Welcome fellow foodies!
My boyfriend and I have been frequenting Hilo for years now, developing a palate for the strong Thai spices that offer flavors like no other. We’ve tried every Thai restaurant in town, from age-old places to newer fusion spots, testing out everything from Pad Thai to Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup).
If you’re coming to the Big Island, stop by Hilo for some of the best Thai food around! From excellent curries to classics like Pad Thai, this island’s native population includes immigrants who’ve brought their cuisines from all over the world. We scoured every corner of Hilo, tasted countless curries, smiled at friendly service staff, and savored their amazing dishes until our bellies couldn’t take it anymore.
We’re ranking the 4 best Thai restaurants in Hilo based on deliciousness, affordability, atmosphere, and hygiene standards. These gems will definitely not disappoint your taste buds; prepare your stomachs to be filled with fragrant curries, savory grilled meats, spicy soups, and more.
Thai up your laces for a flavorful roller coaster ahead!
Naung Mai Thai Kitchen- Best Thai Food Hilo
Step inside this restaurant, and the mouth-watering aromas and cozy interior will transport you to an eatery straight from Thailand’s streets. That’s because Naung Mai Thai is a third-generation family restaurant serving the flavors of Central Thailand in Hilo.
They have incredible variety on their menu but stick with the classics if you’re not used to Thai spices. Start with the Summer Rolls, fresh vegetables wrapped in rice paper, followed by the Green Papaya Salad bursting with citrus flavors.
We tried their Pineapple Curry with Beef, made from fresh Hawaiian pineapple, and the Sweet and Sour Stir-fry with Shrimp. My boyfriend got his food with a Hot spice level, and I had the Medium, which delivers great heat, and balances well with each dish’s flavors.
We’re fans of the food at Naung Mai Thai Kitchen and consider them the best Thai restaurant in Hilo. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- Their food accommodates Celiac and gluten-free diets well.
- Portion sizes are huge here, so order accordingly.
- Their service is friendly and quick, despite the crowds.
Address: 86 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI.
New Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant
A family-owned business specializing in Northern Thai food, New Chiang Mai serves this cuisine with a Thai-American fusion. What sets this restaurant apart is the use of local produce in their recipes and the cold tap beer from Kona Brewing Co. available here. However, they get crowded during dinner hours, so make sure to get a reservation.
Try the light and crispy Shrimp Rolls and Fried Calamari from their delectable menu. Next, try their crowd favorite Chuchee Ahi steamed with coconut milk and red curry paste, and Duck Roasted Curry, which carries rich flavors from duck fat.
We love their Buda Rama Curry and Chiang Mai Fried Rice, with your choice of meat, and the fresh papaya salad. In addition, you can choose vegan and vegetarian options on all the curries and soups on their menu.
You’ll love New Chiang Mai, and make it your go-to place as they’re the best Thai restaurant in Hilo.
- You can request gluten-free dishes, and the servers alter items based on allergies.
- The servers are very friendly and efficient here.
- Prices here are like most Thai places, at $20-30 per dish.
Address: 110 Kalakaua St, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI.
Sombat’s Fresh Thai Cuisine
Being close to the airport, Sombat’s should be your first stop after landing in Hilo, as they serve farm-to-table cuisine with delicious Thai flavors. Sombat’s is named after the owner and chef, who uses fresh vegetables and meat in all her recipes.
From the menu, you want to start with their famous Basil Rolls, filled with basil, lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, and shrimp, and a sweet dipping sauce with chopped peanuts. We devoured the rolls and followed with Pad Thai, fresh and perfectly spiced, and Green Curry Chicken with steamed veggies and a peanut sauce.
My boyfriend got a glass of Thai iced tea afterward, which had a balanced sweetness and was perfect for washing down the meal’s strong flavors. In addition, they get packed by 7 pm, so get a reservation or takeout, which stays just as fresh as a dine-in meal.
We loved the food at Sombat’s for its dedication to clean cooking and fun ambiance. Here’s why you’ll agree that they’re the best Thai restaurant in Hilo:
- The chef is kind and personally checks on diners during the meal.
