Want to get lucky this Valentine's Day? Of, course you do.... so do... what all "lovers" do, visit Kohala Burger and Taco for our Bacon Lover's Specials, now thru Valentine's Day.

Our KBAT VIP Loyalty and Rewards members will get a winning envelope when they "Check-In" and visit us on Super Sunday or Valentines Day.  The Grand Prize is Kohala Burger and Taco food and drink for the rest of the year. over $1,000 value. Many other prizes are also up for grabs.

This is the third year of the promotion and we encourage you to participate. No purchase necessary. Everyone's a winner so come and Get Lucky!


So, like seriously...this is one of my favorite times of the year! February 1st -14th, whats not to like?...Tsunami Warning Test...Super Bowl...Valentine's Day...and MAPLE BACON SHAKES!

February 1st every year a critical training program is held at KBAT!  This is where the crew silently gathers and they watch in awe, as I make and DRINK the first Maple Bacon Milk-Shake of the Season. Oh it's so sweet to be the boss.

We all know that February is for Lovers..."Bacon Lover's" that is. Please join us, come try this special treat.  It is only around for a few weeks (now thru Valentine's Day) then we DON'T make them anymore, gone, done, pau!

HandSpun Meadowgold Vanilla Ice Cream, Jones Family Farm Bacon, Log Cabin Maple Syrup and Whipped Cream - It's what make this delicious! We also have some great bacon specials like our Bacon Swiss Deluxe Cheeseburger and Bacon Tacos....YES Bacon Tacos.

See you soon, Mahalo for your business.

Chef Cary


It's that time of year again. February, it's for lover's...Bacon Lover's! That's right from February 1st through February 14th, Valentines Day, bacon lover's can enjoy great bacon specials at KBAT.

Try our "Soon to be Famous" Maple Bacon Milk-Shake...sounds funny...tastes delicious! or our Bacon Swiss Deluxe Cheeseburger or how about Bacon Tacos?

We also know that Lover's like to Get that's why we encourage you to visit us on Super Bowl Sunday or Valentine's day, "Check-In" with our Loyalty and Rewards program to receive your Winning Mystery Envelope.  Everyone is a winner, Grand prize is FREE food and drink at Kohala Burger & Taco for the rest of the year!!!! A $1,050 value.  Lots of other prizes too!

We sure hope to see you Lover's soon.

Fun Things to Do in North Kohala

The northern part of the Big Island has some amazing historical sites and also many fun activities that let you experience nature, adventure and a great time with your family.

One of the most popular things to do is to fly over land and rivers on a zip line! There are several zip lines on the Big Island, most of them on the Hamakua coast. But the northern Kohala Coast also offers this fun adventure. Kohala Zipline ( let's you soar under a dense canopy of trees, walk over rope brigdes and rappel down the platforms built around huge trees!

Prefer to float on the water? Learn all about the famous Kohala Ditch with Flumin Kohala ( while you kayak along on a guided tour through the century old, man-made waterways. These will take you through an incredibly landscapes, underneath historic bridges and through dark tunnels.

You can also experience the Big Island on horseback "Hawaiian cowboy style" with Paniolo Adventures ( They offer tours for beginners and seasoned riders of all ages.

You feel safer on your own two feet? Enjoy a beautiful hike down to Pololu Valley! After driving through the small town of Hawi continue all the way to the end of the road, where you can park. That is where the trail begins, which will take you through a mesmerizing landscape all the way to a black sand beach at the bottom. The vigorous but easy hike takes about 30 minutes and is 2.5 miles roundtrip. Wear good shoes and don't forget your camera!

The little towns of Hawi and Kapaau are great for shopping and discovering some of the historic sites. Take your time, have a locally grown coffee and enjoy the galleries and unique gift shops that are lined up there!

One of the favorite excursions of all visitors are on a tour boat out of Kawaihae harbor. Captain Bryan with Endless Summer ( can take you to meet dolphins in the wild and watch whales. The dolphins live here year round, the whales only visit us for a few months between December and March. Or how about a sunset cruise?

Hawaii is also the island of Macadamia Nuts, which grow in many orchards and are processed by the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company. Their gift shop and tasting room is located just a couple of minutes up the road from Kohala Burger & Taco! Local coffee and an amazing array of different Mac Nut treats are there for you to taste and take home!

All of that fun and excitement will make you hungry! Enjoy our great menu of burgers, tacos, salads, shakes, malts and daily specials.

Let the adventure begin!  

