I wasn’t expecting to find much gluten free food in Chicago. For some reason, I thought I’d struggle and it would be a nightmare. However, if you’re venturing to Chicago soon and wondering how you’re going to find gluten free food there, I’m here to tell you not to worry. You’re going to be just fine.
Here’s where I ate gluten free in Chicago, where I’d eat, and anywhere I’d pass on for next time.
This was the first place we tried and it was like walking into heaven. Everything is gluten free in this shop… everything. All the food is pre-made and laid out neatly in chiller cabinets, and you can choose as much or as little as you want.
They stock breakfast, lunch and dinner meals plus snacks and drinks so you can pay a visit here and set yourself up for the day. This would be particularly great if you were self catering, because you could stock yourself for a few days and then reheat the meals as needed.
Now, it’s not cheap to shop here – our breakfast cost us about $20 for the two of us and we had three dishes between two plus a drink each. That aside, I think this is a great concept well executed, and I’d highly recommend it to a friend.
At 750 N Rush St there’s seating for 4 in a row at the front of the shop. We went in a few times and it wasn’t crowded so I reckon you stand a good chance of getting the seat if you want it.
All the meals are self-reheated at the microwaves in the store. You can see them to the right in the photo below.
This isn’t a place for table service or wearing fancy clothes. It works and it works well.
There’s one loo for customers to use and it’s decent.
750 N Rush St
125 S Clinton St
211 W Adams St
1226 N Wells St
1534 N Halsted St
621 W Diversey Pkwy
A chiller cabinet in Whole Foods at 255 E Grand Ave
Another kitchen, but this one is quite different to Snap. This is a full service, cook to order situation and not everything is gluten free.
We went for breakfast and dinner, and the experiences were totally different. For breakfast I found the choices limited and not exciting – I had a chia bowl which was fine, but chia is always gluten free. They just didn’t really have anything I fancied.
However, when we returned for dinner it was a different story. There were plenty of interesting choices, and when the food arrived it was really well made and tasty. Here’s my burger, cooked perfectly:
And S had fish tacos which quite frankly looked like a party on a plate.
It’s an informal atmosphere where you help yourself to cutlery and tap water; everything is very clean and it wasn’t crowded either of the times we visited. The service wasn’t amazing but it was perfectly sufficient.
Eating at this kitchen was fairly good value and the portion sizes were just right.
Go for dinner!
The loos at 259 E Erie Street are nice and there’s a cute outdoor seating area if the weather’s nice.
413 N Clark St
259 E Erie Street
831 N State St
1538 N Clybourn Ave
Here we have another kitchen, and another completely different offering. This is a build your own stir fry type situation, kind of like Chipotle but pan-Asian. You start by choosing meat, tofu or veg and a sauce to go with it. Then you choose your veg to go with, and whether you want rice or noodles. Crucially, the entire menu is gluten free. Including the sauces – even teriyaki!
Once you have picked your components, it’s stir fried for you while you wait. Seating is in informal tables, again with serve yourself cutlery and water. I’d recommend sticking to the tap water; they have drinks on sale here but they’re a bit strange. But if strange drinks are your bag, go right ahead.
The chopstick wall art was pretty cool, too.
The food was delicious, good value and filling. We went back twice because we’d enjoyed it so much.
Yes we ate with forks. Because we’re total amateurs.
There’s one loo for customers and it’s pretty good.
They’re open til 8pm Monday-Saturday, so not super late.
21 E Adams St
This was right up there for find of the city, for me. Do-Rite make gluten free donuts, fresh every day.
They’re your traditional yeast raised ring donuts, made fresh daily, and you can either have chocolate glazed, lemon and pistachio or cinnamon sugared. The donuts are stored and handled separately, minimising cross contamination concerns. I’d recommend you eat them asap after you buy them, because they are definitely best fresh. Plus why would you want to wait?
We ate ours whilst waiting to board our architecture cruise and it was a transcendent experience. Beautiful.
