9 Reasons To Go Gluten-Free in Honolulu

These dishes are perfect for celebrating National Gluten-Free Day on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.

Even M.A.C. 24/7 in Waikīkī, known for its stacks of buttermilk pancakes, offers gluten-free options.
Photo: Courtesy of M.A.C. 24/7


When my dad decided to remove gluten from his diet, I didn’t think he, a carb fiend, was going to survive a week.


Turns out, there are enough gluten-free breads, pastas and shoyu—yes, most soy sauce contains gluten—to satisfy any carb craving. And they taste good, too.


Only about 1 percent of the U.S. population has celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder triggered by protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. Another 6 percent is gluten intolerant. But despite the small number of people who have to avoid gluten, the gluten-free market is huge—and growing. Market research firm Nielsen estimated that the sales of products with a gluten-free label—that includes Chobani Greek yogurt, Green Giant riced veggies, even Twizzlers—have doubled in the past four years.


And while gluten-free products may not sound the most enticing—no glazed doughnuts or J.J. Dolan’s pizza—there have been huge improvements in taste and quality. Here are nine reasons to go gluten-free on National Gluten-Free Day on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.


1. ‘Ulu-Apple Banana pancakes, Juicy Brew


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Move over, tasteless pancakes. These stacks from Juicy Brew in Kaimukī are made from local breadfruit and apple bananas and topped with maple tempeh bacon bits, whipped coconut cream, blueberries and maple syrup. So they’re vegan, too. On any given day, the café serves a number of tasty gluten-free dishes, including quiche packed with local portobello mushrooms and Swiss chard in a hazelnut crust, a cassava-‘ōlena falafel patty with kale salad and a chocolate-chip brownie with date caramel and Maldon sea salt. Owner Jennifer Hee is quick to point out, though, the Juicy Brew doesn’t operate a gluten-free kitchen and labels its dishes with “no added gluten.” “We don’t want to guarantee that are dishes are free from all traces of gluten,” she explains. “Our food is really only for those who are avoiding gluten, not someone who has an actual allergy.”


3392 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 797-9177, juicybrewhawaii.com


2. Any cookie or muffin, Sweet Marie’s Hawai‘i


Owner Marie Cassel has dedicated her entire business to gluten-free tastiness. Everything she serves, from chocolate-chip-banana muffins to gorgeous specialty cakes, is whipped up in a gluten-free kitchen with no chance of cross contamination. She moved from her Kalihi Street brick-and-mortar to a food truck that sits on Nimitz Highway, between Kalihi and Mokauea streets. Call or text ahead for one of Cassel’s cookies or muffins, from classic Snickerdoodles to the Morning Glory muffin with carrots, apples, walnuts, coconut, pineapple and raisins.


SEE ALSO: First Look: Sweet Marie’s Hawai‘i


(808) 823-0227, sweetmarieshawaii.com


3. Vegan Pho, The Pig & The Lady

Many of the dishes at The Pig & The Lady use rice noodles, including this vegan pho, and are, therefore, gluten-free.
Photo: Courtesy of The Pig & The Lady


All hail rice noodles, the gluten-free noodle savior. Just about all the soups and salads at The Pig & The Lady use rice noodles, so many of them are gluten free, including the vegan pho, one of the eatery’s newest dishes. This delicious bowl of enoki mushrooms, tomatoes, ginger, calamansi, scallions and cilantro in a spiced vegetable and kombu broth is a hearty alternative to glutinous ramen and saimin.


83 N. King St., (808) 585-8255, thepigandthelady.com


4. Maui Wowi, Banzai Sushi Bar


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This sushi bar in Hale‘iwa boasts vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options right on its menu, from spinach gommae salad (blanched spinach topped with a sweet sesame sauce and sesame seeds) to the ishiyaki (sashimi-style A5 Mizayaki wagyu beef heated on a lava rock that’s brought to your table). But the Maui Wowi is as impressive as it is delicious: It features sashimi-grade ‘ahi with avocado, mango, shiso and micro greens wrapped in yuba paper (soft tofu skin) with an organic kombu-infused vinegar-shoyu dressing.


66-246 Kamehameha Highway, Hale‘iwa, (808) 736-4404, banzaisushibarhawaii.com


5. Okinawan Sweet Potato Mochi, 9Bar HNL


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Mochi is made with rice flour, so it’s naturally gluten-free. This specialty coffee and bake shop in Salt in Kaka‘ako offers various flavors of mochi, from mocha-macadamia nut to Okinawan sweet potato topped with toasted coconut. These chewy blocks go perfectly with a nitro cold brew.


SEE ALSO: First Look: 9Bar HNL in Kaka‘ako


685 Auahi St., #118, (808) 369-2299, 9barhnl.com


6. Sous Vide Chicken with Polenta, Mariposa

The dinner menu at Mariposa at Neiman Marcus has a slew of gluten-free options beyond just salads, including a rib-eye steak with sautéed Hāmākua mushrooms and a grilled tofu steak with kabocha and edamame risotto. The sous vide chicken breast with creamy goat cheese polenta is filling and guilt-free. It comes with roasted kabocha, kale and a morel mushroom jus.


1450 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 951-3420


7. Smoked Salmon Benedict, M.A.C. 24/7

All of the Benedicts offered at M.A.C. 24/7 can be made with gluten-free English muffins.
Photo: Courtesy of M.A.C. 24/7


You may not think of M.A.C. 24/7, known for its ginormous stacks of buttermilk pancakes, when you’re looking for gluten-free options, but you should. The Waikīkī eatery boasts a number of gluten-free dishes, including mochi pancakes and steak-and-eggs. It also serves gluten-free English muffins, turning any of its Benedicts—we like the smoked salmon Benedict with wilted spinach and avocado—into a gluten-free indulgence.


2500 Kūhiō Ave., (808) 921-5564, mac247waikiki.com


8. Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich, Morning Brew

You can get any of the sandwiches at Morning Brew, including this curried chicken salad sammie, with gluten-free bread.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox


Sometimes all you want is a sandwich. Morning Brew, with locations in Kailua and Kaka‘ako, offers gluten-free versions of its sandwiches, including the popular curried chicken salad sandwich with just enough spice and pops of grapes. If that’s not your thing, you can get roasted turkey with Muenster cheese, fresh hummus and avocado, or a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato), all under $10.


Multiple locations, morningbrewhawaii.com


9. Gluten-Free Pizza, Pieology Pizzeria

Pieology offers gluten-free pizza crust for $2 more.
Photo: Courtesy of Pieology


This California-based pizza chain, which opened its first Hawai‘i location in ʻĀina Haina in 2016, offers four different crusts, including one free of gluten. It costs an extra $2, but for gluten-intolerant pizza lovers, it’s worth it. Pieology also offers Daiya cheese, too, for vegans and vegetarians.


Multiple locations, pieology.com