“Spaghetti and meatballs sound absolutely delish…but can you make it gluten-free?” Once upon a time, I had the freedom to order whatever my tummy desired on the menu with no limitations due to dietary restrictions. But this all changed once I began following a gluten-free diet for medical reasons. If you’ve altered your diet to manage Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, enjoying food in New York City can seem impossible at times.
I may have had a mini food meltdown after learning I had to cut out gluten. New York City is home to the best restaurants in the country, making dining out with friends one of the most popular social activities. How does one comfortably experience a variety of tasty dining when gluten is the main ingredient in so many dishes? Does this mean no more grab-and-go slices of deliciously cheesy NYC pizza, bowls of saucy fettuccini from Little Italy, or hearty deli subs with two thick slices of crunchy rye bread?
All my gluten-free friends, you can let out a huge sigh of relief because the answer is “no.” Hungry for gluten-free friendly foods, I did some research. It turns out New York City is one of the best cities to start your gluten-free food journey! Finding appetizing substitutes for gluten can be tricky, but these restaurants have mastered the gluten-free world and will make you never miss wheat again!
Senza Gluten, translating to ‘without’ gluten, is a 100% gluten-free Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village. This restaurant is a dream come true for anyone managing Celiac because they use zero gluten-based products in the kitchen. One can never consume enough Italian food, so load up on all the comfort foods your heart desires. From crunchy bruschetta ai funghi, fluffy calamari fritti to traditional lasagna, they have all of the classics and more. Their corn-based pasta dressed in a choice of sauces from rich truffle oil sauce, fresh basil tomato sauce, or traditional meat sauce all looks absolutely delectable. To add gluten-free sweetness to any time of your day, Senza Gluten runs a bakery offering all sorts of delicious baked goods (ingredients are listed on the website). If you’re not local to NYC, you can have anything from homemade banana pecan bread to shortbread butter cookies delivered to your doorstep. Nummy!
If you don’t already have a reason to visit the Midtown East, you do now! Lilli and Loo is known to have some of the best gluten-free Asian fusion food in the city. I hope you’re hungry because almost every dish on the regular menu is also listed on the extensive gluten-free menu. Oriental pork dumplings, Pad Thai noodles, Thai basil chicken, rainbow volcano sushi roll: so many options it won’t seem like you have a dietary restriction when you dine at Lilli and Roo. Long no more for dumplings because Lilli and Loo have some of the best gluten-free oriental pork dumplings – a bite-sized moist and fluffy gluten-free encasing filled with seasoned pork.
Venture to the Upper West Side for brunch or dinner at the food-forward gastropub, Thyme, and Tonic. The restaurant offers a robust gluten-free menu that’s heavily plant-based and filled with nutrition. The adorable pink and green-themed menu has more than enough food genres to choose from without a gluten concern. The eclectic menu offers American, Mexican, and Asian fusion dishes filled with refreshing ingredients. Your order will be colorful, bursting with flavors, and Instagram picture-ready. Choose from the rainbow vegetable bowl to Mahi Mahi with avocado tomatillo salsa tacos to the Japanese garlic eggplant with sesame seeds. Even their mixed drinks will transcend you into a garden daydream. Get ready to escape the city streets and be swept into a lavender field while you sip a Rosemary’s Orchard (a mixed drink infused with cinnamon and lavender syrup).
Friedmans lives up to its title, “Gluten-Free Pioneers,” with a delectable menu filled with gluten-free substitutes. It turns out that one of the original pioneers had Celiac disease and wanted to create a safe food haven for those like herself – thank you! Who needs gluten anyway when you can feast on power-packed quinoa, crispy potato hash, heavenly mashed potatoes, and sweet potato fries soaked in blue cheese aioli? If I’m craving a sandwich with all the fixings, I know to go to Friedmans because I can devour all of the yummy goodness between two slices of gluten-free bread. Take a big bite of the savory Friedmans club sandwich and become lost in the layers of thick turkey, crispy bacon, sweet cranberry aioli, and creamy avocado. Check out Friedmans on Google maps because you’re sure to be closer than you think to one of their eight locations.
You don’t need to travel far from New York to marvel over delicious Indian cuisine infused with potent spices and gluten-free ingredients! Inday is a casual restaurant that’s menu is free of gluten, soy, and refined sugar, making it appealing for many diets. The restaurant is perfect for grab-and-go or when you need a quick pick me up between zoom calls. The scent of the aromatic spices in the chicken tikka masala and the burst of beet cashew dressing over turmeric roasted cauliflower will bring you to India. For a satisfying lunch, I recommend the golden chicken curry sprinkled with coconut crisps on top of a bed of your choice of basmati rice, cauli-quinoa, or mixed greens.
Everyone knows NYC is famous for its pizza. Now, all gluten-free pizza lovers can rave over this cheesy and saucy delight at Rubirosa. Upon request, Ruborisa provides a gluten-free menu with ooey gooey mozzarella sticks, cheesy cacio e pepe pasta, savory sausage, and broccoli rabe pizza. This pizza parlor is known for its enormous pizza pies that are large enough to feed an army of gluten-free lovers. There are ten unique pizzas made from gluten-free dough, making it challenging to pick your match. I’m currently eyeing the Bianca (a mashup of cheeses seasoned with garlic and sprinkled with oregano)! The inviting atmosphere and extensive menu (both regular and gluten-free menus available) make this the perfect Friday night spot to gather a group of friends in Nolita.