a Monday this week and the food was berymediocre. The service was outstanfing but I think the regular chef was out.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • 50/50
    RandB
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    My wife had the BLT pizza and enjoyed it . I had the shrimp scampi wrapped in prosciutto It was very disappointing. The pasta was cooked perfectly, BUT only 3 regular sized shrimp . I would have liked 6, expected 4. They were overcooked, dry and tough. We have dined both at this location and Hilo . Although the menus are identical and the price is identical ( except the wine,,,, more later) the food is both better prepared and cooked in Hilo. What is bizarre though is the difference in wine pricing between their two locations. They are world's apart. A bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay sells for $55 in Hilo, the same bottle & vintage ( the same week) sells for $90 in Kawaihae. We asked why, neither location knew .
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent, as usual
    disappointed
    Dined on 10/8/2014
    We live in the Kawaihae area 6 months of the year and during that time eat at Cafe Pesto at least 6 times. The food is consistently delicious. As usual, my favorite baby back ribs were cooked to perfect tenderness in a tangy but mellow BBQ sauce. YUM! My husband's ahi was seared just the right amount on the outside and warm but very rare on the inside (how do they do that???). The outside crispiness of our friend's mahi hid for just a second the tender white flakiness inside. And last but certainly not least, the famous pesto pasta was al dente and dressed to perfection in the house sauces. Fabulous dinner, as usual! And Michael, our server, was his usual friendly, witty self! Thank you!
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A "can't miss" when visiting
    sph1776VIP
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    LEAVE THE RESORTS!!! Every time we come to the Mauna Kea, we make sure to leave the property and head straight for Cafe Pesto. It is wonderful, authentic Italian/Hawaiian cuisine. Kawai'hae has a little treasure trove of restaurants and they are so worth the drive from any of the resorts along the Kohala Coast - and only 5 minutes from Mauna Kea or Hapuna Beach Prince. Service is always great and the food is just divine.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good Food
    James
    Dined on 9/1/2014
    Cafe Pesto is en excellent restaurant away from the mega resorts of Waikoloa on the Big Island. The atmosphere is laid back and the food is excellent.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • 3furybabiesmama
    Dined on 8/24/2014
    This was our first time to Café Pesto. Heard a lot of great things and read a lot of great reviews. Had to try it for ourselves and it was awesome! The food was very tasteful and the presentation of each dish was terrific. We had the coconut calamari and crab cakes for appetizers...we got full off of that! Moved on to the main dish which consisted of the Santa Fe chicken and the Something Hearty...loved it! Of course you have to try the desserts. We had the apple crisp which was wonderful! We will be back to try other things on the menu. Mahalo
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Super Place away from it all
    madweber
    Dined on 8/18/2014
    Great food. Fun waiter (Ira) who also knew what he was doing. Reasonable price. Pizza is good whether hot or cold. Everything is fresh.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Pesto
    CHfilesVIP
    Dined on 8/13/2014
    Our favorite place on this side of the Island. Fun menu, fresh catch dishes always interesting. Outstanding cocktails from the bar from Jade and Katy.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Hawaii visitors
    McLeanResidentsVIP
    Dined on 8/7/2014
    We came here on the recommendation of a local, and enjoyed the low-key ambience and the food. After an excellent dinner, we came back later in the week for lunch. We loved the calamari appetizer and the pizza, the fajita was excellent, and the miloli'i sandwich was a big hit.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Visitingpod
    Dined on 8/5/2014
    Excellent food, great service. This is our fourth visit and we always go when we are on the Big Island.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, scenic view, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cafe Pesto! A must to go to!
    PatTanaka
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    We travel to Hawaii once a year and Cafe Pesto is always on our list of places to eat dinner. This year we went twice, one time meeting longtime friends here. We met at 6:30p and practically closed the restaurant, never to be bothered because we were staying so long. Our simple 'change' requests were gladly met and, as always, our food was prepared promptly and very delicious.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Food at reasonable price
    ExceedExpectation
    Dined on 7/29/2014
    The menu is great, food top notch, drinks are interesting and the service is on par. The best part is the prices are all very reasonable for the Big Island. No wonder the place is full every night of the week.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 29 ratings-only reviews submitted since July 30, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.6
    • Food4.6
    • Ambiance3.8
    • Service4.6
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 317 reviews are from the Cafe Pesto - Kawaihae Harbor reviews archive.
