Before we go on to Maui, how could I not mention the sea turtles at Laniakea Beach, on the North Shore of Oahu? They were a highlight of the trip. One even came up behind my son and bumped into him, while he was standing in the ocean, in an area that he thought was away from the turtles! What a jolt that was, especially since we were trying hard to avoid touching them, as they are environmentally protected.
I have a sea turtle keychain to remember that day, but we made many wonderful memories in Maui as well.
It’s been really cold here in NY, so it seems like the perfect time to warm things up with the second part of my dining in Hawaii post! In case you missed it, the Oahu one is here. Driving around that island, there was so much to do and see; but after a week, we had to move on.
I was sad to leave, because we’d found some stunningly beautiful beaches there. If you drive all around Oahu, you’ll see that no two look quite the same. So when and if you go, please don’t limit your visit to Honolulu only.
It might surprise you to know that I found the beaches to be more beautiful on Oahu than on Maui! But when it came to allergy friendly food options, Maui had Oahu beat, hands down. There were a couple of places I wish we’d visited sooner, as we would definitely have returned, had we had time. Lucky for you, if you’re going this year, you can prioritize these and figure out which ones you’d like to pay a return visit to.
But before we get into the food – let me share a photo. Because the best food in Maui, like any island on Hawaii, is soul food. Or you can call it sun food. I mean, really, that’s what we all visit the state for, right? We are feeding our souls with nature immersion. Not just stuffing our faces with really good food.
Here are some photos from the famous Black Sand Beach at Wai’ānapanapa State Park. We had to drive far up the Hana Highway (also called the Road to Hana) to get there, and it was worth the trip. Well, it was to me, anyway. My kids didn’t appreciate being in the car most of the day, even though it was a very scenic ride.
We saw stingrays along the outside of the rocks in this photo, but we couldn’t capture them on film.
There was a blow hole. Who knew?
We were able to walk up to a small cliff and get an amazing view, but it started to rain, so I didn’t get to take any photos up there. But all in all, I give the Black Sand Beach a thumbs up. Can you see the thumb in the photo below? It reminds me of the Hawaiian saying, “hang loose.”
Okay, so let’s get into the meat of the post. Unfortunately, I did not take any food photos, for whatever reason. I guess I was so relaxed that I wasn’t thinking about online activities at all!
Anyway, we stayed in Wailea, so most of these options are in and around that area, with a few exceptions. If you’re staying closer to Lahaina, you can find more recommendations for that area here. We only took a day trip there, so I have a few good ones on this list too, and have noted that next to the restaurant name.
Away we go!
Maui Brick Oven (100% gluten free, most allergy friendly/aware)
The food was delicious here, and the whole restaurant is a dedicated gluten free space. It is small and casual, and the staff is very friendly and accommodating. They were more than happy to work with me on choosing a dairy free meal.
My husband and kids went a little crazy and got pizza, french fries and onion rings. They were so excited to be able to eat all that (such a rare treat) and not worry about cross contamination. They found it all to be delicious.
I had a mixed green salad with chicken (but not the goat cheese) and some sweet potato fries. Yeah, and of course I tried the regular fries as well, and everything was delish!
We liked this place so much that we tried to go back on our last day for lunch, but were disappointed that they didn’t open until 4 pm. So we wish we’d tried it sooner.
Surfside Spirits and Deli (owner has a food allergic relative, so she will tell you exactly what the ingredients of each dish are and what choices are safe for you).
We found this place on the day we were leaving, after we found that Maui Brick Oven was closed. It’s another place we wish we’d found sooner, because it’s a casual place and the staff is extremely friendly and helpful. Plus, the prices are very reasonable compared to most others.
Surfside feels like you’re in someone’s kitchen, and surfers come in and out. It’s a local hangout. There are different choices every day. The roasted chickens thighs and meatloaf were amazing. And I truly enjoyed speaking with the owner about food allergies. It’s always nice to find like minded people in a restaurant, especially when you’re traveling!
Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina – on water) is another casual place, but it has outdoor seating, which was nice. While there are only a couple of gluten free options for lunch and dinner, the waitress was very helpful, and accommodating. I got a signature Hawaiian dish, Kahlua pork, and it was quite tasty. Nice and simple, and reasonably priced.
Please note that Aloha also serves breakfast, and since eggs are on the menu, there seem to be more gluten free options at that time.
Da Kitchen (Kahului) is an even more casual, cafeteria style eatery, similar to Aloha Mixed Plate, but without the outdoor seating and water view. You can get takeout there as well. The counter person told me there were only 2 items that were gluten free, and one of them was again, the ever Hawaiian favorite, Kahlua pork. I enjoyed mine, although it was a bit on the salty side.
