Gluten free Chicago, USA

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.

Snap Kitchen

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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.

Top tips

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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.

Locations

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

Lyfe Kitchen

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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:

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

And S had fish tacos which quite frankly looked like a party on a plate.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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.

Top Tips

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

Locations

413 N Clark St
259 E Erie Street
831 N State St
1538 N Clybourn Ave

Brightwok Kitchen

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!

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

The food was delicious, good value and filling. We went back twice because we’d enjoyed it so much.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

Yes we ate with forks. Because we’re total amateurs.

Top Tips

There’s one loo for customers and it’s pretty good.

They’re open til 8pm Monday-Saturday, so not super late.

Location

21 E Adams St

Do-Rite Donuts

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?

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

We ate ours whilst waiting to board our architecture cruise and it was a transcendent experience. Beautiful.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

I really need a #glutenfree donut in my life right now. Click To Tweet

Top Tips

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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.

Locations

233 E Erie St
50 W Randolph Street

FliP Crepes

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.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

I went with the original and best, lemon and sugar. With an extra dusting of icing sugar on the outside. It was delicious.

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

Top Tips

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).

Location

Technically 131 N Clinton St, but look for the Chicago French Market signs and go from there.

Garrett Popcorn Shops

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.

Giordano’s 

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.

Honorable mentions:

Chipotle

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.

Trader Joe’s

I had to go and get another bag of their gluten free chocolate cookies. It was a must.

Next time:

Wildberry

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.

Francesca’s

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.

Cassava

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.

Jam ‘n Honey

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.

Chicago’s Pizza

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?

-Rachel

Linking up with Van, Marcella, Lauren and Isabel  for Wanderlust Wednesday

Looking for gluten free food in Chicago? I've got everything from stir fry to donuts. You won't go hungry!

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33 Comments

  1. 11th October 2016 / 19:42

    oh my goodness, this post has seriously made me reassess my christmas plans…I may have to stop off in Chicago on my way home!! I’m so glad you got to Do Rite Donuts – I went there with my mom yeeears ago, we ordered six donuts, and ate them all that day!! And I’m glad Wild Berry is on your future list 🙂 It might actually be my favorite place to eat in Chicago (for brunch at least…and that is the best meal of the day…). There aren’t actually a ton of options but they do have buckwheat pancakes that are soooo good, you don’t need any other options!

    • 11th October 2016 / 19:50

      (Also thanks for the shout out 🙂 )

  2. Jen
    11th October 2016 / 19:53

    So many amazing places are in Chicago!!! It is definitely on my bucket list now!

  3. 11th October 2016 / 23:04

    I loooove Chicago. I grew up about an hour away in Wisconsin, and two of my best friends live there currently, so we always have fun checking out great places to eat in the city. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Chicago Diner had gluten free options. It’s our favorite vegetarian spot!

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:13

      Oh how lucky to have such a cool place nearby! Finding new places to eat is one of my favourite things to do so I was in my element in Chicago. I’ll definitely check out the Chicago Diner if I return, which hopefully I will, because how can you not love Chicago?

  4. 12th October 2016 / 01:52

    I’m so glad that you got to eat so much delicious gluten free food 🙂 YUM! I love the look of ‘BRIGHTWOK KITCHEN’… it looks delicious!

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:22

      Oh it was amazing. I was such a happy chappy the entire time. Especially with those donuts! Brightwok was great, really laid back but great food. And good value. And in a pretty cool bit of town. Just all round great!

  5. 12th October 2016 / 02:44

    Wow, so many great options, this is a really helpful list, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:23

      I’m so glad you liked it! I’m hoping it’ll make other gluten free travellers very happy (and less worried about travelling somewhere new!)

  6. 12th October 2016 / 10:03

    These all looks too good, so happy to see the many options you get!

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:23

      I did so well, which I was so surprised about. I thought Seattle would be the place to get gluten free food, but it was actually the other way around…

  7. 12th October 2016 / 12:59

    I actually just got back from Chicago! Brightwok sounds AWESOME!! We did have Giordano’s as well. I wasn’t disappointed. 😉 those donuts also look SO TASTY!!

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:24

      Oh yay! Did you have a good trip? Brightwok was excellent, I highly recommend it if you’re on for a return visit 🙂 I am so keen to find a deep dish gluten free pizza as that’s the one thing I feel I really missed out on. And the donuts… I still dream about them!

  8. 12th October 2016 / 13:51

    holy huge roundup of food options – great stuff! that donut and crepe may have made me black out from hunger and that they look delish. i have a place similar to the snap kitchen here where you can get all of the above (GF or not) and i just love how handy it is. just cant go all the time or i’d be broke 🙂

    xoxo cheshire kat

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:26

      Oohhhhh yeah. If there’s one thing I like, it’s food. I spent a lot of time looking up where I could eat before we went out (and then left most of it behind in my disorganised packing mess, sigh) so I’m hoping I can save someone else a few minutes 🙂 Sorry this post had an adverse effect on your health! Maybe I should put a health warning at the top..? Yeah snap kitchen was very spendy. I was all ready to go mad and then I looked at prices and was like…hang on….

