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Provisions Bar Ă  Vin
Photograph: Provisions Bar Ă  Vin / Flourish Creativity

Grab great gluten-free eats at these Montreal restaurants

Whether you're struggling with celiac disease or doing a diet, the best gluten-free food and restaurants in Montreal have your back

Written by
Amie Watson
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Can gluten-free foodies eat well in Montreal restaurants? They sure can, and we’re not just talking tartare without the bread or croque without the monsieur. While fine dining chefs at Montreal’s most Michelin-worthy restaurants and beyond can usually adapt to gluten-free diners better than smaller restaurants or fast food spots—especially if an intolerance or allergy is noted in the reservation—there’s a broad range of cuisines and price ranges for gluten-free dining in the city, from the best sushi in Montreal and the best Mexican restaurants to vegan and vegetarian options.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Montreal

Grab great gluten-free food at Time Out Market Montréal

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Some of the city’s best restaurants have opened counter service locations in this 40,000-square foot gourmet food hall, and some are keeping gluten-free diners in mind by indicating right on their menu the dishes that do and don’t contain gluten and other allergens. At Paul Toussaint's stall, the Haitian ceviche, seafood skewers and djon djon jambalaya are all marked gluten free. At Foodchain, all the salads are naturally gluten free (don’t miss the shredded carrot and coconut one with crunchy sprouted buckwheat granola on top). And while your server at the original Old Port location of fine dining Le Club Chasse et Pêche (the brick and mortar restaurant of Montreal culinary royalty Chef Claude Pelletier) will present you with a specially printed leather-bound gluten-free menu if you mention your intolerance or allergy on your reservation, a similar attention to culinary detail is paid at the restaurant’s Time Out stall, where the grilled and marinated octopus and the braised pork jowl risotto with foie gras are a gluten-free foodie’s dream come true.

The best gluten-free options among Montreal restaurants

Boris Bistro is the first certified gluten-free restaurant in Quebec, a title awarded by the Canadian Celiac Association and the Fondation Quebecoise de la maladie cœliaque in June 2018. So you know there’s zero cross-contamination in the fryer, on the grill or anywhere else in the kitchen. You’re free to order from the entire menu in the elegant Old Montreal bistro, from duck fat-cooked fries to braised rabbit, black pudding, grilled trout and even poutine with a bravas or Peruvian huacaina sauce. Steak and salmon tartares come with warm bread from nearby all-gluten-free bakery Cookies Stéfanie (the best GF bread in the city, in our opinion). The only gluten in the entire place is bread for non-gluten-free diners who specially request it (not the other way around), which is brought in from an outside bakery and kept in air-sealed packages away from the rest of the kitchen. You’re safe here.

Chefs Pablo Rojas and Hakim Rahal of Restaurant Provisions and baby brother Provisions Bar à Vin and butcher shop are seriously market-driven – so much so that there’s just one chalkboard with a list of ingredients for their five- or seven-course, daily evolving tasting menu in Outremont. “Strawberries,” “Nordic shrimp,” and “endives” are the types of descriptors you’ll get when trying to figure out what will be set in front of you. But that’s awfully handy when you forget what’s in your intensively savoury bowl of risotto, then look at the board and realize two things: that’s it’s lamb neck and that you should definitely be eating more lamb’s neck. Let the restaurant know in advance about no gluten, since there’s only one menu per evening, but then rest assured that the kitchen will be able to adapt to almost any restriction. And most dishes are vegetable and meat-driven with naturally gluten-free sauces and reductions anyway. And if they do have to change a dish (e.g. a pasta), your server will be thrilled – it means they’ll get to put their sommelier skills to work and come up with another interesting wine pairing from the mostly biodynamic, organic and natural list.

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Chef Aaron Langille is a master of adapting to dietary restrictions at this intimate wine bar in the up-and-coming Mile Ex neighbourhood. His long-fermented sourdough bread isn’t gluten free, which is a shame because he’s a bit of a fermentation master after staging at NOMA in Copenhagen and San Francisco, and he dragged his sourdough with him to Montreal where he’s worked at some of the top restaurants in Montreal. But plenty of his other house-made ferments add creative touches to his gluten-free-friendly seasonal dishes. And his creative sharing plates often don’t need much tinkering. Case in point: His scallops with buttermilk, dill and celery; celery root with green curry and peanuts; and squash with mussels, leeks and rice are so addictive you’ll be fighting for the last bite. And if you’re looking for some gluten-free romance, are a solo diner or have a group with a gluten-free diner, there are quiet back tables, a welcoming wraparound bar where you can watch the chefs at work and a private chef’s table for groups in the open, lower-level kitchen.

What's not to “lov” about this upscale vegetarian restaurant? About half the menu is gluten free, from the quinoa fritters with jackfruit and pineapple salsa to the gnocchi with hemp-basil pesto and almond parmesan. And plenty of the rest can sub in gluten-free bread, including the burgers and the parsnip and pear tartine. The hanging swings, edison bulbs, vaulted ceiling and long bar in the original Old Montreal location create a magical atmosphere that designers Jean-Pierre Viau and Jacinthe Piotte have extended to new locations in downtown Montreal, Laval, Brossard and Toronto. Throw in a stellar cocktail list, organic wines and beers and a flavour-packed brunch and you’ve got yourself a winner.

