Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vegan Eats on Maui

Although it seems to be the land flowing with fish and pork, there is a surprisingly decent amount of vegan food to be found on Maui.  Like with every vacation, I did some research prior to going so we could have at least a few places where I knew I could eat something other than a salad.  (Although a salad is almost always an option, even if it's the only option.)  And to be safe, I took a large Zip-Lock bag filled with Larabars and Luna Bars, which work great for a snack or a light meal paired with fruit.

Here’s a rundown of what and where I ate while on Maui:

Whole Foods

After getting our rental car from the airport, our first stop was at Whole Foods in Kahului.  Had I thought about it ahead of time, I would have left the 2 lbs of Larabars at home and bought them here.  We ended up at Whole Foods almost every day.  Our hotel room had a fridge so we stocked up on fruit and yogurt for breakfast (a big money saver vs. going out to eat every morning).  We also bought water, ate there the first day, and picked up sandwiches/wraps for lunch another day.  As with all Whole Foods, there are a lot of vegan sandwiches and wraps, as well as pizza and a vegan burrito bar.  They had very few bakery items but I was able to find enough vegan sweets elsewhere.

The E2 Diet Dinner Bowl - brown rice, carrots, black beans, salsa, and guacamole with 3 corn tortillas

Strawberry papaya
Mutant avocado?
Fresh Veggie Sandwich - lettuce, tomato, carrots, and avocado

The Hula Grill

Located on Ka’anapali Beach at Whalers Village, the Hula Grill was just a short walk from our resort.  There are several menus depending on if you are going to eat in the dining room or in the Barefoot Bar (outside with a sand floor) and whether you are there for lunch or dinner.  We ate here three times.  Twice I had the Gado-Gado Salad, which consists of fresh chilled veggies and brown rice, served on a bed of lettuce and topped with a Thai peanut dressing.  SO delicious!!  I will surely be recreating this salad at home before too long.  Another day I had a tropical fruit platter that was also very good, although a little pricey for what it was.

My first Maui Mai-Tai
The Gado-Gado (only on the lunch menu)

Tropical Fruit Taster - mango, papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, lychee, watermelon, strawberries, and apple banana with sweet banana dip

The Reefs Edge (a.k.a. Link @ Sheraton Lounge)

This is a little bar inside the resort.  We went there three nights for drinks (Happy Hour is 8:30-10:00) and one night we each ordered an appetizer as a late dinner.  Mine was called Diamonds of Tofu, which is a misleading name because they were actually triangles.  It was extra-firm tofu sprinkled with green onions and came with a sesame-ginger dipping sauce on the side.  It was nothing to write home about but it was decent.  Plus, at $8, it was cheaper than anything else any Sheraton dining establishments had to offer.

MaLa Ocean Tavern

Brian found MaLa through some online searching and boy am I glad he did!  It sure doesn’t look like much from the outside but it’s situated right on the coast and the view from the back is amazing.  Like most restaurants on Maui, it is very open and breezy and you can hear the sounds of the ocean right outside the windows.  I ordered the Tofu Stir-Fry.  The veggies were fresh and crisp and the sauce was flavorful and delicious.  The tofu was very tasty but unfortunately, it was fried.  Had I thought about it ahead of time I would have asked for fresh.  Overall, though, it was a delicious meal in a beautiful setting with friendly wait staff.  

Complementary edamame puree in tomatillo salsa served in a lava rock bowl (with fresh tortilla chips for dipping)
Tofu Stir-Fry - tofu, sesame seeds, pea pods, edamame, shiitake mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, and brown rice

Flatbread Co.

We stopped here after a long day of driving on the Hana Highway and were starving.  Flatbread Co. is right on the highway in the little hippie town of Pa’ia.  Although our server wasn’t exactly friendly we got the feeling that it’s generally a homey place and seemed to have a real sense of community.  There are a ton of different flatbreads to choose from or you can create your own.  We shared the house salad and the vegan pizza (with added roasted red peppers).  Both were delicious and we’re pretty sure anyone who noticed was amazed at how quickly two little people devoured that whole pizza.  Flatbread Co. is definitely worth a trip to if you’re in the area. 

Local organic lettuce topped with green papaya, carrots, arame seaweed, sesame seeds, and pineapple vinaigrette

Vegan flatbread with tomato sauce, avocado, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, garlic oil, and herbs

Mana Foods
Also located in Pa’ia is Mana Foods, a grocery store filled with more varieties of miso, tofu, and non-dairy yogurt than you could ever dream of.  It’s a healthy grocery store with a deli, prepared foods, bakery, bulk bins, produce, and refrigerated and shelf-stable items.  We didn’t get there until our last day on the island, which was both bad and good.  Bad because I could have been eating things from there all week.  Good because I would have likely eaten myself into a sugar coma trying all the amazing baked goods they had to offer.  It’s also pretty pricey but then again, everything on Maui expensive.  Whole Foods might be a (slightly) cheaper place to stock up on yogurt and fruit but their bakery has nothing on Mana!

All of these are baked in-store and most of them are vegan!  I bought the coconut chocolate chip and Brian had the walnut chocolate chip.
This is their Peanut Butter Truffle.  It's probably made of peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla, more like a "Buckeye Ball" than what I would consider a truffle.  Call it what you will - I call it "ono!"
Fresh coconut water with lime juice - very refreshing!
Sansei Sushi

We are big sushi fans and being so close to fresh fish, Brian really wanted to have sushi on Maui.  Sansei has award-winning reviews and was pretty close to our resort so it seemed like a great idea. I must admit that it was probably the best sushi I’ve ever eaten and Brian agreed. It’s really busy there so if you don’t have a reservation, expect to wait.  We were there at 7:00 on a Thursday and waited 45 minutes.  No worries, though.  That gave us plenty of time to look over the menu and Google the names of sushi rolls we'd never heard of before.

