I had some time to kill before flying out of Hilo International Airport (ITO) and wanted to find a good local place to eat. Taking advantage of my smartphone, I performed a local restaurant search for around Hilo. When I travel and am looking for a restaurant, I tend to base my restaurant selection by the number of review stars on Google and of course, the style of restaurant that I am in the mood for. Lo and behold, Ken’s House of Pancakes popped up with a respectable 4 stars. Doing a quick search, this acclaimed diner seemed to fit my bill perfectly. So I headed to Ken’s.
Ken’s House of Pancakes
1730 Kamehameha Ave.
Hilo, HI 96720
Ken’s was started in 1971 and has since received Reader’s Choice Awards for “Best Breakfast on the Big Island”, 14 years in a row, and “The Best Diner on the Big Island”. So naturally I had to try their breakfast grub on my visit. Onto the atmosphere, service and food…
Being a diner, the atmosphere is well, a diner. Walking into the restaurant you are welcomed by the bright diner interior, large diner bar and many busy tables. This place is busy, so get there early. The good thing is, being a diner they can flip the tables fast so they keep customers moving through. I lucked out as I was traveling alone and was able to snag an empty stool at the bar. It’s worth noting that parking is very limited. There are a good deal of spots out front, but not near enough for all of the customers. Not to mention since the restaurant is on the corner of a busy intersection, getting in and out of the parking lot can be a pain. Especially if you are like me and missed the restaurant as I couldn’t get over and make the turn in time off Kamehameha Ave. I ended up parking behind Ken’s in the medium size business building just off Kanoelehua Ave. It was quite and had a good deal of empty spots and just a short walk on the sidewalk down Kanoelehua Ave. to get to Ken’s.
The service was great. The waitress behind the bar was friendly, fast and kept my coffee full. No complaints.
What a large menu! I have to say, I like options but I felt like I could be there all day trying to decide what to order. I was traveling by myself and couldn’t narrow my choices to just one from the menu. Being a ‘House of Pancakes’, I had to try their pancakes. And since I was just down from Mauna Loa, they had to be Macadamia Nut. These buttermilk beauties were quite heavenly I got to say. Especially when you combine these fluffy morsels with their kokonut, passion and guava flavored syrups. To balance it out, I had to get some egg meal as well. Alas, I settled on the very Hawaiian, and ‘Original’, Loco Moco. How can you go wrong with 2 scoops of rice, 5oz lean beef patty, brown gravy and 2 over easy eggs? Gravy was tasty and had good thickness. Rice was the yummy sticky rice. The beef was a bit dry, but hey, it’s a diner. Other items that looked divine were their other Moco’s with Spam, pulled pork, chili, etc. and their ‘famous’ omelettes that can be filled with just about anything, like crab, Spam, Chinese sausage, shrimp, Portuguese sausage, etc. Yes, I was a gluttonous fool. But my belly was happy.
- Atmosphere = B- (local, limited parking, diner)
- Service = A+ (quick, friendly, kept my coffee full)
- Food = A+ (great menu, lots of options, big servings, and tasted oh so good)