Growing up, I thought Spanish food was tapas. I didn’t have access to many other Spanish dishes or influences, and the ones that stood out were of the pintxos variety. But as with any country deeply influenced by a history of discovery and conquest, as well as a large geographic area, the regional specialties vary widely. Geography, climate, waves of invaders, and conquests of new territories all went into creating the Spanish cuisine we know and love today. For celiacs, the country is full of quality base ingredients and interesting meals. For this gluten free Spain guide, I am focusing on the dishes and cooking techniques that are safe, as well as some spots to try in Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain.
Matt Golding, author of Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture, a notes in a December 2016 interview that:
Spanish cuisine, like all great cuisines, is highly regionalized, but the homogenizing forces of modernity in general, and tourism specifically, threaten this diversity. These days you’ll find paella and sangria and patatas bravas in every corner of the country. But that just means as a traveler you need to be aware of where you are and make your food choices accordingly. Up in Galicia? Eat octopus and shellfish and gooseneck barnacles and wash it down with a crisp Albariño. When in Andaulsia, eat jamón and fried little fish and drink sherry. In Basque country, feast on thick-cut steaks and whole-grilled fish and a world of pintxos. The people who find Spanish food disappointing are the ones who order paella in Madrid and sangria in San Sebastián. Of course, there is a common language that unifies Spain’s cooking — high-quality olive oil, cured pork, an abiding love of seafood — but it expresses itself in very different ways as you move around the country.
Food is very important in Spain, and many restaurants can accommodate a celiac diet with ease. As with my Portugal guide, this post is built to remove anxiety around ordering, and help you tackle the meals of Spain with joy.
A note about eating times: Spanish people eat late. Dinner often starts around 8pm, and if you go then you’ll likely be the only ones in the restaurant. Snack foods were the ones with the most wheat in them, so my advice to celiacs who are used to eating a bit earlier would be to stock up on snack at your hotel or apartment, so you can hold off until dinner.
LAST UPDATED: August 22, 2022
Tailored Gluten-Free Translation Cards for Spain
Each of the cards in the guide has been created with celiac-specific research, mention of cross contamination, and double checked translation from locals who speak the language. The food names and dishes within the card are also double checked for accuracy with different regions in Spain.
Note: The card is available for purchase via Gumroad, a trustworthy 3rd party site that uses https, so you know your information is safe. I am not gathering emails or information for anyone who buys the card.
Why is this Spanish gluten free card different?
I have used several different translation cards on my travels, and I still got sick. I may be more sensitive than some celiacs, but even a small amount of contaminated oil for frying, or wheat-thickened sauce in the food, is enough to make me ill for days. Let alone the joint pain later that week, and the inflammation.
This card is different from other celiac cards I have used because it not only uses all of the local food names for what to eat or avoid, but makes clear mention of the cross contamination concerns. It is also researched by celiacs, and translated by a native speaker who is familiar with the disease and local food.
Because of the predominant use of Catalán within Catalunya, I have also translated the card into Catalán. For those traveling elsewhere, the Spanish card is the best option. For the Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, and Barcelona region, Catalán may be more useful for you.
An English version of the card – so you know what you’re buying! – is available on the purchase page.
Spanish gluten free card, tailored to foods in Spain:
Catalan gluten free card, tailored to foods in Spain and Catalunya:
A big thanks to Patricia and Noema for their help in confirming the translations and foods for these cards for Spanish. I had hoped to do other regional cards, for Valencia for example, as well as go into more details about the foods in different Spanish regions. Unfortunately, due to a chronic medical condition that has left me disabled, I have not yet been able to do so.
For Catalan, the Costa Brava tourism board and Laura Perez both helped translate and confirm the accuracy of the English versions.
An English translation of the card will be included when you purchase, so you can follow along as you travel.
Gluten-Free Spain: Dishes and Snacks
The following dishes are commonly wheat-free in Spain, confirmed by translators and my own mealtime experiences traveling through Spain.
