Visiting the Big Island and unsure of where to find the best gluten-free restaurants? Here’s my dining guide with some of the tastiest gluten-free noms on the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii!

A beautiful Hawaiian sunset with palm trees and a pool. There is text at the top that reads Gluten free on the Big Island.

The Big Island is known for outdoor adventures more than food

We just returned from a couple of weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii and I miss it already! Maui is our usual stop in Hawaii (because we bought a timeshare there many moons ago) and we’ve been to Kauai a bunch of times, so our friend’s 50th birthday trip was a nice excuse to explore a different island. When I started researching places to eat that would have gluten-free options, many Nomsters told me that pickings were slim on the Big Island because it’s known more for its outdoor adventures than its culinary scene.

A teenage boy and an Asian woman are holding their hats to their head while they stand on a beautiful but windy beach on the Big Island.

As I’ve told you before, I travel for food (long live gastrotourism!) so I made it my mission to find some tasty places to eat with gluten-free options—and I’m happy to report that I found some fabulous options.

Note: Most of the restaurants on this list are not 100% gluten-free, but the ones I mention below have gluten-free menus and were very accommodating whenever I mentioned that my younger son and I are gluten intolerant. If you are celiac, please be cautious because there may be a cross-contamination risk at many places.

Great restaurants with gluten-free options on the Kona side

We stayed near Waikoloa Beach for a few days at the beginning of our trip, and then in a rental house near Hapuna Beach. As a result, we only visited restaurants on the Kona side, specifically in Kailua-Kona, Waimea, and Waikoloa. Because we were traveling with some of our non-paleo, gluten-eating friends, all of the restaurants on the list will pass muster with a mixed crowd—in other words, these places aren’t just good for gluten-free eaters.

Pro tip: If you can, make reservation several weeks in advance. Tourism has picked up dramatically in Hawaii and you don’t want to be stuck eating at an over-priced, sub-par restaurant in paradise!

Casual restaurants with gluten free options

Looking for fast-casual restaurants where you order at the counter? Here are some tasty options:

Racha Thai and Racha Thai 2

This 100% gluten-free Thai spot has two locations, and we visited both multiple times for yummy lunch fare. Racha Thai is located in a tiny food court tucked away in small strip mall in Waikoloa Village and Racha Thai 2 is in a food court in Waimea. We especially liked the chicken satay skewers, avocado rolls, and green papaya salad.

Is it super authentic Thai cuisine? Eh…but the food was tasty and I didn’t have to worry about being glutened.

An overhead shot of gluten-free Thai takeout food from Racha Thai on the Big Island of Hawaii

Island Ono Loa Grill

If you’re in Kailua-Kona and looking for a place with no-frills gluten-free burgers and fries (cooked in a dedicated fryer), stop by Island Ono Loa Grill. I was happy with my order: a gluten-free Macnut Pesto Goat Cheese Burger that I upgraded to 100% grass fed beef. Be prepared for a long wait time because everything is cooked to order—luckily, you can take a lovely stroll along the beach while you wait.

An Asian woman eating a gluten free burger from at Island Ono Loa Grill on the Big Island

Village Burger Kamuela

This burger joint in Waimea may be my favorite burger place on the Big Island. All the meat at Village Burger is pasture-raised in Hawaii and they offer lots of interesting and delicious twists on toppings. Big bonus: they offer gluten-free buns and their fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer! Minuses: they only accept cash, so be sure you hit an ATM first.

Closeup shot of a gluten-free cheeseburger from Village Burger Kamuela on the Big Island

Sit-down restaurants with gluten free options

Want a fab dinner with the family? Here are some options that range from mid-priced to special occasion places:

Lava Lava Beach Club

If you’re searching for a relaxing meal on the beach with live entertainment, Lava Lava Beach Club is a great choice. There aren’t a ton of options for gluten-free diners, but you can always order a bun-less burger (like I did) without the fries (no dedicated fryer). Be prepared for a long wait for a table (Lava Lava Beach Club offers no reservations if you’re not staying on-property), but they have a nice outdoor waiting area where you can play bocce ball on the grass and order drinks from a food truck.

Two Asian teenage boys are posed in front of surf boards that say Lava Lava Beach Club

Foster’s Kitchen

Foster’s Kitchen has two locations—one in Kailua-Kona and one in Waikoloa. There are lots of gluten-free options on the menu and they have a dedicated gluten-free fryer. It’s a good place to go with picky friends and family because they have all the basics like hearty salads, sandwiches, fish and chips (gluten-free!), pizza, BBQ, etc.

