After the dip in the pool, we visited some small tidal pools. Take a look at the house on the left. In the foreground you can see the pillar/post foundation of a house that used to be there. This is one of the hazards of living on the beach in Hawaii. Some days you are . . . and some day you won't be.
It was fun walking around the tidal pools. Just like the tide-filled swimming pool small fish use the shallow pools as nurseries. When the fish are large enough they leave their tidal pool home and venture forth . . . to my plate, hopefully.
After walking around on the lava, we were a little bit peckish, so we began looking for some place to eat. I suggested a hamburger. Randy's not fond of fish, so he easily agreed. We drove into Pahoa. The sign on Kaleo's advertised "Burgers." We decided to give it a try. We parked in their fairly large parking lot next to their building. The rest of the group went in the side door, while I looked around and entered through the front door. I was impressed.
The restaurant was clean, beautiful and inviting. There was great art on the wall. One painting looked like the lava cliff just in from of Donn and Debbie's home. We were greeted and given menus immediately.
Did we find the best restaurant on the island of Hawaii?
I haven't brought this up before, but health codes on Hawaii are years behind Pierce County in Washington state. Either that or there is no enforcement. But, I've heard others remark about the lack of healthy codes, also. I've seen restaurant bathrooms just one level about outhouses. Luckily, I can adjust.
Peg had gone to the restroom and had not returned for some time. I was beginning to worry. She finally came back to the table and asked for my camera. She was in love with the bathroom. With tropical wallpaper and clean fixtures, she was in heaven. Did we find the cleanest restaurant in Hawaii?
Before I give you my opinion of Kaleo's I want to share a review from the internet, which I found later:
The first time you see Pahoa it looks kind of like a town full of smugglers or pirates or something. It's kind of a busted up western town with aging buildings, uneven sidewalks and lots of down on their luck looking people. At least that's how it looks at a first glance. So when people kept saying over and over again that Kaleo's was a "really good restaurant" I thought that probably meant "good for a town like this".
So we finally went one night and "wow", we had an awesome meal and a great time. The cocktails were generous and tasty(not something out of a bottled mix). There were so many great things on the menu. My wife had and Ahi wrap that was delicious. I had the chicken coconut curry which is seriously one of the best curries I've ever had and grew up in San Francisco and live in Seattle.
It was so good we went back on a Saturday for lunch. There was literally one waitress working the busy room. But she was friendly, fast and very efficient. She made the cocktails, bused the table and for all I know was doing the cooking too. I had the burger with local beef which is seriously maybe the best burger I have ever had, juicy, huge and very filling. I've caught myself thinking about this burger while I'm eating other burgers now.
The waiter declined to have his photograph taken when he delivered the appetizers, but that was okay. We were happy. Everyone else fell in love with the Kahlua Pork & Cabbage Wontons. I was thrilled with the fried ahi. Wrapped in rice and nori and golden fried on the outside, the ahi was perfectly uncooked on the inside. I ate two of the large portions and could have eaten them all, but I wanted to save room for my burger.
I couldn't contain the burger, the avocado, the bacon, the onions, the mushroom, the tomatoes, and the lettuce. To finish the complete burger you would have pick it up in both hands and continue eating until it was all gone. Unfortunately, I sat mine down and it was all over . . . but then I didn't need to eat the whole thing. I was full and happy.
Okay, I wasn't completely full . . . there was still dessert to try. We bought two to share amongst the five of us. I had eaten banana lumpia on the island earlier and really, really loved it. How was I to know that it was an inferior product? This dessert had two lumpias cut in half atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey. At the end of each lumpia was a dollop of whipped cream. I thought, this is the perfect dessert there couldn't be anything better. I was wrong.
The lilikoi cheesecake was the perfect dessert: tart and rich. It was served next. What's a person to do?
The five of us made reservations for seven on Wednesday evening (the night before our return to Tacoma). We were going to treat Donn and Debbie for being the perfect hosts.
So did we find the best restaurant on the island of Hawaii? Maybe. They are the winner of Honolulu Magazine's 2011 Best Big Island Restaurant Award.
On the way out of town, Peg asked Randy to stop so she could check out the bookstore, Book Buyers. While Peg went to the bookstore, Randy went for a beer. While he was there the bartender ran several people out. One squatted by the bookstore window. I went in the bookstore and looked around. I found a great deal: The A&E mini-series The Scarlet Pimpernel, a three DVD set. In addition to the DVDs I bought a calendar of old door and window photographs. Sue pointed this out to me. Peg and asked for photos of doors and windows in Italy when we were all there.
As I paid for the DVDs the owner told me that I could bring them back if they didn't work even though they looked in perfect condition. I told her I was leaving soon for Washington and that if they didn't work I was just call her bad names. She was horrified, "Oh, I don't want any bad vibes . . . call me if they don't work and I'll send you a check." How can you now love people this precious?
Sue had Randy take us to one of their favorite spots . . . it was the little secluded area under the trees that Peg and I had found a week earlier and loved. Do great minds think alike, or what. Sue and Darlene stood watching the surf and sighting turtles flying on the waves.
We got back home by mid-afternoon to find that Donn and Debbie had gone to Hilo and then to lunch. They had called all of us to join them for lunch, but we hadn't called them to join us. Bummer.
I felt so bad I had to go take a nap. I think most of us did. It was either that or work off our fantastic meal . . . and that seemed counter-productive.