Typical Hawaiian dishes, like LauLau and Poke, are centered around either meat or fish. As a vegan visiting Hawaii, it’s disappointing to realize you won’t get to enjoy the emblematic delicacies of the area. Not eating any animal by-products can really limit you on an already tiny island, so my brother and I did lots of digging to find the best veg spots around. Here are the top 10 vegan dishes/places we’ve tried on Oahu in no particular order. (Note: We tried to take pictures at every place, but you know how it is when you’re hungry… sometimes you just forget!)
1. Peace Café: (Honolulu)
The Peace Café is an all vegan restaurant that seems to be on everyone’s mind here in Honolulu. After reading rave reviews, we decided to make this our first food stop. I got the Hanoi, which is both the capital of Vietnam and this delicious sandwich.
Made with tofu, veggies and a peanut sauce, this is a local favorite. Just a warning though, my brother ordered the BBQ Tempeh Plate and was not as pleased as me.
2. Vegan Hills: (Honolulu)
Vegan Hills is brand new, and I mean so new they don’t even know the right quantity of food needed to meet demand. I believe it had been open for a mere few days before we stopped by. I ordered the Avocado Dream (and coincidentally, so did half the restaurant) and my brother ordered the Avocado Tempeh Melt
and Mocha Cream Shake. The food was fresh and wholesome. Vegan doesn’t always imply healthy, so this was a huge plus. However, if you’re looking for the usual sugar fix, then you might want to rethink the healthy Mocha Cream Shake.
3. Roy’s Waikiki: (Honolulu)
Roy’s is an upscale seafood chain in Hawaii. My teacher who used to live in Oahu had mentioned it a few times in class, which made me curious to try it. For vegans, there’s not much on the menu, but it’s not about quantity, it’s about the quality. My brother and I ordered the Vegan Crispy Zucchini appetizer and Vegan Sushi Rolls. Both were a bit spicy and amazingly delicious. They were truly a piece of art! Also, the service was one of the best we’ve experienced on the island. This was probably because it’s in a touristy area of downtown Waikiki.
4. The Beet Box Café: (Haleiwa, North Shore)
If I had to choose my favorite restaurant that we visited, the North Shore’s Beet Box Café would be number one. While I’m not typically a fan of coconut or curry, the Burrito Babe they recommended blended both into a savory, unforgettable mixture. It was one of the best dishes I’ve eaten this year. My brother ordered the Hello Burger and was equally impressed.
5. Dole Plantation: (Wahiawa)
If you’re a tourist, you will likely visit the Dole Pineapple Plantation. While I personally didn’t think there was much to see there, the Dole Whip was well worth the drive! Surprisingly vegan, this pineapple soft serve with added Pineapple chunks was so refreshing and sweet I wanted to order two more.
6. Downbeat Diner and Lounge: (Honolulu)
If you’re looking for a vegan breakfast/brunch, then this is your place! My brother and I both ordered the Pesto Scramble which included homefries, 2 pancakes, vegan sausage and tofu scramble, all for under $10! This place is great if you’re on a budget and looking for that morning comfort food. The service was also very friendly.
7. Kahumana Organic Farm and Café: (Waianae)
Just, wow. In both regards this café is both amazing and annoying. If you come here for dinner, you’ll witness a beautiful sunset on the mountains with twinkling lights and birds chirping. The food is also very fresh because most of it is grown on site. You can even watch people tend to the greenhouse outback. While the food was delicious, it took us nearly two hours to receive only half our meal (the other half never came). Needless to say, the service here put us in a bad mood.
8. ‘Ai Love Nalo: (Waimanalo)
I think every vegan coming to Hawaii needs to try ‘Ai Love Nalo.
This is an all vegan café on the west side of the island featuring classic Hawaiian dishes. You won’t leave disappointed! I ordered the Tofu Poke Bowl and Tyler ordered the Oh Wow Lau Lau. Both dishes left us very satisfied, not only from the taste but also because we were finally able to eat the local food. Also a plus, the environment of this place is very relaxing and hip.
9. Greens and Vines: (Honolulu)
This is currently a raw vegan restaurant in downtown Honolulu, however they will be changing ownership soon so the “raw” part could change as well. My brother and I shared the Living Lasagna and the Zucchini fettuccine. Both of the dishes were “decadent” as the waiter put it. They have somehow managed to pair boring vegetables with just the right spices to recreate some of your favorite dishes. I would highly recommend this place, although it’s a little more expensive than the other vegan places. Also, since it’s raw you probably won’t feel overly full or full for too long.
10. Hawaiian Crown Plantation: (Honolulu)
If you’re coming to Hawaii, you have to try their acai bowls! Hawaiian Crown Plantation was right down the street from our AirBnb, so maybe I’m biased to its proximity. However, we did try some other acai places and this was the best. In addition to fruit and granola that’s typically offered, they also add cacao nibs and macadamia nuts. Also, some hotels give out free pineapple coupons which you can redeem here. A tourist that was leaving that morning gave me hers!