Six spots that are friendly to the gluten-free

Cassava The hot chocolate at this unassuming café can run with the best of them—it’s as thick as the stuff at XOCO and as nuanced as the...
Photograph: Martha Williams
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Cassava The hot chocolate at this unassuming café can run with the best of them—it’s as thick as the stuff at XOCO and as nuanced as the stuff at Vosges. It’s so good, in fact, that perhaps the café should push it as its main attraction. Because as it stands now, the tiny, eponymous cassava rolls are decent vehicles for flavor (cheddar and jalapeño; sun-dried tomato and basil) but have a gummy texture that takes some getting used to. True, they’re gluten-free, but if gluten-free baked goods are what you came here looking for, grab one of the GF muffins instead. 3338 N Clark St (773-857-3039). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Belmont. Bus: 22, 77, 152. Mon–Thu 9am–8pm; Fri, Sat 10am–8pm; Sun 10am–8pm. Average main course: $3.

Cookie Bar The 18 cookies on display at Cookie Bar start off chewy, with thinnish, caramelized and just barely crispy edges, and get progressively softer as you work your way to the center. And at least a few of those cookies—such as vegan chocolate chip and vegan macadamia nut with coconut jam—and brownies are also gluten-free, made with the shop’s own blend of gluten-free flours using separate utensils, mixers and ovens. 2475 N Lincoln Ave (773-348-0300). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 8, 11, 74. 11:30am–7:30pm. Average cookie: $1.25.

Feast Feast was an early player in the Bucktown restaurant scene, and it has maintained its popularity as a casual neighborhood joint thanks to big-flavored comfort food, spacious outdoor seating and cult brunch. Plus, the gluten-intolerant don’t have to make any guesses when ordering: Separate gluten-free menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner include fish tacos with corn tortillas, maple-glazed pork chops, skirt steak salads, burgers and more. 1616 N Damen Ave (773-772-7100). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. Breakfast, brunch, dinner. Average main course: $14.

Ina’s Ina Pinkney was ahead of the curve when she introduced gluten-free fried chicken nights at her comfort-food restaurant in the West Loop a couple years ago. Now, fans of that chicken can order it in advance to reheat at home. Or they can come in for gluten-free breakfast and lunch options, including chilaquiles made with GF pita bread from Rose’s Bakery in Evanston. Omelettes, soups and salads can all be prepared gluten-free by a staff attentive to cross-contamination. 1235 W Randolph St (312-226-8227). El: Green, Pink to Ashland. Bus: 20. Breakfast, lunch. Average main course: $9.

Mana Food Bar Susan Thompson and Jill Barron of De Cero are behind this shoebox-size meatless mecca, where global vegetarian fare is gobbled up by lanky diners lounging on chunky wood stools and in dark booths under dim lights. Many of the vegetarian dishes are also gluten-free, including roasted-beet salad, spinach and pear salad with whole-grain mustard, chickpea-based chili and a mushroom sauté over creamy polenta. 1742 W Division St (773-342-1742). El: Blue to Division. Bus: 9, 50, 70. Lunch (Sat only), dinner. Average small plate: $7.

Mity Nice Grill After years of feeding the tired, the hungry and the shopped-out of Water Tower Place, Mity Nice recently underwent a head-to-toe renovation. The look now is less old-school and more new (it kind of has the look of the lobby of a boutique hotel), but the revamped dishes retain its hominess. A separate menu with extensive gluten-free options is another part of the remodel, with offerings like as seven-vegetable Asian salad with soy-glazed chicken, a cheeseburger on a gluten-free bun and cedar-planked maple-glazed salmon. 835 N Michigan Ave, mezzanine level (312-335-4745). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 33, 148, 151. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $14.95.

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