Last year I had the opportunity to go to Kona as a spectator - to cheer on friends and to take notes for the future. I was very lucky to be able to stay in the Cervelo house, where we cooked some memorable meals (bacon, anyone?). I didn't have the chance to explore many restaurants, so we polled our readers for places not to miss:
Basik Bowl - Recommended by surfer Lindsay Block, this small but popular smoothie shop is famous for its Acai Bowls. It is a short walk down Ali'i Drive from town. The owners keep the recipe a secret but their acai concoction is like cold smoothie/fruitbowl hybrid, making it the perfect thing to eat on a hot day in Hawaii. Expect a wait, but also expect to keep returning.
Lava Java - This is the place to be. It's right on the main drag and has a great outdoor seating area. After completing the swim course last year, I had a nice breakfast here and ran into Ken Rideout, a NYAC teammate, and his future triathlete daughter Tensae. Ken is back again this year competing in the 40-44 age group. The breakfast specials are named after triathletes and are definitely fit for a triathlete's appetite. Big portions of eggs, granola, french toast, etc.
Gill's Lanai - Athlete Food reader Jeremy Hopwood suggested this small roadside cash-only café. It’s not in Kona, but past Hawi on the way to the lookout. He says it is an awesome escape from the scene in town. Check out the fresh catch and the tacos.
Daylight Mind Coffee Co. - Liz Blatchford - This very fast Australian pro triathlete, making her Kona debut, has been having brekky and coffees at this newly opened spot on the water near the Bubba Gump restaurant. Look out for Liz at the front of the race!
Brunch at Mauna Lani Resort – This resort is a favorite among pro triathletes, and 2007 2nd place finisher, Samantha McGlone says the fresh food and perfect seaside setting are to die for.
Convenience Stores - Last year after a long ride on the Queen K Highway, triathlete and GW classmate Sarah Reinertsen, brought me to the store under the King Kamehameha Hotel. Go past the t-shirts and flip-flops and check out the refrigerator cases for ready to eat cut up pineapples for around $1-2. I discovered this in other stores around town, too. Sometimes they'll even have two varieties of pineapple! While everything else seems expensive on the island, this is a bargain.
**One tip from our Athlete Food editor Melissa who honeymooned in Hawaii: lots of sauces in restaurants are soy butter based, so if you’re gluten free, be sure to ask for sauce on the side.**
If you have any other recommendations, please let us know in the comments section below or visit our facebook page to upload pictures. We'd love to see what we are missing!