This one goes out to all of our gluten-free readers out there. Our Wheat-Weary Warriors. Our Guar Gum Googlers. Our Fearless Free-From Friends. Okay, we’ll stop now, but seriously, eating gluten-free is hard. It requires regular rounds of inspecting dish ingredients Sherlock style, sad bun-free burgers, and seemingly spending half your salary on Amy’s Kitchen ready-meals. That’s why we’ve made you this guide to everything from Saturday morning pancake spots to date-ready pasta restaurants that don’t just have plenty of gluten-free options, but gluten-free options that you’ll actually be excited to eat. Enjoy.
*_A little small print: Some of these restaurants have entirely gluten-free kitchens and are approved for coeliac diners. But some might have minor cross-contamination going on. We’re sorry. You know the deal, check before you dine._8
GLUTEN-FREE BRUNCH SPOTS
As fun as spending your Saturday morning in the gluten-free aisle screaming ‘THREE-BLOODY-QUID FOR A SCOTCH PANCAKE’ is, we have a feeling that brunch at Where The Pancakes Are will be better. Why? Because it is a place entirely dedicated to the best of the beige foods, they have some swell outdoor seating, and they have gluten-free batter available. Open from 9am until 6.30 at weekends, get yourself a carafe of mimosa too. Why? Come on, it’s a carafe of mimosa.
First off, props to Granger & Co. for having one of the most thorough allergen menus of all-time. We salute them, and more importantly, we salute how tasty their brunch options are. As well as your egg and avocado classics, they also serve things like miso and brown rice porridge, jasmine tea hot smoked salmon, and of course, gluten free bread. Freshly squeezed OJ and Allpress coffee encouraged.
Farm Girl is one of those places where the menu reads sort of like a haiku entitled ‘Vitamins Are Our Friends’. We’re talking cacao nibs, toasted sesame, ginger, cardamom, candy beetroot, and something jolly called summer leaves cucumber. But amidst all of the herbs and hibiscus, you’ll find everything from sour cherry pancakes to spicy shiitake tacos, that are completely gluten-free. Follow up brunch with a very casual stroll around Portobello market. You sophisticate you.
GLUTEN-FREE PASTA SPOTS
Heroes come in many forms. Doctors. Teachers. Nurses. For you, cornstarch. And when you’re looking for a hero at a perilous time of crisis - getting a serious pasta craving on a Wednesday night - Pastaio has got your back. This bright and easy handmade pasta spot in Soho has a gluten-free penne that you can trade out with any of their other pastas, so it’s perfect whether you’re after a bolognese or a mussels, garlic, and ’nduja moment.
Locanda Locatelli is one of those restaurants where you’re 99% convinced that everyone eating around you is either a reigning editor of a broadsheet, related to Helen Mirren, or is in fact, Helen Mirren. It’s expensive. It’s pretty la-di-da. And it just so happens to be home to the best gluten-free pasta in London. With pasta so good that you’ll inevitably ask your suited server if it is ‘definitely gluten-free’ at least twice, this is the kind of fine dining Italian you hit up for a birthday or any special occasion that deserves a £40 bottle of wine.
Bancone is a no-brainer. Seriously, this little handmade pasta bar works for dates, mates, birthdays, and even miscellaneous occasions like ‘your flatmate that secretly eats your expensive yoghurts is leaving for six months and it’s time to celebrate’. One of our favourite places for a serious carbohydrate situation, you can swap out their regular pasta for a gluten-free alternative. Although it’s pretty busy here, you can always try their Covent Garden spot if their Soho restaurant is full.
GLUTEN-FREE PIZZA SPOTS
Gluten-free pizza falls into three categories. Edible cardboard, some form of cauliflower that has presumably been steamrolled into the shape of a pizza, and actually tasty. Theo’s is the latter. This Camberwell pizzeria not only has our hearts and lifelong commitment to their chilli sauce, but they make the best chewy Neapolitan style pizza in London. Heads up, they have a spot in Elephant and Castle too.
We would like to personally thank True Craft for saving one of our gluten-free flatmates from many a weep session with their pizzas. We’ve eaten them enough times to know that their free-from offerings are very nearly as good as their standard sourdough pizzas. Personally, we have a real soft spot for their balsamic pepper and mascarpone pizza, but their spicy nduja offering or pepperoni-heavy ‘The Legend’ won’t let you down either.
We’re not sure how Voodoo Ray’s manage to create such a good crust on a gluten-free pizza. Is it actual voodoo? We don’t know, and frankly, we do not care. Specialising in New York-style pizza - lovingly herein named ‘pies’ - you can get everything from a pepperoni number to a veggie green sauce situation. All of their 10-inch gluten-free pies are available from their restaurants in Dalston, Peckham, and Shoreditch, or you can get them delivered direct to your door.
GLUTEN-FREE BAKERIES & SWEET TREAT SPOTS
Cookies and Scream
Presumably named after the Wilhelm scream you produce every time someone tells you it’s ‘two-quid extra for the gluten-free alternative’, Cookies and Scream is an entirely vegan, gluten-free bakery in Islington. The look is strictly 50s vintage diner, the cookies are huge, and the brownies are borderline life-changing for anyone that’s experienced a dusty, dry wheat-free snack. Although you can just pop in and grab something to go, it’ll also work for a quick catch-up over one of their monster shakes.
