Hawaiian & Mexican Eateries

HAWAII - BIG ISLAND
Bamboo, North Kohala Coast, Kapaau, HI; 808/889-5555 or bamboorestaurant.info. A Kapaau restaurant that sparked the local renaissance when it was transformed from an old grocery store into one of the island's best eateries. (November-December 2004)

Café il Mondo, 45-3626 Mamane St. #A, Honokaa, Waipio Valley, HI; 808/775-7711 or cafeilmondo.com. Excellent pizzas and calzones; Serves lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. (May 2007)

Hula La's Burrito Bar, North Kohala Coast, Hawi, HI; 808/889-5668. (November-December 2004)

Simply Natural, 45-3625 Mamane St., Honokaa, Waipio Valley, HI; 808/775-0119. This cheery organic/natural foods restaurant makes a terrific spicy tuna melt; Serves breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday. (May 2007)

Tex Drive-In, 45-690 Pakalana St., Honokaa, Waipio Valley, HI; 808/775-0598 or texdrivein.com. The main attraction, no matter what hour, is the malasadas-puffy pillows of yeasty deep-fried dough, available with a variety of gooey fillings; Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. (May 2007)

HAWAII - HONOLULU
Harbor Pub, 1765 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI; 808/941-0985 or theharborpub.com. This pub overlooks Ala Wai Marina, and draws relatively few tourists-except for itinerant yachtspeople. Locals love the pizzas; the rest of the menu runs toward sandwiches and such typical bar fare as nachos and wings, but, oddly, almost no seafood. (December 2006)

HAWAII - KAUAI
Kilauea Bakery, 2490 Keneke St., North Shore Kauai, HI; 808/828-2020. Stop by this bakery on the eastern end of the North Shore for a chocolate-macadamia nut cookie (or three). (April 2008)

Postcards Café, North Shore Kauai, HI; 808/826-1191 or postcardscafe.com. For dinner, this restaurant prepares fresh seafood and gourmet vegetarian meals using primarily organic ingredients, including herbs and tropical fruit from its own garden. While reservations are advised, the café (a replica of the 19th-century rice-plantation cottage that once stood here) is casual and welcoming. (April 2008)

Tropical Taco, Hanalei, North Shore Kauai, HI; 808/827-8226 or tropicaltaco.com. Don't miss at least one lunch at Tropical Taco in Hanalei. This quirky establishment with limited indoor seating and only lemonade to drink offers customers warning on its surfboard menu: "Not to be consumed one hour before surfing!" Take your beer-battered-fish burrito and lemonade out to the lanai, and climb onto a bar stool at the railing. There you can admire wandering roosters, passing cyclists, and the yard art across the street. (April 2008)

HAWAII - LANAI
Blue Ginger Café, 409 Seventh St., Lanai City, HI; 808/565-6363. (November-December 2001)

HAWAII - MAUI
David Paul's Lahaina Grill, 127 Lahainaluna Road, Maui, HI; 808/667-5117 or lahainagrill.com. Try the Kona coffee-roasted rack of lamb. (November 2006)

Gerard's, 174 Lahainaluna Road, Maui, HI; 808/661-8939 or gerardsmaui.com. Award-winning restaurant on the first floor of the Plantation Inn. (November 2006)

Pacific'O, at the 505 Front Street complex, Maui, HI; 808/667-4341 or pacificomaui.com. Excellent seafood. (November-December 2006)

HAWAII - OAHU
Buzz's Original Steakhouse, 413 Kawailoa Road, Oahu, HI; 808/261-4661 or buzzssteakhouse.com. A local favorite for fresh seafood and spirits. (July-August 2007)

MEXICO
Albachiara, Avenida Hidalgo, Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 011/52/998/877/1714 or albachiararistorante.com. An Italian-run restaurant that incorporates seafood in its inventive appetizers and entrees. (January-February 2008)

Café Santa Fé, Calle Centenario, Todos Santos, MX; 612/145-0340. Northern Italian cuisine. (January-February 2005)

Deseo Hotel & Lounge, Playa del Carmen, MX; 011-52-984/879-3620 or hoteldeseo.com. For tapas and apéritivos, there's no better-or trendier-place to be than the rooftop of Deseo. (November-December 2003)

El Gusto! Restaurant, in the Posada la Poza hotel and spa, Todos Santos, MX; 011/52/612/145-0400 or lapoza.com. Fine-dining restaurant; "We bring together Mexican hospitality and Swiss touches," says owner and artist Libusche Wiesendanger. (January-February 2005)

Picus, Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 011/52/998/129-6011. Bustling open-air restaurant near the harbor landing. Great fresh seviche. (January-February 2008)

Playa Lancheros, Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 011/52/998/877-0340 or playa-lancheros.myislamujeres.com. Bustling open-air restaurant near the harbor landing. Great fresh seviche. (January-February 2008)