As soon as I booked my tickets to New York, I was on the case researching what gluten free food I would be able to eat. Food is important to me, and I definitely travel on my stomach. Unfortunately, I have a coeliac/celiac stomach so this requires some more planning than usual. Thankfully, my travel companion Emma was very sympathetic to this and patiently put up with my various food related detours.
In case you’re looking for gluten free places to eat in New York City too, here’s everywhere I ate. I’ve ordered the list from most to least recommended, because I don’t want you to waste your time. Fair warning: this post is going to be epically long and fairly photo-heavy. Also, I’d like to make a disclaimer that although I’m coeliac and try my best to maintain a gluten free diet, my symptoms are silent therefore I can’t tell when I’ve accidentally eaten gluten. I may have been glutened at any of the below – I’ll never know. If you’re coeliac too, please use caution and your best judgement.
I’m telling you now, this is the holy grail of gluten free food in New York. Friedman’s lunch has an extensive gluten free menu and it’s got all the things on it that you really want to eat when you can’t eat gluten, not just boring smoothies.
Due to jetlag, Emma and I were up at an ungodly hour the morning we planned to go for brunch, so we pitched up when the restaurant opened at 7.30am bright eyed and ravenous. Of course, brunch wouldn’t be brunch without a mimosa so of course we indulged – yes, pre-9am. Quite a way pre-9am actually but nobody’s counting when you’re on holiday, right?
Our order was taken by just about the friendliest server I’ve ever had, who was just so lovely about the whole gluten free thing. I hate feeling like an annoyance and I felt about as far away from that as I could have. I ordered the fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup because come on…
Emma ordered pancakes and they just so happened to make them gluten free so I could have some, too. Hopefully that didn’t impact Emma’s enjoyment of them too much and I can report they were amazing. And huge.
As was my serving. I was in heaven from first bite to last. Unfortunately neither of us could finish our mammoth helpings, despite camping out in there for a good few hours. We did our best, what can I say.
If you’re gluten free, put Friedman’s Lunch at the top of your list, I implore you.
A close second is Erin McKenna’s Bakery on the Lower East Side, formerly known as Babycakes. Inside they have an impressive range of doughnuts, cupcakes, scones and cookies. They’ve also got savoury things like cornbread and bagels. Everything I had from there was delicious, but the standouts have to be the doughnuts. They were just so, so good.
Apologies for everyone who’s seen this picture five hundred times before, but for some reason I was overcome with all the doughnuts and didn’t take any pictures of the shop. So I refer you instead to their Instagram account, which shows things off better than I could.
I’d say that seating inside is available but limited, so this is probably one you should plan a takeaway from.
Alright so this isn’t a restaurant, but I am recommending Trader Joe’s to you for one reason and one reason only. You have to buy a bag of their gluten free cookies. Don’t ask… just take my word for it.
I ventured to The Melt Shop for breakfast/brunch after my epic stay at the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side, whose breakfast I definitely couldn’t afford. The Melt Shop provided me with THE most delicious grilled cheese I’ve ever had in my life. I had the maple bacon variety and I was in absolute heaven.
The server was very friendly and helpful in recommending me menu items that just don’t translate to British English. For example, what is a tater tot?? Well, I soon found out.
Turns out it’s like a mini potato croquette. Delicious. The shop is bright, airy and relaxed, with free refill fizzy drinks (my ultimate guilty pleasure).
I felt in safe hands regarding cross contamination, as my order was announced as gluten free the whole way along the ordering/cooking/delivering to the hatch process. There are a few branches around Manhattan so I’d highly recommend calling into one.
You may struggle to find Beauty & Essex, because the front is designed to look like a pawn shop. It’s not! Push on!
Just nod to the girl behind the till and she’ll let you through to the restaurant hidden behind. They even have a gluten free menu! I’m sharing it here because I’ve not seen a great deal about it around on the internet:
Our server recommended two to three plates each, as they were ‘tapas sized’, however we’d been in the US long enough at that point not to fall for that one. Given the price of the dishes, we definitely didn’t want to over-order, so we ordered one plate and one side each. I got the Thai style deep fried shrimp and the BBQ fries, which definitely didn’t go well together and I definitely didn’t care because they were both delicious.
There was also more than enough to fill me up, and I was glad I hadn’t gone with the server’s suggestion. The BBQ fries were the skinny kind and perfectly seasoned.
And to top it all off, they even had a pudding I could eat. This was a butterscotch pot of joy.
