The reason why diners with gluten-free dietary requirements and other food intolerances seem kinda stressed when they eat out is that, until now, some chefs just haven’t grasped the importance of issues such as cross-contamination, and the difference between being gluten-intolerant and coeliac. However, things are changing, with more and more restaurants introducing interesting and diverse gluten-free options – and even 100 percent gluten-free menus – to their repertoire. Here are some of the best gluten-free restaurants in London. If you know any we've missed off our list, let us know in the comments or tweet us.
Gluten-free dishes in London restaurants
At Martin Morales’ funky, colourful tribute to the zest and diversity of Peruvian cuisine, there is much for coeliac and gluten-intolerant diners to enjoy: a huge gluten-free menu, made with a dedicated set of utensils to avoid cross-contamination, with dishes that run from the celebrated ceviches and anticuchos to scallops with crabmeat ‘cannelloni’ and ganache-topped brownies made with quinoa flour.
The impeccable staff at this grandest of grand hotels don’t make a fuss about anything - let alone the simple talk of switching the hotel’s award-winning afternoon tea for a gluten-free replica. So coeliacs too can dig into artfully filled sandwiches, rich scones with clotted cream and tea-infused jelly, and posh French fancies, in the sweeping elegance of the hotel foyer, without a care in the world.
This Japanese-curry specialist in Brixton Village Market makes a point of cooking its dishes with gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce, a decision that instantly broadens the menu choice for coeliacs. Gluten-free dishes (all clearly marked on the menu) are wide-ranging, from seafood salad and chicken teriyaki, to saké-steamed clams.
Indian cuisine tends to be more forgiving to diners with food allergies and intolerances, with many dishes free from dairy and gluten. However, in this regard, Dishoom is typically brilliant: most of its grilled meats, salads, vegetable side dishes, and curries (including the signature black daal) are gluten-free or can be tweaked to suit coeliacs, and staff take any questions about the menu in their stride.
Chef Daniel Doherty doesn’t want his coeliac customers studying their plates when they come to his sky-scraping City restaurant – he wants them to be as caught up in the stunning 360-degree views as other diners. His gluten-free menu is as rich and eclectic as the main carte – and even includes the namesake dish that has become the kitchen’s signature.
As long you're not a vegetarian, you can't really go wrong with anything on the meat-heavy menu at the Hawksmoor. However, if you are still unsure, the well-drilled staff are on hand to talk you through the options. Even better, the beef dripping chips are also 100 percent gluten-free, so you'll have something tasty to snack on while you agonise over your decision.
Anna Hansen takes a characteristically open-minded approach to gluten-free cuisine at her light-filled, eternally contemporary fusion restaurant. Clued-up staff can advise diners with dietary requirements about the dishes that are (or can be made) gluten-free – they can also tell the rest of the table exactly what recherché ingredients such as ‘hijiki’ and ‘amchur’ are...
This suddenly-not-so-mini-chain has managed to grow as quickly as it has because its food is delicious and its concept customer-friendly. So it’s no surprise to learn that, by popular demand, everything on the menu here, bar the regular burger bun, has been tweaked to rid it of gluten. And before you start an online petition to campaign for a gluten-free burger bun, let us assure you that, yes, they’ve already thought of that.
Polenta in all its forms is the name of the game at this casual café-restaurant in Soho and, since the building block of the entire menu is free from gluten, there’s lots of choice for gluten-intolerant diners here, from polenta gnocchi with truffled cheese to cornmeal and almond cookies. Gluten-free beer is also available.
This old-school, fast-paced, brasserie-style steak restaurant was waaaay ahead of the rest of the world in terms of no-choice menus – it was serving up its house dish (steak-frites with ‘special’ sauce; the only choice you have in the matter is how you want your meat cooked) when the current clutch of single-item upstarts were twinkles in their owners’ eye. Happily for coeliacs, this yummy dish just so happens to be gluten-free, too.
Gluten-free restaurants in London
This bakery-café on Upper Street is totally gluten free, so there’s no fear of cross-contamination. There’s also no fear of lumpen loaves, bland bakes or soggy bottoms – everything, from the signature breads and tempting viennoiserie displayed at the counter, to the quiche and pie of the day, could more than stand up to its wheat-filled counterpart in a taste test.