I don’t eat pork very often, but when in Rome…
Paia Fish Market (Paia and Kihei)
We got fish lunch plates with salad, and they were delicious! You’ll find Mahi Mahi and Ono in most restaurants, but it’s really fresh here, and you can eat outside (at least in the Kihei one).
Monkeypod (Wailea, but also location on Oahu!) very nice dinner out, gluten free options, organic vegetables & grass fed beef on menu (happy dance time!)
The Wood Fired Chicken Wings were gluten/dairy free and delicious. I also had a homemade coconut water, and the grass fed ribeye steak was amazing!
We enjoyed this place so much that we ate there twice. It’s a very nice, open atmosphere. There’s seating both inside and out.
Located in the Marriott hotel, this restaurant was surprisingly allergy friendly. They have a separate gluten free and vegan menu. And again, you can sit inside or outside.
I had a simple, organic. local mixed green salad with chicken. But the best part was the delicious piece of gluten free/vegan chocolate cheesecake the waiter brought out. The secret ingredient? A Hawaiian specialty, breadfruit! I was amazed, and it was a rare treat for me. Unfortunately, it’s not on the menu, but if you go, I’d ask about it. Or call ahead and see when they might have it. You just never know, maybe they offer it as a special sometimes.
Wish we had tried:
Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream (vegan)
Honu Seafood & Pizza (Lahaina) (gluten free menu – very allergy friendly/aware – but pricey restaurant) – same owner as Mala
Our waitress at Maui Brick Oven told us that with her child’s severe allergies, they rarely eat out. This restaurant is the only place she would go. So it’s the safest bet, aside from Maui Brick Oven, although it’s not certified gluten free.
CJ’s Maui Restaurant (Lahaina) – missed this place, but it offers a gluten free menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not sure about dairy free options, though…
Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina) – same owner as Mala at the Marriott and Honu.
Mama’s Fish House (just past Paia) a famous fresh fish restaurant, top 10 in US.
We had a reservation here for our last night, but cancelled it because we wanted to stay on the resort and relax for our last day. Paia is pretty far from Wailea. If we ever go back, we will certainly go!
Wish we hadn’t gone to:
Star Noodle (great food, but only 2 noodle dishes were gluten free)
A popular Paleo blogger had gushed over this place. I would have too, because of the great atmosphere and really fresh food. But the waitress said there were only 2 dishes that were 100% gluten free on the menu – and both were noodle dishes, which aren’t Paleo at all. So I gave in and had one. It was good, but a little too sweet for me. I regretted the carb loading after. There were many other things on the menu I would have liked to have tried, but I didn’t want to get glutened! So, if you like noodles, go! If not, it’s a pass.
That’s about all for now. We found way more than expected on Maui! With all of the fresh fish and local greens, it’s no wonder there were a lot of options. And there certainly are a lot more that aren’t on this list, but how many can you visit in one week? I’m sure we will find a lot more when we go back, especially in and around Lahaina.
Maui is a bigger island than you’d think, but you really don’t want to waste your time driving around in a rental car. For example, everyone said we had to drive the Road to Hana, which is full of stops where you can see hidden waterfalls and beautiful scenery. But you have to stop a lot and you don’t really know what you’ll see if you venture out of the car. Just driving the whole way to the Black Sand beach took an entire day, and we didn’t stop much, because we didn’t know what which sites were worthy of investigating or not. But that beach made it worth it!
Here’s one more photo of it:
There’s so much to see and do in Maui, but really, just enjoy your time there and don’t feel the need to cover everything. You’re supposed to be relaxing, remember?
We all know it’s not easy finding allergen free food on a trip. That’s why we usually try to book apartment style lodging, so we have a kitchen and don’t need to eat out all the time. Unfortunately, that would have been too costly this time around. But I’m happy to say, that even though planning the trip caused me a lot of anxiety, the end result was so much better than I ever could have hoped for. Doing the research and planning ahead of time made a huge difference. And it was really nice not having to cook and clean dishes! So, I hope this info benefits you as well.
If you visit any of these places, please come back here and let us know what you think.
I’d like to emphasize that the only above restaurant that’s certified gluten free is Maui Brick Oven. So if you have celiac or know for a fact that you react to the tiniest of gluten traces, then that’s one place that you can eat safely for sure. And they have multiple options, so it would not get boring visiting there more than once! And it’s always nice being surrounded by like-minded, food allergic people, right?
I wish there were a Maui Brick Oven here in NY, but as far as I know, there’s currently only one other location in the US, and that’s in Tennessee. Let’s hope more open up in the not-too-distant future.
If you visit Maui, Oahu, or any other Hawaiian island for that matter, please come back to this post and let us know all about your food adventures!
Let’s end with a photo of the view from our hotel room at the Grand Wailea:
The next travel related posts I’ll write this year will be all about food in Saint Thomas and Vermont. Two very different places, but each beautiful for different reasons.
Can’t wait to hit the beach again. Enjoy these last weeks of winter!