Where to Eat Gluten-Free in NYC
These restaurants and bakeries go against the grain by offering great gluten-free dishes in New York City.
©DANIEL KRIEGER PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo By: Brittany Sturrett Photography LLC
Gluten-Free in NYC
Dining out can be difficult for those with gluten intolerance. A protein mixture found in wheat and other grains like barley and rye, gluten appears throughout many menus. Beyond bread, pasta and fried foods, it appears in most soy sauces and many marinades and sauces, but can also affect food through cross-contamination in busy kitchens. But several restaurants and bakeries are going above and beyond to offer great gluten-free dining in New York City.
Photo courtesy of The Little Beet
The saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." But what happens when you open a Roman pizzeria on the Lower East Side? A mash-up, of course. In a mix of Italian sophistication and Downtown New York industrial chic, Pala blends the best of the Old World with the new in an airy indoor-outdoor space open to the street via roll-up garage door. The regular pies are strictly from the motherland, with fresh toppings (think buffalo mozzarella, butternut squash and black summer truffle) and a lofty, crisp crust. Owner Gigio Palazzo also offers an entire section of the menu dedicated to gluten-free diners with pies, pasta and antipasto. The kitchen works hard to eliminate risk of cross-contamination: The restaurant has separate tools and a separate pizza station housed in a second downstairs kitchen. Vegan pies are available, too.
The Little Beet
When Franklin Becker opened his first location of The Little Beet, he had a simple philosophy in mind: to serve real food deliciously. At that, he has succeeded. The fast-casual mini-chain serves dishes made from local, seasonal, natural ingredients that are 100 percent gluten-free — or, as they say, "100 percent guiltin' free." With five quick-serve locations and one high-end incarnation, the restaurant group serves diners of all dietary persuasions hearty, flavorful dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mornings center around quinoa oatmeal and egg whites with roasted peppers, caramelized onions and feta in a brown rice wrap. Later on, options include sandwiches, like the B.L.A.T. with bacon, pickled leeks, avocado and tomato. And there's a popular "Sushi" salad with brown rice, radish, cucumber, toasted seaweed, avocado and ginger-miso dressing.
Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC
In 2005, Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC — formerly called BabyCakes — debuted on the Lower East Side with two rules: "Create a bakery free of harmful ingredients" and "Wear cute uniforms." It has succeeded at both. Every pastry sold within its walls is 100 percent gluten-free, GMO-free and vegan. No soy is used, but soy is processed in a facility that handles the bakery's flour, sourced from Bob's Red Mill. Agave nectar and evaporated cane juice are used in moderation for sweetening. Nearly anyone with allergies or strict dietary restrictions can indulge in chocolate chip cookie sandwiches with double chocolate chip mint filling, blueberry crumb cake, rotating varieties of doughnuts, carrot cupcakes with vanilla frosting and Big Frosty Fun, vegan soft-serve with a choice of toppings. The place even makes beautiful wedding cakes. And the friendly staff looks darned good while dishing everything out.
Like a Venezuelan Chipotle, this East Village fast-casual joint spotlights one of the South American country's sandwiches of choice, arepas. Composed of flat patties made from corn dough that are somewhat reminiscent of an English muffin, arepas are stuffed with a wide selection of fillings, and they are completely devoid of wheat. Mimicking the arepas of her native Maracay, owner Monica Muzzo offers a vast selection of fillings, such as coconut lamb, lobster salad, chicken, avocado, tomato and watercress. Muzzo offers DIY arepas and cachapas (thicker, pancake-like corn cakes) as well as a number of specialties. Predesigned options range from the Thai with curry shrimp to the Pabellón with shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains and soft Guayanés cheese — essentially Venezuela's national dish. Some of the finger foods are not GF-friendly, but they're prepared off-site.
