My husband and I were in Kona, Hawaii, for the Ironman World Championships this fall and decided to try the Kona Brewing Company, as we had heard it mentioned by a lot of our friends. It seems like many other people had the same idea, as there was a wait of about 40 minutes for a table. I’ve heard it can be up to 1 1/2 hours.
Now, granted this was race week, so there were many people in town and the restaurant is known for its pizza, which is great for carb loading and feeding kids. But still, that’s a long wait. Fortunately, we were participating in a VIP program for the restaurant and were seated right away.
The restaurant itself has both indoor and outdoor seating, but by far the largest and most popular section is the outdoor patio, which is where we were seated. The atmosphere is very casual and so great for kids. The inside looks very small and with an open kitchen. I’m not quite sure what they would do if it was raining!
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Of note: the restaurant is very much into sustainability, has earned certification from the Green Restaurant Association and donates annually to local non-profit organizations. They used local and recycled materials, such as ohia wood and corrugated tin roofing, when building the restaurant and use local and organic ingredients in their food whenever possible.
In case you missed it from the name of the restaurant, they do have a brewery on the premises and have been at it since 1995. You can tour the brewery and even book online. In fact, you will find their bottled beer all over the island, including resorts such as the Four Seasons Hualalai. You can also buy the beer in many states on the main land and several countries abroad.
So, you kind of feel obliged to have a beer when you’re dining. How do you go to Kona Brewing Company and not? Well, try if you’re a triathlete a few days before a race. As we dined here pre-race, my racer stuck with water. No such constraints for me. You can order by the glass, pint or Sampler.
I opted for the Sampler, which included four brews of your choice in five ounce glasses. I told our waiter that I preferred pale ales as opposed to dark and let him select my four choices. He brought me Big Wave Golden Ale (light, golden ale with subtle fruitiness), Fire Rock Pale Ale (Hawaiian-style with a bright copper glow), Wailua Wheat (golden ale with passion fruit), and Lemongrass Luau (taste of ginger). My favorite was the Big Wave Golden Ale and my least was the Lemongrass, as it tasted like ginger and I’m not a big ginger fan – didn’t think to tell the waiter.
The menu contains a variety of pupus (appetizers), salads, sandwiches, and desserts. We opted for an appetizer and salads to start. We chose the Hualalai Hummus with pita and then I had the Greek Salad and Carl had the Strawberry Spinach Salad. Everything was absolutely fine and the portions are quite large, so take that into consideration when you order. Friends of ours also had the Porterhouse Dip sandwich, which they really liked. We did not have dessert, but if I had to choose, I would have gone with the Root Beer Float, made with local vanilla bean ice cream. You can even have it made with one of their beers!
This seems to be their specialty and as I looked around at other tables, it was obvious that this was what most people ordered. We did, too. You can get small, medium, or large and have your choice of their ready-made or you can “brew” your own. I mean really build your own from the type of sauce and cheese to all the toppings. We both got small pizzas. I chose the Kona Garden, which was full of fresh vegetables, and Carl had the Puna Pie, which was olive oil, garlic, and four cheese.
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The crust is on the thin side, which we both like, but the pizza is piled high with the ingredients. We could have easily split the small after having the appetizer and salads, as we each only ate half of our pies. I ended up leaving mine. Carl took his back to the hotel room, but he never finished it. Taste wise, both pizzas were excellent and we would recommend.
Kona Brewing Company also has a store on the premises where you can buy their beer and all sorts of items with their logo, such as t-shirts, towels, and bar ware. They also have live entertainment on Sunday nights. We both really enjoyed the meal, but it is what it is – a beer and pizza place. This is not where you go for fine dining and I’m not sure I really would have waited an hour to be seated. But then, there aren’t many places I would wait an hour to eat at…