Prestige Patisserie Bakery Garden
Sometimes we’ve theorised that the moisture in gluten-free bakes is meant to come from your own tears. Why are they so dry? Why must they crumble? Why aren’t all gluten-free bakes like the ones from Prestige Patisserie? This little Tottenham spot makes your classic aesthetically pleasing patisserie but they also have several gluten-free options including their triple chocolate brownie. P.S. They also have a cute little outdoor set up, and big-smiles service.
The Gluten Free Bakery
Good name, right? Straight to the point. In case you haven’t already guessed, The Gluten Free Bakery specialises in loaves and baked goods that are totally gluten free. Sort of like the Banksy of free-from bread, their loaves have popped up all over London, including at Eat 17, Panzer’s Deli, Daylesford Organic, Brickwood, and Greenspeares. Or if you’re looking to stay in, you can order everything from cinnamon bagels to big boxes of sourdough rolls online, directly from their South London bakery.
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH OPTIONS
Stems. Glory. Stems. Glory. Stems! Glory! We enjoy the mildly dramatic nature of the name of this all-day, all-vegan spot in the City. Their menu is packed full of things like big rainbow bowls, kimchi pancakes, swede gnocchi, and tofu yakitori. All of the above are that rare combination of kind-of-healthy and seriously filling, plus there’s only one thing on their allergy menu that isn’t gluten-free. Almond and pear crumble for dessert? Go for it.
Flour And Flowers
Now you might be thinking, you’re sending me to somewhere with flour in its name? You cruel bastards. Sorry, but please stay with us. Flour and Flowers is a bakery that also sells flowers and yes, going for lunch here does feel like you’re in a rom-com meet-cute. As well as serving what we like to refer to as ‘serious sandwich situations’, you’ll also find gluten-free sweet treats on their menu. Just in case you’re having ‘one of those days’, they also serve wine and cocktails throughout the day.
Apres Food Co
Three words. Gluten. Free. Buns. That’s right, not only is this little Clerkenwell spot a certified cutie, they serve everything from pork and caramelised apple burgers to slow cooked lamb shoulder curries that are free-from. And importantly, pretty tasty. A great option for anyone that enjoys lunch with a side of mighty fine foliage and dog-watching, this place is also an approved Coeliac UK venue.
GLUTEN-FREE DATE NIGHT SPOTS
It’s hard to really show off your best, most loving self whilst simultaneously ranting about the unnecessary use of wheat in sausages being more prevalent than chlamydia. Go ahead and table that conversation for another evening and enjoy a cute but casual dinner at Chicama. This Peruvian spot in Chelsea has a great little outdoor terrace, plenty of seafood, salads, and ceviche, but from our experience the best things here are the vegetable-heavy dishes.
The fact that Bubala’s tasting menu uses the initials ‘ngf’ - not gluten free - rather than your classic menu that appears to have ‘G’ next to every single dish, should fill you with confidence about this little restaurant in Spitalfields. We named it one of our Best New Restaurants of 2019, and one taste of their hummus or huge slabs of honey-covered halloumi and you’ll see why. The only thing on their £32 tasting menu that isn’t gluten free is the laffa bread, and come evening you can expect plenty of tealight candles and a cosy atmosphere.
When you’re looking for dinner and a show but have absolutely zero incentive to venture anywhere near the West End or adult humans dressed as cats, go to Abeno. This lovely Japanese spot in Bloomsbury specialises in okonomiyaki, and as soon as you walk in you’ll hear the sound of tasty things sizzling on each individual table’s hot plate. You can opt for their gluten-free dough for the full okonomiyaki experience, and it’s always a good shout if you’re after an activity that’ll mask any and all silences. Perfect.
BIG GROUP SITUATIONS WITH GLUTEN-FREE OPTIONS
Outside of David Attenborough documentaries and songs with the word ‘Funk’ in the title, it’s hard to find unanimous crowd-pleasers. But Dishoom is one of them. This ever-popular mini chain has a great ‘everyone welcome’ philosophy that applies to everything from the laid back atmosphere to their menu. As well as a huge gluten-free offering, they’ve also got dairy-intolerances and vegan options covered. Basically, they’ll cater to your whole group whether you’re there for a Bombay breakfast or late night cocktails.
Planning your group meals around whatever Schär products are in the reduced aisle is no way to live. Not when you could be eating chicken pachamanca and flambé beef fillet at Soho’s Ceviche. An excellent Peruvian restaurant that has plenty of sans gluten options and big pisco sour potential, you’ll all be merrily tipsy and sharing cassava fries in no time. Don’t skip the signature ceviche Peruano either.
Sure, you still don’t have the heart to tell your friends that the carrot cake they got you for your birthday was definitely not gluten-free, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend your catch-up nibbling a single lettuce leaf. Especially at Ceru, a bright, holiday-feel restaurant that specialises in modern Levantine dishes. We’re talking big lunch platters, citrus spiced chicken wings, and honestly, every meal we’ve had at Ceru has left us very full, very happy, and wondering whether we should paint our living room yellow.