As with any destination, at home or abroad, it’s important to confirm on a case-by-case basis that no flour was used in the sauces, or to thicken, etc
For the basics, in Spanish trigo, cebada, avena, salsa de soja, y centeno (wheat, barely, oats, soy sauce, and rye) are what you don’t want to eat.
- Paella: a classic dish that many tourists love. It’s often safe, but you do need to ask if they make it with bouillon cubes or “caldo Avecrem“, the brand name of a popular bouillon in Spain.
- Pipirrana: a diced vegetable salad made with peppers, tomatoes, onions, and tuna or cod.
- Calamares or mariscos a la plancha: I love squid, but sadly traditional calamares are breaded and deep fried. I had great luck asking for mine “a la plancha” (grilled) instead. Bonus: you taste more of the delicious seafood this way.
- Pulpo a la gallega: boiled octopus that is sliced and topped with olive oil and often paprika.
- Escalivada: a mix of roasted or grilled vegetables.
- Esqueixada: a Catalan cold salad made with hand-shredded salt cod, tomato, onions, and black olives, dressed with olive oil, vinegar and salt. Sometimes garnished with hard-boiled eggs.
- Pisto manchego: a vegetable stew with onions, zucchini, garlic, salt, parsley, and tomatoes.
- Lacón con grelos: boiled ham with greens, commonly found in Galicia.
- Aceitunas, pepinillos or cebolletas: Pickled Olives, gherkins and spring onions. Ask if the olives are stuffed with “pan rallado” and if so they are not safe.
- Guisantes con jamón Serrano: peas with Serrano ham.
- Calamares/xiba na súa tinta: a Galician dish of squid or octopus cooked in their own ink. This is usually safe for celiacs, but do ask if they add any flour to thicken the sauce.
- Huevos rotos: this dish literally translates to “broken eggs” and is traditionally served over french fries, and topped with Serrano ham. Confirm that the fries are not fried in contaminated oil.
- Pescado, pollo, or carne a la plancha: As with the squid above, fish, or chicken, or meat offered “a la plancha” is usually simply grilled. It’s good to ask about marinades, and if any soy is used. In my travel experience, the meat or fish was never marinated and simply cooked with fresh herbs, garlic, butter, or lemon. YMMV, but when nothing on the menu seems safe I would ask for a protein “a la plancha” with a side of veggies or a salad. Includes cordero (lamb) and cochinillo (roasted pig).
- Marmitako: a Basque dish of potatoes, tuna, onions, peppers and tomatoes, traditionally eaten on fishing boats in the Cantabrian Sea.
- Anchoas en aceite or vinagre: Anchovies marinated in oil, or in vinegar.
- Jamón Serrano or jamón Ibérico (Cured Ham): THANK GOODNESS THIS IS NOT OFF LIMITS. A little sidebar on the differences between Serrano or Ibérico (bear with me please). Both the types of ham are dry-cured, and from the hind leg. Serrano, ham from the Sierra mountains, is from a white species of pig, whereas Ibérico (Iberian ham) is from a pata negra (black foot pig), which rummages and forages on a diet of acorns from giant oak trees. There are different types of Ibérico hams, broken down by diet and by length of curing. Suffice it to say, for ham aficionados, Spain is your dream come true. Even if you’re celiac.
- Queso (Cheese): customarily safe, unless processed.
- Garbanzos: chickpeas, often roasted and spiced with cumin and chili. Confirm that no flour is used to thicken the spice mix.
- Patatas fritas or papas bravas: Again, best to ask about contaminated oil and any wheat flour. In general — unlike in North America — the potatoes were not dredged or dusted in flour for crispiness. When asked, restaurants balked saying doing so would ruin the flavor.
- Espetos de sardinas: A Málaga specialty, this dish refers to sardines that are stacked on a skewer and grilled on a fire or barbecue. Ask about marinades, but almost always these skewers are simply seasoned with salt. Pictures here.