Foto Credit: Flumin' Kohala

Foto Credit: Flumin' Kohala

Everything Has A Story

Life is full of stories that live on and find new expressions once again. Chef Cary Peterson has included some of his stories into his Kohala Burger & Taco Restaurant in Kawaihae; you can find them not only in the interior decorations, but also in the menu and the names chosen for the dishes as well as in his business philosophy and love for nostalgic decorations.

Much of it goes back to Lake Tahoe, to his parents' Cantina Restaurants and his early memories of eating out. “Everything comes full circle and has a story,” says Chef Cary, “it is all connected”. 

One of his first culinary experiences that left an impression on him was a cornish game hen that he was served for his 13th birthday at “La Petit Pier” in Tahoe. Many years later his wife began to work at this very place and even Cary spent some months working there, which was in the last summer of the restaurant's existence. This is where he learned at a young age that “food can be much more than just going out eating.” This is why he still delivers an experience and a that special "feel good" atmosphere besides serving up delicious treats. It is all a part of it. Even his first job as a chef was here in Kawaihae in 1991.

Cary grew up in his parent's kitchen and from early on helped out in their Mexican restaurant, where he learned all about the rustic recipes of Mexican home-style cooking. “I have too much respect for the cuisine to  call what I do now 'Mexican' food,” he says. Yet he still refines the techniques and flavors of his youth, much to the pleasure of his guests at KBAT. Chef Cary lived right behind the "world famous" Char Pit restaurant in Tahoe long before he owned it. He remembers playing video games there in his young years while hanging out with friends; picking up change that fell through the cracks of the wooden floor with his brother and has quite a few anecdotes to tell about that time. Once again, full circle. “The Char Pit influenced me long before I owned it!”

Some of the recipes used in KBAT originated there. The thousand island dressing, the cole slaw, the Baja Style Fish Tacos and the Standard Burger are the same as he served them there.

His San Diego Style fish tacos got their name to remind of their origin. While in Southern California he went on a quest to find the best fish tacos around and found them at the old “Don Bahia” restaurant in San Diego. Now they are served in Kawaihae!

The pork carnitas style tacos come with the memory of his family's restaurant where they slow-cooked them the same way decades ago.

There are no coincidences or random items at KBAT. Next time you eat there, ask Chef Cary to share some of his stories with you and make your visit even more memorable.  

The Whales are Back in Kawaihae

One of the most amazing things about winter in Hawaii is to witness the annual visit of the humpback whales in our ocean. Every year they swim thousands of miles from the cold North to breed and calve in our warm waters. According to the Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition there are about 11,000 humpback whales coming to Hawaii between December and March every year.

International efforts to protect these giants of the ocean have been so successful that they were recently taken off the endangered species list. This however does not affect the whaling moratorium, a global ban that was put into place about 50 years ago.

Right outside our little hometown of Kawaihae is one of their favorite playgrounds and you can often see them from the shoreline and beaches as they breach and spout. You can even get up close to them on board one of the great whale watching boats that are located in Kawaihae. See Captain B from “Endless Summer” for a memorable adventure.

Kohala Burger and Taco is committed to protecting the island's natural environment and besides using only Eco friendly, styrofoam free products to serve our dishes and beverages, we also take much care in finding sources for environmentally responsible caught fish and grass-fed beef. As a former “Keeping it Green” Award winner and finalist of “Nature's Plate” we will continue our efforts and improvements where and whenever possible! 

Paniolos and Great Burgers - No Bull

What makes our burgers so good? It is more than the way we make them. It all starts with the best beef you can find. Grass fed, never frozen and Big Island fresh. In our little town of Kawaihae we are close to an abundance of cattle, an industry that began here in the mid 1800s and has influenced this area like nothing else. 

Kawaihae has played an important role in Hawaiian history since the early ages. Its natural harbor has always set it apart from other settlements along the Kohala Coast and still has great significance today. The name Kawaihae means “water of wrath” referring to ancient battles over the natural spring waters once found there. The spring was eventually lost with the development of the harbor. 

Kawaihae became a major hub for merchants and voyagers in the early 1800s and was crucial for the importation of foreign goods and the distribution of local products. Sea-salt was a big industry for many years, which was produced in large salt pans along the shoreline. Hawaiian sea salt was one of the first items that were exchanged between the native and the foreign merchants. Sandalwood was another high in demand product of the area and exported through Kawaihae harbor. Once the forests were depleted and the whaling era came to an end, Kawaihae began to decline, but a new industry began to bloom. The cattle industry. 

