“Gluten-free Waikiki” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Any yet, any local or regular gluten-free visitor will tell you, it is extremely hard to find trustworthy gluten-free restaurants in Waikiki and Honolulu, which is surprising given how advanced the food scene here has become over the years.
However, after years of exploring and living on the island, me and my Celiac family have eaten at enough places to know what’s safe for trusted gluten-free dining in Waikiki. (My mother-in-law is a super sensitive Celiac, and so are my two sister-in-laws and my best friend. I have also been a food and culture critic for over 10 years, and I know what questions to ask when it comes to ensuring safe, gluten-free dining. I take this work very seriously. As a result, I am supremely confident in all of the gluten-free dining reccomendations I make.)
That being said, there are very few restaurants in Honolulu that are capable of safely providing truely gluten-free meals for people who are very sensitive. However, the restaurants I’ve detailed below are the ones you can trust the most to do a good job with cross contamination and understanding the severity of the allergy. Ultimately, these are the best restaurants for gluten-free dining in Waikiki and greater Honolulu.
For the best experience, be sure to call the restaurant ahead of time and tell them about your Celiac Disease or allergy when you make the reservation. They will advise the kitchen to be ready for your party.
When push comes to shove, you want to have a safe meal– but you also want the vacation experience to be enjoyable for everyone. Fortunately, these gluten-free restaurants in Waikiki and Honolulu capture the best of both worlds. The food, it may go without saying, is excellent.
Aloha and enjoy!
Island Vintage Coffee (Exceptional Poke + Acai Bowls)
Island Vintage Coffee is known for their incredible acai bowls and mouth-watering poke, which can be made with shoyu instead of soy sauce to ensure a safe, delicious gluten-free experience of this classic island dish.
I love taking family here when they come to visit us on the island; it’s an ideal spot to get a quick, healthy breakfast or lunch in Waikiki. There are lots of gluten-free options, and they are ultimately one of the few places on the island that can make gluten-free poke. This is a rare find!
What’s also great about Island Vintage Coffee is that it’s considered one of the best restaurants in Honolulu regardless of the gluten-free options. As a result, people with severe allergies don’t have to feel like they’re missing out on a quintessential island food experience. This place is a staple.
But seriously, the poke here is unreal. Foodies: if you only have time to try poke at one place on the island, let it be here. Island Vintage Coffee is the best. (I always order the Salmon poke bowl with ancient purple rice or salad, and shoyu. The fresh pickled ginger, dried nori, and local crunchy sea asparagus are just delightful and so vitalizing. Don’t miss out!)
Heavenly Island Lifestyle (Fresh, Organic Breakfasts)
Not only is Heavenly Island Lifestyle one of the best breakfast places in Honolulu, but their lovely acai bowls and gorgeous fruit plates and yogurt bowls are wonderful. If you want a fresh gluten-free breakfast in Waikiki to cure your jet-lag, this is the Celiac-friendly spot for you.
Above all, the kalua pig eggs benedict (which you can order without the English muffin) is absolutely excellent. It’s a signature item that comes with gorgeous lilikoi (aka passionfruit) hollandaise sauce. This is a local classic that reflects the unique flavors of the island. Plus, the dish also comes with local purple sweet potato wedges, which are awesome if you’ve never had them. Clearly, I love this place.
That’s a picture of my go-to gluten-free order, above. (^) I swap the muffin for avocado every time I order it. (We live on O’ahu, so we go here often and take our friends when they visit. I strongly recommend ordering this item if you eat meat. It is so insanely good! Trust me on this.)
I also love that Heavenly Island Lifestyle uses organic, local produce wherever possible. (Sadly, this is not often the case when dining in Waikiki.)
It’s Worth The (Occasional) Wait
Ultimately, the food here is so fresh that it’s easy to ensure gluten-free dishes even though the menu is not entirely gluten-free. (But again, there are plenty of gluten-free options that are confidently starred on the menu.) Even the juices are nourishing, refreshing, and made-to-order!
Plus, the prices are great, and both locals and tourists universally love this place. Basically: it’s worth the line! Do not be deterred if you go early and feel overwhelmed by the wait.
But if you don’t care about brunch, try going for lunch or dinner. Heavenly Island Lifestyle is usually way less busy after the breakfast crowds abate.
Noi Thai Cuisine (Wonderful Thai Food)
This is a great Thai place– and they do an excellent job with super-clean gluten-free Thai food. Just be sure to tell them that you have Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. Once they alert the kitchen, Noi Thai Cuisine doesn’t make any mistakes.
I’ve eaten here with a super, super gluten sensitive folks with Celiac Disease, and also someone with a strong gluten sensitivity. None of them got sick, and we all loved the food!
The gluten-free cocktails here are also excellent. <– These are definitely worth exploring if you’re into mixology, as they tend to showcase unique tropical ingredients.
