Food trucks are a staple of the Hawaii experience. World-class food trucks exist all across the islands, but depending on where you’re visiting, it may be harder or easier to find what you’re looking for.
This is particularly true on the Big Island for many reasons. One is - it’s big! Everything is more spread out on the Island of Hawaii.
Another reason is reclusiveness. Food trucks on the Big Island are like big fish in the deep sea - they are often one-of-a-kind, always on the move, and sought after by countless hungry visitors. The search, however, is worth it.
Below is our guide to the best and how you can find and experience them while on the Island of Hawaii.
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Island Style Grindz
In a deck of cards, it’s the Ace of Spades. In wildlife photography, it’s a snow leopard. In the world of Hawaiian food trucks, it’s Island Style Grindz.
Incredibly rare and incredibly sought after, this one-of-a-kind Big Island food truck is owned and operated by the somewhat mysterious culinary genius Shannon Javillonar. Javillonar is rumored to catch the fish himself, which he then cooks and serves himself with his family.
The truck is mobile, and its whereabouts and hours are always in flux - stealthily roaming the island's landscape like a lion in the savanna.
However, you can find and visit them if you put in the effort by following them and checking their weekly schedule on Instagram. And here is why you want to do that.
Javillonar and his family own and operate what is often held up as the single-best food truck in the state. Wherever you find the truck, there will be a line, usually a long one - meaning calling to order ahead is always a good idea.
The reason people flock is for the variety of fish plates made in true traditional Hawaiian fashion. The miso yaki butterfish is probably the most common and most praised, but as their website reveals, the variety is wide, and you cannot go wrong.
Despite the ever-changing places and times, you can generally find Island Style Grindz open Wednesdays through Fridays in most Big Island’s major towns. If supporting locals and eating fresh fish is on your to-do list, this is the holy grail.
*To order ahead, call Island Style Grindz at +1 (808) 896 2767
Da Fish House
If you’re looking for delicious fish and you’d prefer a food truck that stays in a reliable location, you’ll want to visit Da Fish House in Kawaihae, Waimea. Da Fish House is one of the highest-reviewed food trucks on the whole island. Visitors flock from long distances just for the poke on offer, particularly the abalone poke.
Da Fish House can be found at 61-3665 Akoni Pule Hwy, Kawaihae. The truck is open from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and 9 AM - 3 PM on Saturdays. You can call them at +1 808-882-1052.
What would a Hawaii visit be without at least one act of indulgence in the drug known as the malasada? If you’re interested in food while you’re here - a likely scenario - then you should be interested in these.
We’ve published an ultimate guide to the Hawaiian malasada for those unfamiliar. If you’re on the Big Island and on the hunt, Manuela Malasada is the food truck you’re looking for - especially the guava and mango-filled malasadas, which everyone reliably loses minds over.
Manuela Malasada has been featured on HGTV. They have locations all over Hawaii and even in California and Utah. On the Big Island, you will find them in Waimea.
You can follow them on Instagram for more info.
The food truck experience on the Big Island can be a real adventure.
Few regret seeking out one or more of these iconic monoliths of mobile food excellence. Day after day, year after year, food trucks in Hawaii surprise and delight their many visitors, introducing them to an often previously unknown world of fresh, local, expertly crafted traditional food.
On the Big Island, it all gets turned up a notch. The trucks are sparser, and (sadly) the lines are often longer - but the unique quality of the food is even higher. These are the rules of the game when it comes to the best of the best.