Gluten-free fish and chips at Foster's Kitchen on the Big Island

The Fish and The Hog

Craving both Texas-inspired BBQ and local Hawaiian fare on the Big Island—all at the same place? Head over to The Fish and The Hog! There are no reservations taken at this popular Waimea spot so get there early and prepare to wait. Our favorite gluten-free dishes were the pulled pork, brisket, and the spicy poke bowl.

The brisket platter at The Fish and The Hog, a restaurant on the Big Island of Hawaii

Poke bowl at The Fish and The Hog restaurant on the Big Island

Bonus: if you tell the server that you have an allergy, you’ll get a special menu with all the common allergens listed.

Allergy menu at The Fish and The Hog restaurant on the Big Island.


I learned about this relatively new restaurant when I bumped into a Nomster on the Big Island. When I asked her where I should eat, she immediately offered up FORC as a place with lots of gluten-free, grass-fed, and paleo(!) options.

FORC stands for Farmer, Ocean, Rancher, Cook and the menu reflects a modern twist on Hawaiian favorites using local ingredients. Although I was tempted by the grass fed steak, I ended up ordering the Hawaiian Meal which included slow cooked pork, roasted purple sweet potato, luau leaf, lomi, poi, poke, and ho’io.

An overhead shot of the Hawaiian Meal at FORC restaurant in Waimea on the Big Island

Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill

We visited this popular, airy spot in Kailua-Kona at the beginning of our trip and we would’ve gone again if we weren’t staying a good 45-minute drive away. Although the menu doesn’t have the gluten-free items listed, our waiter was well-informed on which dishes could be made gluten-free. I ended up ordering the Mochiko Crusted Butterfish and I was very happy with my decision.

Closeup of Mochiko fish from Jackie Rey's in Kona, Hawaii

Pueo’s Osteria

This Italian restaurant in Waikoloa was Ollie’s favorite restaurant, hands-down. He’s a big fan of noodles and he gobbled up the bolognese served over gluten-free pasta in record speed both times we ate here.

A smiling Asian teenager with a big bowl of gluten-free pasta from Pueo's Osteria on the Big Island

The menu has lots of gluten-free options besides pasta; in fact, anything breaded can be made gluten-free. As a result, I ordered a gluten-free Chicken Milanese one night…

Gluten-free chicken Milanese at Pueo's Osteria on the Big Island

…and a delicious salmon and risotto special on our next visit.

The salmon and risotto special at Pueo's Osteria in Waikoloa on the Big Island

The portions at Pueo’s Osteria are generous and the service is warm and friendly. Definitely call ahead to make a reservation and check out the celebrity wall behind the hostess to see who’s dined here in the past!


Merriman’s in Waimea was my favorite splurge dinner on the Big Island. We’ve been to the Merriman’s on Maui several times and it was nice to visit the OG restaurant on the Big Island.

The front entrance to Merriman's Restaurant on the Big Island

It has a more casual vibe than the Maui location and there were lots of families dining on the night we went, but the food, service, and prices are still exceptional. Best of all, there are lots of gluten-free options so I didn’t feel deprived or limited in my choices. I ended up ordering the crudo of the day…

The crudo of the day at Merriman's in Waimea

…and the lamb special (lamb chops, braised lamb, and local veggies).

The lamb special at Merriman's on the Big Island with lamb chops and braised lamb shoulder

If you’re wondering if Merriman’s is worth the drive from wherever you are on the island, the answer is YES.

Sweets and Treats with gluten free options

My kids love shave ice and ice cream and these sweet shops were the favorite ones we tried!

Scandinavian Shave Ice

We almost left the Big Island without getting shave ice because all the locations near our rental house were closed on the day we went. As a result, we drove all the way to Kailua-Kona to get some at Scandinavian Shave Ice. Is it the best shave ice on Hawaii? I have no idea because it was the only spot we tried, but the kiddos were certainly happy with it!

Two smiling teenagers holding shave ice from Scandinavian Shave Ice

Gypsea Gelato

I don’t eat cow dairy often, so when I do, it has to be worth it. The lilikoi gelato at Gypsea Gelato is 100% worth it (despite the long line to order).

