London’s best restaurants for gluten-free dining
It may come as a surprise, but there’s much for gluten-intolerant diners to enjoy at Martin Morales’s funky, colourful tribute to the zest and diversity of Peruvian cuisine. Dishes from the impressive gluten-free selection are prepared using a dedicated set of utensils to avoid cross-contamination, while the line-up runs from the celebrated ceviches and anticuchos to Peruvian corn cakes or grilled octopus with butterbean and lúcuma purée. For afters, try the papaya and coconut flan.
The owners of this gorgeous-looking Clerkenwell joint want us all to ‘make friends with food’ – and we’re certainly sold on the place with its low-key backstreet vibe, pretty plants in pots and cleverly contrived gluten-free cooking. Everything is nutritionally balanced, from the frittata muffins and sweet potato hash to the luscious cakes made with coconut sugar. Drinks are on message too. Now open in the evenings.
Gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free… that’s the schtick at this Italian joint from the team behind the Marcellaio RC mini-chain. Produce comes exclusively from indie artisan outfits, and the kitchen rolls out plenty of decent stuff – from arancini balls and Sardinian gnocchi to surprisingly good pizzas with very thin, flat bases (try the version topped with stracchino cheese and Genoese pesto). To drink, there’s GF Peroni beer as well as a selection of natural and low-intervention wines.
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 it has all-round appeal. The presence of a GF bakery located so centrally warrants a quiet slice of celebratory cake – or even a fist-bump with the person in front of you in the queue. Branches in Islington and Selfridges.
Indian cuisine tends to be more forgiving to diners with food allergies and intolerances, with many dishes nominally free from dairy and gluten. However, Dishoom is a cut above when it comes to accommodating special diets: most of its grilled meats, salads, vegetable sides and curries (including the signature black dhal) are gluten-free or can be tweaked to suit coeliacs, while staff take any questions about the menu in their stride.
Stunning 360-degree views and 24/7 opening are the big selling points at this hot cookie up on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, but the food isn’t far behind. There are always plenty of ‘gluten-conscious’ offerings on the eclectic carte – from snacks such as bacon-wrapped dates to raw yellowfin tuna with pickled watermelon or the signature ‘duck and waffle’ combo (preferably served with hojicha-stem green tea on the side).
Venue says Join us after hours for new late night dishes, unique cocktails and perfect sunrise views everyday from 11:30PM - 5AM
A self-service veggie buffet that delivers the goods from breakfast to lights out, Ethos scours the globe for culinary inspiration while keeping one eye on the diet-conscious market. Kick off with a gluten-free egg and spinach protein pot plus a slug of beetroot juice, lunch on Japanese miso-roasted aubergine, Quorn lasagne or a helping of jollof rice, and finish with a ‘healthy’ black-bean brownie. It’s also worth booking for their gluten-free afternoon tea.
It’s all about health from the farm at this west London hangout, which peddles ‘clean indulgence’ to an eager audience of moneyed Notting Hillbillies. Farmacy is a happy, joyful, ‘free-from’ kind of place – no dairy, no sugars, no meat, no additive nasties and no gluten (in most dishes, anyway). Instead, there are lots of plant-based goodies ranging from ‘probiotic jars’ and ‘clean curries’ to macro ‘earth bowls’ and ‘syringe shots’. Very virtuous, but flavoursome too.
Don’t expect strawberries in December at Farmstand – a clean-lined minimalist diner inspired by the namesake roadside produce stalls of America’s Midwest. Unrefined, GM-free, sustainable and seasonal are its watchwords, and just about everything is free from gluten and dairy – so go wild on salad boxes bursting with veg, fish and beautifully marinated meats. Farmstand even nails a wheat-free brekkie with coconut porridge, shakshuka and suchlike, while drinkers can sup gluten-free lager.
