As the girlfriend of a gluten-free guy, I have learned a thing or two about dining out with a food allergy. Poor David, relegated to only a few items on a menu that he can actually eat watching as I scarf down a piece of foccaccia or piece of pie. Before we got into this relationship I expressed concern for us when eating out as I tend to eat everything in front of me and wondered if he would resent me if I didn’t shoo away the bread basket delivered to our table or scarfed down a plate of pasta in front of him.
But David, the understanding and wonderful man he is, has never said a peep! He has watched me eat what seems like thousands of items made with the ingredient that would make him suffer an allergic reaction without even giving me the stink eye. Now I know you are thinking, “McKenzie…. how could you! Have you lost your sensitivity chip!?” And yes I admit, as I write this I cannot believe that I eat food filled with gluten right in front of him, even when I know that his allergy was not known till he was 21 so he remembers what food with gluten tasted like. But we have come to an understanding and in the first months of our relationship I did everything I could to learn more about his allergy and let every waiter, chef, hostess know that we had an allergy on our hands.
As we head into domesticity (he moves in next month), it is imperative that I take his allergy into more consideration in my everyday life. So as I began to learn how to cook gluten-free, I also researched for dining options for him outside of our home. So this list comes from a lot of research on my part and I want to share it with you… a gluten allergy is more common than you think and is often not diagnosed so any one of us could too be suffering from this affliction.
In my research I have found that many gluten free items taste just as good, if not better than the regular stuff. I have already invested in a variety of gluten-free flours so that I can incorporate those into my favorite recipes. So without further ado, my picks for the best gluten-free dining in New York City!
Risotteria: Risotteria may be one of the more famous GF restaurants in the city. It is a gluten-free gal or guys heaven! Their breadsticks are to die for (I found myself asking for second and third helpings), and they offer a variety of GF foods for you to take home (frozen)!
S’Mac: At the restaurant devoted to all things mac n’ cheese, S’Mac allows any of their menu items (mac n’ cheeses) to be made gluten-free! My personal fave? The Napoletana, made with fresh Mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh basil. Yummy!
Tu-Lu’s Bakery: After a particularly intense trip to Buffalo Exchange on 11th Street, I made a beeline for the first sweet shop I could find and Tu-Lu’s was right next door! It wasn’t until I walked in that I noticed it was gluten-free but I was a ball of stress and anxiety at that moment and threw caution to the wind and promptly ordered a raspberry almond crumble muffin and snickerdoodle cookie. Tu-Lu’s saved my shopping sanity that day and will save your day too with their vast GF offerings!
Soft Serve Fruit Co.: I literally just talked about how much I love this place, and you will too when you get a taste of their soft serve. I highly recommend getting a swirl and “bringing it on” with a few of their all-natural toppings! It may be GF, but it’s also cholesterol free, dairy free and fat free!
The Meatball Factory: The newest restaurant devoted to the almighty meatball, The Meatball Factory offers up three GF meatballs to pair with six GF sauces!!!! This casual joint has something for everyone (many items are dairy free and a few are vegan) and is definitely worth a visit!
Pie by the Pound: Shortly after opening Pie, its owner discovered he had a gluten intolerance and quickly embarked on quest to bring his gluten-free lifestyle into the restaurant, thus offering gluten-free beers, sandwiches, desserts, and pizza!
Sambuca: This family-style Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side offers an entirely separate GF menu with over thirty different menu items! They also make their own GF dinner roll and brownie!
Bar Suzette: One of my favorite lunch spots when I worked in the Meatpacking District, this counter in Chelsea Market has GF crepe batter for use with any of their internationally inspired fillings!
Keste Pizza & Vino: This authentic Neapolitan Pizzeria in the West Village serves up GF pizza on Mondays and Tuesdays! Keste is also home to the official location in the USA for APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani) whose mission is to protect and preserve the Neapolitan pizza tradition and promote the art of pizza making. With credentials like that, you know it’s good!
Babycakes: This may be the most famous bakery of GF items in the city. I have a friend who picks up a bag of goodies everytime she visits and turned me onto this place years ago. They have since expanded to Los Angeles and Orlando and offer GF cupcakes, cakes, bread loafs, cookies, crumb cakes, muffins, brownies, biscuits, and pies!!!
Bistango: One of Manhattan’s best kept secrets for GF and non-GF dining, Bistango is a great Italian restaurant in Murray Hill that offers tasty GF pastas, ravioli, pizza, bread, desserts and beer.