Kalikala Cuisine (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)

After my conference wrapped up, we spent another few nights on the Big Island, moving up the coast to the Royal Kona Resort, which originally was built as the Hilton Kona Resort. It’s a surprisingly well-maintained old resort that has much of the 1960s charm to it, but it currently doesn’t have a lot of dining action, and I quite frankly wasn’t impressed with the limited breakfast options. So we headed down Ali‘i Drive to see what we could find. As I mentioned in my review of The Fish Hopper, Ali‘i Drive is basically ground-central for the central Kona coast tourist trade, with any number of restaurants vying for tourist dollars. My eye caught a rather low-key outdoor dining spot almost immediately adjacent to The Fish Hopper called Kalikala Cuisine, and after talking with a man (who I found out was the owner) on the bench out front with a nice dog, we decided to give the place a try.

The dining area at Kalikala (the name means “Crystal”, a call out to the other owner) is entirely outside, with an array of tables under various awnings and umbrellas, all somewhat wrapped around a small outside bar. It’s quite a nice outdoor area, nicely breezy, but set back enough from the sidewalk that it was also relatively quiet. While Kalikala has dinner service some nights, it’s primarily a breakfast joint with a modest lunch menu, and a slightly more elaborate brunch menu on the weekends. The menu skews a little more to the healthy side than much of the other downtown options, with some healthier options like an Acai Bowl or a tropical rendition of avocado toast.

I opted for the Hawaiian Waffle plate, which was a pineapple- and coconut-infused waffle, served up with one egg (I went for scrambled), some fruit, and some Portuguese sausage. I was quite pleased with this dish. The waffle itself was perfectly cooked: a nice crunchy sear on the outside, and light fluffy interior nicely flavored, but not overwhelmed, by the added fruit. The Portuguese sausage nicely seared and not overly excessive, and the egg nicely scrambled. This was great breakfast overall.

In a nod to how much we enjoyed Kalikala for breakfast, we actually did a relatively rare move for us, we went back two days later for breakfast on our last day in town (we’re way more likely to be explorers and try other places than re-visit). On the first visit, Carol had spied the next table over having the Topical Huevos Rancheros, and decided to try it out: tortillas, homemade tomatillo salsa, black beans, cheddar-jack sauce, eggs. This was a nicely-composed rancheros, and the star of the dish was the housemade salsa with several tropical fruits added in, making for a nice, refreshing breakfast.

On our re-visit, I was a bit less hungry, so I went for one of the smaller options: the Portuguese Sausage breakfast croissant. The star here was the croissant, a freshly made Hawaiian-influenced croissant (think “fusion of King’s Hawaiian Bread and a croissant”), toasted up, made for a nice basic sandwich, and some nicely seared Portuguese sausage and a bit of scrambled egg and cheese, and this was a great breakfast sandwich.

Overall, we loved Kalikala, enough to visit it twice in one trip. The staff is friendly, the food good (and priced reasonably, considering the touristy area), and the ambiance pleasant. It’s definitely one of the more hidden gems on Ali‘i Drive.

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