Rich, airy brioche, fruit- and custard-filled pastries, tuna-melt toasties – this modern bakery in Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Place serves exclusively gluten-free goodies, but its chic design and runaway hits such as buttery cinnamon swirls mean that its appeal isn’t limited to gluten-intolerant customers. For coeliacs, a gluten-free bakery located so centrally warrants a fist-bump with the person in front of them in the queue – or just a quiet slice of celebratory cake.
It’s all about health from the farm at this west London hangout, where food is free from most things, gluten included, in more than half the dishes. Luckily, snacks are still bursting with flavour. Choose from beetroot dahl, pumpkin and eggplant curry and ‘earth bowls’ packed with feelgood grub. Finish with impressive puds – don’t miss the zingy lemon cheesecake when it’s on the seasonal menu.
Venue says: “Delicious food. Sustainably sourced. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
All food at eco-friendly Farmstand is free from gluten and dairy, so go wild on salad boxes bursting with veg and beautifully marinated meats, and substitute the usual drab sides with the likes of roasted jerusalem artichokes with capers and parsley. It even nails gluten-free brekkie with multigrain porridge and coconut yoghurts.
Chances are if you’re looking for gluten-free food you’ve heard of the Hemsley Sisters. They wax lyrical about the virtues of clean eating, and these values hold true at their bamboo- and plant-bedecked outlet within Selfridges. We were shocked to find a gluten-free burger in a bun could taste so good, and a choco coco shake on the side was downright naughtiness that hardly felt ‘clean’ at all.
You can come to this tastefully modern Kensington café with absolutely no dietary requirements, but you might be the odd one out. The Hive (formerly called Down the Earth) is well-known among London’s free-from eaters for its exotic juices and shakes (with a choice of bases, from coconut water to almond milk), gluten-free breakfasts such as chia granola and green eggs, and coeliac-friendly lunches such as raw salads. Ask staff anything: food allergies are their specialist subject.
An independent bistro-style restaurant on Rosebery Avenue, Niche is so dedicated to producing delicious dishes that you’d be hard-pressed to detect that everything on its menu is completely gluten-free. Said menu is, frankly, massive, and packed with options such as fritters, fried chicken, and doughnuts – dishes that, anywhere else, would have coeliacs running for the hills. A rare treat for gluten-free diners.
Gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free cakes abound at Serena Whitefield’s first café, making it a safe haven for those with an intolerance as well as a sweet tooth. Ground almonds help make the magic happen, although most cakes come off a little greasy (as is the way with many GF cakes). The likes of a raspberry and almond loaf are so good, though, that a little greasiness doesn’t matter, especially when washed down with a matcha latte.
Thai-style slaw, sesame-rich sushi and Lebanese delicacies – the food is so exciting at this grab-and-go café you’ll barely notice the absence of gluten. Desserts are just as joyous, with a citrusy chi lime pie and caramel shortcake nearly having us convinced that we could live for ever raw last time we stopped by.
There aren’t a whole lot of WAGs tottering around Brixton – however gentrified it has become of late, it’s not yet millionaire-footballer territory. Instead, this café-bakery’s name refers to Wheat And Gluten. Aside from the excellent breads and colourful cakes, there’s a short daily menu of gluten-free snacks such as quinoa superfood salad and chicken schnitzel. Drinks include coeliac-friendly Celia lager (see what they did there?).
How about dairy-free restaurants in London?
When it comes to vegan-only restaurants, London has got herbivores covered. But what about when you're eating as a group, and only some of you are vegan? We've hand-picked mainstream restaurants, covering cuisines from Japanese and Thai, right through to Peruvian, which 'cater for all'. Because the only thing better than eating out, is eating out with all your friends.
The name of this Chinese restaurant in Hammersmith gives a bit of a clue as to what it's all about: its speciality is dim sum, handmade each day by a chef with plenty of experience parcelling up parcels to be steamed (or baked). But it's not just about the dim sum. The menu also features crispy aromatic duck, salt and pepper squid, deep-fried soft shell crab, wonton soup, bok choi in garlic sauce and poached pork dumplings in chilli sauce soup. But if you want dim sum? Expect dim sum filled with things like sea bass and fennel, shrimp, peas and carrot, chives and prawn, Chinese mushroom and pork, radish, peanuts, chives and coriander. Steamed bao also feature, filled with braised pork, barbecued pork, pan-fried duck and salted egg yolk custard.
Venue says: “Freshly handmade dim sum in our kitchen every day!”