Cafe Pesto - Kawaihae Harbor

4.1
649 reviews
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$30 and under
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Mediterranean

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About

"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.

Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Mediterranean, Fusion / Eclectic
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Hours of operation
Lunch: Daily: 11:00am - 4:30pm; Dinner: Nightly: 4:30pm - 9:00pm
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Phone number
(808) 882-1071
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Payment options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Moses Tavares
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Akoni Pule Hwy
Additional
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Cafe, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 649 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.1based on all time ratings
4.2
food
4.2
service
3.6
ambience
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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M
Tahoe
3 reviews
Dined on September 27, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

A great and affordable place to dine in west shore Hawaii. Casual dining, fresh fish, affordable food, nice people.

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DD
Hawaii
16 reviews
Dined on September 25, 2017
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 3

Service timely. Weekday lunch with few patrons. No noise level at all- great. Great pasta salad and fresh catch fish sandwich. A top notch dining spot.

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b
Hawaii
4 reviews
Dined on September 23, 2017
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

Birthday celebration. Awesome food and comp desert

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OT
Hawaii
2 reviews
Dined on September 19, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food was very good, fresh ingredients! The service was impeccable. The night we dined was mid-week so the restaurant was quiet and we were able to get a table near the window to watch the sunset.

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OT
Naples
1 review
Dined on September 16, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our favorite restaurant on The Big Island. We've been coming here for 21 years.

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P
Minneapolis
45 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2017
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

Pretty disappointed. First time there. No host on duty. Waited to even to be acknowledged for several minutes as the bartender was doing double duty. There was a line of about 10 people behind us, all with reservations.

Once seated, the service was attentive and friendly.

The food, however, was the biggest disappointment. I opted for the special chicken stir fry over a kind of noodle.

There was was so much sugar and red pepper over undercooked pasta, it was pretty unappetizing.

My dinner partners agreed that the poke wasn't right and the chicken risotto was pasty and flavorless.

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OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on September 5, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Part of Birthday celebration

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RB
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Always good! Thanks for over 20 years of good food and service!

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CM
Phoenix
65 reviews
Dined on August 22, 2017
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

We've been here before and always ordered pizza. This time we tried two different pastas, and they were good, but it's probably best to go with pizza here.

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OT
Hawaii
3 reviews
Dined on August 20, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

This is one of our favorite places to eat when we visit the north shore of Hawaii. The must have item for us is the Volcano Mist salad, so called because it's shaped like a volcano, with curls of mozzarella cheese erupting out the top. Really exceptional, with heirloom tomatoes, crispy onions and a balsamic reduction. Our pizza was good, too, but a 12-inch pizza with three items (mushrooms, pepperoni, and bell peppers) for $26 was a little steep, we thought. Overall, very good and you can see a pretty good sunset through the trees.

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OT
London
8 reviews
Dined on August 18, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and service. We love the rosemary gorgonzola focaccia.

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A
Hawaii
3 reviews
Dined on August 18, 2017
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 1

After dining at Cafe Pesto in Hilo, we were looking fwd to trying this other location expecting to have the same great dining experience however it wasn't anything near Hilo location.

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R
Hawaii
46 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

We had a most enjoyable dinner. The salads are super and the soup, which was a tomato and pepper creme was very tasty. Always enjoy Cafe Pesto.

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R
Hawaii
46 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Always good. We are regulars and always enjoy our meals.

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B
Hawaii
25 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2017
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

We haven't been back to Cafe Pesto in a number of years. Had their seafood risotto and it's still delicious!!

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RM
Hawaii
13 reviews
Dined on August 1, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

A nice experience in a comfortable friendly atmosphere. The Rosemary Gorgonzola Foccacia is delicious.

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OT
New York Area
23 reviews
Dined on July 28, 2017
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 2

Consistently good food. No view and ok service. Fresh. Better for lunch than dinner, definitely

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CJ
Hawaii
6 reviews
Dined on July 20, 2017
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 3

Food was fine, nothing special. Focaccia bread was delicious. Problem was our waiter. Never cracked a smile or seemed that interested in us. Tables around us got attentive service from him but not us we weren't told the specials or even asked if we wanted a beverage. We did order our own beverages but never offered a refill or a second cocktail. Bill was brought to us before we were done with no offer of dessert or something else. He obviously wanted us out if there, maybe because we were a gay couple I don't know. Hostess was incredibly friendly, girl pouring water was sour. What could have been a pleasant enough evening was only made memorable by its poor service

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PT
Hawaii
2 reviews
Dined on July 14, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Cafe Pesto is a must dining place to go when staying north of Kailua-Kona as it is a bit of a drive otherwise. We go there when we're vacationing. Excellent food, friendly, accommodating and helpful service. Excellent huge homemade cookies to buy to eat later!

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R
New York Area
59 reviews
Dined on July 8, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wait staff was excellent and service was quick. Vegan options explained and verified with chef. We always enjoy our visit to Cafe Pesto on our trips to the Big Island. You won't be disappointed.

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O
Vancouver
5 reviews
Dined on June 11, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Great food, neighborhood jewel!

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MR
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on June 5, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Get away from the resorts on the Kona side and go here. The food is phenomenal and our server was clearly knowledgeable and passionate about the food created and served. It's not the place for ambiance or views but it's a place we will go to every time we are on the Big Island. I had the seafood risotto. It was worth the price and more. Can't wait to go again to try more things on the menu.

