Gluten Free Maui, Hawaii

Seven Sacred Pools

Who are you and where are you?
My name is Amanda. I’m a 27 year old university student living on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian islands.

Tell me about your relationship with gluten…
Puberty is a challenging time for anyone, but for me it became even more difficult as eating began to cause me great pain. My family doctor suggested I was lactose intolerant. I started eating lactose free dairy products, and began using lactase enzyme pills when I wanted to eat dairy. I’d even go completely dairy free for periods of time.

I lived this way for ten years, but it was never perfect. I’d still find myself in digestive distress. Finally having enough of this, I decided to give in and try an elimination diet. When the time came to add back in wheat, I knew I was onto something. Oats reacted too. I plugged these findings into the computer, and it basically spat out, “You have celiac disease!” So, I stopped eating gluten. My digestive symptoms disappeared. So did my neurological (shaking hands) and psychological (anxiety) issues. It’s been about five years now, and I look healthier. I feel healthier. I have never felt better.

When I first stopped eating gluten I was pretty upset about it. I definitely went through the stages of grief. I had support through celiac groups on; and I found inspiration through websites like Shauna Ahern’s Glutenfreegirl and Karina Allrich’s Glutenfreegoddess.

Today, I have no problem seeing other people eat gluten. It doesn’t even occur to me to have a problem with it. As long as I am prepared, and not left hungry or left out of the social rituals around eating, then life is a peach, and peaches are gluten free.

Tasty mushroom omelette

Amanda 🙂

Why should gluten free travellers visit your town?
Sometimes Maui seems like a field of land mines for those who eat gluten free, but in reality there are many options available if you do your research and are willing to be a bit creative. Heck, these days you don’t even have to get very creative. Maui got its very first all gluten free restaurant this year. Then again, you might want to branch out and try other places and foods too.

If you’ll be staying on the island for very long, I suggest staying somewhere with a kitchenette or a full kitchen that way you can hit the farmers markets for some amazing produce and whip up your own gluten free creation. You can do this even if you’re not staying somewhere with a kitchen. Produce is such a big deal here. We’re all very proud of the agricultural community we have, and we’re so blessed by the hands who work the soil to provide us with such a bounty. Fresh lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, pineapples, breadfruit (‘ulu), taro (kalo), cherimoya, strawberries, sweet potatoes, lychee, bananas, and much more grow here in the islands. You’ll even spot things you’ve never heard of before. There’s even durian!

Our local ranchers also have delicious beef, and pork, available. If you get a chance to try Maui venison, don’t dare skip it. It’s not gamey in flavor, and it’s extremely versatile.

We also have multiple health food stores full of some of your gluten free pantry staples. Many of the regular supermarkets also have gluten free options now available. Do be aware, that some local companies are promoting gluten free products now but without legal restrictions on the term there is likely cross contamination if the packaging doesn’t explicitly state that it was made in a dedicated gluten free kitchen.

Tell me something fun about your town?
Maui is it’s own advertisement. It’s been rated the number one island in the world year after year. It’s even dubbed “paradise” by many who dream of visiting, or who have visited, or even those who live here. Here on Maui, people say that Maui is Nō Ka ʻOi (the best).

If you’re interested in the outdoors then Maui has breathtaking waterfalls, gorgeous beaches, towering and expansive forests, and of course the warm ocean water. Even Haleakala is taller than Mount Everest, if you start from the ocean floor. Sunrise and sunset from the summit are spectacular, but so is star gazing. If there’s a meteor shower, it’s the place to be. Don’t you dare forget proper jackets and shoes though. It does get to below freezing temperatures!

If staying indoors is more your style, there’s always shopping. Our theaters often have amazing plays being performed, and there’s always a band playing somewhere at any given time. I am a bit biased as my partner is in a local band, but local bands are worth checking out anywhere you travel. They’re a huge part of the heart of an area.

A beautiful rainbow

Where is your favourite place to eat out in your town and why?
My favorite restaurant on Maui has to be Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao. They’re currently only serving dinner twice a week, but if you get the chance you should go for dinner. It’s delicious. The price is higher on dinner, but the experience might just be worth it, especially for an intimate and romantic evening. Breakfast, brunch, and lunch prices are outstanding for the quality of food you’re getting. Nearly everything they serve is grown and raised right on Maui, or in the Hawaiian islands. That’s a big part of the reason I was drawn into the place to begin with. They’re truly serving up sustainability. And, who says “no” to farm fresh eggs in their Kona lobster omelette? Not me.

The owners are wonderful people who are always happy to see you. The chef is even one of the owners, so you know that you’re going to have a great meal. Just tell them you’re gluten free, and they’ll know what to do. They’re not a completely gluten free restaurant, but in the years that I have been dining there I haven’t been made sick once. They even have a gluten free server on their wait staff, so they’re pretty savvy.

Here are a few more of my favourite gluten free places to eat in my town:

  • Check out Maui Brick Oven, our very first 100% gluten free restaurant on Maui. Two of the owners, who are also chefs at the restaurant, both have celiac disease. They’re serving up pizza perfection, as well as pastas, salads, and some of your favorite comfort foods. They’re located in Kihei.
  • Star Noodle in Lahaina has amazingly good food for amazingly good prices. It’s in an industrial area, so it might seem like you’re in the wrong place at first. But, just keep going and you’ll see it. The chef-owner is Sheldon Simeon, and he just won third place on Top Chef! Tell them you have celiac disease, and that you need to know which items are gluten free. Their staff are always knowledgeable. Also, tell them that you need your noodles cooked in a separate pot with fresh water and new utensils and cooking tools used for your order. They’ll take care of it. I’ve not had a problem here, and I hope your experiences will be just as good. If they are, you’ll walk out with the same silly grin I always walk out with.
  • Both Hali‘imaile General Store and Mama’s Fish House have amazing food, and they know what’s gluten free on their menu and what isn’t. As always, be sure to express the need to prevent cross contamination and you’re bound to have a wonderful time. Mama’s is right on the beach in Kuau (just past Paia). It’s a beautiful location, and the restaurant is way bigger than you could imagine, which can make for a bit of a crowded, and noisy romantic dinner. But, the views and the artistic preparation of the food can be worth it.
  • Hali‘imaile General Store is in a pineapple plantation town without much around it, so it’s easy to spot. It’s just a big, old, peach colored general store with big picture windows and a bright, friendly atmosphere. It too is a bit noisy, but the food is really well made. Be sure to make reservations for both of these restaurants as they book up fast, and you want to get your gluten free needs across before the noise starts.

For more restaurant ideas, check out the dining out section of Amanda’s blog.

Do you live in Maui or Hawaii or have you travelled there? Where is your favourite place to eat gluten free?

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  • On Maui, down on Front St. in Lahainatown, Koa’s Seaside grill offers GF options which are clearly labeled on their menus. The owners are both locals. One of the owners’, is Gerry from Gazebo in Napili.

  • This site is very helpful.
    However I feel that I should mention that Mama’s Fish House has a very limited GF menu. When we were there we booked months in advance and informed them that my fiancée was a Celiac.
    There was one appetizer and one entrée she could eat. Even the Crème Brule wasn’t gluten free, which make me wonder how that’s even possible.
    My meal was fabulous and the setting is very lovely, but just not a lot of choice.