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This fine dining Italian restaurant from Chef Emma Cardarelli was named one of Canada’s top 10 restaurants in 2012 by enRoute Magazine, so even though pasta is the word, there’s a surprising amount of naturally gluten free, regional Italian fare. And the creative kitchen has the chops to adapt other dishes without compromising the food’s integrity. There isn’t a designated gluten-free fryer, but if that doesn’t bother you, look for soft shell crabs, tempura cod cheeks with pancetta and sweet onion sauce or deep-fried panisses with lentil and root vegetable ragu and parsley puree, all breaded in rice or corn flour and best accompanied by any of the natural wines or Amari-heavy cocktails on the drinks list. The menu changes seasonally, but don’t skip the Roman-style tripe, the ethically sourced pork chop or the charred salad with fava beans, toasted pecans and chickpea purée. Cross your fingers for the gluten-free hazelnut torte.

Chef Antonio Park uses gluten-free tamari in many of his Japanese and Korean dishes, which means you can order more than simple sashimi and nigiri sushi at this Westmount restaurant. But rest assured, there’ll be a bottle of gluten-free soy sauce plus wheat-free wasabi and pickled ginger on hand for your multi-course omakase meal or chirashi bowl. At brunch and lunch, try the yam noodles with grilled organic salmon or chicken and in the evening, the charcoal-grilled albacore. “There are more and more people asking for gluten free,” says Chef Park, who also made much of his Air Canada menus for flights to Japan and Asia with gluten-free tamari. Though his restaurant team of sushi chefs are trained to avoid cross-contamination when slicing and rolling sushi, Celiac diners can always stick with edamame, oysters, sashimi and a deconstructed salad, followed by a strawberry vacherin with a French meringue dome, berry water and whipped cream for dessert.

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Umami Ramen is the first (and maybe still the only) ramen shop in Montreal with gluten-free options. The gluten-free noodles won’t be homemade like the wheat ones, and your choices are limited to miso and spicy miso ramen and tsukemen (a ramen variation where the noodles are served separately from the broth), but both are filling bowls that include the restaurant’s homemade tofu, tomato confit and mustard greens. The gluten-free noodles are nonetheless tender and comfortingly soft without being overcooked.

Everything’s made with corn at this Venezuelan restaurants in the Plateau and 100 per cent gluten free. The best deals are the signature arepas – dense grilled breads stuffed with your choice of beef, pork, chicken, fish, beans and cheese – but there are also giant plates or rice, beans, feta and plantains with chorizo, cracklings, tomato-stewed beef and guasacaca (the Venezuelan version of guacamole), to be enjoyed with a gluten-free beer, sangria or tamarind juice. Even the fried plantains and yucca with avocado sauce are safe since there’s nothing wheat-based going into the fryer.

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At this small kiosk in the Jean-Talon Market, workers swirl circles of batter to order the old-fashioned way on elevated, hot pans and top them with everything from spinach and goat’s milk cheese to apples and caramel. And it’s all gluten free. Owner Marie-Thérèse worked at one of Paris’ most famous crêperies and brought her knowledge of the Breton-style thin pancake to Montreal. The kiosk became completely gluten free in 2018 and now uses all organic and gluten-free buckwheat, chickpea and brown rice flour, as well as gluten-free ham. There’s even plant-based milk and lactose-free cheese for the savoury crêpes and homemade nutella for the sweet ones. For a French/Quebec hybrid experience, try one with chestnut cream and maple syrup.

This restaurant near the McGill Ghetto is one of the only Thai place in the city that marks gluten-free items on its menu, which is important when soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce and even some kinds of fish sauce contain gluten. More than just being gluten free, though, these dishes come with culinary clout, as owner and chef Pamika Sukla is also behind the much-loved Pamika Thai Brasserie on Sherbrooke St. E and knows a thing or two about traditional Thai cooking. In addition to gluten-free versions of classics like pad thai and green curry, the menu page of gluten-free and vegetarian items includes more unique items like su ki soup with glass noodles and tofu and a rad na noodle stir fry with vegetables and thick cassava sauce. For those who don’t mind that the frying oil is used for items containing wheat, there are fried spring rolls wrapped in rice paper. And while the gluten free menu only includes vegetarian dishes, some of the regular menu is naturally gluten free, including the steamed seafood set with calamari and shrimp.

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Chef Normand Laprise’s stronghold of French-meets-local fine dining is also a gluten-free dining secret in Montreal. The chef avoids gluten in his own diet and his $152 seven-course tasting menu is often primarily gluten free or easily adaptable. While no kitchen with homemade sourdough can guarantee zero cross-contamination, Laprise’s legion of well-trained chefs make gluten-free diners feel in good hands, from the first bite of marinated flounder with rhubarb blood orange, melon radish and sweet cicely mousse to the show-stopping maple-cooked duck breast. Most of the dishes besides the pasta are so product-driven that they're naturally gluten free anyway, e.g. the roasted scallops with sobrassada or the rack of lamb with Jerusalem artichoke and yogurt puree, black trumpet mushrooms and vermouth. And sauces tend more towards jus reductions rather than flour-thickened gravies. There’s even respectable (and toasted) gluten-free bread that hits the table in a linen napkin accompanied by local, cold-pressed sunflower oil.

