Huggo’s opened in 1969 as a casual, gathering spot where you could get a good steak, a slab of fresh fish and pile it on at the salad bar. With its waterfront location, it proved to be a favorite haunt for local fisherman who gathered to share a salty tale or two. In the 35 years since, it has earned a reputation as Kona’s premiere restaurant for fresh seafood, oceanfront ambiance and casual elegance.
Steering Huggo’s on its course were founders Hugo and Shirley von Platen Luder who ran the restaurant with the motto “good food and good fun.” The couple introduced Huggo’s now famous Barbecued Beef Ribs and Teriyaki Steak. “We wouldn’t dare take those off the menu,” smiles son Eric, who has been at the helm since 1982.
Eric credits his parents for instilling in him the foundation for success in the restaurant industry. The goal at Huggo’s has been and continues to be “to provide a memorable evening and dining experience rather than simply a meal.” The menu shares the limelight with Huggo’s open-air location that “seems to suspend over the ocean” and is a stage for seaside diversions.
The surf at high tide swirls and foams just a few feet below diners who gaze out at a never-ending horizon, hoping to catch the elusive green flash. Anglers fish almost nightly off the rocks fronting the restaurant and every catch gets a rousing applause from diners. After dusk, Huggo’s brightly lit facade sometimes attracts graceful manta rays that glide in and out of the reef.
While menu items like Teriyaki Steak die hard, Eric and Huggo’s Chef are continually updating Huggo’s menu to reap the best of the local harvest, whether from the sea or the shore. Huggo’s focuses on just-caught fish using a Pacific Rim style of preparation, innovative chicken fare, salad offerings that utilize the Big Isle’s fresh bounty and desserts that offer a grand finale to a satisfying repast.
With a never-ending sea breeze, it makes sense that fresh fish definitely headlines the menu at Huggo’s. The Kona Poke appetizer is to-die-for with its zesty Chili Marinade. Entrees like the Crab-Crusted Ono and the Maui Onion Crusted Ahi wow both ka’amaina and visitors alike. Huggo’s continues to garner accolades from readers of local publications where it has been voted to have the “Best Dining Atmosphere,” “Best Desserts,” “Best Fish/Seafood” and declared “A Best Restaurant in the Islands.”
Creative contemporary fare like the Grilled Chicken with Tamarind-Orange Glaze was featured in Bon Appetit magazine when Huggo’s was named “One of the Nation’s Top Neighborhood Restaurants.”
The Ginger Creme Brulee is becoming a favorite Huggo’s dessert choice, especially when accompanied by a 100 percent French-pressed Kona Coffee. Huggo’s features a new boutique Kona Coffee every few weeks. Also popular is our Hualalai Ice Cream Pie made with Kona Coffee Ice Cream and Chocolate Cookie Crust. It’s topped with Fudge and Whipped Cream.
Living up to its original reputation as “a favorite watering hole for fishermen,” Huggo’s has a separate lounge that spills out to the outdoor dining deck. Open until midnight, the bar dispenses a slew of tropical-themed drinks like Da Green Flash, Manta Ray and the newly popular Mojito. Served in a bowl for two or four is the Kilauea-a flaming experience for those who dare. Huggo’s ample wine list presents 80 wines, 18 by the glass.
Also enjoy lunch and dinner next door at Huggo’s on the Rocks, where the menu focuses on lighter fare and cocktails. It’s where you can munch barefoot in the sand and enjoy live Hawaiian music and hula. The Rocks also has its own horseshoe-shaped bar.
Whether looking for a romantic rendezvous or a place to schmooze a business buddy, Huggo’s has it all ~ seaside location, balmy breezes, expert service and cuisine that refuses to compromise.
For a complete Huggo’s dinner menu, open the Menus bookmark on this website.