I lived and worked in New York for over five years, though my job as a lawyer meant I didn’t have much free time to explore. As cities go, it will always feel like home regardless of where my life takes me. Every year, I return for meetings and meetups, and get to eat my way through the gluten free offerings in New York.
When I first started living here as a summer associate, I was not yet diagnosed as a celiac. I returned following law school with a diagnosis and a newfound care for what I ate. In the decades since, I’ve watched sparse celiac-friendly options turn into huge offerings for those of us who can’t eat gluten. And with those newfound dedicated gluten free spots also came a much greater awareness of the disease in the general population.
I’m grateful that newly diagnosed celiacs don’t have as much of an upward climb in terms of awareness and ingredients as I did many years ago. I wanted to share picks for the best gluten free New York restaurants so you can enjoy one of my favourite cities on earth with less stress.
Gluten Free New York Restaurants: Includes Bakeries, Lunch Spots, Great Dinners, and More. Last update: August 24, 2021
I rarely wrote about having celiac disease when I started this site, as the focus was not food. Now that food figures prominently, I get more and more questions about travel with food restrictions. It’s part of why I dedicated a full chapter to food allergies in my book, and started my own celiac guides and translation cards for travelers. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included other resources for those wanting to visit New York as a celiac.
Red highlights = 100% gluten free
I visit New York every year, so this post is a living tree and I update with additional restaurants and bakeries, as well as newcomers to the gluten free dining scene. The first 10 here are places I loved during my summer visits.
1. La Esquina. Go on a nice day. Order from the takeout window (prices are different for their seated cafe) and sit across the street in the park. Warning: you might need to fight off pigeons whilst eating. My favourites: Carnitas tacos (below), chicken tinga tacos, elote. Staff was very knowledgeable about gluten free eating, and celiac disease.
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2. Kesté Pizza & Vino. This place remains my favourite pizza in New York. Pizza is a controversial NY topic, and people have many opinions about what style is best. For celiacs, we’ve got a lot less to choose from. But this place is incredible. With a dedicated gluten free kitchen, separate pizza cutters, fluffy crusts that will make you smile, and a delicious menu for everyone – this is truly a can’t miss pizza spot in the city. For a change, try the Mast’Nicola, a white pizza with olive oil and basil, or the decadent Burrata Roberto, with their own homemade burrata, grape tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. All of the pizzas on the menu can be made celiac-safe and gluten free, and they’ve also got gluten free pasta dishes if you prefer. But why would you, when pizza like this is at your fingertips?! Kesté has two locations, Bleeker street and Fulton Street, with online ordering available.
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Kesté was highly recommended for gluten free pies, and they didn’t disappoint. We ordered four to choose from and I can’t wait to have the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow! Celiacs: they not only have a separate kitchen to prepare the gluten free pies, but they even have a separate oven to cook them in. Absolutely delicious!
3. Kotobuki. A delicious sushi spot in the east village. Tell your waiter or waitress that you are celiac and they will bring you gluten-free soy sauce. FYI, at the time of eating here their spicy mayo also has a bit of soy so for those who are celiac—definitely avoid it! I often went at lunchtime and got their lunch special sashimi platter. It comes with 10 pieces of sashimi, salmon carpaccio, and their house ‘UFO’ roll, which is riceless.
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4. Pho Bang. After years of living in Vietnam, I usually aim for a ‘fix’ when I’m back in New York Great banh cuon (steamed rice crepe with wood ear mushrooms and pork), and a wide variety of pho to choose from. Menu not marked as GF, so consult my Gluten Free Guide to Vietnam for dishes that are usually safe and unsafe, to confirm with restaurant staff.
5. Mermaid Inn. It’s not a New York list without an oyster happy hour, now is it? One of my favourite things to do in town, as I prefer east coast oysters to those from the west coast. Mermaid Inn’s happy hour menu (daily from 5pm-7pm, including weekends) has $1 oysters and a variety of bar snacks. Sadly the bar snacks are all breaded, but that just means more oysters for you. And wine.