The first cattle were brought here by Captain Vancouver as a gift to King Kamehameha I in 1793. They were allowed to roam free and quickly expanded in population. To thin the herds King Kamehameha asked John Palmer Parker to shoot the feral bulls and gave him land in exchange. This was the beginning of the famous Parker Ranch, which today  covers 250,000 acres in and around Waimea. The export of cattle and cattle products became Kawaihae's main activity.

What does cattle need most besides fresh grass and room to roam? Cowboys! This is why Hawaii Island has a strong cowboy culture and even songs about them. The early cowboys were brought in from California and were direct descendants of the Vaquero, the original Mexican cowboys, who had the best skills in handling the bovine expansion. They were first called “Espanola", which the Hawaiian pronunciation quickly turned into “Paniolo”, the name we still give them today.

We pay homage to these hard working riders with our Paniolo Burger. One of the many reasons to come by and enjoy some feel good food in an old fashioned ambiance. 

Chef Cary Peterson opened Kohala Burger and Taco opened in 2010. With all that history what better location could there be for a burger and taco restaurant? “I wanted to create a restaurant that would provide, top quality food, great value, accurate and speedy service,” says Chef Cary. “ Kohala Burger & Taco is the juncture where my years of Mexican food and hamburger experience meet. Right here at the Kawaihae Harbor where it ALL began.  Please enjoy and be reassured that the food prepared here is of the highest quality; Hormone- and antibiotic-free grass fed beef, line Caught sustainable fresh fish, fresh bread and island made tortillas.”        


Our Neighborhood

The area around Kawaihae is one of the most diverse and beautiful parts of the Big Island, where you can find vast lava fields and also lush forests, cool elevations and incredible views. Just a short drive from our restaurant you can snorkel and swim on amazing beaches like Hapuna Beach Park or Spencer's Beach Park, but there are also several important, historical sites of the Big Island. 

Visit Pu'ukohola Heiau, a national historic site, just down the road from us. This is the last temple that was build in Hawaii by Kamehameha I. It was finished in the summer of 1791 and is the place where Kamehameha began his journey to unite the Hawaiian Islands under his reign. The massive structure was erected in only one year by artfully placing rock on rock, with no mortar to hold them together. 

From here you have an excellent view of Kawaihae, its harbor and another ancient sacred site located right below the great heiau. It is the old shark temple, Hale of Kapuni, where sacrifices were made to the shark god. Still today, you can see sharks patrolling the area every now and then. 

Going north from Kawaihae and stopping by Kohala Burger and Taco for lunch the landscape will change once again and you'll find quaint, artsy villages, the birthplace of Kamehameha I and eventually  the Pololu Valley Lookout. From there it is just a short and scenic hike down to a black sand beach. 

Today our little town of Kawaihae is mostly known for its active harbor, but it was once the seat of the Kingdom of Hawaii under King Alapaʻinuiakauaua. In the late 1700 it became known for its sheltered location and started to develop as a safe and centrally located shipping hub. From 1790 t0 to 1794 it was the main place of residence for King Kamehameha I and just about 30 years later the first missionaries set foot on the island in Kawaihae. 

As you can imagine, there are many more stories and places to discover and we'd be happy to help you stay well nourished during your adventures along the Kohala Coast. Stop by for lunch and enjoy a healthy, fresh meal in our fun, family friendly and unique nostalgic ambiance. 

Many say we have the best burgers and tacos on the Big Island. Find out for yourself! 

SPAGHETTI NIGHTS - Thursdsays at Kohala Burger & Taco

Aloha...Or maybe i should say "Ciao" All You Can Eat Spaghetti & Meatballs are back.  Thursday nights at Kohala Burger and Taco.We will also be offering some Italian Specials, inspired by my recent culinary trip to Italy.This is my favorite promotion of the year.  We transform our little "burger & taco joint" into a cozy Italian style bistro.The Lights are turned down, the candles are lit, the red checked table cloths are out and some of your favorite Italian classics are on the radio. We offer full service dining on these nights and its "first come first serve"  Dinner Service Starts promptly at 5 and runs to 7:30 with last seating at 7:15pm.  Please feel free to bring your own wine. We have the glasses! Often people ask me about this night and why we do it?  I do it as a memorial to my Father in Law, Jim Scimeca. He was the best Italian cook i knew! He personally motivated and inspired my love of cooking and pleasing guests. He lived by the motto "Mi Casa es Su Casa" everyone was welcome and there was always scratch Italian on the stove. Sicilian Pizzas, Ravioli, Ciabatta, Pesto, name it. He loved to cook!