- Tortilla de patatas / tortilla Española: A Spanish omelette, customarily made with eggs, potatoes, onions and garlic. While North American versions of this popular dish occasionally use flour, in Spain I have not encountered it. Important as always to ask, but I was successfully able to eat this dish throughout my Spanish wanders.
- Salsa alioli casera: Many dishes are served with salsa alioli, something you’ll see on the menus around Spain. This refers to a garlic mayonnaise, made simply with garlic, eggs, vinegar, and olive oil. I used the word casera — this refers to “made in house”. You will want to make sure you know what goes into the sauce! As with any other sauces and marinades, it’s often the more processed versions that have added wheat or gluten.
- Butifarra casera: Butifarra is a Catalunya specialty made with pork meat, vinegar, cumin, and other ingredients – and no wheat. I say casera again to ensure the restaurant knows what goes into it! I bought these at the butcher when in Costa Brava and cooked them at home with white beans and boiled greens. Delicious.
- Pimentos de Padrón: Padrón peppers that are blistered on high heat and served with sea salt and olive oil. Confirm no contaminated oil. If you’re as obsessed as I am with this dish: recipe here, courtesy of Serious Eats.
- Flan, natillas, or crema Catalana: flan, custard desserts, or crème brûlée desserts, each made from eggs and sugar and cream. These often have no flour in Spain, unlike in North America. As always, important to ask and make sure that these were made in house, and safely. In parts of Spain, a version of flan is listed as tocino de cielo, which is made similarly but uses egg whites instead of whole eggs.
- Arroz con leche: Rice pudding.
- Marzipan: almond meal and sugar candies, often shaped into fruit. These are almost always pure almond and sugar.
- Turrón: a nougat candy made from almonds and egg whites, and sweetened with honey and sugar.
- Frutas en almíbar: Fruit sweetened in syrup, similar to the ones you’d find in Mexico.
- Yemas de Santa Teresa or yemas: A very dense, sweet dessert candy made from egg yolks and sugar, then covered with icing sugar. The reference to “Yemas de Santa Teresa” is to a trademark for a company in Avila (Castile-León), where the sweets originated. They are also found simply as yemas in bakeries.
- Helado casera: Ice creams made in house are often gluten free but for grocery stores it’s important to check the packaging. Gelato did (sadly) have flour thickener added in a few of the shops I checked.
Wines, sangria, sidra (cider), cava (amazing sparkling spanish wine), pacharán or patxaran (in Basque), a sloe gin liquor, and calimocho (wine and cola together) are all safe.
Beers are not safe, as usual, unless certified gluten free.
Shopping Options and Restaurants for Celiacs in Spain
There are quite a few places to buy gluten free ingredients, from local supermarkets to bigger chain stores and organic shops.
The following supermarkets sell gluten free products. Click on the link to be brought to their home pages, where you can search for locations:
- Carrefour (huge supermarket, with a “Carrefour No gluten” brand)
- El Corte Inglés
- E. Leclerc
- Eroski (Eroski Sin Gluten)
- La Sirena
Spain’s Celiac Society lists many regional celiac associations in Spain here — scroll down past the map to the URLs for each.
Celiacs de Catalunya, which applies to Barcelona, the Costa Brava, and the Costa Dorada regions, has a list of stores and pharmacies selling gluten free items here, and a list of restaurants within the region that serve items safe for celiacs here.
FACE, the Federación de Asociaciones de Celiacos de España, has an English one-pager for eating gluten free in Spain, here.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Barcelona
- Il Piccolo Focone for pizza, pastas and risotto ALL safe for celiacs. It’s a haven, a glorious, gluten free haven.
- Copasetic has a thorough brunch menu with heaps of gluten free options. Delicious place to eat.
- Roots and Rolls offers fusion sushi that is entirely gluten free and vegan, with other appetizers that are only vegan.
- For more traditional sushi, Sushi Fresh can make any item on their sushi / nigiri / sashimi menu gluten free, from scratch (see here).