Notes: If this doesn’t do it for you, here is a list of the best Oyster Happy Hours in New York.
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Hu Kitchen What to order: I couldn’t decide between the Hu bowl and the Thai chicken, so I asked for half and half. While it took some convincing (“wait, you want BOTH?”)…success! And a great combination with a quinoa base and topped with almonds and cilantro.
Hu Kitchen no longer serves food, so I’ve replaced this option with….
6. Thyme and Tonic, a 100% gluten free gastropub that serves weekend brunches, dinner the rest of the week, and has a happy hour menu to accompany a rotating, seasonal cocktail list. The menu is entirely gluten free, made from scratch, and mostly nut free. They focus on plant-based options, but some dishes have dairy, eggs, and fish. The majority of the menu is GF and vegan, however. Communicate any other restrictions to the restaurant staff when you go.
7. ‘Smac. Not the healthiest of options, but their gluten free 4-cheese macaroni is heavenly and will fill you up for the day. After a lot of testing and experimentation, they modified some core ingredients they use in their foods to allow anything from their menu to be ordered gluten free. They’ve removed flour from the bechamel sauce, breadcrumbs are with gluten free corn flakes, and they use brown rice elbow macaroni noodles for orders that are gluten free. While this is not a 100% GF kitchen, the staff are well aware of how to prepare the dishes safely.
8. Friedman’s Lunch. This original Chelsea Market staple now has locations around town, and has a very delicious BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich on gluten-free bread) that I dream of. The original store opened in 2009 in the Chelsea Market. The location is 100% gluten free and yes, that includes the pancakes, the waffles, and the fried chicken.
What to order: Their green curry fried rice and their pad Thai were both fabulous.
Sadly Ngam Thai is also closed. I’ve replaced it with a different Thai restaurant also in Manhattan:
9. Thai Direct Bowls, offers rice bowls of Penang curry, green curry, spicy basil pork, and more. The owners are Thai, and the food is non-GMO and low in sugar. The restaurant confirmed by email that the entire spot is 100% gluten free, using no MSG, GF soy sauce and oyster sauce (Kikkoman, Tamari and Lee Kum Kee), and dairy free ingredients. Dine-In, takeout or delivery.
10. Cha An Teahouse. Don’t miss my favourite tea on earth, Pu’er tea (below – the brick, not the leaves). Also to try: their black sesame creme brulee which can be made gluten free by omitting the wafer they usually put on top of it. The black sesame creme brulee is perhaps the single best dessert I’ve ever had in NYC, which may be controversial in a city of desserts. I don’t love chocolate, so this hit all the boxes for me. Cha An’s lunch sets are also customizable to be gluten free, and they will be able to help you understand what is safe on their menu. The spot is a quiet oasis in the middle of the city, and one of my preferred places to grab lunch.
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11. Another Vietnamese spot, albeit less traditional, is Eat Bonmi, with quinoa or bun vermicelli noodle bowls inspired by Vietnamese flavours. Their menu is clearly marked for gluten free dishes, and the lemongrass sauce should not be missed. All of their sauces are gluten free, though! Staff was knowledgeable about cross-contact.
12. French bakery NoGlu, has expanded from its gluten free Paris outposts to New York. As the name suggests, is a 100% gluten free bakery. It sells pastries, custards, breads, and much more. You won’t miss gluten one bit.
13. Italian gelateria Grom has opened two New York outposts, and your tastebuds deserve a try. ALL of the their ingredients are gluten free, and certified by the Italian celiac association. (More here about that).
14. Craving a rich, rice-based Italian meal? Risotteria Melotti is 100% gluten free, delicious, and worth a stop if you have the time. Try their shrimp and lemon risotto, or if you wanted a classic option, their mixed mushroom dish.
15. On the Upper West Side, newcomer (open May 2019) Le Gourmand NYC has organic, gluten free baked goods in a 100% gluten free facility. Croissants look fabulous, as do their innovative matcha pastry with mango and avocado.
