Friends- I have some sobering news: being vegetarian and gluten-free in Oahu is no easy task. In fact it’s super difficult. I had traveled here once before, 6 years ago and all I remember is how delicious the food was! Six years ago, I was not vegetarian and had not yet been diagnosed with a severe gluten allergy. Those were the good ole days. That said I just spent 6 days on the island and I’m here to provide advice for those of you who like me, just want to get away and swim for a while. This is a no-brainer, but Oahu is a heavy meat-eating place. It was difficult for me to find places where I could safely eat food that was both vegetarian and gluten-free. If you’re planning a visit, I highly recommend staying somewhere you can do you own cooking.
My strategy was to have breakfast and lunch at home every day. I made quick and easy lunches (gf pasta salad or Quinoa Salad) that I could pack in a cooler to take with me to the beach or on a hike. That left me with dinner to explore island eating. Here are a few of my top picks.
Breakfast - Acai Bowls at Island Brew Coffeehouse
Honorable mention for having gf granola: Island Vintage Coffee Company
Neighborhood: Hawaii Kai near Koko Head
Ambience: Casual and charming coffee shop with plenty of seating by the water
Service: Counter Service
Beverage of Choice:
Lunch - Seven Days
Neighborhood: Waikiki - inside the Waikiki Yokocho Japanese Food Hall
Price: $10- $15
Ambience: Casual - best for take-out
Service: Counter Service
Beverage of Choice: smoothies!
I ate a lot of avocados while in Oahu. It’s hard to believe I’m saying this, but probably too many avocados. All the same, Seven Days was my safe haven for quick bites when I was in hurry. They offer gluten-free bread for any of their sandwiches and have an avocado bowl made with their own gluten-free soy/sesame sauce that is quite delicious. I highly recommend adding an egg and some sprouts to round out the dish. For those of you who are meat eaters, they have options for clearly marked gluten-free poke bowls and plates.
Dinner - The Pig & the Lady
Price: $15- $25
Ambience: hip and stylish
Service: Sit down - reservations highly recommended!
Beverage of Choice: Cocktails!
The Pig and the Lady was my favorite restaurant on the island hailing back to my carnivorous days. I’m happy to say it still remains high on my list. Looking at the website you won’t find much information to tell you what is gluten-free. That said, I called in advanced and was happy to learn that almost everything on the menu is naturally gluten-free with the exception of the dishes with Shoyu sauce. During my meal, the waitstaff was incredibly gracious about all my dietary restrictions and made sure I had what was needed. Their cocktail program is solid, and the vegetarian pho is shockingly refreshing given the heat of the day.
Dinner - Margaritas
Neighborhood: Honolulu- Ala Moana
Price: $15- $25
Ambience: Casual sit down - small
Service: Super kind and friendly waitstaff!
Beverage of Choice: Jalapeño Margarita
Friends- you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is particularly true when it comes to Margaritas. This was by my far my favorite meal during my time in Oahu. Where to begin?
First win for this restaurant is that they have a full vegetarian menu. Second win: everything is clearly marked gluten-free. Third win: the sopes are delicious! Seriously though, I was in the mood for comfort Mexican food which is not easy to find on the island and this restaurant brought me exactly what I craved. From the chips and guacamole to the Mushroom Fajitas I was in gluten-free, vegetarian heaven. Their corn tortillas leave a lot to be desired, but that said the waitstaff are super kind and when options are thing this is definitely your best bet!
Dinner - Noi Thai
Price: $20- $25 for most entrees
Ambience: Stylish - more formal sit down
Service:Formal but kind
Beverage of Choice: oolong tea
Noi Thai actually has three locations, the other two being in Bend, OR and Seattle, WA. Noi is a bit formal and like many things in Waikiki, the prices are marked way up! That said, unlike the terrible $16 cocktail I had, my $20 curry was delicious! Waikiki is inflated for tourists, so when eating there expect to pay more, the trick is to find the places that are worth it! While there are many smaller restaurants that are more affordable, few of them have clearly marked gf options. Noi has a separate vegetarian menu with at least 5 options for gluten allergics like myself. The curry is spicy and warm and the ambience is lovely. Go, enjoy!