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15 SPOTS FOR VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN EATS ON OAHU

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KATHERINE GALLAGHER

AUG 15, 2019

For a state that really loves their pork and fish, Hawai'i sure has a lot to offer when it comes to vegetarian and vegan foods. Oahu may not have the greatest amount of veggie restaurants, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up with quality. So, who says you need meat for a nice meal? Not us, and certainly not these places.

Smoothies? Sandwiches? Salads? Sweets? Peace Cafe on South King St. has one of the most diverse vegan menus on the island. The Heart & Seoul bibimbap with yuzu carrots, sesame, and miso paste is truly special, and on a hot day, ordering it with a their lemonade (which has turmeric, mint, and berries in it) is definitely the move. The extra-mellow, farmhouse vibe of the sunny interior only adds to its charm.

Want to pair your vegetarian and vegan food with a peaceful ambiance? Water Drop Vegetarian House is run by the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple, a sanctuary located just upstairs from the dining area. The inside may look simple, but the kitchen produces some of the best vegetarian food in Honolulu’s downtown area. Water Drop even post photos of their daily menu on their Facebook page, so you’ll have a chance to daydream about their food until it’s time for lunch.

Be prepared to take your time at Cafe Maharani. The local favorite for Indian cuisine is almost always busy, and once you taste the food, you’ll see why. The menu has a huge selection of vegetarian options, from curry to samosas (trust us and try the eggplant tikka korma). Simply can’t choose? They offer a vegetarian sampler with rice, naan, and a selection of their most popular vegetarian dishes.

Down To Earth

Restaurant

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a restaurant, but we had to include it because it is just that good. Down to Earth is a chain of organic, natural, and purposefully plant-based (you won’t find any meat here) grocery stores with six locations throughout Hawaii. They’ve been around since 1977 and have continued to support the community through cooking classes, workshops, and promoting healthy eating choices. Their deli features hot and cold items made fresh daily, a unique salad bar, and house-made desserts. It's the ideal launch point for a plant-based beach picnic.

Leahi Health

Restaurant

Local, organic, and all-vegan, it doesn’t get much better than Leahi Health, whose three locations on Oahu pride themselves on supporting local farmers and bringing vegan options to the community. Their Rainbow Bowl is a loaded with delicious ingredients sure to fill you up, like chopped kale, brown rice, avocado, almonds, goji berries, and hummus. Pair your food with one of their 18 different smoothies or house-made kombucha and you’ll be good to go.

Banán

Restaurant

We know that finding a good ice cream fix for vegans can prove difficult. That’s where Banan comes in. They use locally-grown bananas to make the most delicious dairy-free ice cream around, and there is nothing added — it’s all fruit! Go for their classic banana or try other flavors like Acai, Chocolate Mac, or Olena (Hawaiian turmeric). Whichever you choose, we suggest going completely waste-free with one of their papaya boat bowls — it makes your sweet treat even more photogenic!

Being on the go doesn’t have to mean sacrificing health. Tucker and Bevvy offers healthy options for a grab-and-go breakfast or lunch for a beach day in Waikiki. Choose the avocado toast or mango-mac nut bread for breakfast, and go with a salad-grain bowl for lunch (all can be conveniently packed to go). Their Veggie Stack panini, meanwhile, combines eggplant, sweet potato, zucchini, peppers, provolone, basil, and organic sprouted grain bread — it’s a vegan’s dream sandwich.

Loving Hut

Restaurant

One of the best things about Loving Hut is that—although it’s a worldwide chain—the menu is different at every location. The company believes in the uniqueness of every city and that it should be considered when designing a menu. The location on King St. caters to local options like vegan stir-fry, pho, and their Rainbow Sandwich (vegan ham, cashew pâté, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, and cilantro).

Don’t worry about disappointing your meat-eating friends when you pick out Vegan Hills on Waialae Ave. in Honolulu for brunch or dinner. The meals are satisfying enough for everyone! Highlights for this spot are their nachos, tofu scrambles, and vegan calamari (made with mushrooms). Their food was even good enough to win “top write-in” for 2018’s “Hale ‘Aina Awards” for best vegetarian restaurant (so you know it’s a local favorite).

Not only does Da Spot cater to Oahu’s vegetable-lovers, but the place focuses on foods from around the world. The goal is to challenge their customers palates, all while keeping it fresh, sustainable, healthy, affordable, and imaginative (something we can all get behind). In the mood for something cold? Choose a smoothie from their menu of 35 (yes, 35!) difference choices.

One of the only Burmese restaurants on the island, Dagon is perfect for those vegans and vegetarians who like a little more spice in their lives. The popular Tea Leaf Salad here keeps people coming back time and time again, so we recommend starting there. The menu here even points out which items are vegetarian and which ones can be modified as vegetarian — a helpful tool when navigating the extensive choices.

With the restaurant situated in the heart of Oahu’s farming community, the good people at 'Ai Love Nalo don’t have to go far for some of the island’s freshest organic produce. Their 100% plant-based menu focuses on food that is both beautiful and delicious... with a Hawaiian twist, of course. Customers go crazy for their Buddha Bowl with house-made kimchi ginger dressing and also their vegan poke bowl with locally-made organic tofu.

If you’re a vegan with a big appetite (or even a small one), you can’t go wrong at Govinda’s in Nuuanu. All-you-can-eat vegetarian and vegan food for a small donation (they suggest about $13–$15) is hard to beat. It's right next to a Hare Krishna Temple, and the money goes toward the upkeep of the facilities — including the beautiful garden you’ll be enjoying your meal in.

Shaloha is hands-down one of the best places for Mediterranean food on Oahu. Grab a falafel pita sandwich with crunchy red cabbage and house-made hummus, or tuck into grilled eggplant with turmeric rice and Israeli cucumber salad. Perhaps the best part? They make the pita bread themselves, using no shortening, dairy, or eggs.

When you drop by What It Dough's mobile wood-fired oven, you're in for more than "just a pizza". For one, the pies are 100% plant-based, right down to the well-sourced, often organic vegetables and vegan cheese. The classic Margherita is a can't miss, but if you're willing to splurge, go for the Terence McKenna with vegan "ricotta", "mozzarella", and Italian "sausage", plus organic mushrooms and shaved garlic. The other reason you should expect more than pizza is the fact that they park their pizza wagon with Banán's Diamond Head food truck Friday through Sunday. Grab a dairy-free dessert to fill in the spaces after your pizza feast!

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