  • Cafe pesto
    Dinnerwith3
    Dined on 7/14/2014
    A true find! Delicious food in a casual setting. We could see the sunset out the window which was breath taking. Seafood Risotto was some of the best we ever had! Great service great food. A new favorite on the big island
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yummy, yum, yum
    Turtles182
    Dined on 7/13/2014
    The pizza is delectable, fish and pasta dishes are also very good. Vegetarian friendly. Wonderful and friendly service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Perfect4thepallet
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    Pesto was very good but limited menu. Need a few more pasta dishes and more beef and chicken choices
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Hawaii with Alex
    SandyjkVIP
    Dined on 7/9/2014
    Highly recommended by many friends, this delicious place deserves a visit. Actually they have two locations on the big Island. The food is innovative and delicious. The menu always features the catch of the day which is easy because they are situated on Harbor.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch, scenic view, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ten years
    tart
    Dined on 7/4/2014
    We have been coming to Cafe Pesto for ten years. It's reasonable, the wait people are friendly and it's a casual place. I have to have their warm coconut tart every time I go there. Unbelievable.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Always good
    RichD
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    Every time we come to the big Island we have dinner a Cafe Pesto and we have never been disappointed. The food is excellent and the wait staff is outstanding.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • melvin
    Dined on 6/23/2014
    Another excellent dining experience at Pesto's. Our server was Ira and he was fantastic. His suggestions were great. all of us enjoyed what we ordered and we left the place stuffed.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 6/12/2014
    Good food. Preparations allowed for the the ingredients to stand on their own without being oversauced.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Cafe Pesto
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    This was our fifth time at Pesto's, the food and service quality are always good and this location is preferred over Hilo. We usually eat pizza's and salad with local micro brews and Italian vino. The pasta and specials are also unique and local depending on your mood.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great Food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    A must when you are on the island for vacation. Great Food, drinks, and friendly staff.
    Special Features:
    hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Fish!
    likesfish
    Dined on 6/5/2014
    This Cafe always has great fresh fish specials. I think it gets it's fish locally from Kawaihae fishermen.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Here2stayVIP
    Dined on 5/30/2014
    They do an outstanding job with their entres. A bit pricey especially on the fish dishes but the preparation makes up for it. When I try something new I am never disappointed.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Need to Get Better
    KohalaDiner123
    Dined on 5/30/2014
    One of the things Café Pesto is known for its pizza. However, the pizza I had was undercooked and cold. When I complain all they did was reheat the pizza which burned the cheese and meat on top. With two other good pizza places nearby (Kaunoa Bar and Grille and Pueos) that serve truly outstanding pizza, Café Pesto needs to get their act together.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • cozy dinner for 2
    mariahpapaya
    Dined on 5/25/2014
    We enjoyed a large blue caesar salad for 2, I had the ono (fresh catch) and he had the steak (ribeye, I think), both cooked to perfection. He had the apple crisp for dessert, in a generous ramekin (enough for 2, so I had a few bites---piping HOT! and not too sweet, just right)
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Worth the trip
    goodeating
    Dined on 5/6/2014
    My husband ordered the smoked salmon linguine and I had the pepperoni pizza. I had some of the salmon and the sauce was so tasty it left me wanting more. The automatic spices on the pizza drew me in right away and the flavor of the sauce and softness of the crust was exactly what I want, but rarely get, in a pizza. I would be remiss if I did not mention the pesto dressing for the salad is a must try...it is now my favorite salad dressing.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • One of Our Favorites
    BGeez
    Dined on 5/3/2014
    Cafe Pesto is one of our favorite places to eat when we are in the area! We love their pizza and recommend their coconut tart!
    Special Features:
    Good for Groups, Great for Lunch, Scenic View, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Easy location near major resots
    rdshay
    Dined on 4/28/2014
    We enjoyed our dinner at Cafe Pesto and recommend it as an alternative to the on site restaurants of the Kohala Coast resorts. The wait staff is friendly and attentive. The wine list is on the expensive side, and that is true of most Hawaiian restaurants. We shared the Seafood Risotto and the seafood was very nicely prepared. The risotto was a little too rich though, so don't feel you should eat it all. Our salads had very fresh ingredients and was very tasty.
    Special Features:
    Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not a great experience
    david
    Dined on 4/27/2014
    Not a great experience: our table surface was sticky, the main dish was tasteless (sautéed Mahi-Mahi). The waiter was pleasant but not well trained. When the waiter delivered the plates to the table he knocked a full glass of water into my lap. To compensate for it he later brought a plastic wrapped cookie for my wife and I to share. We are in Hawaii for a month but will not be returning to this restaurant.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Cafe Pesto
    prodinerVIP
    Dined on 4/26/2014
    One of my favorite places on the Island to dine. Great service, nice menu with many choices, nice bar and Katy is a great bartender, just a perfect place on this side of the island, to enjoy an evening out.
    Special Features:
    Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Aloha
    Foodie2014
    Dined on 4/17/2014
    For the past decade we have visited and enjoyed Cafe Pesto while vacationing on Hawai'i. This is our favorite "off resort" dining experience. In fact, the food is better than any five star hotel restaurant.
    Special Features:
    Kid-Friendly, Fit For Foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Slipped a bit from last year
    GelatonutVIP
    Dined on 4/15/2014
    Have dined here last several years while visiting Hawaii. This year food was not as good...pizza included. Will try again next year though
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Definitely Try This One
    eatnightlyVIP
    Dined on 4/10/2014
    My husband and I both had pasta dishes. I would have rated the food very good except we found the marinara sauce a bit sweet for our tastes. My husband had his pasta with their pork and beef meatballs and I had mine with chicken apple sausage. Both meats were delicious and the pasta was well cooked. Saw other patrons with pizza and it looked as if they were enjoying that as well. We also had a wonderful, friendly server who gave us information for a terrific hike the next day. For a local, not fancy restaurant I would say this was an excellent find.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate