I recently travelled to London for a few weeks, and wanted to share what I learned about gluten free restaurants, in case anyone else plans to travel there.
one of the main things I found was that as common as it is in the Minneapolis/ St Paul metro to find a restaurant with a gluten free menu, in London it’s vegetarian menus and dishes that get that sort of attention. but although there aren’t as many restaurants with gluten-free menus (percentage-wise) as Minnesota, they definitely knew what celiac disease was, and took the “gluten free” label quite seriously, and knew what they could and couldn’t make offhand, more often than not.
first there are the nice, expensive restaurants… as in most cities, these restaurants are usually quite easily able to adapt a meal to be gluten free. they often consist mainly of protein and veggies, and have excellent chefs. I don’t feel that these restaurants need too much attention cast on them. if you go to a nice steakhouse, for instance, you should have no issues. I dined at Goodman Steak House in Mayfair, and it was amazing. and even more amazing was Gordon Ramsey’s Maze. I also had drinks and the most amazing scallops appetizer at Claridge’s in the Mayfair area (a hotel where many American celebrities stay). it was fun to get a good splurge for fine dining, with such amazing chefs in London.
traditional English food: I didn’t end up a many of these types of restaurants/ pubs. the food is often heavily breaded, and while I heard that they can work around the allergy quite well, it didn’t seem like I could get much of the fun stuff that I wanted anyway. I found online that there was a restaurant in Leicester Square called Mermaid’s that made gluten free fish & chips. I walked around for an hour searching and searching, and found nothing. later I discovered that they’d closed down. so don’t make that same mistake! instead, if you’re there on a Wednesday, there’s a place called Oliver’s Fish and Chips that’s just a little north of the main tourist areas in the Chalk Farm area (easily accessible by the Underground, or a taxi isn’t too expensive either). when I went there, I was amazed at the list of fish options to choose from to make the GF fish and chips (which are huge!). it was such a treat. they do that every Wednesday now.
mid-range restaurants: Caffe Concerto is another chain (lots of locations scattered across London), it’s a bit more of just a normal restaurant. but I was very pleased to find that I could have the chips (fries) there, as they had a dedicated fryer, and the entrees were really tasty and not too expensive either. I found that by just walking down the street and popping in, most places knew what gluten was, knew of a few items that could be made gluten free, but didn’t have a specific menu. but don’t be afraid to go in and ask, you might find something amazing!
Italian: what I ended up eating most frequently was Italian food: pizza and pasta. there are several chains that you can find all over the tourist areas. I’ll skip to the best one first: Rossopomodoro. the gluten free pizzas taste like they’re on homemade dough! it’s Napolitano-style and absolutely amazing. unfortunately I only tried this restaurant a few days before I left. but to make up for it, I went all 3 days in a row until I left 🙂 it’s a must-try! other pizza chains, which are nice to have, but with a standard pre-made GF pizza crust (“base”) are Pizza Express and ASK Italian. and Bella Express was my second favorite, they had GF pizzas and pasta both.
quick eats: Port-a-Manger and EAT are sometimes literally located on every block. both have shelves of soups that are gluten free, and labelled as such on the placards. I tried many of these soups, and they were amazing. the Mushroom Risotto soup at Pret-a-Manger was my favorite (and I don’t usually like mushrooms!). then there are random ones all over the place, Hermann ze Germann near Leicester Square/ Covent Garden area. also near there is a Five Guys! it must be fairly new, as lines were often out the door and along the street a ways.
American restaurants~ there’s a Hard Rock Cafe, a Planet Hollywood, etc in the Piccadilly Circus area (not far from Leicester Square), they had a surprising amount of options (though mostly just bunless-burgers and salads and such), but the waits can be upwards of an hour, so plan to put your name in and walk around or something if you’re wanting to go to one of these.
restaurants I wanted to try, but never made it there: Gourmet Burger Kitchen~ from what I’ve read, they may vary from location to location, but some have gluten free burger buns and dedicated friers for the french fries. La Tasca~ a Spanish tapas place with many locations, looked really good, had a lot of options, and wasn’t too pricey (relatively), but I never made my reservations! My Old Dutch Pancakes~ there are a few locations and the menu looked reminiscent of a Pannekoeken, wish I could’ve tried it! also, there’s a bakery not far from Buckingham Palace that also has several GF treats, including savory pies that are GF, made ready to serve there, called WAGfree Bakery. just popping into some cupcake shops, I found that many, if not most, had at least one gluten free option.
also worth mentioning are Indian restaurants, as they’re really prevalent in London. I didn’t go to any, as I had a way-too-spicy experience at one on my last trip to London (years ago). but a few that I saw mentioned as knowing what their gluten free options were, were Namaste (near Camden Town Underground stop) and Masala Zone in the Soho area.
there’s also a Whole Foods if you prefer to find groceries, but it’s not exactly in the middle of the tourist area.
and finally, there are a lot of fun Gelato shops, so definitely ask what you can have when you see one, because it’s such a treat to have fresh, homemade, authentic Italian ice cream
feel free to leave comments of other great restaurants in London that you’ve found!