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OT
Hawaii
1 review
Dined on June 3, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food is always excellent. They have a great "volcano" salad that can easily be shared by two people. Their menu has a lot of variety and my wife especially enjoyed the mushroom-chicken risotto. We try to visit this popular restaurant whenever we are in Hawaii.

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S
Hawaii
48 reviews
Dined on June 2, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Always a good choice with delicious specials and excellent service.

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C
Edmonton
22 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2017
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Cafe Pesto was excellent in particular good sized portions; very tasty and excellent value.

Ono with jasmine rice and veggies excellent! Service very friendly and consistent.

Would recoommend for any occasion - unassuming location and very modest amibiance but food and choices make this a winner.

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M
Hawaii
1 review
Dined on May 31, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Charming waiter who gave great suggestions and personal service to us😊

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L
Hawaii
12 reviews
Dined on May 27, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent!

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K
Hawaii
3 reviews
Dined on May 19, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

our server was attentive and service was excellent. food was amazing. we ordered the shrimp nachos for the first time and it was delicious and ORIGINAL :) kudos. and also shared my alltime favorite southwestern chicken pizza! handcrafted drinks were also great. tried the coconut lime margarita, blended and on the rocks, both very delicious and original. also had the passion martini, a bit dry for me, but switched to a coconut cranberry cosmo and that was perfect! i come every so often, i live on the big island, one of my favorite things about this italian cuisine restaurant is just the way it looks. it has a very warm, inviting, island feel to it decorated with hawaiian paintings and portraits and has that classic black and white tile italian floors.

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R
Hawaii
46 reviews
Dined on May 16, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

We visit Cafe Pesto whenever we come to the Big Island. The food and service are consistently good. We have never been disappointed. This is just a good place for pleasant dining at a sensible price.

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JS
San Francisco
74 reviews
Dined on May 15, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We have been visiting the Big Island for over 15 years and Cafe Pesto in Kawaihae is one of our top go-to restaurants when we want great pizza and/or pasta. Very friendly to visitors from the mainland, which we appreciate. I always order the Pizza Luau with their Caesar salad. Pastas are also wonderful, especially with seafood.

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R
Hawaii
46 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Always good. We go to Cafe Pesto a few times a year and always enjoy it.

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m
Las Vegas
41 reviews
Dined on May 10, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Whenever we visit the Big Island, Cafe Pesto's is a must. Our days/nights were tight and were concerned whether we would be able to go to Cafe Pesto's.
Well, an afternoon found us in the Kawaihae are and we stopped in for a late lunch. CherryLynn was our server and she was ad delight. Helpful, friendly, and recommended excellent optios. My wife had the Miloli'i dish and her only negative comment was the portion size; she wish there were more.
Well, as luck would have it, our guests went on an afternoon/night tours so my wife and I ventured back to the Cafe for dinner. She was alittle disappointed that the Miloli'i was not offerred as a dinner entree. I requested CherryLynn to be our server and expressed our concern that the dish was NOT on the dinner menu. I asked if one could be ordered. She claimed that most anything could be done. Well, my wife had her sought-after dinner dish and peace was returned to our table.
Cafe Pesto's has always delighted my wife with the rather tasty dishes and the variety of exotic cocktails for her to sample.
Having CherryLynn pusjed the experience over the top. Will definitely return for all of our future visits and will also reocmmend the restaurant to anyone we find out who are headed for the Big Island.

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VA
Portland
6 reviews
Dined on May 10, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent service and great food! Marc had a good sense of humor. Celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary with them.

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OT
Pittsburgh
2 reviews
Dined on May 8, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We loved it. We were looking for dinner and most places close at 4:30 or you have to pay out the rear at a hotel. This place was perfect.

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GB
Tahoe
1 review
Dined on May 6, 2017
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

The food is always good here. We come back here often.

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OT
Denver
6 reviews
Dined on May 5, 2017
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

We had been to the one in Hilo and came to this one, and we enjoyed it. Great variety of food options. The "Something Hearty" pasta dish was indeed that - very tasty and generous portion. Service was good, prices are very reasonable by Hawaii standards. The ambiance inside is fine, but the outside area is "ok". You can see the water across the street, but it's adjacent to an industrial looking area - so it's not a romantic spot. But other than that, I would highly recommend it.

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S
Phoenix
154 reviews
Dined on May 2, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

Calimari is top notch...shrimp pizza is a winner!

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BG
Dallas
23 reviews
Dined on May 2, 2017
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Our annual trip to the BI always includes at least one meal at Cafe Pesto...great pizza and outstanding coconut tart!

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OT
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on April 24, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great place to eat on the Big Island! We visit whenever we can.

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JR
New England
9 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2017
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 2

How the mighty has fallen -- once upon a time this place was IT! Now, not so much -- the decor is tired (the same it was 15 years ago) and a tad dirty, the market catch is way overpriced and portion sizes are small. If you do go, stick to pizzas and calzones (that is their wheelhouse). Everything else is blah. We ordered ono and ahi (both need to be medium to rare to be enjoyed, and server agreed); both were over cooked and dried out. Servers were cheerful and courteous. Food did not meet expectations. Bummer.

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