Visiting Maui and unsure of where and how to eat gluten-free? Here’s my tried and true guide to eating gluten free on Maui, including where to shop for groceries, where to get takeout, and my favorite gluten-free restaurants in Lahaina and Kahului!
We’ve been vacationing in Maui every year for almost twenty years and I’ve compiled a list of my favorite gluten free restaurants and tips on eating gluten free without sacrificing flavor. Eating gluten free on Maui is easier than you think!
2023 Maui Gluten Free Eats Update
Many moons ago, we were suckered persuaded into buying a timeshare in Ka’anapali on the west side of Maui and eat our way through the island once a year. Lesson learned: pregnancy hormones combined with a tropical paradise backdrop does not lead to smart real estate investment decisions.
And you know what? I’m glad I did. We’ve loved going back to Maui every year. The kids love going to the beach and swimming at all the different pools at the resort, and it’s just a fantastic place to kick back and relax. And ultimately, it’s not so much the actual resort property that we love so much; it’s the fact that we get to enjoy a week-long family bonding vacation every year in paradise. And the food situation’s pretty darn satisfying.
Each unit at the resort is equipped with a kitchen, so we end up cooking all of our breakfasts and a handful of lunches. The rest of our meals are eaten at spots that are exhaustively researched and carefully selected (by me!).
Although we normally make it out to Maui annually, our last trip was in 2021 and a few or our favorites have shuttered and I discovered a couple of new gems so I decided to update this post with my latest recommendations.
I don’t eat 100% Paleo on vacation
As we mentioned in Episode 7 of our podcast, Travelling While Paleo, we don’t stay 100% Paleo when we’re on vacation. It’s important to remember that making a mindful choice to eat without stressing out is all part of a healthy, happy life. Ollie and I just need to stay gluten-free, so that’s the one thing I insist on when we eat out, no matter where we are.
Note: Most of the restaurants on Maui are not 100% gluten-free, but the ones I mention below have gluten-free menus and the wait staff are very accommodating when I mention that my son and I are gluten intolerant. If you are celiac, please be cautious because there may be cross-contamination risk at many places.
Although I shared many of my Maui eats on my Instagram account with the hashtag #NomNomEatsMaui, I thought I’d compile our latest food finds in one place. (Note: most of my recommendations are located on the west side of the island (e.g., Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Kapalua, etc.) because that’s where we stay, and after years of exploring other parts of Maui, we’re now just too lazy to wander far from the pool.)
Without further ado, here are some of the places where we shop and eat on Maui!
Our timeshare has a kitchen, so we cook most of our breakfast and lunches. Here are some stores we shop at to get healthy noms.
Grocery stores in Kahului
The Whole Foods Market in Kahului is huge, well-stocked, and always packed with smiling people. It’s a 30-minute drive from our timeshare, so we only shop here on our way to and from the airport.
You can stock up on everything you would buy at a regular Whole Foods, but keep in mind that items from the mainland will be more expensive. I actually prefer products made by local artisans because they’re normally cheaper and I can’t find them any where else.
If you buy refrigerated goods, don’t forget to pack some of the free ice they offer at the entrance. Whole Foods is also a great spot to pick up food for our flight home ’cause there’s something for everyone here.
This vegetarian organic market is located just a few blocks from Whole Foods. Yes, there are tons of soy-based products and fake meat, but you can also find lots of fantastic organic produce and gluten-free goodies.
We don’t stop here every time, but Costco’s a great shopping destination if you have lots of mouths to feed or have an extended stay on the island. It’s located near the airport so it’s a good pitstop before you head to wherever you’re staying. You do need a Costco membership, but if you have one already, you can buy organic eggs, organic produce, Kalua pig, snorkel gear, a ukulele, and all of your gifts for folks at home (e.g. macadamia nuts, etc.). Here’s an old post that shows what we bought at the Costco in Kauai.
If you don’t want to buy in bulk, but still save money, the Walmart near the airport is your best best. There are lots of groceries and gluten-free items available on the shelves.
Grocery shopping in Lahaina
A few times a week, we walk up to Honokowai to buy snacks, treats, and produce at Farmer’s Market Maui, a cozy, hippy-dippy vegetarian market. If you’re looking for gluten-free treats like Hail Merry tarts, Pono Pies (lilikoi is my favorite flavor), or Coconut Glen’s vegan ice cream, this is the place to shop. We love their guacamole and salsas, too.
