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Tasting the ‘aina: Dinner at Holuakoa Cafe

We checked out a slow food restaurant in Kona with a wide array of local ingredients

Posted June 5, 2013 by Melissa Chang

On the second day of our farm-to-table ag tour with Kamehameha Schools, we explored a lot of history and culture, but I’m going to save that for the end to hopefully tie it all back together. I’m going to jump ahead to a farm-to-table dinner that we had a Holuakoa Gardens & Cafe, a quaint but fabulous restaurant in an old part of Kona. I know this because I stayed in the Kona Hotel across the street with my grandmother about 30 years ago, as my brother was on a quest to search for our migrant coffee worker roots, and the place has upgraded only a smidge since then.

The place was first known as a coffee shop, which still sits (and operates) toward the front of the property. We got to meet owner Barbara Gerrits, a slow food advocate who operates it with her chef-partner, Wilson Read (unfortunately, he was out of town hiking the Himalayas, of course). They source a lot of their ingredients from the Kamehameha farm-to-table partners — not to be trendy, but because it’s their way of life. Since just about everything is fresh and local, the menu changes daily. I always hear foodies and chefs on neighbor islands moaning that Oahu has an exciting food scene, but we don’t have the true farm-to-table experiences that they have. The variety of products grown/raised on islands like Hawaii and Maui far exceeds what we get to have on Oahu, and when you visit places like Holuakoa Cafe, you can see and taste the freshness in the dishes they present.

Dinner at Holuakoa Cafe (1 of 23)

Dinner at Holuakoa Cafe

After foraging for our food from Hilo to Kona, it was only fitting that we eat at a truly farm-to-table restaurant. At Holuakoa Gardens & Cafe, they don't do farm-to-table because it's trendy; they live it every day as a Slow Food establishment. The menu changes daily, and it's full of modern twists on old-school eating.

Holuakoa Gardens & Cafe
76-5901 Mamalahoa Hwy.


You can read all of Melissa’s blogs at Follow Melissa on Twitter @Melissa808, on Foursquare as Melissa808, or email at

  1. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Delicate Blossom:  After all that fuud and drink, the last pix luuks like the place to be…in a horizontal position!  Hopefully, the meats are not that fresh and has been chilled/aged before cooking.  When meats are too fresh, they don’t taste as well and tend to be tougher.  I take your “farm to table” to be in a literary sense for the meats.

  2. Melissa808
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:04 am

    @Annoddah_Dave ah, don’t take it too literally! Meats are all processed correctly and in the right time.

  3. Grant Shindo
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Oh wow! The spread looks amazing! Love it! Time to book a trip.

  4. Melissa808
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    @Grant Shindo yesterday I was telling chef Justin Yu about it (at Whole Ox) and he says he’s taking that same tour, but meeting more ranchers as well. I didn’t ask if it was through a broker or through ksnews . You might want to see when & how his trip is being coordinated and go with him!

  5. Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm


  6. Melissa808
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    @Cat talk about Kanack Attack!

  7. Melissa808
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    @Cat talk about Kanack Attack!

  8. jlieu
    Posted June 7, 2013 at 8:32 am

    omggggg guacamole!!!! okay – can everything look amazing?! geez! so J!

  9. Melissa808
    Posted June 7, 2013 at 9:18 am

    @jlieu Don’t forget the lamb!! :D


About Melissa Chang

Melissa has been blogging regularly since 2007 and has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and public relations. She is currently an independent marketing consultant, specializing in social media. 

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