Chef Ralph Alerte and his wife add soigné plating, white linens and finesse to jerk chicken, griot and gumbo-style okra at their pan-Caribbean restaurant in The Village. Take the scallops: pan-seared and served with chlorophyll-infused cilantro vinaigrette and a mouth-popping pikliz of pickled cabbage and carrots. The best part is that a good chunk of the menu – including that juicy, mammoth serving of jerk chicken – is gluten free (there’s no soy sauce or bouillion powder in the marinade). Don’t skip the cocktails, like the Ti-Punch with rum agricole or the Ancho Old Fasioned with habanero liqueur and creole bitters. Or sip your way through the extensive list of imported rums, some of which aren’t even available in their home countries, like a pineapple-heavy Plantation rum from Barbados.

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While the actual Peruvian/Japanese dish of marinated sashimi-style fish thaty the restaurant is named after often includes soy sauce, there’s plenty that’s gluten free on the menu at this downtown small plates hot spot. Chef Marcel Larrea earned his stripes at top Lima restaurant Astrid y Gastón before helming Tiradito, where soy sauce does figure heavy in a lot of the dishes, but not the Peruvian ceviche, with its marinated chunks of tender fish in a lime and chilli pepper leche de tigre. And if you don’t mind a deep fryer shared by foods containing gluten, the yucca fries are killer. Otherwise, there’s a naturally gluten-free shrimp causa and a spicy cauliflower coconut stew to go with your pungent Pisco sour.

Ottavio is one of the best restaurants in Montreal that offers gluten-free pasta and pizza in addition to a traditional, wheat-heavy Italian menu. The gluten free versions aren’t homemade, but they’re cooked to a perfect al dente and come with toppings that go way beyond tomato sauce. Choose from gluten-free Italian sausage, pepperoni and meatballs for the pizza, plus rosé, alfredo and arrabiata for the gluten free fusilli or penne (the two GF pasta options). Plus, there’s gluten-free garlic bread and even homemade beignets fried in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. And you’ll know you’re in excellent hands when your server switches out your silverware, glasses, plates and water pitchers when you say they’re gluten free. To set your mind even more at ease, all GF dishes are served in red dishes so there's no confusion. And there's a separate oven for the gluten-free pizzas. You can even have the poutine – Italian-style, of course, with Bolognese – which is definitely part of la dolce vita.

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All the tortillas at Tacos Victor are 100 per cent corn, so nothing will contaminate the grill at this St-Henri taco shop. From the small menu, order the succulent grilled shrimp, steak or beef tongue tacos, which come double wrapped (better to hold the heaping fillings) and topped with fries (there’s also no risk of deep fryer cross-contamination) for $6.50 a taco. Ask for more radishes and cucumbers and add spoonfuls of any of three homemade hot sauces – all miraculously gluten free. There’s no liquor license for beer or margaritas, but the guacamole almost makes up for it, especially with those freshly fried tortilla chips.

L’Artisan is a pâtisserie known for its 100 per cent gluten-free and milk-free maple eclairs, raspberry tarts and blueberry danishes stuffed with homemade dairy-free almond cream. But this Villeray bakery counter also has a savoury side, with chicken, tuna and turkey sandwiches, individual-sized vegetarian pizza and leek and vegetable quiches on homemade breads and crusts. These are not your dense, dull gluten-free breads and pastries of yesteryear. Instead, they’re unbelievable replicas of the real deals – tender and flaky with plenty of air between layers of perfectly baked gluten-free dough, mostly made from a mix of rice and tapioca flour and some magical ovens. The winner on the savoury side is the baguette, which is crunchy on the outside with a fluffy, tender inside. There’s now a second location in Rosemère, and the bakery delivers orders more than $49 anywhere in Quebec.

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Pullman has been upping its gluten-free game over the years while its selection of natural, organic and biodynamic wines has remained one of the best in the city – and probably the most extensive. Now, almost a third of the food menu (divided into classics and seasonal small plates) is gluten free or can be made gluten free by the well-trained kitchen, which is important when you want to keep drinking funky orange wines aged in amphora or another glass of that silky Sicilian red. Ask your server what you can have from the seasonal menu and they’ll usually come back with all the gluten-free items ticked on your paper menu. It’s a fill-in-the-blanks affair, so hold onto the GF ticked version and ask for a second, unticked paper menu to fill in – because you’re going to want to order a later round of deboned quail in sweet-and-sour bourbon sauce, gravlax and caviar (sans blini) with cucumbers and seasoned salt or octopus with red pepper sauce and lentils. If you’re just looking for a snack, there are the go-to olives with lemon confit where the candied fruit is the perfect sweet offset to the salty brine. If you’re okay with sharing a deep fryer with non-gluten-free items, don’t miss the fries.

Gluten-free by the the cuisine

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