- I also ate at SushiYa2 when I was staying in the Old Quarter, where the salmon sashimi was extremely fresh and they had gluten free soy sauce to help this celiac out.
- En Ville is a Spanish restaurant where the owner’s family has celiac disease running in it, so they made their menu 99% adaptable for celiacs in a safe manner that avoids cross-contamination. A perfect spot to enjoy Spanish cuisine without worrying about gluten! They’ve won awards for the breadth of their celiac-friendly offerings. Menu here.
- La Vinateria del Call is not a dedicated gluten free facility, but does have knowledgeable staff who can safely make tapas and other items, and gluten free dishes are clearly marked on the menu. Many desserts from their menu are also are made without gluten.
- Agullers is a tiny restaurant with a menu of the day. Very reasonable, and though not celiac-specific, they were happy to accommodate my food issues. The restaurant was happy to cook dishes with corn flour instead of wheat. Lunch only.
- For quicker meals, check out the gluten free sandwiches at Conesa Entrepans. I ate at the one in the Gothic quarter, but there is another in Sants.
- Jansana is a bakery with 100% gluten free and dairy free breads, treats, and other patisserie. They also ship by mail for those in the area longer.
- Craving fish and chips? There’s a dedicated spot for that too, though you’ll need to make sure you only go to The Fish and Chips Shop location at Carrer de Casanova, 91 since it’s 100% without gluten—the other outposts are not gluten free.
- Pork..Boig Per Tu for all thinks pork, as the name would suggest. Staff was very sympathetic to celiac disease, and they also have gluten free bread for pork sandwiches, if that’s your thing. The ear stew with beans was fab.
- I still dream about Mosquito Tapas‘ gluten free-soup dumplings, delicate pillows filled with pork and eel and steamed in bamboo steamers.
- For another option if you’re craving Asian food, and one I found more easy to navigate as a celiac: Out of China. They have a thorough menu of food from the many provinces of China that is clearly marked for gluten free options, and staff who are knowledgeable about cross-contamination.
- For a different kind of Asian food: Thai! Having lived for years in Thailand, a good chunk of the food can be safely made gluten free—especially where GF soy sauce is available. So Thai Barcelona‘s gluten free menu is robust, and the food authentic and delicious. I went twice, and had the somtam with sticky rice and yam nua (a delicious beef dish), and the second time an amazing green curry. Highly recommended!
- M2 Gluten Free is, as the name suggests, fully safe for celiacs. It’s a varied menu, without a set theme other than being safely gluten free: poke bowls, curry, pasta, burgers, pasta, pizza and desserts, among other categories. Many great options and so well done that non-celiacs will have nothing to complain about.
- Gula Sana is a 100% gluten free restaurant that can also offer a dairy free menu for those in need. Safe place to eat, delicious food, and highly recommend going for brunch as their menu is varied and it’s nice to not have to worry about any food getting you sick for a meal that is often full of bread.
- Messié Sin Gluten for Italian food! A 100% gluten free version of Messie pizza, serves up pasta, pizza, salads and more (all safe!) at two locations in Barcelona.
- Jansana is a gluten free bakery in Barcelona offering many tasty treats. Celiacs rejoice!
Another gluten free bakery, Amiette, means “little friend” in vernacular from the South of France. And like French bakeries, this place knows its bread. While it also makes 100% gluten free cookies and treats, it is known for its loaves and pastry—if you’re craving bread or pain au chocolat/croissants, this is the place to go in Barcelona.CLOSED
- More bakery options! Celiadictos, a punny name for a delicious spot. Pizza, quiche, bread, pastry, and many other treats, all 100% gluten free.
- For bagels and pastrami (not traditionally Spanish foods I know) head to Cal Marius 449. The 100% gluten free spot also serves pasta, pizza, tapas, and sandwiches. An unconventional menu, but a decadent one that is safe for celiacs!
- For another gluten free bakery, Barcelona’s Baci D’Angelo is where I satiated my sugar cravings.
