Shakespeare, the Queen Mummy, Big Ben … of all the things that came to my mind before my trip to London, “ease of gluten-free eating” was not among them. But wow was I in for a pleasant surprise! London is up and coming on the gluten-free scene – from street vendors to completely gluten-free restaurants, this city is happening! While celiac-safe dining still takes some planning, (cue my usual pre-travel spreadsheet of possibilities…. I know my celiac readers can relate!), the number of gluten-free establishments/gluten-free friendly places is pretty impressive. Read on to learn about some of the most drool-worthy spots in London (that just so happen to be celiac-approved)!
Despite the wait, (which was looooongggg), Dishoom was not to be missed! Of all the amazing places we went – and ate! – in London, Dishoom may actually be among my favorite! The dishes were incredibly filling without all of the heaviness that often accompanies Indian food. In fact, much of the menu is not only gluten-free, but dairy free as well! Our server was also very knowledgeable about what on the menu could be made to be celiac-safe and paid attention to all the details, from spices and toppings to our main courses. (For reference: this is a chain, but we went for the Covent Garden location.)
Note: We actually opted to go here for dinner, but the lunch menu is similar and my friends who tried it mid-day loved it as well.
Après Food’s homestyle cooking is earthy, satisfying and flavorful without all of the unnecessary fillers, such as refined sugar, gluten and (in many cases), dairy. What I appreciate most about Après Food is that during my main (I opted for the chicken and butternut squash risotto), I did not for a moment feel as though I was eating “health food”… though it was entirely healthy! While juice bars and detox spots are great, sometimes you just want a hearty, warming platter that sticks to your ribs while also staying healthy. And that’s just what Après Food accomplishes! I had the privilege of meeting the owner, who shared her personal goal of promoting “functional food” that is both healing and healthy while also remaining tasty. I have to say. she’s on to something!
The only disappointment of the day was the Victoria Sponge cake. Made with goat’s milk butter and coconut sugar, the taste was unexpected and did not pair well with the – minimal – amount of fruit spread that had been delicately positioned between the slices, while the cake itself, was, I regret to say, the driest I’ve ever eaten. Sigh. Even so, Après Food makes the list because the mains are delicious and the overall goal is on point!
Don’t let the small, dark storefront fool you: this bakery is a full café (there’s more seating in the back, as well as a well-rounded menu), and everything – including the bread – is GREAT. As many of us celiacs/gluten freebies know, good bread is just tough to come by post-gluten. I strongly recommend trying their wheat and yeast free sourdough – I brought it home and used it to make the best avocado smash I’ve ever had! On the menu: the spinach salad was a lovely surprise (the balsamic vinaigrette dressing was a great counter balance to the sweetness of the pumpkin slices), and the leek and ham quiche hit the spot. I’ll admit that I went twice… and that their chocolate muffin is hands down the best muffin (gluten-free or otherwise!), that I’ve ever had in my life! Rich without being overly sweet, fluffy, moist… I’m all but drooling on my keyboard here! Really! Go try it out – you won’t regret it!
Technically we went here for brunch, but I think it qualifies nonetheless! Mommi serves up generous portions of Peruvian-inspired chow that are 100% gluten-free! I went here with a group of gluten-eaters and they all really enjoyed it, which I take as a good sign! For those opting for brunch rather than lunch, they have a special Sunday brunch menu option of three courses and unlimited bubbly or the regular menu, so bring some friends and have some (gluten-free!) fun!
A couple of honorable mentions:
- Detox Kitchen – Stumbled on this place completely by chance and was happy to have done so! They offer a completely gluten-free menu, including juices, soup, baked goods and two or three cold plate options. They also deliver, in case the London weather has you stuck in (I mean… snuggled in!), your AirBnb longer than you’d like!
- Pearl & Groove – More a bakery than a lunch place, Pearl & Groove is 100% gluten-free, and partially refined sugar-free, which is a combo that I love. (I mean, I love the sugary stuff too, but the “I’m in the middle of an unfamiliar city experiencing a sugar-crash of epic proportions” thing? Not so much.) Their avo smash is good but it’s their warm fruit scone that set the bar and makes this place a winner!
Do you know any other good gluten-free lunch spots in London?? Please share in the comments section if so! In the meantime, keep an eye out – I’ll be posting about other dining options in London (dinners locations, bakeries and more), soon!