A local supermarket chain that has almost everything you need—from local produce to staples that are from the mainland. If you’re looking for a cheap and useful gift for folks on the mainland, the Foodland Farms zip-top reusable grocery bags with cartoon spam musubi printed on them are pretty cute!
I don’t often shop at Safeway at home, but the big one in Lahaina is well stocked and open 24 hours. For a long time, I overlooked it, assuming there wouldn’t be any good finds, but boy, was I wrong. This Safeway’s got lots of organic produce, Applegate Farms meats, local kombucha, and lots of local products.
Gluten-Free Take-Out Options
Kahului (close to the airport)
Top Chef fan favorite Sheldon Simeon’s casual lunch spot, Tin Roof Maui, is the first place we grab food when our plane lands on the island and a great option to order takeout for your plane ride home. There aren’t a ton of gluten-free options, but the Chop Steak and Garlic Shrimp can both be made gluten-free. I like to add a 6-minute egg to my lunch and I opt for kale salad in place of rice. Definitely order online so you don’t have to wait in line!
Hidden inside Alive & Well, “Maui’s only family owned and operated health food store,” is Broth Cafe—a cute counter that serves organic juices, broth, ramen, avocado toast, and hearty paleo-friendly bowls. If you’re looking for something healthy and delicious to take on the plane ride home, this is a good spot to stop at on the way to OGG. I got the lemongrass chicken bowl with a 6-minute egg and no grains for the flight home and it was perfect.
If you’re flying out on a Sunday (and Tin Roof Maui and Broth Cafe are closed), your best bet for a tasty and healthy portable meal is at this casual salad joint. The Kahului location is just a couple minutes away from the airport so I place an online order that’s ready to pick up right before we drop off our rental car. (I like the Super Salad 2.0 + a protein.)
We just discovered this 100% gluten-free Venezuelan spot on this trip and I can’t stop thinking about it! The arepas are HUGE and delicious, but my personal faves are the beef empanadas, yucca fries, and patacon sandwich. There are only a few seats indoor and out so it’s best to order ahead and take your goodies to the park or back to your condo.
If you’re looking for fresh salads, fruit-packed smoothies, or hearty acai bowls, you gotta come here. (Remember, Paleo fanatics: vegan is not a dirty word.) Henry loves the Chronic smoothie, a refreshing mint chip shake made with fresh mint, hazelnuts, banana, coconut meat, vitamineral greens, hemp protein, macadamia nut milk, and cacao nibs.
Also, if you’ve never eaten an acai bowl, order one here! (There’s a smaller location in the Whaler’s Village mall, too, though it doesn’t carry the full menu.)
Craving veggies on Maui? Head to Moku Roots for delicious vegan fare where almost everything can be made gluten-free! I really enjoyed the Vegan Cobb salad, which came with a house-made macadamia nut ranch dressing and coconut bacon. The restaurant is zero waste so all takeout orders come in stainless steel containers that is paid with a refundable $10 deposit.
We always order take out from The Fish Market at least once during our stay and eat it back in our condo. My usual is a salad with grilled fish or shrimp (hold the croutons). The kalua pork and grilled fish tacos are delicious, too.
Normally, we dine in at Sansei (see below) but we ordered takeout sushi a couple of years ago and we may never dine in again! It’s a breeze to order online and you skip the crazy line at the door for on-site dining.
I probably shouldn’t lump these two restaurants together, but it’s hard to mention just one without mentioning its neighbor. Both Westside restaurants are located right next to each other at Mala Wharf (RIP Frida’s Mexican Beach House!), and they all share a spectacular oceanside view (and a parking lot). The food quality and service at all three are excellent, and we choose which one to visit depending on what we’re craving that day.
Honu is the perfect choice when we’re craving seafood and/or pizza. They have gluten-free pizza for the kids and fabulous seafood for the adults! I love the gluten-free ahi bruschetta…
…and the fresh fish dore style.
Mala Ocean Tavern is great when we want pacific-rim inspired cuisine. Plus, there are tons of gluten-free options and the servers are all very knowledgable. However, the fries are not entirely gluten-free because they’re cooked in a shared fryer.
Also, we always have our last meal (brunch) at Mala on our way to the airport. Below is the gluten free avocado toast topped with fried eggs with a side of bacon. (Beware: there is potential cross contamination with the hash browns.)
