I’ve never been a big “bucket list” person, but last Saturday, as I was picking up lunch at Bear’s Coffee & Deli, I had an epiphany: It’d be cool to be one of the regulars, here. The waitresses know them by name. They pour the right coffee; they know how they like their eggs. I guess I have a start to my list.
Bear’s has been a Hilo landmark since 1983. Clean, cool, and comfortable, it’s one of those places where you just relax as soon as you step inside. Service is terrific. It changed ownership not long ago, but managed to maintain its friendly aura. It used to be my breakfast-after-yoga-class spot but when my class ceased, I got out of the habit of going.
That changed recently. Bear’s has been having specials, and an ad for one caught my eye a couple of weeks ago. Since the demise of O’Keefe’s Bakery, I have been sorely missing their Chicken Mac-Nut Sandwiches. (If you have lived in Hilo for a while, you know the sandwich to which I am referring. ) I ordered one, as well as the Fish Plate (more about that, later). The Chicken-Mac Salad Sandwich ($6.95) was available as a wrap, on sandwich bread, or stuffed into a tomato. I opted for the wrap. It turned out to be an excellent choice. While it wasn’t the “same” as the O’Keefe’s version, it was outstanding and also contained fresh avocado and crispy greens. We also really enjoyed the Fish Plate ($9.95). The cook at Bear's has a great touch with fish, which can be easily overcooked. This was perfectly moist and flaky. It came with a terrific side salad, brown rice, and perfectly-steamed broccoli. We couldn’t even eat everything; about a third of it became part of dinner, later. On another visit, we sampled the Stuffed Tomato ($5.50) and the Ono Buffalo Burger ($6.95). Again, the ono was cooked perfectly and was well-seasoned. I couldn’t finish the stuffed tomato, which was huge.
Here are some more photos:
Owner Mary Coursey tells me they plan to keep the specials going, keeping some favorites and adding others. Bear’s also excels in selecting and serving fresh produce. Fruit is sweet; vegetables are crispy. Everything seems extraordinarily “just-picked” and very high-quality. I usually ignore garnishes, which tend to be sad, but at Bear’s, I eat it all.
I just realized I hadn’t even mentioned their coffee, which is excellent. Try it with one of their home-made brownies.
Also delicious are their steamed eggs. Steaming the eggs, Mary mentioned, is a lower-fat option, as no fats are added. One of my neighbors is a huge fan of the Eggs Benedict (Sundays, $7.95 for half-portions; $12.95 for full portions).
Local art (available for sale) hangs on one wall; another has fascinating old pictures of Hilo (including tsunami pictures). They are now featuring live music, too. Bear’s is family-friendly. Some outside seating is available.
See you there!
Bear’s Coffee & Deli
Address: 106 Keawe Street, Hilo
Monday – Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 6:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday: 6:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.