Best Vegan Food in Honolulu
by Jessica Percy Campbell, The Vegan Vacationista
Looking for the best vegan restaurants in Honolulu? Enroute to Australia, my partner Wes and I stopped over in Hawaii for a few weeks to enjoy the luscious green islands of paradise. After a stop to scout out the vegan food scene on Kauai and then chatting up some locals for recommendations on the best vegan food to eat in Oahu, we discovered some seriously delicious treats. Here’s my guide for the best vegan restaurants to choose for breakfast, lunch, and dinner out in Honolulu if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or simply looking to try something new.
1. Best Vegan Breakfast: Le Jardin
If you’re a fan of refreshingly cold acai bowls in 30-degree weather, Hawaii is the place for you. Le Jardin takes the thick smoothie bowl to a whole new level, adding a full fruit salad on the top. They offer mango, apple, kiwi, blueberry, and banana over crunchy granola and frozen acai. I got mine with soy milk. This tiny counter also serves sweet dessert crepes and Hawaiian fruit smoothies at reasonable prices.
Fun tip: If you visit this area on a Tuesday or Thursday, you can also stock up on some exotic fruits, chocolate, coffee, and crafts at the vibrant Waikiki Farmers Market while you’re at it. It’s got some of the best vegan food in Honolulu.
2. Best Vegan Lunch: Simple Joy Vegetarian Cuisine
We stumbled across this humble vegan restaurant on our way downtown and were so glad we did. It’s definitely one of the best vegan restaurants in Honolulu. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist strip, Simple Joy specializes in south-east Asian style food as well as American and Italian dishes. I tried the breaded soy “chickun” nuggets which were so much like the real thing I ordered a second batch. I also ordered the teriyaki kabobs as per the server’s recommendation. The kabobs were a little salty, slightly chewy, and made from lemongrass soy protein sided with a generous serving of stir-fried veggies. A nice choice if you’re tired of the same ol’ tofu chunks on a stick.
3. Best Vegan Dinner The Down Beat Diner
Located in Old China Town, The Down Beat is a trendy American retro style diner with an alternative twist. This establishment is split into a small local music venue on one side, and a diner with a full bar on the other, creatively decorated with old-fashioned black and white booths featuring portraits of celebrities such as Bill Murray and Michael Jackson. Most importantly (to me), almost every dish on the menu can be made vegan on request and that makes it one of the best vegan restaurants in Honolulu. After a sweltering day of sun bathing at Ala Moana Beach, I was ready for a frosty caramel milkshake (coconut milk base). Then came the real treat, vegan hot wings! The “wings” were crispy on the outside with a melt-in-your mouth tenderness and not too spicy. Made from wheat gluten and soy proteins, they come with a side of homemade ranch and shall go down in history as one of my favorite mock meats of all time. Add a veggie burger with some curly fries to top it off and you will be one happy camper.
Bonus features: All day breakfast, vegan spare ribs, and live music 6 nights a week.
If you haven’t already done it, be sure to add Hawaii to your bucket list. Each island offers its own flavour and Oahu has a little bit of something for everyone. Whether you’re a hiker, a surfer, a foodie, or simply a sun-bather, Honolulu, Oahu is worth a visit.
If you’re looking for a way to wear off those calories, check out this list of Things to see and do in Hawaii Volcanoes Park.
Le Jardin (2424 Kalakaua Ave) under the Hyatt Regency just steps from Waikiki Beach
Simple Joy Vegetarian Cuisine (1145 S King St)
DownBeat Diner and Lounge: 42 North Hotel Street, Honolulu
Visit the Official Island of Oahu website at www.gohawaii.com
For more tips on vegan-inspired travel to the world’s best sun destinations, check out these other delicious posts by the Vegan Vacationista. Or subscribe to the free A Taste for Travel newsletter.
Kauai: 3 Top Vegan Eats on Kauai
Aruba: Finding Vegan Heaven
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