Two cups of gelato in front of Hawaiian sunset

Sweet Journey’s Soft Serve

Dairy-free folks, I have you covered! Sweet Journey’s Soft Serve is made with macadamia milk!

Vegan and gluten-free macadamia nut soft serve topped with echolocate sauce and coconut flakes from Sweet Journey's Soft Serve on the Big Island.

Hawaiian Licks

Hawaiian Licks lilikoi flavor vegan ice cream may be my favorite dairy-free ice cream on the planet. It’s made with coconut milk and with just the right amount of tang—and I made sure I had a carton (or two) in our freezer the whole time we were at our vacation rental. Hawaiian Licks has a scoop shop in Hilo, but we never made it out that far. On the Kona side, the local KTA Superstore in Waikoloa stocks many cartons of this flavor.

A hand is holding a carton of Hawaiian Licks lilikoi flavor vegan ice cream from the Big Island of Hawaii

That’s it for now! Mahalo for reading my recommendations! Please let me know in the comments if I missed any of your favorites!

Visiting Maui? Check out my Guide to Eating Gluten Free on Maui!

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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  1. Thanks for posting this! We just moved to Oahu and I’m hoping to visit The Big Island over my kids’ winter break. Any Nomsters live near Kailua or Kaneohe on Oahu?

  2. Thanks so much for your time and effort putting this list together. The photos are absolutely gorgeous.

  3. Thank you for this list! Unfortunately you posted it a few days before I left so I couldn’t take advantage of the tip to make reservations a couple of weeks in advance. We did get to try some of your suggestions though. FORC was the best meal we had. Loved Sweet Journeys soft serve.

  4. Aloha Michelle! I live in Waimea on the big island and I enjoyed your list (and LOVE your books!) – and have a few notes. Village Burger is closing early these days so note that they close at 5 PM. They will take a credit card, you just have to order on the ChowNow app (no fees) – If you look the restaurant up on Google maps you can follow the link to order. Lava Lava Beach Club is unbeatable for location (proximity to the beach!) but diners should be warned that the food is inconsistent for the price. Go there for the atmosphere and you won’t be disappointed. Merriman’s Waimea is fabulous but a much better value for lunch than dinner. The best shave ice is Original Big Island Shave Ice in the Kings shops at Waikoloa beach. But it does have extraordinarily giant lines so be warned! Finally, Waimea has farmers markets with some wonderful freshly prepared foods – not to mention fresh local produce and even a truck with fresh locally grown meats. Saturday morning at 7:30am is when they start and the best are Pukalani Stables and the one at Parker School. Wednesdays at 9am there is a smaller market at Pukalani stables. Mahalo!

  5. Thank you so much for this! I go to the Island yearly and can’t wait to try some of these places. Two places to add to your list…Sushi Rock and Sweet Potato Cafe and Bakery…both in Hawi.

  6. Thank you so much for this information! It’s quite helpful as sit here in Hawaii trying to plan out our next few meals. I love the fish & chips from Fosters kitchen! I agree with you about Lava Lava. The food is ok and quite pricey but we will continue to go back as often as we can because there is something magical about that place. They just finished a big reno too and it’s beautiful. Also their sizzling shrimp dish is gf without the baguette and is quite good.

    A few others to add would be Nui Italian restaurant at the Hilton in Waikoloa. Their gf pizza was excellent. We ordered takeout and had a little pizza party on the beach at sunset.

    Charlie’s Thai in the Queens Shops in Waikoloa has a great Pad Thai.

    We also went to the Waimea farmers market on Saturday and had the most delicious thai food from one of their vendors. (I’m
    so sorry I can’t remember their name but it’s the only Thai place) I think it was 3 different curries and rice for $16. The pumpkin curry was to die for. In fact it was our second time at this market and this Thai food was a big motivator for our repeat visit. While at the market we also hit up Sweet Marie’s bake shop. (I’m not sure if this is related to the big Sweet Marie’s Bakeshop on Oahu) We picked up some yummy pineapple Mac nut muffins and a haupia pie. She had an assortment of vegan options as well.

    Thanks again for posting. Will be making resos at Merrimans and Pueos Osteria immediately!

  7. Tai Shar in Ocean View is a 100% GF restaurant on a family farm. The food was delicious! It was a perfect stop on our way back to Kailua-Kona after visiting volcanoes NP.