As the holidays neared we could always count on a big meatball feast and we all got in on the action, peeling garlic, chopping fresh parsley and onions, making bread crumbs and getting our hands in the mix...seeing who could make the perfect meatball!  Jim never really used written recipes, it just looked like he threw in what he had along with some love. I have taken what I learned and documented (not duplicated of course) what I could, to get as close as I can.  I'd like to pass down these "Dad's Meatballs" where i can and keep the tradition alive. The Back Story: In the early 1970's Jim and his wife, somehow "inherited" or bought this legendary little bar, Maynard's in Pacific Beach, San Diego. I'm not sure of all the details and I'm not sure Jim or Maynard are either. But the stories I've been told are quite insane, A biker bar, college bar and surf bum bar all rolled into one.  Anyway Jim used to host an "all you can eat spaghetti night" which he served on paper plates for a buck! He used to tell me how he would make a 5 gallon batch of his basil marinara in the only pot they had in the kitchen and sling it out all night long. He would tell me that the tiny kitchen and he would be covered in sauce head to toe.  He said it would take him until the next week to get it all cleaned up before it was time to do it all over again.  Loads of local college students used to pack in for a weekly carbo load. Jim used to described Maynard's Spaghetti Night , as a kind of a cross, between,  that Clint Eastwood movie with all the bikers "Every Which Way But Loose" , Jim Belushi's Animal House and that Scene from the "Blues Brothers" where they sang "Rawhide" and dodged beer bottles, all the while everyone looking for "Gidget".

Kohala Burger and Taco is a bit more low key from what I've described above, but its fun to know our roots.  Please join me Thursday's as I prepare the perfect spaghetti. Presented with handmade meatballs made from 100% Hawaii Grass Fed Beef, Hormone and Antibiotic Free. Hot baked bread, Caesar Salads and our own Crispy Fried Zucchini. Eat as much as you like..... "Just Like at Dad's"! Chef Cary


A Kohala Burger and Taco Fish Story

You know we are famous for two items: our Hawaii grass fed beef and our local fresh fish. The vision for the restaurant has always been to utilize fresh and local ingredients including an abundance of fresh line caught wild fish. The fish we use for Kohala Burger and Taco is seasonal, we utilize what the local fishermen are catching in the waters of the Big Island and sometimes that could be ahi, some swordfish and even some marlin. Whatever comes in on the line one day, is most likely in our tacos and salads the next. Chef Cary is very particular about the kinds of fish chosen to appear on the menu. The list below gives, in priority, the kinds of fish we serve for you to enjoy:

Kohala Burger And Taco Hawaii Fish List:

Ono, also called Wahoo. Usually caught through trolling, Ono are related to mackerel but do not school, in contrast to other mackerel species. The meat of the Wahoo is mild with a flaky and delicate texture. Wahoo are characterized by a slender and tube-like face and mouth, they also have a slender and long body shape.

Mahi Mahi, also called Dorado. A colorful fish, easily identified by the hump on the head, Mahi Mahi is prized for its flesh, which makes for excellent eating. For many people, Mahi Mahi is the fish most closely associated with Hawaii, as it features prominently in the local cuisine.

Ahi, also called Yellowfin Tuna. Highly prized for flavorful meat – excellent both in sashimi and cooked – as well as the fight when hooked and being landed by the angler, Yellowfin is often sought after. One can easily identify Ahi by the dual dorsal fins and bright yellow finlets along the spine of the fish.

Blue Marlin. The Blue Marlin is highly prized by sport fishers as they put up a great fight when hooked, leading to a battle between human and fish to bring in the Marlin. Blue Marlin are challenging for even those most accomplished at offshore sport fishing. Kona is known for marlin that can top the scales at over 1000 pounds, which are locally called, “Granders”.

Tombo Ahi also called Albacore. Tombo is the lightest and mildest in flavor of all Hawaii’s tunas. “Tombo” means dragonfly in Japanese and refers to the very long pectoral fins of the albacore that can equal as much as 30% of its total length. It is found in the open waters of all tropical and temperate oceans

Short billed Spearfish. The Short billed swordfish are commonly known as Hebi in Hawaii. Its dorsal fin is shorter than that of other billfish species, and its bill is very short in comparison. Hebi has white to pink colored flesh and a mild flavor.

Uku also called Hawaii Blue Green Snapper. Uku has clear, translucent pink flesh that is delicately flavored, moist, and firm. Uku caught in the summer season is often rich in healthy fish oils and excellent as sashimi.

If you come in regularly to Kohala Burger and Taco, you will have the opportunity to taste all of these popular local fish and if you want to hear what our customers say about our fish tacos, salads and other fish specials we create, check out our TripAdvisor page or Yelp page.