The Butcher's Daughter
Vegetarian fare and juices get a fanciful promotion in this Instagram-ready space. With white walls, natural woods and floor-to-ceiling windows, the original Nolita outpost is light, with an organic feel. It's just as healthy as it is visually appealing: The constantly changing menu, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, is 100 percent vegetarian and non-dairy. Most of the menu is vegan and much of it is gluten-free. There are separate prep areas for wheat-free dishes. Fill up on creative fare like tacos verdes on romaine lettuce tortillas, raw pesto linguine made from zucchini, and vegan bangers and mash. During the warmer months, the cafe opens its serene-for-Manhattan sidewalk terrace. A new West Village location was added recently, offering more options for satisfying gluten-free eats.
Drawing upon the advice of doctors, ancestral health gurus and health coaches, this paleo-friendly haven aims to fill NYC's gap in preindustrial fare. Everything on the menu adheres to the caveman method of eating. That means meat, fish, produce and fruit, and little else: no processed ingredients, and minimal dairy and grains. Absolutely no gluten is found anywhere on the premises. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the place boasts a wide array of prepared healthful dishes, ranging from a pumpkin maca parfait and GF nut-berry oatmeal in the morning, to wild line-caught tuna salad and 100 percent grass-fed meatloaf for dinner. The place has expanded quickly. It debuted its first location in Union Square in 2012, and followed up with an equally successful Upper East Side outpost in 2015.
New York City-style Italian food may be comforting, but it’s certainly not GF-friendly. That is, unless you dine at this Greenwich Village place. Its name translates as "without gluten," and Chef Jemiko L. Solo opened the restaurant with the idea that "no one should have to miss out on flavor, texture or delicious options" because of an intolerance to wheat. The menu features a wide selection of traditional fare such as bruschetta, caprese, grilled filet mignon and veal milanese with arugula, tomatoes, roasted red potatoes, lemon and shaved Parmesan. The real draw, however, is the carbs, with safe-to-eat variations of lasagna, fettuccine alla Bolognese and spaghetti alle vongole. Everything is paired with a selection of wine and gluten-free beer and spirits.
Don't let the name of this place keep you away from this Southern favorite: Executive Chef Jonathan Lemon offers a wide selection of gluten-free dishes. Lemon keeps separate pans on hand to prevent cross-contamination, meaning diners can fill up on supper plates like Creole shrimp 'n' grits with crawfish and andouille pork. Skillet-seared striped bass is dusted with cornmeal, resulting in a nicely browned — and flour-free — crust. While your friends stuff their faces with duck-fat-infused biscuits and fried chicken, enjoy the fire-roasted bird, marinated with herbs and served with wilted greens and braised leeks.
Named after the Timna Valley in Israel and an ancient Yemeni Incense-Rute city, this modern Israeli restaurant draws influences from all across the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. A native of Israel with Moroccan heritage, Chef Nir Mesika brings a unique sensibility to his fare, weaving in influences from around the globe. Though his flavors are far-flung, he makes much of the menu in-house, including cheeses, breads, spicy harissa and ice cream. Many of the dishes on the flavorful menu are gluten-free. Although wheat is served on the premises, diners with serious intolerances can request that separate pans be used for the cooking process. Nosh on Mediterranean sashimi, Ceviche a la Shuk, Bedouin chicken and cauliflower that's cooked sous vide, then flash-fried and served with artichokes, dried grapes, puffed lentils and curry-infused yogurt.
Photo courtesy of Michael Tulipan
Launched in 2013, this farm-focused, 99.9 percent gluten-free pizzeria has quickly been gaining devoted fans for its reliable offerings: The only non-GF dish is the homemade ravioli of the day, prepared in a separate kitchen. The concept now has three locations, one in the West Village, one in Park Slope and a third set in an idyllic Williamsburg greenhouse. Regulars clamor for savory dishes like chicken Parm, dessert pizza, flourless chocolate cake and Wild White pie with mozzarella, ricotta, truffle oil and cracked pepper. Brunch follows the same comforting theme, with a prix-fixe menu including an entree and choice of coffee, tea, sangria, mimosa or Bellini. Break the fast with truffle and poached-egg pizza, wild blueberry or banana pancakes, or tofu scramble.