16. Celebrity Israeli chef Nir Tzuk opened Arba (meaning 4 in Hebrew) in New York in 2019, also on the Upper West Side. It offers tasting menus and a-la-carte eating that is entirely gluten free. The restaurant isn’t narrowed to Israeli cuisine either, Tzuk notes. “This will not be an Israeli restaurant but a Mediterranean restaurant,” Tzuk says. “I have a feeling that people here are looking for food that has lots of vegetables, fish, olive oil. It will have the tastes that are cool in Israel without the cliché of hummus, fries and salad”. Hummus lovers can breathe easy, though – there’s still some hummus on their menu.
17. Senza Gluten has 100% gluten-free menu. I usually dine at places for both celiacs and non-celiacs, since most of my friends eat their gluten. But if you’re particularly worried or you’ve got more than one GF eater in tow, this is a good bet.
18. By the Way Bakery is completely gluten and dairy free, and Kosher, and the story is one close to my heart: former lawyer Helene Godin walked away from a 22-year career in the law to open a bakery in 2011. She didn’t know how to bake when she first quit, and now has a thriving business with four locations.
19. Bareburger will make any of its burgers on a GF bun, with knowledge of celiac disease and care in the kitchen.
20. Gluten free and kosher brunch? Start at Modern Bread and Bagel on Columbus. Shakshuka, bagels, burgers, soups and sandwiches, all 100% gluten free in New York. Kosher or not, the food is fabulous and the owner, Orly, has an interesting story about why she developed her own gluten free flour here. They also do catering, for those who are interested in hosting an event that has celiac-safe food.
21. Lilli and Loo has a full gluten-free Chinese food menu, including pork dumplings.
22. Erin McKenna’s Bakery (formerly Babycakes NYC) is an option for those with a sweet tooth — I love their mint cupcakes. All their baked goods are gluten free, vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, and with no refined sugar.
23. Great Vietnamese food, with quality ingredients and delicious combinations, at Bricolage on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. I got the grilled shrimp vermicelli bowl, and a friend tried the banh xeo sizzling rice pancake. Staff knowledgeable about what was safely gluten free, as well as about cross-contact. Both were delicious.
24. Wild opened an outpost in Park Slope for great gluten-free pizzas. They’ve also got gluten-free pastas on offer.
Great Turkish & Mediterranean food at IstanbulPark (their adana skewers = great stuff). Also in Park Slope. CLOSED.
25. Posh Pop Bake Shop, 100% gluten free bakery offering cookies, pies, cakes, donuts, snack bars, brownies, and more. Located in the West Village on Bleeker.
26. Healthy protein bowls, local ingredients, delicious dressings. Sweet Green has locations all over NYC and if one is nearby, it’s worth a stop for a quick lunch.
27. The Ace Hotel’s John Dory oyster bar has a happy hour, with 1/2 off glasses of wine and $2 oysters, 5-7pm Monday through Friday.
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One of the best parts about being in NY during the summer months: a ton of oyster happy hours, most of them 1$ east coast oysters. With many spots in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and friends who are similarly bivalve-obsessed, I’ve enjoyed a lot of great oysters these last few months. So good!
28. Brunch at Littleneck is reasonably-priced and they even have poutine! (The poutine isn’t GF, sorry celiacs). I went to the 3rd ave location.
29. Gluten free corn arepas with a variety of stuffings and some fried plantains to boot. Great options at the Arepa Factory in the East Village, and now with an added location in Columbus Circle.
30. Cheap, vegetarian and delicious South Indian food at Temple Canteen in Flushing, and their menu clearly marks which dishes are GF. Dosa to die for. Worth the trip!
Midtown Lebanese joint Souk & Sandwichhas char-grilled meats, dips, and lots of salads. If you’re celiac make sure you mention no tabouli nor any pita; I brought my own crackers for dipping. CLOSED
31. Elegant Japanese spot Nami Nori opened in 2019, and is entirely gluten free (see here for their menu), offering fried calamari with rice-flour batter (instead of traditional tempura), sushi, and a vegan sushi set for those who are both vegan and gluten free.
