Considering how far I’ve traveled around the world, it seems strange that I have yet to visit Hawaii. Lately, I’ve been hearing so much about the rising level of gluten-free awareness there that I’m tempted to head out to the Hawaiian Islands and do some first-hand research. (It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?)
A while back, my friend Liisa wrote a report for the Gluten-Free Guidebook about celiac-safe spots she’d found in Oahu and Kauai. Her list includes Sweet Marie’s — the first dedicated gluten-free bakery in Kauai — Smith’s Tropical Paradise in Kauai, and Down to Earth in Honolulu. Last month, another friend sent me a photo to show off a delicious-looking gluten-free sandwich she was enjoying while on vacation in Hawaii. It turned out she was at Living Foods Market & Cafe in Poipu, Kauai, a combination grocery store and café featuring specialty gourmet goods (including many gluten-free items), organic products, and an extensive wine selection.
Next, my friend and fellow travel writer Lucas Aykroyd passed along a list of gluten-free restaurants and shops in Hawaii, with notes on each spot from the Hawaiian Tourism Board:
- Chrysalis Foods (Oahu) – Looking for a gluten-, dairy- and nut-free spot to eat while shopping at Ala Moana Center? Break away from the food court and visit the Vim ‘N Vigor store for the Chrysalis foods counter. The menu changes every week, offering local favorites such as mochiko chicken and mochi treats.
- Up Country Bakery & Cafe (Hawaii Island) – Satisfy your breakfast taste buds with gluten-free mixed berry muffins, gluten-free banana bread slices or gluten-free pancakes. On your way to see the volcano? Grab a sandwich on gluten-free bread and take it on the road.
- Maui Brick Oven (Maui) – Located in Kihei, this restaurant initially gained popularity for its gluten-free pizza. Locals and visitors frequent this eatery for its impeccable service and menu selection that also includes pasta and salads.
I’m almost ready to buy a ticket. Has anyone else discovered some great places to eat in Hawaii? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list!
Photo courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Board
When I created the Gluten-Free Guidebook group on Facebook earlier this year, I wanted readers to have a place to exchange information about their travels and their upcoming plans. Several people have shared recommendations from around the world. Liisa, a reader in Arizona, took the time to report on her trip to Hawaii, where she visited the islands of Oahu and Kauai. With her permission, I’m including her suggestions here as a reader report — a must-read for anyone visiting the Aloha State. Thanks so much for sharing this, Liisa! And as they say in Hawaiian, mahalo.
LIISA’S REPORT ON HAWAII
- La Cucaracha in Waikiki: Fresh, delicious Mexican food and wonderful service; [address] 2130 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, Oahu [tel] 808-922-2288
- Duke’s Canoe Club in Waikiki: Good service — when I said I was gluten-free my server understood right away and made menu suggestions for me. Excellent buffet for breakfast and lunch; [address] 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116, Honolulu [tel] 808-922-2268 [web] www.dukeswaikiki.com
- Down to Earth: This shop had lots of GF food to buy, as well as GF pizza, smoothies and salad bar; [address] 2525 South King Street, Honolulu, plus 4 other locations on Oahu and Maui [tel] 808-947-7678 [web] www.downtoearth.org
- Polynesian Cultural Center: I went to a Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center, again great service and yummy food. I reserved ahead and made sure they noted I was gluten-free on my reservation. When I got to the Luau food area the head buffet person showed me through the line and showed me what was safe to eat; [address] 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Laie [tel] 808-293-3333 [web] www.polynesia.com
- Sweet Marie’s: This is a dedicated gluten-free bakery from a gourmet baker. Decadent desserts that I haven’t had in years, I had here. It’s reasonably priced and Marie herself really is a sweet person. She’ll even tell you where to eat and shop GF locally; [address] 4-788 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa [tel] 808-823-0227 [web] www.sweetmarieskauai.com
- Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion: Absolutely wonderful. The first thing the server asked was “Does anyone have any food allergies?” Superb, but pricey; [address] 7 locations in Hawaii [web] www.roysrestaurant.com
- Smith’s Tropical Paradise: This Luau is where I had the best dining experience in Hawaii. I emailed ahead to make sure they could accommodate GF. Sure enough they did, and they had the kitchen prepare an extra plate of gluten-free food to supplement what was available at the buffet. They also arranged for a staff member to take me down the buffet line to show me what was safe for me to eat; [address] Inside Wailua Marina State Park, Kauai [tel] 808-821-6895 [web] www.smithskauai.com
Photograph of a dessert at Sweet Marie’s courtesy of Liisa.