I really need a #glutenfree donut in my life right now. Click To Tweet
At 233 E Erie St there’s limited outdoor seating and maybe a bar stool or two indoors, but the space is usually occupied with waiting customers. There weren’t any loos that I saw.
However there are seats outdoors and it’s covered, so you can eat here rain or shine whilst watching the goings-on at the hospital opposite.
You can order ahead which I’d recommend if you’re after gluten free donuts, as they sell out quickly. We had the last donut at 10.30 on a weekday.
If you order ahead, you can choose what topping you want – I was keen on vanilla glazed, and they were quite happy to accommodate this in my order.
233 E Erie St
50 W Randolph Street
This is a food stand inside the Chicago French Market, which is inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center. There are heaps of fresh food stands to choose from, but we went straight to FliP Crepes because they offer gluten free crepes. They serve gluten-full waffles too, if you can eat them. The crepes were made in front of us, quickly and expertly, and we could choose from a wide range of fillings.
I went with the original and best, lemon and sugar. With an extra dusting of icing sugar on the outside. It was delicious.
There’s nowhere to sit in the market itself, but you can sit out in the main part of the station at some tables and chairs which were clean and tidy. You just have to put up with the constant platform announcements.
You can use the station loos which are free and serviceable (just with the giant door gaps. Whyyy).
Technically 131 N Clinton St, but look for the Chicago French Market signs and go from there.
This might seem a strange inclusion but popcorn is a great gluten free snack if you’re on the go, and there are outlets all over the city. There are various delicious flavours on offer, you can try before you buy, and for a popcorn fiend like me it was brilliant. It seems to be somewhat of an institution, with presentation gift tins and memorabilia on store. I saw plenty of folk walking around with Garrett bags so I’m obviously not the only one who was a fan. I thought the popcorn was delicious, although my small bag probably contained my own body weight in butter so consider that your friendly health warning for the day.
Okay so this one is cheating a little bit, but we ate a pizza from Giordano’s at the top of the Willis Tower. The pizza was pretty good, but we went for the views. I’d like to try Giordano’s again, just in case eating in the actual restaurant is a better food experience, however if I went back I’d definitely be angling for a gluten free deep dish which Giordano’s don’t do.
You can’t really class this as fine dining but there’s always a place for Chipotle in my heart. It’s good food, you know what you’re getting, and they’re good at gluten free. I picked up a burrito bowl to take on the Amtrak train in case there wasn’t food, which turned out to be a wise choice. More on that to come.
Locations: Various, city wide. I went to the one right next to the Amtrak Union station and it was absolutely packed with workers at lunch time, so don’t go then.
I had to go and get another bag of their gluten free chocolate cookies. It was a must.
This place has some gluten free options but the menu is a bit confusing, and it’s not immediately clear what’s safe and what isn’t. We ultimately chose to go somewhere less confusing to eat (what can I say, we can be dense early in the morning) but if we were feeling more put together next time I’d give it a go.
This restaurant serves gluten free pizza and pasta, which sounded promising. It’s more of a sit down with tablecloths type of job, and as you might have been able to tell, we were in a casual dining mood this time. Apart from the whole Skydeck thing. Anyway, after that blowout we were watching our $$ so we skipped this one this time. If we went back I’d be keen to give it a go, though.
I hear there are amazing gluten free empanadas here, but it was a metro ride away from us and we preferred to go places in walking distance. Also I’m not sure if they cater for individual customers or only bulk orders, their website’s not overly clear. Another one for next time, with further investigation.
Here we have another great option for breakfast, with gluten free pancakes and waffles. However this was also a bit too far out, so we missed out.
Deep dish gluten free pizza! The Chicago icon. I’d have really loved to visit this, but again this one was just too far out for us this time. I’m really keen to go back though, especially after Sarah’s recommendation.
So, have you ever been to Chicago? Anything I ought to add to my list?