Finally, I’d highly recommend taking a trip to the loos. Go with a friend. Take a tip. Because…
Gluten free burgers are always going to be a favourite of mine, so of course we hunted down Bareburger for its gluten free menu offerings. There are a few branches scattered around Manhattan, but Emma and I ate at the one just near Times Square. It’s decorated pretty uniquely, which I enjoyed.
I have to say, jet lag was hitting me hard when we visited and I’d just been completely knocked for six by the madness that is Times Square, so I probably can’t give you the absolute best overview of this place. All I know is I could only manage a burger because I wasn’t that hungry, and it was good. There were plenty of options and you could basically name anything under the sun and they’d make it for you. Emma, who was faring better on the jetlag front at the time, rated it highly so I’ll go with her judgement.
From the pictures my burger looks pretty good so I’ll give it a jetlagged two thumbs up.
I’d read about Jennifer’s Way Bakery via Gluten Dude‘s website, which I’ve been reading for a while and would highly recommend to fellow gluten free folk. I’ve no idea who Jennifer Esposito is (sorry) but apparently she’s famous. Cool. I’m just interested in the food, to be honest.
Jennifer’s Way Bakery is just around the corner from Tompkins Square Bagels (see below), and I popped in after my bagel on the hunt for some cake. The selection out on the counter was fairly small, but the chocolate cupcake I had was absolutely delicious.
I noticed there’s an extensive menu on the wall so I think I wasn’t doing it right. I guess you probably have to order ahead from the list? If I plan a return visit to NYC, I’m definitely going to figure this out because I think I missed something. I love that the entire shop is gluten free and the general ethos of the place.
There’s seating indoors but it’s very limited, so it’s probably best to plan to takeaway food from here.
My al fresco cupcake was the perfect welcome to the city!
This restaurant came highly recommended, and I loved the authentic interiors. It’s got a dark, slightly retro with industrial twists vibe and it’s great. I managed to snag the last table without booking, but I arrived stupidly early so definitely book ahead if you want a table.
I ordered the pizza, of course. I’d say it was good, but not amazing (sorry). The crust tasted mostly of cornmeal and was quite crumbly. I like a bit more elasticity and doughiness to my crust, personally. However, the atmosphere was great and the toppings tasted authentic so I was happy.
I ate my leftovers the next day at the airport and that made me very happy. So this definitely isn’t the pizza looking its best, I must point out.
Sidenote, is it just me or is JFK absolutely miserable and totally not what you’d expect from the main airport for New York City?
I’m now very fond of NoGlu Paris, so I really wanted to like NoGlu NYC. However, I found the staff a little standoffish compared to the service in Paris (and that’s really saying something if Parisian service is better than yours).
I found my visit a little disappointing for more reasons than just indifferent service, though. The website is pretty useless, so I had no idea what I’d find when I got there. I didn’t think the range of cakes was as good as at the Paris store, and everything was very expensive. I came away having only felt like buying a small brioche, which I enjoyed whilst waiting for my plane ride home.
On the plus side, coeliac people can eat here safe in the knowledge that there will be no cross contamination issues, and they do sell a small range of savoury things like quiches and pasta salads as well as some cakes. I think there’s a coffee bar in store with seating upstairs, but the frosty service didn’t encourage me to stick around to find out.
If they started serving meals like in Paris I think this would fast become a great option. For now, I’d say it’s just ok.
I actually thought this shop sold bagels that were square shaped… but no, it’s just located on Tompkins Square.
Anyway, once I’d got over that dense realisation, I then had this menu to contend with. Look at all those options!
Specifically, look at how many cream cheese options there are just for a start. And the cabinet of ingredients laid out temptingly in front of me.
The birthday cake cream cheese looked like a strong choice…
…but we’d just arrived and I was still feeling a little post-plane delicate, so I went for the classic. Lox and smoked salmon. The gluten free bagels were a little smaller than the regular ones, but still a very good size and they tasted delicious.
However, I’m rating Tompkin’s Square Bagels relatively low on my list because there were lots of cross-contamination issues. They used the same toaster as regular bagels, the same knives, the same boards… So I’d sadly have to advise coeliacs to avoid, unless they have different protocols that they implement if you say you’re coeliac, which unfortunately I didn’t. By the time I realised, it was too late to make a fuss. I’d have thought ordering a gluten free bagel might have been a giveaway but never mind…
This is a fairly ubiquitous chain of fast-ish, healthy foods. Think the equivalent of Pret, except with more hot food cooked for you.
I ordered the gluten free pancakes, which were extremely tasty. They were served with plenty of fruit (you could choose your own toppings from a wide range) and brown sugar – I think this where have been my current obsession started.
