Enjoy Down-to-Earth Dining at Sky Garden Restaurant

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“It doesn’t look like a restaurant,” said my friend, who had not eaten at ‘Imiloa, before. She was correct—it doesn’t at all—until you get inside the Sky Garden Restaurant.

The Sky Garden Restaurant adjoins the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i, which is a planetarium and exhibition center; part of the University of Hawai‘i.

The facility “showcases the connections between the rich traditions of Hawaiian culture and groundbreaking astronomical research conducted at the summit of Maunakea.”

Available are both day and nighttime planetarium shows. The facility also houses a comfortable conference center and an interesting gift shop.

But back to the restaurant… I forget it’s there sometimes, as the university isn’t a location I associate with dining out. However, it is a favorite with tourists and locals alike. On a recent visit, there was a meeting of the Red Hat ladies, a small graduation ceremony and a family event being conducted. A small tour bus brought in another group. Amazingly, there was no waiting involved. They move folks through efficiently but I have never felt rushed.

The restaurant is spacious, and the 180-degree windows and lush landscaping give it an open feel.

A popular buffet runs down the center of the room. If you aren’t a fan of buffets, though, you can order off of the menu. At a recent visit, we tried the BLT and the Fresh Fish Salad (mahi). For around $11, both were fresh and we were happy with our selections.

The breakfast menu is available all day. My pal N.J., who knows all the best places to get hash browns, gives them a thumbs-up. I’m partial to the Veggie Omelet.

Service is attentive, and owing to the large numbers they move through the restaurant, efficient.

While “American”-style selections dominate the lunch menu, the dinner menu runs toward Cantonese (Lemon Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Broccoli Beef, etc.). The Salt and Pepper Shrimp, often a buffet item, is delicious.

After lunch, treat yourself to a walk around the university. The new pharmacy building looms, and there some gentle hills for burning off some calories.

The ‘Imiloa and Sky Garden restaurant are located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place, Hilo, Hawai‘i. Phone: (808) 969-9753. Dress: Casual. Bathrooms: Clean. Parking: Ample. Fun gift shop on premises. Family-friendly.

Sky Garden Restaurant, ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

Interior of Sky Garden Restaurant, ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

Ahi Salad at Sky Garden Restaurant, ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

BLT at Sky Garden Restaurant, ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

Buffet at Sky Garden Restaurant, ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

Buffet at Sky Garden Restaurant, ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

Buffet at Sky Garden Restaurant, ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

Tile work at ‘Imiloa. PC: Marla Walters

Gift Shop, ‘Imiloa, Hilo. PC: Marla Walters

‘Imiloa grounds, Hilo, Hawai‘i. PC: Marla Walters



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