32. Another option for sushi: Rolln is exactly what it sounds like: a sushi roll spot, and it too is 100% gluten free. Even their teriyaki sauce is house-made and 100% safe for celiacs. Located on E 23rd street, it’s an easily-accessible spot for a short or long New York visit.
33. Dale View Biscuits & Beer‘s chef and brewer Christopher Gandsy grew up in Dale View, South Carolina and decided to bring a taste of home to his Brooklyn restaurant. The hashtag on the site uses is #madewithlovenotgluten – and the food is 100% gluten free. They’ve got biscuits and chicken, pulled pork, and some vegetarian options too. Southern food often has a lot of wheat, so this is a great option for those wishing they could enjoy it without getting sick. Note that the beers are not gluten free, which is a bit odd for a fully GF establishment. They do have NY wines on offer, however. Online orders via their website.
34. Spring Bone Kitchen has slow cooked meat, paleo bowls, and heaps of delicious, flavourful options for lunch and dinner. A bit kitschy on the concept but bone broth is superbly healthy and we’re the country that’s late to the game. Delicious.
35. I ate at Little Beet Table for the first time, during my last New York visit. It is not only delicious and healthy, but also 100% gluten free. With restaurants in New York and Chicago, the establishment follows a strictly seasonal menu, crafting beautiful dishes with whatever is grown at the moment. A healthy way to eat.
36. Cheska’s is a 100% gluten free pizzeria with crust from either cauliflower or sweet potato. They’ve got a limited menu, but it’s guaranteed to be safe for celiacs.
37. Claro, in Brooklyn, will meet any cravings for Mexican and then some. The chef TJ Steele is a long-time traveler to my former home of Oaxaca, and his menu is a love letter to Oaxacan food. He’s also designed the restaurant to reflect some of the architecture and art of the region, including the dinnerwear from Santa María Atzompa in the Oaxacan valley. The menu includes tlayudas, memelas and tostadas, all cooked on a comal; tastes from a home I really miss. They are a 100% gluten free establishment, their meat and produce is organic and locally-sourced, and they’re using Oaxacan criollo corn, stone ground in-house, for their tortillas. (All their cheeses and sausages are also made in-house.)
38. For another spot with Mexican food, this time on Manhattan, see Cosme. This one is not entirely gluten free, but most of their menu is as they use traditional corn tortillas and ingredients that are naturally without gluten. Their staff are well-versed in celiac disease and are able to assure diners that cross-contact is not a concern given the very few items containing gluten from their menu. As with sister restaurant Pujol in Mexico City, this is an upscale but extremely artistic and delicious experience.
39. On the Upper West Side, there’s TAP NYC, a restaurant whose acronym stands for Tapioca crepe, Açaí, & Pão de queijo — all delicious foods from Brazil. The menu is 100% gluten free, and focuses on those three main categories, with stuffed “wrapioca” meals or folded tapioca crepes, stuffed cheese breads (so good!) and healthy fruit bowls with acaí and pitaya (dragon fruit).
40. Wei West is an option where your group wants Asian food but can’t choose a specific country’s dishes. The restaurant has sushi, sashimi, fried noodles and rice, stir fries and a lot more. I don’t tend to go this route as I usually have a specific dish in mind, but if you wanted an extensive gluten free menu, they’ve got it! Staff knowledgeable about cross-contact and celiac disease.
41. AO Bowl opened in August 2021 on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, and focuses on smoothies and healthy meal bowls, mostly with vegan and vegetarian offerings. They do have have herb-crusted salmon and/or an egg that can be added on top of the bowls. It’s 100% gluten free.
42. I’m ending this list with a 100% gluten free spot for Korean food, a rarity and one I so appreciate as the flavours of Korean eats are truly divine — and hard to find in a GF setting. Kimbap Lab is located in Brooklyn, and bills themselves as a restaurant melding traditional Korean flavours with meet gluten-free, local ingredients. Can’t go wrong, and tastes so right. (Note: they’ve also got a storefront in Chelsea Market in Manhattan)