What makes Kohala Burger & Taco special?

Kohala Burger & Taco opened in November of 2010. The vision for the restaurant was to utilize fresh and local ingredients that embraced Hawaii’s Grass Fed Beef supply and abundance of Fresh Line Caught wild fish, while employing strategies that would reduce our environmental impact to the island.

Chef/Owner Cary Peterson worked in his family’s Mexican restaurant business for ten years, his first Chef job was right here in Kawaihae in 1991. After a nine-year career, with one of the nation’s largest Mexican Restaurant chains, Cary moved back to his hometown in North Lake Tahoe. In 2001 he purchased his childhood haunt the “World Famous” Char-Pit. This landmark restaurant, established in 1962, is where he learned the secrets and recipes used to create the nostalgic flavors of the great 50’s style “drive-in” burgers and shakes. The menu selections at Kohala Burger & Taco are a reflection of these truly classic items.


Kawaihae is the original landing place of the “Vaquero”. These original Mexican Cowboys were brought here in 1823 by King Kamehamaeha III. They began to teach the Hawaiian’s the art of cattle ranching. Originally called “Espanola”, the Hawaiian’s pronounced this as “Paniolo”. The name stuck, and is the common reference for today’s real Big Island Cowboys

“I wanted to create a restaurant that would provide, top quality food, great value, accurate and speedy service. 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 & Antibiotic-free Hawaii Grass Fed Beef, Local, Line Caught, Fresh Fish, Fresh Bread and Island Made Tortillas.”  Our "To-Go" Food is packaged in the highest quality, environmentally friendly materials, available.  All cooking oil and beverage containers are recycled. We are proud to be a recipient of the Recycle Hawaii 2012 "Keeping it Green" Award.      

 ~ Cary Peterson, Chef/Owner