One of the Most Reliable Restaurants For Gluten-Free Dining in Waikiki
For best results, you can ask everyone at the table to order GF, or ask the kitchen to prepare the gluten-free dishes first, and then bring out the rest (e.g., if people in your party aren’t GF and want to order a dish made with gluten). This will mitigate the risk of cross-contamination. The kitchen will be very savvy at making the time flow so that the meal isn’t disjointed. They do a great job overall.
Ultimately, regardless of the copious gluten-free dining choices, Noi Thai is also just the best Thai restaurant in Honolulu. Period. The food is so, so good– especially for people who like a mouthful of flavors and tons of variety. (My super opinionated family absolutely loves it here.)
The dishes are here are also beautiful and always creatively plated. As a result, it’s a great gluten-safe restaurant for dates, families, and celebrations!
Vegan Hills (Vegan, American)
Ah, we love Vegan Hills. This trendy vegan restaurant in Kaimuki is a hidden gem off the beaten path for tourists. Mostly hip locals dine here, but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t worth venturing away from Waikiki for. It’s a cute little spot. And if you’re both vegan and gluten-free, well, this is THE Honolulu restaurant for you.
Vegan Hills specializes in– you guessed it– modern, expressive vegan cuisine. These dishes are often already gluten-free, as indicated on the limited, casual menu.
Take, for example, their beloved “Why Not Chos”. These gluten-free Mexican-style nachos feature organic corn chips, house made black bean chili, organic cashew cream sauce, jalapeño queso, tomato, cilantro, avocado, and jalapeño, topped with their house-made hot sauce and organic house-made tofu sour cream. It’s fabulous!
The portion of the above is hearty and satisfying. Locals love it almost as much as their Tempeh-Bacon Avocado Breakfast Sliders and the Jack Attack (Philly-style jackfruit). When available, gluten-free bread can be substituted in all sandwiches, as well.
The food here, moreover, is also super healthy, satisfying, and surprisingly light. And most importantly, when my super super sensitive mother-in-law ate here, not only did she not get sick, but she raved about it for days!
Still, as with all the restaurants on this list, be sure to tell the server if you are gluten-sensitive, even if you order a gluten-free dish.
Vegan Hills is also a good restaurant for healthy take-out in Honolulu, as the restaurant’s spare, minimalist digs aren’t for everyone. (It’s not fancy or particularly cozy; more like a minimalist Brooklyn cafe.)
Above all, I love the exquisite chocolate avocado mousse for dessert. I’ve had a lot of chocolate avocado mousse in my day, and this one ranks among the best. Be sure to save room for it if it’s on the menu when you dine here!
Tommy Bahama Restaurant (Great Open-Air Dining)
I know, it’s a chain restaurant. But as any frequent gluten-free diner knows, big chain restaurants are often the best equipped at dealing with Celiac or gluten allergies. This is because their kitchens are large enough to create the necessary separations to prevent cross-contamination. Luckily, Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Waikiki is no exception.
This American seafood restaurant is a great spot for open air gluten-free dining in Waikiki. The service is friendly and world-class. At their rooftop restaurant, expect American surf and turf classics with island flair. These range from GF Lump Blue Crab & Avocado Salad to GF Kona Coffee Crusted Rib Eye, two classic gluten-free dishes.
I also love the GF Grilled Chicken & Mango Salad with local macadamia nuts and Kamuela tomatoes (a local specialty on the island) as well as the GF Filet Mignon with Hamakua mushrooms, blue cheese, lemon arugula, and Yukon Gold mash. (It’s easily the best filet on the island. And yes, for folks who can’t tolerate the trace gluten found in some varieties of blue cheese, they can easily remove it, as well.)
Kids and those who are not gluten-free, meanwhile, can enjoy the World Famous Coconut Shrimp– and the free samples of local Honolulu Cookie Company shortbread in the shop below the restaurant.
Consistency Is Key
These attributes combined with the buzzy environment make Tommy Bahama a great gluten-free/gluten-safe restaurant for the whole family.
It’s especially good for those with young children who don’t have the energy or patience to build a rapport with the staff. (Just tell ‘um you’re gluten-free and they’ll take care of it. When in doubt, the menu is also very clear.)
Azure (High-End Seafood)
As we wrote in our guide to the 25 Best Restaurants in Honolulu, Azure at the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel is an upscale seafood, steak, and Asian cuisine mecca that is admittedly one of the higher-end restaurants in all of Honolulu– but you get what you pay for!
For those who want a dazzling fine dining experience, Azure can accommodate gluten-free modification requests with aplomb. The ambiance, service, and vibe are all top-notch.
The Sashimi Here Will Knock Your Socks Off
The oceanfront location is ideal for people who want to try the best local seafood in Waikiki. Consider, for example, the Gluten-Free “Auction Block” Sashimi. This combines the highest grade yellowfin ahi and hamachi with compressed cucumber, avocado crema, Big Island hearts of palm, nori shiso puffed rice, and ponzu sauce. It’s divine, and about as fresh as it gets. For sashimi lovers, it’s a whole experience.