Venue says SUMMER flavours have landed at Farmstand Covent Garden & Farmstand Canary Wharf
A world away from the twee suburban shenanigans of the much-loved TV sitcom, the Good Life mini-chain mixes caged pendant lights and industrial concrete walls with a ‘clean food’ menu involving wraps, warm bowls and superfood salads (we hope you like kale!). Gluten-free options are flagged up throughout, from acai bowls and quinoa falafels to jerk chicken burritos and matcha vanilla cake. Branches in Chelsea, Marylebone, Notting Hill and St John’s Wood.
Bill Granger has the youthful serenity of a cult leader – a great advert for his chain of sunny-side-up all-day restaurants. Like its siblings, this branch offers a bespoke ‘allergy menu’ highlighting just about everything from celery to sulphur – so you can easily see if your favourite dish contains gluten. There are rich pickings among the inventive salads, small plates and ‘classics’, while Granger is also known for giving good brunch – gluten-free if you want it.
You can't really go wrong with anything on the meat-heavy menu at the Hawksmoor (sorry, vegetarians). 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 – be warned that GF puds are in short supply.
If you’re looking for gluten-free food, chances are you’ve heard of the Hemsley Sisters – spiraliser-wielding rock stars of the clean-eating scene. Tucked snugly into Selfridges Body Studio, their chic, sleek café is resolutely on-trend – so buy into the H&H brand via organic gluten-free dishes without refined sugars or hydrogenated fats and raise a cheer for their health-conscious cooking. Their downright naughty ‘choco coco’ shakes hardly feel ‘clean’ at all.
Now with 25 branches (and counting), this not-so-mini chain has managed to grow quickly because its food is downright delicious, and its concept is bang-on customer-friendly. So it’s no surprise to learn that everything on the menu can be cleverly tweaked to rid it of gluten – and that includes the option of gluten-free burger buns and gluten-free bread for your bacon sarnie at breakfast.
Spreading the gluten-free gospel in Covent Garden, One Aldwych’s good-looking flagship restaurant goes full-on with a menu that’s 100 percent on the side of coeliacs (and those who need to eat dairy-free). Executive chef Dominic Teague had dreamed up a host of innovative, seasonal dishes to wow the punters, from crispy confit duck with hazelnut vinaigrette to Brixham plaice and langoustines with preserved lemon and fennel.
By definition, poké is almost invariably gluten-free, so you can graze to your heart’s content from the cornucopia of virtuously healthy Hawaiian-inspired raw fish salad bowls on offer at this daytime poké peddler. As one of the trendy frontrunners, Island offers a build-your-own conveyor-belt system in a tiny interior that marries a South Pacific beach-shack vibe with a heavy R&B soundtrack. There are currently six branches across the capital.
Formerly home to polenta specialist La Polentaria, this is now an easy-going Soho Italian with officially recognised gluten-free credentials. Apart from the occasional lamb meatball and salmon ravioli, everything on offer is also veggie or vegan (and allergen-aware), so get your kicks from the likes of beetroot hummus, chestnut pappardelle, butternut squash flan topped with Parmesan fondue or almond and orange cake. The owners call it ‘redefined Italian food’.
When Le Relais opened in Paris in 1959 it was way ahead of the game in terms of no-choice menus. Fast-forward more than 50 years and the Soho outpost of this old-school brasserie-style restaurant is still serving up its house speciality of cooked-to-order steak with a ‘special’ sauce and a bucket-load of fries to gaggles of contented diners. Happily for coeliacs, this cracking plateful just happens to be gluten-free, too.
Giorgio Locatelli’s daughter, Dita, suffers from life-threatening food allergies, so it’s no surprise that all dietary requirements are catered for at the celeb chef’s sleek and swanky London flagship – including that holy grail of gluten-free dishes, wheat-free pasta. You’re in good hands at this Michelin-starred big-hitter – although you might need to raid the piggy bank before planning a slap-up meal here.
Anna Hansen takes a characteristically open-minded approach to gluten-free cuisine at her light-filled, thoroughly contemporary fusion restaurant in Clerkenwell. Clued-up staff can advise diners when it comes to dietary requirement and also point out which dishes are gluten-free – they’re also happy to demystify recherché ingredients such as ‘hijiki’, ‘umeboshi’ and ‘amchur’ for the uninitiated.