- Conesa Entrepans near Barcelona cathedral is a grilled sandwich place that can do almost all of their sandwiches gluten free. They have a dedicated grill and preparation space for the gluten free orders, one that is made by a separate person per Morgan from How to Coeliac, who made the video below. The sandwich shop also has a small selection of sweet cakes that are gluten free, and kept separately, and wrapped. Morgan also used this guide on her wanders in Barcelona, and reported back: In terms of places I went to and can 100% corroborate that they are amazing: Roots & Rolls, fantastic never had better sushi; Messie Sin Gluten, great pizza, huge, filling, reasonably priced; Out Of China, LOVED; Jansana LOOOOOVED; En Ville, fab with great sangria.
- Chök The Chocolate Shop has five outposts in Barcelona, but not all offer gluten free items so it is best to check before heading over. Contact info for their Barcelona shops here. The gluten free location has a range of baked goods (cakes, doughnuts, muffins), as well as a wall of chocolate that is gluten free.
- For those staying awhile and having kitchen access, Linverd is a large health store in Barcelona with a robust selection of fresh and frozen gluten free food.
I hunt down arepas in every city I visit, because these corn pockets are always delicious and almost certainly gluten-free. I got mine in Barcelona at La Taguara Areperia, a bare-bones areparia in the old part of the city.CLOSED
Morgan’s video from her time in Barcelona, where she tried many of the restaurants from this guide:
Gluten Free Restaurants in Tarragona
- Tarragona is about an hour drive away from Barcelona, and a quick and satisfying stop is Sense Gluten Free, a bakery with pastries, bread, treats, and some additional gluten free items for take-out.
- Knowledgeable about celiac disease, with a menu that clearly marks gluten free items, Restaurante El Pósito is another great bet. They’re well educated about cross-contamination. In addition to the main dishes, they have gluten free desserts, beer, and bread on offer.
- Restaurante Les Brases de Ca l’Olla is certified by the Catalan celiac association, and has set menus that are safe for us to eat at. The owners are celiac as well.
Gluten Free Restaurants in San Sebastian
- For gluten free tapas in San Sebastian, head to Restaurante Ganadarias, with their own gluten free menu at their website. One of the few dedicated gluten free tapas spots I’ve found.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Seville
- A good place to start is a wonderful, 100% gluten free bar in Seville, Taberna Ke Arte Gluten Free. It’s closed Monday and Tuesday, and it is not bar food that we’re used to in North America. This spot serves beautifully-plated tapas, all gluten free, like sirloin with whiskey reduction, grilled octopus, tuna tartare with mango, and much more.
- For those with a sweet tooth, Brandao is certified by the celiac association and a fully gluten free facility. Their slogan is “desserts for everyone” and they certainly deliver. They’ve got dairy free, egg free and nut free desserts available not only in their shop, but you can also order online and ship anywhere in Spain if you’re staying for some time.
- Another 100% gluten free place is La Monella, an Italian restaurant whose pastas, pizzas and desserts are all safe. Their menu clearly marks other allergens like eggs and cheese, and they can customize dishes to remove lactose/dairy as needed. and also without lactose (other than parmesan cheese).
- Another Italian restaurant, Al Solito Posto, is not 100% gluten free but as with many Italian chefs, the establishment is knowledgeable about celiac disease and also has a dedicated gluten free menu (see here) made without cross contamination.
- Mano de Santo is a fun Mexican addition to Seville’s offerings for celiacs, serving up traditional dishes like cochinita pibil as well as making use of Seville’s ingredients for menu items like their quesadilla with pork rind and octopus. They also have ceviche “Acapulco style”, with a tomato-infused marinade. Note that while Mano de Santo has a few different outposts, ONLY the Almeda restaurant is 100% gluten free (menu here).
- A dream for celiacs: a 100% gluten free tapas bar! La Gruta Tapa’s Nervion, open every day but Sunday. Menu clearly marked for several other allergens, and gluten free beer available as well as wine. So fun to enjoy tapas without worrying about getting sick.