I also love the Gluten-Free Hibachi Garlic Kauai Shrimp (a classic local dish!) and the stellar GF Maui Beet and Big Island Goat Cheese Salad. (Gotta love a good beet + goat cheese salad. The savory quinoa granola here pairs beautifully with that citrus-y beet vinaigrette.)
Meat lovers, meanwhile, go absolutely ga-ga over the Gluten-Free Hawaii Rancher’s Ribeye Steak. That’s a local classic straight from Maui. But when in doubt, the “Beef and Reef” is also a fun GF choice with both local meat and seafood. When you can’t decide, choose both!
Herringbone Waikiki (American Nouveau Coastal Cuisine)
Foodies adore the gluten-free seafood and brunch options at Herringbone Waikiki. Their beautiful garden lanai inside of the International Marketplace in Waikiki is a plant-filled geometric wonderland. It’s got great ambiance and welcome sea breezes.
The genre here is Southern California Inspired Coastal Cuisine (the concept is an import from La Jolla). As a result, this restaurant is intimately familiar with how to accommodate gluten-free modifications. (Dietary restrictions are practically de rigueur among the hordes of Southern California diners, after all!)
Still, the vibe that this Traveler’s Choice winner is decidedly local. Here, Hawaiian culinary staples and ingredients shine within the context of SoCal cooking. Thus, their signature buffalo octopus, line-caught snapper, and floral Yellowtail crudo are all reliably delicious!
When in doubt, the catch of the day is always fresh and intriguing. (Chefs can often make this gluten-free by virtue of its simple preparation. Be sure to ask about it!)
The Big Island Hearts of Palm salad, meanwhile, is also super good and always evolving. A recent preparation, for example, was delicately woven with green papaya, cucumber, macadamia, and Thai chili. (If you’re the kind of person who loves salads that look like a page from a beautiful food magazine, this is the restaurant for you. So pretty!)
Herringbone is also a great place to try local spiky lobster (an O’ahu delicacy!) and locally-raised roasted chicken (surprisingly hard to find on the island). The vibe is decidedly trendy and upscale, which again, if you require gluten-free dining options but don’t want to miss out on a scene, makes this global leaning restaurant a win-win. It’s a surprisingly oasis inside the marketplace.
Morimoto Asia (Pan-Asian Dim Sum)
Morimoto Asia’s Waikiki outpost is fine for people who are gluten sensitive and gluten avoidant, but might not be up to snuff for super sensitive Celiacs who cannot tolerate, for example, food cooked in a clean pan that was once used to cook gluten. (My mother-in-law is this sensitive– she can only eat at restaurants where there is absolutely no cross contamination. If you are this sensitive, Morimoto Asia cannot guarantee entirely gluten-free dishes.)
The dim sum at this internationally praised, Master Chef helmed restaurant is excellent. Dining here is especially cool for people who enjoy Asian food or visiting the world’s most iconic Asian restaurants.
Very few of the dishes on this extensive menu are naturally gluten-free. However, many of them can be made gluten-free by swapping out soy sauce and noodles for rice, etc. (Again, this is where the risk for cross contamination comes in. If you’re okay with that, then have at it!)
Modifications By Request
If you don’t mind requesting modifications, then signature dishes like Roasted Duck Caeser (my favorite!), the fish carpaccio, and the house fried rice can all be prepared without gluten upon request. So can the wonderful spicy salmon, spicy tuna, spicy yellowtail, and rainbow sushi rolls, which are excellent and secretly some of the best sushi in Waikiki.
Hard-core carnivores also adore the mighty Tomahawk steak (a special treat for any steak lover!) as well as the signature ishiyaki and wagyu strip. Like the rib-eye and the NY strip, they can all be made gluten-free without anyone knowing the difference. 🙂
Notes For Gluten-Free Dining in Waikiki
- For the safest experience for Celiac-friendly dining, call the restaurant ahead of time and tell them about your allergy after you make a reservation. This way, they will assign you a waiter who knows what they’re talking about.
- You can also always ask to review the gluten-free menu options when making a reservation over the phone.
- If you are ordering gluten free items at the same time as other dishes containing gluten (for example, if certain family members can’t have gluten but others can), ask the kitchen to prepare the gluten-free items first. This decreases the risk for cross contamination.
- Be mindful that many classic Hawaiian seafood dishes contain soy sauce, which has trace amounts of gluten. If you order a dish that is traditionally made with soy sauce, be sure to confirm with the waiter that it is indeed gluten-free. (Honolulu is not New York, LA, London, or Chicago. Some waiters don’t even know what gluten is, so you have to be extra specific and careful.)
- If something is made with soy sauce, ask if the chef can swap it for shoyu or tamari. This will make most wheat-free Hawaiian fish dishes gluten-free. And if you aren’t familiar with Hawaiian cuisine, you should still ask about soy sauce. Basically, when in doubt, always ask! (But if you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you know that already.)
Related: This amazing Gluten-Free Vegan Olive Oil Quick Bread is one of our most famous gluten-free recipes of all time! (It’s so good.)