There’s a Mala in Wailea, too, but we’ve never eaten there. Why drive to Wailea to visit Mala when these three restaurants are so close to where we stay?
Looking to splurge on a unforgettable dinner with a spectacular view? Book a table at Merriman’s! The sunsets are breathtaking, and the food doesn’t disappoint, either. I try to book a table at 5:00 pm ’cause it increases our chances of getting an oceanside view.
On previous Maui trips, we dined at similarly-priced destination spots like Mama’s Fish House and Lahaina Grill, but Merriman’s still remains my favorite spendy restaurant. The servers are super knowledgable about what dishes contain gluten and almost everything can be modified to be gluten-free.
If you love tasty burgers with gluten-free buns AND French fries in a casual and lively atmosphere, you should definitely go here. Ollie loves french fries but he normally can’t eat them when we go out because they’re normally cooked in a shared fryer. Not the case here! At Cool Cat Cafe, the french fries and sweet potato fries are cooked in a gluten-free potato-only fryer so Ollie gobbles them up with abandon. Psst! The gluten free fish tacos are also very tasty!
After visiting the Monkeypod in Kihei years ago, we were very excited when a location opened up at Whaler’s Village near us. The beachside location is beautiful, the tropical drinks are fun, and the food is pretty tasty. They don’t take reservations, so put in your name and wander down the beach boardwalk for an hour or so until they text you that your table is ready.
Not a ton of gluten-free entrees, but the fish tacos hit the spot!
There is no view to speak of at this popular Japanese joint tucked away on a golf course in Kapalua, but the sushi and sashimi are pretty tasty and there are more gluten-free options than expected! We especially like the Nobu-style miso butterfish, roasted Japanese eggplant, hamachi kama, and 22-ounce ribeye. Many of the sushi rolls are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free.
Macadangdang serves sophisticated Hawaiian-Filipino fusion food in a cute indoor/outdoor setting in a quiet strip mall. There are lots of gluten-free options and you can order fun cocktails/mocktails (e.g., virgin ube colada!), delicious sushi, and inventive spins on traditional Filipino dishes. In particular, I loved the Duck Kare Kare and ribeye a lot.
We tried this oceanside farm to table restaurant in Lahaina and had a great gluten-free meal! If you can’t score a reservation at Merriman’s, Mala, or Honu, this is a good option for sunset views and modern Hawaiian cuisine.
This old school brunch spot located at Napili Beach has gorgeous ocean views, which (for some reason) lowered my expectations of the food. But I was pleasantly surprised that they had a gluten-free menu with lots of tempting choices.
I ordered the sweet potato egg frittata topped with spiced hollandaise sauce, and I have to admit: it was pretty epic.
I haven’t been here in many years because I hate waiting for a table. However, many of you have said that the quality remains high so I’m leaving it on this list. Some of our favorite gluten-free dishes include Filipino Bacon and Eggs, Roasted Mushrooms, Vietnamese Crepe, Brussels Sprouts (with sauce on the side), and Ahi Avo (remember to ask to substitute tamari for the shoyu if you need to be careful about going gluten-free).
Wanna make Ahi Avo at home? Here’s my Star Noodle-inspired copycat paleo recipe!
Important note: Star Noodle recently moved to the old Aloha Mixed Place location on Front St.
Treats & Sweets
Make your own gluten-free pancakes on your own table side griddle! Was it the best breakfast I’ve ever had? Nope. But the kids got a massive kick out of cooking their own flapjacks in all sorts of crazy shapes, and with tons of custom toppings. You can balance out the pancakes with some egg scrambles and bacon while the kids knock themselves out cooking up their flapjacks.
If you’re gonna get a proper shave ice, head here. And don’t blame me if your mouth turns an unnatural shade of rainbow afterwards.
Our kids’ favorite flavor is Tiger’s Blood, which would’ve been Paleo if it was actual tiger’s blood.
Over the years, we’ve eaten all over the island, from Pineapple Grill and Banyan Tree in Kapalua to Sam Sato’s in Wailuku and Bev Gannon’s Hali’imaile General Store, but the ones listed above are my faves (Yes, I’ve eaten at Mama’s Fish House a couple of times but I don’t think it’s worth the drive.)
But if there are some new or off-the-beaten track places you think I should try, please let me know in the comments ’cause we’ll be returning to our timeshare next year. And the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that…
More Gluten-Free Dining Guides for Hawaii
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes 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 2022)