‘All dishes are gluten-free and officially accredited by Coeliac UK’ says a note on the menu of this Peruvian/Japanese hybrid – a bar, DJ lounge, art gallery and restaurant all rolled into one rocking Clapham package. Healthy pickings range from ceviche, sushi and other ‘raw bar’ classics to signature dishes such as purple-potato pancakes with blueberries, honey and crisped quinoa. There are lean contenders from the grill, and Mommi also ‘loves vegans’.
Venue says Weekends are for bottomless boozy brunching. And no one does it better than Mommi.
Gluten-free and next door to Sadler’s Wells, this bijou bistro-style restaurant really does have its own gastro-niche – whether you’re into buttermilk fried chicken, bangers and mash, wild mushroom gnocchi or doughnuts (dishes that would normally have coeliacs running for the hills). Everything on the massive menu meets dietary requirements, and Niche even has a special selection for IBS sufferers on a ‘low FODMAP’ diet.
Chef/author/TV chef Yotam Ottolenghi struck culinary gold with his game-changing Ottolenghi cafés, but Nopi is his more formal, more grown-up take on proceedings – although its bold fusion food shares the same eclectic magpie ethos. Finding something that’s gluten-free isn’t a problem here – in fact, the menu is peppered with possibilities (roasted beetroot with miso yoghurt, preserved lemon and sesame, anyone?). They will also happily adapt dishes to suit dietary requirements.
Gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free cakes abound at Serena Whitefield’s café, making it a safe haven for those with an intolerance as well as a sweet tooth. Ground almonds help make the magic happen, which explains why some items seem a little greasy. Still, treats such as raspberry and almond loaf are pretty damn good – especially when washed down with a matcha latte. Vegan salads and soups help things along come brunch-time.
Given that London’s first vegan ‘chicken shop’ (yes, you heard right) is basically about seitan (ie ‘meaty’ wheat gluten), you might think it was a 100 percent no-go. However, they do offer gluten-free-versions of their twist wraps and hot wings (‘original’ or ‘flavoured’), as well as GF fries (with chipotle salt), coleslaw and dunking gravy. Just be aware that there’s a small risk of cross-contamination. Also try Temple of Camden.
Similar to indie artisan set-ups such as Franco Manca, Theo’s dishes up Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas and very little else – although this joint has made itself the crown prince of Camberwell pies, with crusts that are soft and chewy but crisp underneath. The owners also make their own gluten-free bases but say that these aren’t recommended for coeliacs (due to the possibility of cross-contamination on the kitchen surfaces). Still, the toppings are on-trend and they come piled high. There’s a branch at Elephant & Castle too.
You don’t have to wait till Shrove Tuesday comes around for your pancake fix – thanks to this bright and buzzy venue squeezed into one corner of Flat Iron Square. Sweet and savoury buttermilk varieties abound, and the owners also have what they call ‘another batter’ for those who require gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free versions – just be aware that the kitchen isn’t a gluten-free environment.
Venue says A not so traditional pancake house serving good, honest sweet and savoury food and beautiful craft ciders.
Ignore the yukky name and head straight for the luscious goodies on offer at this kooky specialist in all things gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and so on. We suggest rounding up a group of mates and licking your way through the line-up of weird and wonderful ice creams – anyone for beetroot and chocolate? Yorica’s dairy-free fro-yo and shakes are perfectly ok too, but that’s not really the point.
Launched by Highbury locals Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D'Angelo, Zia Lucia serves up an old-fashioned Italian family feast in a contemporary setting. Four 48-hour fermented doughs give the menu its USP, with a gluten-free option sitting alongside a traditional version, one with a deliciously nutty wholemeal base and a dramatic-looking ‘vegetable charcoal’ riff. Toppings are trendy, and there’s also a vegan option involving butternut squash cream. A second branch is now open in Brook Green.
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.
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