- Another tapas option is La Tienda De La Azotea, which is not 100% gluten free, but does have a dedicated menu and knowledgeable staff. You need to ask for a special allergen menu, as items on the main menu are not marked for gluten or other allergens.
- Freiduria Poseidon: 100% gluten free and a wealth of delicious fried foods that celiacs normally can’t have unless there is a dedicated fryer. Here, not only is it gluten free but it is incredible. Fried fish, roast chicken on the weekend, daily lunch sets during the week, and desserts that are also 100% gluten free. Also has gluten free beer.
- For more Seville restaurants, Ana Beatriz Martinez’ Instagram feed, Gluten Free Sevilla, features the suggestions from her celiac dining excursions.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Madrid
El Arrozal – gluten free paella in Madrid, at 3 different locations. They are fully aware of cross-contamination issues and cook the paella separately from any gluten dishes.PERMANENTLY CLOSED
- At Solo de Croquetas in Madrid, everything 100% gluten free, you can enjoy the amazing bite-size magic of Spanish croquettes. That’s all the restaurant serves, and they are all safe for celiacs.
- For tapas, bravas, and copas, look no further than Lalina, a great spot to eat all the patatas bravas and treats that your stomach can handle. Their menu is clearly marked for other allergens, and they’ve got croquettes (like Solo de Croquetas) but also the bravas they advertise, as well as tempura, calamari, and much more. As their website says, “tell us you’re celiac, and we’ll do the rest!”
- Maestro Churrero in Madrid has gluten free churros, certified safe by the local gluten free association!
- Okashi Sanda‘s slogan is Japan for everyone, and it allows those with celiac disease or lactose intolerance to enjoy foods that are often off limits when visiting Japan. This includes my favourite, takoyaki (octopus balls, often a street snack), okonomiyaki, gyoza, and much more—including decadent dessert options. Dairy free throughout, with vegan menu also available for those who are avoiding meat.
- Celicioso is a fabulous, 100% gluten free bakery, now with 4 locations across Madrid, one in Ibiza and one in Marbella. They offer a variety of cookies, cakes and tarts, as well as loaves and delicious breakfast and lunch.
- Cómete México opened in 2015 and serves Mexican food (and mezcal!) using traditional Mexican ingredients. Their philosophy was that in a globalized world, some of the traditional dishes and recipes were being lost to fusion cuisine. So they wanted to build a place where you could order Mexican food and beer, but using the techniques that originated in Mexico, before colonization changed the menu. They have a dedicated gluten free menu and clearly mark what is and isn’t gluten free on their regular menu. It’s certified by the Celiac Association and has gluten free beer as well. Reservations recommended.
- Pizza Natura, a 100% gluten free pizzeria that serves beautiful pies made by hand from organic ingredients.
- Celiaquitos has a list of searchable gluten free restaurants and dishes from Spain, here.
- Also in Madrid, Devour Madrid has a long and thorough guide to gluten free eating in the city, with reference to the celiac association of Spain.
For a longer gluten free guide to Madrid restaurants, including dairy free options, see here. This guide also rounds up smaller shops that carry gluten free products in Madrid.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Asturias
For those looking for a more rural experience of Spain, but worried about finding options outside the major cities, check out Cangas Sin Gluten, a regional compilation of restaurants, accommodation and shops in southwest Asturias dedicated to providing safe food for celiacs. It’s a wonderful reference for the region.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Valencia
- Restaurante La Pappardella: Gluten free menu plus knowledge of cross-contact and celiac disease make this Italian restaurant an excellent option to try.
- Can’t miss paella when in this region, but sometimes bouillon cubes make that a risk. LaLola has a gluten free version, knowledge of celiac disease, and a beautiful ambiance.
- Mi Lugar Celiaco: as the name suggests, this one is just for us. 100% gluten free bakery, with lovely pastries and other baked treats to indulge in from Spain and further afield.
- El Miracle is a miracle of 100% gluten free eating, with crepes, tapas, middle eastern dishes like hummus and baba ghanoush, and more. Enjoy—it’s all delicious.