Hiyayakko - cold soft tofu with fresh ginger and green onions; thankfully our server was looking out for us when he asked them to leave off the Katsuo Bushi, which is some sort of fishy topping.  And believe it or not, we ate this soft tofu with chopsticks - not an easy task even for experienced chopstick users (whom we are not).

 Grilled Veggie Roll - shiitake mushrooms, roasted red pepper, avocado, yellow squash, cucumber, and asparagus; Ume Shiso Maki - plum paste and shiso leaf

Lahaina Pizza Co.

Back in January, Lahaina Pizza Co. was listed on the Vegan Pizza Day website so I was excited to try it.  They have a lunch special with an individual deep-dish pizza and a side salad so Brian and I could each get out own and not have all kinds of leftovers.  Unfortunately, even though the crust is dairy-free, our server said that they use butter in the pan so the pizza doesn’t stick and there is nothing they can do about that.  (Ever heard of olive oil?)  I’m so glad I asked!  Instead I got the only other option – a chopped salad, minus the 2 kinds of cheeses, croutons, and pepperoni.  It turned out to be really tasty and much bigger than I thought so everything worked out for the best.  Brian gave the pizza a thumbs-up.

Chopped Italian Salad - romaine, chickpeas, cabbage, carrots, black olives, tomatoes, green peppers, artichokes, and banana peppers with sweet papaya seed dressing on the side
Funny side note – The manager brought me the salad and there was a huge roll on the side.  I pointed to it (like I’d never seen a roll before, Brian said) and asked what it was.  The manager politely said it was a roll.  I explained that I’m vegan and asked if it has butter, milk, etc.  He looked slightly horrified as he said yes, quickly apologized, asked if he could take it away right then, and then apologized several more times.  I found it really amusing.  Maybe he had a bad run-in with a vegan in the past?  

Ono Gelato

In Hawaiian, “ono” means “delicious.”  I can’t speak for the gelato but Ono has a whole case of dairy-free sorbetto that is truly “ono!”  When we were in Lahaina for their 4th of July celebration we stopped into Ono.  I wasn’t really even looking at the cases because I assumed that everything had dairy so luckily Brian noticed that they had dairy-free chocolate sorbetto.  I got excited and stupidly asked the girl working there, “The chocolate says ‘dairy-free.’  Does that mean it’s DAIRY-FREE?”  Instead of saying “That’s what ‘dairy-free’ means, you dumb ass!” she politely told me that yes, it's vegan, and actually the whole case is, as well.  Jackpot!  I took her suggestion and had a medium cup with half chocolate, half strawberry.  YUM!  When we went back a few days later I had a mix of passion fruit and mango, which was also very tasty.  We went there a third time and they had cinnamon coconut but I was too full from my Lahaina Pizza Co. salad to have any.  Another time for sure.

Dark chocolate and strawberry - a winning combination

8 flavors of dairy-free (vegan!) sorbetto 

Coconut Glen’s

Coconut Glen’s is a roadside coconut ice cream stand, located on the Hana Highway.  I’d read about it on a blog so had been watching for it all afternoon.  They had about 8 flavors of coconut ice cream, all dairy-free.  I had plain coconut ice cream with coconut candy bits (see below for a description of coconut candy).  Brian’s had some kind of beer from Maui Brewing Co.  Both of us liked our choices.  They had some other interesting varieties, such as chocolate chili.  Had it not been so far away I would have loved to return.  If you decide to drive to Hana, which you sort of have to do if you go to Maui, be sure to stop at Coconut Glen’s.  Where else can you eat fresh coconut ice cream out of a coconut bowl with a coconut spoon?  

Just look for the sign - you can't miss it!
Coconut ice cream with coconut candy
Sweet van!
The coconuts are chopped right out front.  It doesn't get any fresher than that!

And last but not least…coconut candy

No blog post about Maui food (vegan or otherwise) would be complete without mentioning coconut candy – little nuggets of sugar-sweet, chewy coconut.  It is made by cooking coconut chunks in cane sugar and water.  That’s it.  No weird ingredients or preservatives; just coconut and sugar (both grown on the island, of course).  We just ate it straight from the bag but it was very delicious in my ice cream from Coconut Glen’s so I may have to make my own coconut candy ice cream.  You can pretty much find it anywhere you go on Maui.  Mostly we saw chunks but some places sell it in thin strips.  Both tasted good but I’m partial to the chunks, which seem to be more prevalent.  We bought a few bags to bring home and one is already gone (sorry Brian).

A few places we didn’t eat at but will keep on the list for next time (and yes, there will be a next time):

Café Prana – vegan Indian food in Haiku
Veg Out – completely vegan “fast food” type place in Haiku
Joy's Place - located in Kihei
Fresh Mint - all veg in Pa'ia just down the street from Mana

Longboards at the Marriot on Ka’anapali Beach – non-veg but tofu options
Tropica at the Westin on Ka’anapali Beach – non-veg but tofu options

You can view other picture from our trip here.


  1. It all looks and sounds beautifully delicious!

  2. Just wanted to let you know, the Veg Out place in Ha'iku is closed down, we tried to go there after the Road to Hana. We did go to Coconut Glen's and Flatbread Pizza and both were great! Thanks!

    1. So glad you made it to Coconut Glen's and Flatbread Pizza and enjoyed them both! I appreciate your feedback! :)

    2. veg out is NOT CLOSED...its been open now for nearly 20 years and running strong...

    3. check out down to earth next time....a mile from whole foods...and much better...not as pricey and all vegeatarian.....whcih whole foods is definitely not....its way more tham %80 meat on their hit bar....but DTE is all veg

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