If you enjoy eating fresh and local foods, Kauai's North Shore is a dream for gluten free and generally allergen friendly dining. In Hanalei alone, we enjoyed some of the best fresh fish we've ever eaten, tried all sorts of new fruits, and were never stuck without safe eating options. The one caveat to all the wonderful safe eats is the price - it's going to be considerably higher than anything on the mainland. As long as you keep in your mind and your budget, you should have a perfectly wonderful experience eating gluten free on the North Shore.
Let's start with the one spot I went back to three times while in Hanalei, the Aloha Juice Bar. Three times all for the same simple enjoyment - a cold coconut. Even though I've been to Hawaii before and the Caribbean, I've never actually had a fresh cold coconut to drink. So I figured it was very important to remedy that situation while we were on the Garden Isle. In addition to a simple coconut, the juice bar also offers a number of fresh local fruits, juices, and even some gluten free treats.
Moving on to markets, Hanalei was my favorite place on the whole island to shop for food. Undoubtably, the best place to buy fish - other than on the side of the road or off the boat, is the Dolphin Fish Market. We stopped by to pick up a fillet for some fish tacos and asked the advice of the fishmonger for the best type. On his recommendation we got a pound of ono and he even pre-sliced it for us - including a couple of sashimi slices. Now, I'm not normally one for fish in general, but this was the best I've ever had.
The Harvest Market in Hanalei is my pick the best health food store on the island - a small but well curated produce section opens up as you enter. They also offer a good selection of alternative dairy products including my favorite sheep milk yogurt from California and plenty of gluten free and allergen friendly products. A small cafe in the back offers fresh smoothies, a small salad bar, and gluten free and vegan soups and entrees.
A bit farther east in Kilauea, just off the Kuhio Highway, the Healthy Hut Market and Cafe also offers plenty of gluten free and allergen friendly food options. The market has a decidedly more "hippy" or "granola" feel if you will - populated by barefoot surfers and yogi's with dreadlocks. Although, they did have frozen gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough - yum!
While the markets do carry small selections of local produce, I would recommend buying most of it at farmers markets or farm stands. The quality is higher, the variety wider, and the price much less. Plus, there is usually one within driving distance (no matter where you stay) every day of the week. We stopped by the adorable Waipa Farmers Market, just west of the main Hanalei town area and picked up the most delicious avocados, rambutans, and apple bananas.
Some of the meals we made with our market finds included; fish tacos, veggie burgers, avocado sandwiches, and green curry over rice with pineapple and sweet onions.
CLICK HERE for a great comprehensive list of all the markets around Kauai.
While we spent most of our time dining in to keep costs down and enjoy the bountiful produce from the farmers markets - we did make a point to have one nice dinner out. We selected Postcards Cafe in Hanalei since their menu was labeled with gluten free and vegan options. Turns out, we selected it along with what seemed to be every other young local couple on the island that evening - who all knew the wait staff. In my experience, that ranks to be a good omen for a good dinner.
The small dining room and porch area is impossibly charming - a perfect place for a casual yet romantic dinner. While the plate above might look simple - the flavors were incredible! I ordered the catch of the day which came with a peppered pineapple sage sauce, curried rice, and this incredible scoop of sweet potato, ginger, and turmeric deliciousness. For dessert, a few gluten free options were available and I went with the raw and vegan chocolate mousse pie. It ranked as one of the best meals I've ever had - great setting, amazing food, and very gluten free friendly.
Gluten Free Friendly Spots on Kauai's North Shore
Aloha Juice Bar | Hawaii 560, Hanalei