- Santa Amalia Sin Gluten is another great dedicated gluten free bakery to appease your sweet tooth in Valencia. They’ve got a shop as well as an online option for delivery or pick up.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Toledo
- Brunch Confitería Santo Tomé is 100% gluten free with all the brunch options you’ve dreamed of as a celiac, but can never find in one place.
- Al Fileritos 24 has gluten free items on its menu clearly marked, and is knowledgeable about celiac disease. These are some heavier dishes on offer, with meats, fish, and Iberian ham. Readers report great food, and all have spoken highly of their time there.
- Another menu with clearly marked gluten free items is La Fabrica de Harinas, whose meat, fish, and other dishes (and desserts!) give any omnivore gluten free diner something to try from the cuisine in Toledo. In Hotel San Juan de Los Reyes, reservations are recommended.
- Restaurante Comes en Toledo is billed as a pizzeria and while it has many pizzas for the non-celiacs, it’s got none for us gluten free eaters. Still, pastas and other dishes to enjoy.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Lanzarote
- La Casa Del Parmagiano has a gluten free menu on offer, and built by consulting with Celiac Association of Canary Islands. Choose from pizza, pastas, meat dishes and more.
- Antica Trattoria di Verona also has a celiac menu on offer, and Schar products for their pizzas and other gluten free bread items.
- Per a Legal Nomads reader, Bogavante has grilled seafood and meat available with naturally gluten free sides, rice, and is knowledgeable about cross-contact. Verify for flour in any creamy sauces on the menu, but the basic grilled proteins and plain rice and vegetables were reported back to be safe.
- Blooming Cactus Vegetarian Restaurant was founded in 2010, and was the first vegetarian/vegan restaurant on Lanzarote. They’ve got plenty of gluten free offerings as well, and their menu is clearly marked and staff aware of cross-contact and the needs of celiacs.
- Restaurante El Navarro has gluten free items on a menu as well as knowledge of the disease, and many grilled meat and seafood dishes that are safe to eat.
- Another reader recommended Cantina Teguise, and I have written to them to confirm that their gluten free offerings (gluten free buns for their burgers) are still available—they are! The Cantina menu has other naturally gluten free items available, or you can opt for a burger without a bun. The restaurant sources local ingredients and spices, and was reported to be delicious. They also have a sister restaurant now, Esquina Teguise, which is 100% plant based with even more gluten free options available. They said that their cakes are mostly gluten free, as well as gluten free bread for any toasts on the menu.
- There are some chain restaurants on Lanzarote that have gluten free items, if you are in a pinch. McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and other chain have celiac-friendly menu items certified by FACE, the Spanish celiac association. A full list of the chain restaurants that have certified GF items is here.
See also the gluten free Lanzarote Facebook group here.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Tenerife
- A shop called Herbolario Garoe in Tenerife has gluten free products certified for celiacs – their website even attests to this, and the shop is a great place to stock up on snacks and breakfast items.
For more gluten free shops on Tenerife, see this link.
- In Tenerife, there is a 100% gluten free restaurant called Taste sin Gluten, which serves up Italian food in a beautiful setting – and of course it’s great for celiacs!
- The restaurant Guayadil is certified by the celiac association and offers up local seasonal seafood and and organic ingredients – beautifully plated I may add!
- According to one reader, Casa Pache in Tenerife has gluten free, celiac-safe croquetas.
- That same reader tells us that on Logroño’s Calle Laurel, famous for its glorious pintxos, bright blue Sin Gluten stickers appear on the windows and doors of many establishments, meaning even us celiacs don’t have to miss out!
For more gluten free restaurants on Tenerife, please see this link.
Foods to Avoid in Spain if You’re Gluten Free
During your visit to Spain these are foods that you should avoid, and are not safe for celiacs.
- Chanchigorri cake, also spelled txantxigorri or chalchigorri: Spanish pastry from Navarre, in Northern Spain.
