The cutest little Big Island cafe

Just four tables, and you'll need to call ahead to get in

And speaking of the Big Island of Hawaii….

There’s a great, little hidden find of a cafe you need to check out on your next trip. That is, if you like the idea of a charming little hideaway with just three or four tables (depending upon the time of the day,) one that serves fresh, island food, the likes of which you’ve probably never seen.

It’s called Paul’s Place Cafe, and it’s a quirky little eatery, tucked in the front lobby of the Pakalana Inn in Hilo and directly behind the Hilo Farmer’s Market. That would be the one Paul slips away to periodically during the day, to pick up fresh ingredients for customers.

Hilo, you’ll recall, is on the lush, green side of the Big Island, the island that’s so big, it could fit Maui, Kauai, Oahu and all the other islands, and then some. It’s the island best known as the one that’s expanding, thanks to the occasional gurgle of Mount Kīlauea.

But back to Paul’s.

The cafe is in the heart of downtown Hilo, a block off Ali Drive.  Classical music, not Hawaiian folk songs, Slack-key or steel guitar play from the radio. There’s no industrial stoves in the kitchen. Paul Cubio does it all on just a fridge, hot plate, toaster, cutting board and waffle iron.

He serves a higher end food that you’re likely to find at any other Hawaiian restaurant of this size. Fish, fresh vegetables and some cheese, mostly from the Farmer’s Market, the local sea or the KTA food store down the street.

Paul likes it that way. He sees the place as a more intimate way to serve friends, as opposed to a crowd.

Either way, it works!

His specialties: Salmon Bennie and Belgian Waffle. (See the menu for detailed descriptions.) I can tell you that he mixes orange juice with his waffle batter, and then tops it with pineapple and strawberries before adding the powdered sugar and syrup. It’s a big wow!

The Salmon Bennie is eggs Benedict over a base of toasted croissant, topped with Kamuela tomatoes, smoked salmon and poached eggs.

In keeping with the theme of this newsletter, Paul’s is a great place to visit before you start your Photowalk, or as a mid-Photowalk lunch break!

Paul’s (132 Punahoa St, Hilo) is open Tuesday through Saturday, and the big “market” days for the Farmer’s Market, when some 200 vendors arrive to show off their best, are Wednesday and Saturday. You can find Paul on Instagram, @paulsplacecafe


More from Hawaii

ICYMI, here are the first three installments of the Big Island Hawaii Photowalk. The finale, Kona is next, coming soon!

Tweet of the week

Who’s with me on this one?

Traveling Jeff

I’m all around this week. I was originally scheduled to be in Barcelona, but that got canceled, and ended up in Seattle. And it’s back to the Motor Inn in San Francisco tonight. My favorite San Francisco establishment recently changed it’s name to simply the “Columbus Inn,” but sorry Hector and co., you’ll always be the “Motor Inn,” to me.



And how nutty can one person be? (That would be me.)

For the flight Sunday, I packed 3 cameras, 3 microphones, audio recorder, charging cables, extra hard drive, you name it, I had it. Everything except for….ID, cash and credit cards.

When I got to the airport, I realized I had left them at home. With an hour before the flight.

Needless to say, I missed the flight. But got here anyway! Thank you Delta!

Of course, this still doesn’t top the time I went to cover CES in Las Vegas without clothes.

I brought every piece of gear known to man, but somehow left my suitcase, and all those changes of clothes, at home.

Oh well….

Folks, if you enjoyed today’s newsletter, let me know with a HEART or reply! Thanks again for reading.