However, I’m rating them low again on cross contamination issues. I noted the chef used the same pancake flipper for my gluten free pancakes as the regular pancakes he was making for the punter behind me. Therefore, coeliacs approach at your own risk.
Hu Kitchen is short for Human Kitchen, and is all about holistic food. There are a handful of branches across Manhattan.
It’s a fairly hippy-ish, paleo type place and it’s set out all rather confusingly with different counters that do different things and some you can pay at and some you can’t… Anyway, there was a reasonable selection of gluten free items on offer so I made my choice and waited for it to be cooked for me.
I ordered a breakfast sandwich which didn’t look particularly promising, but tasted better than it looked. It had some fairly sad kale, a scramble-fried egg, a sausage and some paleo type ketchup in it. The bun was extremely moist and actually quite tasty, if a little odd.
Emma said that her coffee was not good, and her muffin was a bit strange, too. I bought some of their takeaway food for my bus trip later on that day which was also not good. So, I’m afraid I can only recommend this place if you’re hugely into the paleo/raw scene. I’m just not far enough down that rabbit hole.
After visiting Carrie’s house, it was only natural that we’d call in at The Magnolia Bakery just around the corner.
I wasn’t expecting them to have anything for me, but to my surprise they had one gluten free option which was a little chocolate brownie-cake thing with a deliciously mousse-y texture. Anything chocolate is fine by me, and we ate our Magnolia goodies in a cute little park just across the road.
The gluten-ful options looked amazing, so if you’re with gluten eating companions I’d recommend checking this out. If you’re all gluten free, then this probably isn’t worth going out of your way for.
I read a recommendation for this Mexican restaurant on a blog I normally rate very highly, so was expecting big things. It’s a very small restaurant with limited seating, but it does a takeaway service. I’m led to believe the takeaway is much better value than the seated menu anyway, so we queued up inside the shop whilst choosing from the menus printed on a piece of A4. You place your order inside, then file out to the window outside, drink in hand, to await your food through a small hatch.
This particular blog recommended taking your order into the small park opposite to enjoy. So that’s where we took our order.
I ordered a taco, which was modestly sized, with a meat to taco ratio that made eating it a little difficult.
It was tasty enough, but the best part for me was the side of Moros y Cristianos which I’d panic ordered at the last minute. It was delicious and a very good size for the price.
Overall I thought it was fine, although not the hidden gem I’d been hoping for. It was good value, and if you don’t mind sharing your bench with someone smoking a questionable substance then the park is a perfectly adequate option. Unfortunately Emma wasn’t quite so impressed, with her torta turning out to be a giant, dry bread roll with some avocado in. So, choose wisely here. I’d recommend the Moros y Cristianos and the insanely sugary drink I had, but probably not much else. Also, it’s not a dedicated gluten free kitchen (and it’s tiny!) so be aware of cross contamination issues.
Crepe stand in Little Italy
That’s as good as I can get with this description, because I have no idea what this place is called. I can however tell you that it’s on the corner of Grand Street and Mulberry Street in Little Italy, and was under the edge of the green awning for a shop called Alleva.
Again, I can’t vouch for cross contamination here but my lemon and sugar crepe was an excellent pick me up at the end of a long walk.
After a hot walk along the High Line, Emma took us by a secret rooftop bar she’d heard about. You reach Gallow Green in a fairly unusual way which I won’t spoil for you, but if you manage to figure it out then waiting for you will be a beautiful garden with a distinct hipster vibe.
Drinks are gluten free! Oh and the views are pretty good, too.
It seemed to be busy basically all the time, so if you want to go there to eat, make sure you book ahead. It’d be a great place for a celebration, too.
There were so many places I missed out on. Next on my hit list are:
- Senza Gluten for an incredible selection of gluten free Italian food
- Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery for more doughnuts
- Pie by the Pound for gluten free pizzas and lots of tasty lookind puddings
- Uma Temakeria for glorious sushi
- Big Daddy’s for proper, honest to goodness diner fare (that’s also gluten free)
- Colors for 100% certified gluten free food with a philanthropic heart
- ‘smac for all the macaroni cheese you could ever want
- Pizza Beach for all kinds of gluten free pizza
- Del Posto for all kinds of gluten free pasta
- Pho Bang for gluten free fried spring rolls
- Glaze Teriyaki Grill for tamari based stir fries
- Risotteria Melotti for all things risotto based
Do you have any recommendations to add to my list?
And if you made it to the end – one gluten free high five to you, my friend!