- Bombas and croquetas: breaded, fried and potato-filled. Sadly not good for your celiac belly.
- Calamares: breaded squid, deep fried. As per above, ask if you can get grilled calamares instead. Note that calamares a la romana is also unsafe — it’s a Galician dish of battered squid that is then deep-fried.
- Chicharrón or Cortezas de cerdo: Pork rinds or pork skin, deep fried. As these are often served in tapas places, I cannot add to the ‘safe’ list since the oil used is almost always the same oil as other breaded, fried tapas on this list.
- Coques: Catalan flatbreads, with or without toppings, all made with flour.
- Empanadas or empanadillas: Dough pockets of different flavors.
- Leche Frita: A dessert made by thickening milk with flour and sugar until it becomes dough, which is then fried and served with cinnamon. Looks great, can’t eat it.
- Churros: fried dough snacks.
- Polvorones: a bread from Andalucia.
- Montaditos: Snacks served on slices of bread, usually accompanied by wine.
- Embutidos like mortadela, morcilla, chorizo envasado, salami, salchichón: these are all cured or dried meats, and can have wheat in them as they do in North America or elsewhere in Europe. While I added butifarra to the safe list as the recipe never calls for flour, the ones listed here need to be checked on a case-by-case basis.
- Thickened sauces like bechamel: if it’s a thick gravy, you best be asking questions.
- Pan con Tomate: popular tapas option of grilled bread smothered in tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and salt.
- Tortas or tortas de aceite: crisp flatbreads or biscuits.
- Bocadillos or bocatas: Sandwich, much like a sub.
- Albóndigas: Spanish meatballs, often made with breadcrumbs or breadcrusts.
- Pinchos o pintxos: small snacks (see photo below), spiked with a toothpick on a slice of bread. The name refers to a skewer — the toothpick — a customary part of the dish. There are hundreds of varieties of pintxos, but many come with bread. I have found some restaurants willing to plate a pintxo without bread and just give me the topping, but that comes with its own risks depending on the kitchen and I have been wary to do it.
- Escudella: thick stew from Catalunya made with pasta.
- Filetes rusos: This dish is a version of what English would call Salisbury Steak, or hamburger steak: ground beef and other seasoning, shaped into a patty and topped with flour-thickened gravy.
- Alfajores: a Christmas pastry very different from Argentina alfajores – but still off limits.
- Boquerones fritos: fried anchovies, often dredged in flour.
Further Reading About Spain
For those of you looking to visit Spain, here are some wonderful books to help inform your visit.
The most recent Lonely Planet Guidebook is from October 2021, and covers some of the changes during the pandemic.
My Suggestions for Food Books About Spain
- Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture – Matt Goulding’s book about Spain, quoted from at the beginning of this piece. The book not only goes into the context and history of the meals it spotlights, but also tells the kind of food stories I love. Small producers, chefs, artisans, and more, all alongside gorgeous pictures. This is Matt’s second book (his first is on Japan) and I look forward to the rest.
- Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition – Gerald Hirigoyen and Lisa Weiss’ cookbook featuring the tiny ‘skewered’ plates found in Basque country. While we cannot eat the bread, the recipes are easy to follow and a piece of gluten free bread can be used instead. The book does take these Basque recipes and rework them for American pantries, so you’ll find them easy to make at home.
- The Food of Spain – Claudia Roden certainly knows her food, and this amazing book covers the incredibly variety, taste spectrum, and color of Spanish food. I love all of Claudia’s cookbooks, and this one is no exception. The pictures are just beautiful.
- Spain: Recipes and Traditions from the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucía – I met author Jeff Koehler in Barcelona and shared some tapas with him, so it was a pleasure to cook through his own vision of his adopted country. His book focuses on simple foods with complicated tastes, and you’ll find every recipe you wanted here. A long glossary and section on cooking techniques helps make this book just about all you need for a Spanish cookbook at home.
Happy and safe eating in Spain!
For the rest of my gluten free guides, see here.