- Their menu caters perfectly to all diets; vegan, vegetarian, GF, and any food allergies/restrictions.
- Their portions are huge, and a few entrees easily feed a crowd.
Address: 88 Kanoelehua Ave Waiakea Kai Shopping Plaza, Hilo, HI.
Tina’s Garden Cafe
It’s the hole-in-the-wall places you need to visit in Hilo for the best flavors, and Tina’s Garden Cafe is just that. They’re a small eatery specializing in Thai fusion cuisine, and the owner/chef Tina brings gourmet Thai food from northeastern Thailand to her recipes.
Don’t miss their Thai-style pizza served on a folded tortilla and filled with red curry, coconut milk, cheese, and pumpkins, which was so delicious we went for seconds. Some other favorites include the deconstructed island burrito, green papaya salad with coconut rice, and the range of organic curries.
Also try their mango dessert, coconut milk-infused purple rice on thin slices of ripe mangoes, which had a balanced sweet flavor, and paired perfectly with their Thai iced tea.
We weren’t sure how gourmet Tina’s would be from seeing the Cafe’s from outside, but the intricate flavors and pairings of the island and Thai food made them the best Thai restaurant in Hilo for us.
- They prepare each dish fresh and on-order, so you’ll have a bit of wait.
- Their prices are very reasonable for the big portions.
- The staff is friendly, and Tina checks up on guests for quality assurance.
Address: Bayfront Hilo, 168 Kamehameha Avenue, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI.
Wrap Up: Best Thai Restaurant Hilo
Hilo is an amazing spot for a quaint island vacation, with its beautiful landscape, kind locals, and terrific food. We’re fans of the food in Hilo and always try local eateries on our trips. You’ll love the Thai food in Hilo, as it’s the best in Hawaii in terms of flavor, quality, and authenticity.
Find the best island vegetable flavors at Sombat’s Fresh Thai Cuisine.
Head to Tina’s Garden Cafe to get your gourmet fix of Thai food sorted.
Get reservations for New Chiang Mai’s crowd favorite, traditional meals.
The Thai food in Hilo is perfect for everyone!
What makes Hilo, HI 96720 a great destination for Thai food lovers?
Hilo, HI 96720 is known for its variety of high-quality Thai restaurants offering authentic Thai cuisine. Its location on the Big Island allows local farmers to supply fresh ingredients, contributing to the overall great food experience.
Which places serve the best Thai food in Hilo?
Some of the best Thai food spots in Hilo include Naung Mai Thai Kitchen, New Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant, Sombat’s Fresh Thai Cuisine, and Tina’s Garden Cafe. These establishments are known for their delicious dishes and use of fresh ingredients.
How can I find quality food in Hilo’s Thai restaurants?
Look for reviews or recommendations from fellow diners when searching for quality food at Hilo’s many excellent eateries. Be sure to choose places that source their ingredients from local farmers and maintain high standards of hygiene.
Why do people say that using fish sauce enhances authentic thai cuisine?
Fish sauce is a key ingredient in authentic Thai cuisine as it adds depth of flavor and umami to various dishes. It balances sweetness and saltiness while complementing other flavors essential to traditional recipes found at top-quality eateries.
Are there any local farmers in Hilo who supply ingredients to nearby restaurants?
Yes, many local farmers work closely with popular dining establishments around Hilo, such as Sombat’s Fresh Thai Cuisine which uses farm-to-table ingredients. This ensures freshness and contributes to distinctively great food experiences.
In terms of authenticity, what sets apart truly exceptional thai restaurants from others?
Authenticity hinges on tradition: dedicated chefs mastering age-old recipes reflective of true flavors found in Thailand. The quality and preparation methods set apart exceptional thai restaurants – look for family-owned businesses committed to creating genuine culinary experiences.
What factors contribute to the great food experience in Hilo’s best Thai restaurants?
Factors such as the use of fresh ingredients from local farmers, authentic Thai flavors derived from traditional recipes, a hospitable and cozy atmosphere, and friendly staff help create a memorable dining experience at Hilo’s leading establishments.
Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Brigitte