On my trip to Hawaii this spring, I was a bit anxious about how my gluten free lifestyle was going to be affected so far from home and not knowing what would be available. Moreover I had heard things were much more expensive in Hawaii, so I was a bit unsure of how pricey a gluten free lifestyle would be in Hawaii.
Now that I have gone and come back and reflected on my trip, I realize I really had nothing to worry about. Not only does the hot weather in Hawaii dictate a lighter palate, but surprisingly there was a good choice of gluten free foods on both islands we visited (Kauai, Maui). In addition, the islands had an abundance of fresh seafood and fish to offer at most of the main sit down-restaurants, prepared minimally with fresh local fruits and greens, making meals an easy choice.
Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Co. - Ok so this place is not technically a gluten free place--But this place is so wholesome that they are well aware of gluten allergies and intolerances. They offer gluten free omelettes and soups and salads (you have to ask which ones are safe). I had their island tossed greens salad twice with avocado and it was amazing. Yes amazing enough to have twice. Hawaiian avocados have this buttery taste, which is unforgettable. They had really good soup as well. This place has such a cute cafe atmosphere not far from Poipu Beach, that we did not mind the 10-15 minute drive to Kalaheo. Lovely place really!http://www.kalaheo.com/
Sweet Marie's - This is a dedicated bakery run by Marie. I found the prices of her baked goods to be similar to what we pay here. Her muffins were delicious! I also found her muffins to be huge, so really you could only eat half a muffin in one sitting. I didn't try much of her other baked goods because the weather was so warm that starchy foods were the last thing on my mind. I found Marie to have lots of good information on what was safe for celiacs in Kauai. She recommended a Mexican place near her shop called Verde Restaurant which apparently is very good with dealing with gluten intolerances. We didn't get a chance to check the place out, but I did read great reviews about their food. Either way, for the baked goods or for good local gluten free advice check out Sweet Marie's. By the way, she will even tell you where the cheapest places to buy gluten free are ie: Safeway, Foodland being the cheaper options and Papayas (2 locations) being more expensive, if you plan to cook while on the island that is. http://www.sweetmarieskauai.com/
Papayas Natural Foods - This store reminds me of a mini version of Choices or Whole Foods. They have fantastic produce (I saw avocados the size of cantoloupes here!) and a good selection of gluten free basics (pasta, frozen foods, crackers, cookies, bars). We picked up a box of Mary's Gone Cookies here (Ginger), a product which we didn't have in Canada at the time, but have just started noticing on shelves here now. Just like Whole Foods, they are pricier--but nothing which surprised me. Apparently they do carry a brand of bread which claims to be gluten free, but has some issues with cross contamination as per Marie's (Sweet Marie's Bakery). http://www.papayasnaturalfoods.com/
Papalani Gelato - This was by far my favorite place on Kauai. If you ever go you MUST visit this place. They make the best ice cream on the island, and they offer gluten free ice cream and sherbet as well. Yum. Just make sure you ask them to sterilize their ice cream scooper before scooping your ice cream. I loved their belgian chocolate ice cream, never tasted anything quite so chocolaty, without being too sweet, yet so delectable. If I remember correctly, this is one of their most popular flavours too. Check them out if you go to Kauai http://www.papalanigelato.com/
Whole Foods Market - Ok seriously, in Maui we literally lived at this place for lunch and dinner, and its not like any Whole Foods I have been to in Canada or Seattle. Our hotel was in the Wailea area, but we happily made the 20 minute car ride to Kahului. The deli's and food displays are one of my highlights whenever I visit a Whole Foods, but the one in Maui actually goes further. They offer a gluten free pizza from their pizza deli counter, which they make in a completely separate oven for approximately $8 US for an individual sized yummy pizza. They also offer tacos or burritos on corn tortillas which they will make in a separate prep area. This Whole Food rocks! They carried Lucy's cookies (this is where I first discovered them, and it was love at first bite). They also had amazing soups and salads. We couldnt get enough of this place. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/
Flatbread Co -We found this Pizza place in Paia, a cute little hippie town at the beginning of the road to Hana. This little pizza joint has its own wood/brick oven. You can watch them make your pizza from beginning to end. They also happen to offer an excellent gluten free pizza crust. All of their meats and vegetables are as local or organic as possible. Their meats are nitrate free as possible. I think I ordered a pepperoni, mushroom and pineapple pizza. I loved the crust but I have to say I am not a big fan of nitrate free pepperoni, it just doesn't have the zing which I like. Go figure I like the taste of unhealthy meat better? Anyways, I loved the concept of this place. They even have a list of all the farms from which they source each pizza topping. So cool to see! http://www.flatbreadcompany.com/
Maui Tacos - This Mexican fast food place apparently caters to gluten free folks. I went to one in the mall in Kahului and found the employees did not seem all that gluten free savvy. While I didn't get sick off my taco's, I did find I really had to make a fuss with the cashier to ensure my tacos really were gluten free. I will not lie, I thought the tacos were delicious--but I would still be concerned with contamination issues here. There are many other locations, so maybe I had a bad experience. Keep it in mind though if you do decide to take a chance with them. http://www.mauitacos.com/
Tommy Bahamas - I was a bit surprised to learn they offered a gluten free menu, albeit what they offer is a nicer sit down, fine dining experience in Wailea. I always love places which offer separate gluten free menu's and this place was no exception. They offered many gluten free options. This was one of the places I chose Mahi Mahi with salad--it was delicious. We finished our meal with their out-of-this world pineapple upside down cheesecake (also gluten-free). I found the staff to be very aware of gluten allergies and very accomodating. I would recommend them to everyone, even non-gluten free diners. The food was so delicious and they even had a guitarist who sat in the centre of the room and sang songs like Shakira's - Hips don't lie. I loved it, it was such a nice experience for us. Check out their restaurants (the gluten-free menu is online as well) http://www.tommybahama.com/
Cheeseburger in Paradise (Island Style) - We found this place at the Shops at Wailea as well. Not truly a gluten free place by any means. But one could have their burgers bunless with all the fixings and with a salad on the side (I do not believe their fries are gluten free). I upgraded to a Kobe beef burger and I thought it was fantastic. I often will choose to eat a bunless burger, this was one place where it was well worth it to do so. It was a simple meal and we had great service. http://www.cheeseburgerland.com/
The Melting Pot- This was the first time we had a "Melting Pot" experience, and we were impressed. This place is all things fondue and you even get your own element on your table, how cool is that?! What is even more impressive is they accomodate for gluten allergies by tailoring the entire meal to your needs. In my opinion, the Melting Pot has unbeatable service. We started with a swiss cheese course which my husband and I both loved. Our entree was an assortment of fresh fish, seafood, meats and vegetables. We were given instructions on how to cook each piece. Sounds complicated but really so fun and interactive. We ended the meal with a chocolate fondue and pieces of fruit. It was one of our best dining experiences on the island. We had heard while we there that they are looking to open up locations in Vancouver and Edmonton. We look forward to seeing The Melting Pot here and can't wait for our next fondue experience!