Just a short but picturesque ten minute drive Mauka on Hualalai Road from Kailua town reveals the upcountry village of Holualoa- punctuated with coffee farms, art galleries, lush greenery and fabulous views of the coastline.
This is hill farming country and home to most of the Kona Coffee grown on island. The quaint town encompasses 14.2 square miles and is located at approximately 1400 ft elevation situated along a winding stretch of Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy 180 on Google map).
Four of us were seated on a covered veranda (all dining areas at Holuakoa are situated on lanais) overlooking the distinctly fuschia-flavored Kona Hotel located just across the street. Positioned just two steps below us in a garden of tropical foliage sat a benevolent looking stone deity shrouded in green moss.
Was she imparting us with blessings for a good lunch or enhancing the restaurant’s tranquil ambiance with her serene presence, accompanied by the sounds of soft jazz? Trickling water from a koi pond (that runs the length of the stairwell and walkway from the upper parking lot behind the building, down to the dining porticos) contributed to the natural harmony and essence of Holuakoa. Low teak dining tables with plush floor zabutons would be suitable, and I imagined us sitting cross-legged, eyes closed and humming while trying to enlighten ourselves of a lunch choice from the daily-printed menu.
‘Slow Food’ is their motto-and they adhere to it faithfully. Don’t expect to have a rushed or quick meal at Holuakoa. The whole idea is to relax, enjoy your surroundings, and forget the trials of the day while you savor food the way flavorful meals are supposed to be enjoyed.
After much deliberation, the food orders were placed and the table talk gravitated towards the unusual butterfly amulet hovering just above Mei’s cleavage. Always the trendsetter, Mei acquired it quite inexpensively from Jean’s Warehouse (hint to all the shoppers) and managed to find a coordinating tank top to go with it.
Cindy is in the throes of building a new home while selling the old one (which was headed for escrow) and finding a suitable place to rent – all at once. To make matters worse, the rental habitat needed to allow pets and have a fenced yard. If I had a bottle of vodka, I would’ve spiked her “Sunbird Iced Tea”, a tasty concoction that arrived tall and frosty for $2.25, including refills.
Carolyn jumped at the freshly squeezed Limeaid ($4.50) to accompany her Grilled Chicken Salad Sandwich ($13.50). “Organic Fuji Apple, Celery and Red Onion, Red Leaf Lettuce, Organic Tomato, served on house baked Toasted Ciabatta Bread”. Sounds tantalizing?? Apparently it was as neither Carolyn nor Cindy offered tastes of their respective meals. As a courtesy to them, I asked for personal comments to record for this review – and purposely quizzed them while both had their mouths full of food. “Mm-gmm-rghm…um…touch of vrinaigrette on the lettuce…crunchy apprle crunks…umm..ooh-really fresh bread..yummy”.
A really great and zesty Caesar Salad is normally at the top of my garlic-loving list – and Mei concurred by ordering the “Classic Caesar Salad with Grilled Local Mahimahi” for $16.50. Holuakoa advertises that all produce used on the menu is grown locally; much of it in their own garden next door. The Caesar dressing was appropriately garlic-lemony with a light suggestion of anchovy. It was starting to get embarrassing as Mei unknowingly mimicked Meg Ryan in her infamous restaurant scene from “When Harry Met Sally”, only she was being orgasmic about the grilled mahimahi that nestled on top of the Caesar Salad. I’m embellishing, of course, but she was totally ecstatic about the grilled fresh fish – and exclaimed loudly that it was “PERFECTION”. Would you say that her husband is a very lucky man?
Drawn to all things eggfull, my choice centered on the “Holuakoa Deep Dish Quiche and Salad”, comprised of bacon, asparagus, potato and Swiss Cheese. I did see a few chickens behind the restaurant’s parking lot and wondered if the chef was out there earlier hunting down freshly laid eggs in keeping with the “locally grown” theme. What can I say about this meal, except that Meg Ryan comes to mind- it was incredibly opulent. I took many photos to try and capture the beauty of this dish.
Tony Bourdain has nothing on me when it comes to finding sensual food, and I have to say – it’s possibly the best representation of Food Porn that I have ever seen. Order the quiche at Holuakoa – hands down, the best ever ($15.00).
Parking is available behind the restaurant, and is accessed by a country lane that runs from the Holualoa Post Office to the Imin Center. You can also park on Mamalahoa in front of the eatery, and visit some of the art galleries after brunch or dinner.
A few days later, I was fortunate enough to enjoy brunch at Holuakoa again, and was able to take pictures of the restroom – very important! Plus my dining companion ordered the “Three Egg Frittata” ($13.50) – those just-dropped-in-the-parking-lot eggs, plus house cured bacon, sautéed pepper, sweet onion, summer squash, tomato, swiss and mozzarella cheese – escorted by spicy homefried potatoes. It was a hit, and I got a forkful too! Velvety, flavor-packed, and fresh-tasting; just as anticipated.
This appraisal would not be complete without the perfunctory “Loo Review”. Located upstairs and gender-notated to boot, are the ‘kane’ and ‘wahine’ bathrooms. Earth-tone hues dominate the tiled floor and walls, baskets, fresh flower display, koa wood trims – spotless!! A vague spicy aroma wafts through the window and I am suddenly confused. It’s pleasant enough to enjoy your lunch in this room! I then realize that the kitchen is directly below me. No wonder the bathrooms are in constant use!
Strolling the café grounds after lunch affords the chance to enjoy day-glo colored arrangements of locally grown blossoms along with an occasional exotic beauty preening unexpectedly from a planter. Sensory overload to be sure!
Saturday Farmer’s Market can be enjoyed on property from 9 am till noon. Occasionally, Holuakoa hosts a fabulous wine tasting event, which I highly recommend.
You must visit the café and put your name on the e-mail list in order to receive information about special events and menus. Visit the website for meal times and more information: