Where To Eat When You’re Avoiding Gluten guide image


Where To Eat When You’re Avoiding Gluten

At these restaurants and bakeries, you can get some great gluten-free dumplings, pizza, babka, and more.

Unlike whatever the MTA has planned for this weekend, your dietary needs shouldn't keep you from enjoying the city's great culinary offerings. If you don't eat gluten, this guide has a bunch of great options for everything from bagels and pasta to Chinese food and arepas. Some of the places on here aren’t completely gluten-free—so be sure to check with your server about specific dishes and cross-contamination concerns—but they’re all spots where you can get an excellent meal that won’t just be a bowl of rice and an apple.


Thyme & Tonic

Being the gluten-free one in your dinner group can sometimes feel like you’re asking to eat off a kids menu that doesn’t come with crayons or any other type of fun. At Thyme & Tonic, you can take an entire GF crew to a very adult restaurant just for them. The menu is gluten-free and mostly-vegan, with everything from kung pao cauliflower rice bowls to a daily brunch provided with assistance from the GF bakery next-door, Modern Bread and Bagel. They also have an extensive bar with great cocktails, and there's a lively scene both inside and out on their flower-powered outdoor dining area.

Rice is already gluten-free, but you’ll know Risotteria Melotti is made specifically for gluten-free eaters when you see the rest of the menu. In addition to an extensive selection of perfectly al dente risottos, the 100% GF offerings include antipasti like crispy calamari fried in rice flour and bruschetta on rice bread, as well as rice-based desserts like tiramisu made with rice sponge cake. You’ll eat everything in a kitschy space that looks like a rustic Italian villa gone awry, with a ladder, a wooden crate, and antique lighting hanging from the ceiling.

Mexican restaurants are generally one of your safest bets if you’re GF, and Claro is one of our favorite Mexican spots in NYC. The menu is Oaxacan and entirely gluten-free. They make their corn tortillas in-house, and even when they come topped with smoky chile sauce, a pile of pork, and cheese, you can still taste how good the masa is. Other highlights are the ceviches, tlayudas, and fantastic mole. The menu changes seasonally and isn’t particularly long, but what they do, they do extremely well.

It can be tough to find gluten-free baked goods that aren't so dry they spin into a pile of dust like Michael Jackson in the Remember the Time video. We can assure you the bagels, breads, and pastries at Modern Bread & Bagel will not do this. This Upper West Side bakery has everything from GF naan and challah to funfetti cupcakes and chocolate babka, and they also serve some good sandwiches.

Friedman’s was opened with celiacs in mind, with the goal of creating an entirely GF menu. At any of their six NYC locations, you can get brunch favorites like pancakes, waffles, french toast, and fried chicken, as well as sandwiches and dinner entrees that could take on their wheaty counterparts any day of the week. Leave some room for a side of mac and cheese. Most things with a ton of cheese sauce mixed in are a go, but that doesn't make us any less impressed by the rice-based version here.

The Well feels like an oasis in the middle of Union Square. Here, you can take a yoga class followed by a luxurious shower with lots of nice products and Dyson hair dryers before posting up with your laptop in a cafe flooded with natural light. You might think the food at a place that calls itself a "wellness café"  would be boring and "healthy" in all the wrong ways, but we actually come here just to eat sometimes. Most of the menu is or can be made vegan or gluten free, and even simple things like a market scramble (really just eggs and vegetables) are solid. We’re also big fans of the buckwheat pancakes.

Atla is an all-day Mexican spot in Nolita where you can eat some flax seed chilaquiles and potato flautas, both of which contain zero gluten. The tacos are also gluten-free, as are a bunch of other things like the maitake mushrooms and beef birria. Atla is from the same people behind Cosme, but it’s much more casual, and it’s ideal for when you need to meet up for a daytime meal with a client or a friend who’s slightly cooler than you.

Everyone deserves a good, reliable General Tso’s option, fried up in whatever breading they prefer. At Lilli and Loo on the Upper East Side, you'll find glossy chicken, dumplings, lo mein, and a lot more on their extensive gluten-free menu. We like the dense, flour-alternative crust on dishes like their General Tso’s shrimp and tangerine beef, and the lo mein gets the job done if you’re looking for something more substantial. (There's also a good sushi selection.)

If you don’t want to worry about coming in contact with any gluten whatsoever, Senza Gluten should be (or might already be) in your regular rotation. This is a completely gluten-free Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, and the obvious upside here is that you can order anything without worrying whether or not you can actually eat it. A few things to know: This place only takes cash and Amex, the entrees are in the $30 range, and you’ll hear romantic music that could plausibly be played in a commercial for jewelry or cell phone family plans.

Peacefood is perfect for when you need a low-key place where you can just walk in and not worry about explaining your dietary preferences to three different waiters. At this all-day vegan spot, GF items are clearly labeled on the menu, with options like pumpkin quiche, chickpea fries (an essential order), and a variety of baked goods. Peacefood is casual, the food comes out quickly, there's a location near Union Square, in addition to this one on the Upper West Side.

Rubirosa is a crowd-pleaser. The atmosphere is dark and lively, the thin-crust pizza is some of the best in the city, and you don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of money to have a good time. Plus, there’s an entire gluten-free menu that includes everything from pizza and pasta to chicken parm and mozzarella sticks. Yes, the waits can be extremely long (maybe even a few hours), but either make a reservation online or put your name in for a table and find a bar where you can hang out nearby (like Spring Lounge or Mother’s Ruin).

7 Grain Army should be considered a holy place for people looking for gluten-free baked goods. All of the muffins, coffee cakes, and sandwiches at this Williamsburg bakery are made with grains like fonio and quinoa. Their coffee cake has the consistency of a Twinkie, and the blueberry muffin filled with sweet cranberry jam is a regular guest star in our food dreams. The small shop on Roebling Street opens up at 8am on Weds-Sun, and we highly recommend coming early to try everything while it’s fresh out of the oven.

Modern Love isn’t your typical comfort food restaurant. This Williamsburg spot is entirely vegan, so the "fried chicken" is oyster mushroom and the “chorizo” on the nachos is made from sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts. About half the menu is gluten-free, but even if you’re with friends who don’t share your dietary restrictions, this place has great dishes that everyone will enjoy, such as the mac and cheese made with cashew cheddar.

It probably goes without saying, but at Arepa Lady, you should be eating arepas. Most of the options here are gluten-free, and they're marked as such on the menu. The grilled and stuffed arepas rellena are solid, but be sure to get at least one arepa de queso. Those arepas are thick, fluffy, and filled with melted mozzarella and your choice of meat.

Pastai is Chelsea’s resident charming Italian place. The food tastes good, they make their own pasta, and you could easily bring a date or a small group here. They can also make any of their dishes with gluten-free pasta, also made in house. There’s a bunch of bar seating and an old-school-looking dining room with black and white portraits of people you can pretend are part of your family.

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