  9. 12th October 2016 / 17:21

    I really like the concept of Snap Kitchen. Perfect if you’re in a hurry!

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:27

      It’s just so convenient! Kind of like a ready meal but so healthy. I also liked how they had everything in there in case you just needed to eat and go. I’m really surprised it wasn’t more busy.

  10. 12th October 2016 / 18:51

    I’m so glad that you were able to find food that you liked and enjoyed while you were in Chicago! Snap Kitchen is really all over the United States (we have them here in Texas too!) and they’re a great option for trying to eat healthier during the week. It is pricey though.

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:29

      Ohhh that’s good to know. I hoped they were a chain because I love the concept (just not the price). I did see that you could buy a gift card though, which would be such a great present for students/new mums/relocating folk. It just might not go extremely far! I think on balance it’s a good place to fall back on if you suddenly find yourself in a help I’ve got no food situation, rather than somewhere you can really eat all day every day…

  11. 12th October 2016 / 19:56

    Your gluten free lists are always the best! So comprehensive and so much information! I’m not even gluten free, but would try so many of these places! Those donuts look delish! Such a great resource for gluten free travelers and anyone for that matter! 😀

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:30

      Thanks Lauren! I really do hope it helps someone, gluten free or not, and maybe encourages other gluten free people to visit Chicago because it’s actually a great place to eat gluten free. And the donuts were just as good as they look 🙂

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:30

      Awesome! I hope it helps. And I hope you do get out one day, it’s a really cool city. And then maybe bring me back a donut?

  12. 14th October 2016 / 00:42

    Looks like you found some great places! I’m not gluten free but I just love getting ideas of food places to visit (when I eventually make my way to the US one day! haha)
    xx

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:31

      I hope it helps! I liked that although a few of these places are exclusively gluten free, they don’t make a big thing about it so actual normal people will go and eat there as well 😉 Good luck on planning for the dream trip!

  13. 14th October 2016 / 01:07

    Definitely saving this post! Chicago is only a few hours away from me 🙂

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:32

      Aha! Let me know if you try any of them, I’m interested to hear how they stack up to the other non-gluten free dining options!

  14. 14th October 2016 / 19:02

    oh wow, the snap kitchen place sounds great but the brightwok looks AMAZING. i want somewhere like that. i much prefer asian style food vs chipotle style food. and the chopstick art is brilliant, and i am okay with chopsticks staying on the wall and sticking with the forks. haha!

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:34

      Brightwok was great, very nutritious and delicious and the whole place being gluten free made it worry free! Also rare to find an Asian restaurant that was entirely gluten free, whereas it’s quite common with Mexican food, so it felt like more of a find. I’m not sure how authentic the food was but I really don’t care – it was so tasty! I’ve decided I need more casual type dining places in my life. Something in between fast food and places you have to get dressed up to go to!

  15. 14th October 2016 / 21:43

    I’ve never been to Chicago, but I really want to go for that deep dish pizza! Yum! We have a chain near me called Nancy’s that does it, but they don’t do it as well as I would imagine Chicago does.

    Most everything on your list sounds good except… Chipotle. Ew. This is the chain we’re talking about right? I avoid this place like the plague. I think they had an outbreak of salmonella or something earlier this year. (I forget what it was. Either way, I just avoid it.)

    I love the make your own stir-fry restaurants. (We have a similar one near me.) And that donut/crepe look magnifique! 🙂

    Now to decide what I will eat for dinner…

    (Looking forward to seeing your post about Amtrak. I wrote about it here (http://aandj8804.blogspot.com/2015/09/amtrak-101.html) and it will be interesting to see if you have the same type of experience as I did.

    • 15th October 2016 / 22:39

      I think I need to go back for deep dish pizza! I’ve heard it’s not the same anywhere else, so I’m kind of kicking myself that we didn’t venture out of the main bit of town in search of pizza. I will definitely travel far for good food.

      Yes I do mean that Chipotle – I think it was E. coli? Or possibly norovirus? Ehhh, no it’s not fine dining but it’s gluten free and that’s rare to find in fast food restaurants. I needed food I could take on the train for an emergency (in case the Amtrak food wasn’t gluten free, which was REALLY HARD to ascertain before getting on board) and it fitted the bill. I decided to risk life and gut for a square meal and it was fine. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to fellow travellers though!

      Amtrak posts coming right up! In short I loved it. I just went and read your post, we had a sleeper situation so was a little different to yours but a lot of what you said rang true.

  16. 16th October 2016 / 11:45

    Um, those doughnuts look amazing. You are absolutely right, how could you wait to eat one — just look at those! Yum!

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