It’s a little bit of a challenge to be a gluten-free traveler, but that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing the world. All you need is a little research — and for some of these places, you don’t even need that much research at all. As the world becomes more aware of celiac disease, accommodations are made to ensure that everyone gets in on the fun of delicious, hearty local foods. Here are the 10 best cities for gluten-free travelers who want to eat like locals.
Since Ireland has one of the highest rates of celiac disease in the world, the Irish make sure that everyone can enjoy hearty meals. You can even enjoy gluten-free fish and chips at Beshoff Bros. No matter what cuisine you crave, you can rest assured that they have a gluten-friendly version of it in Dublin. The Coeliac Society of Ireland is one of the most helpful resources for travel around Ireland; every gluten-free traveler should use their resources. Gallagher’s Boxty House in Temple Bar has an entirely gluten-free menu.
Japanese cuisine is so abundant in rice, seafood, and meats that you’ll find plenty of delicious local options in many restaurants. Definitely be alert and make sure you ask whether anything you’re about to eat contains soy or mirin (here’s where that gluten-free card will come in handy), but one of the best things about Japanese food is that it is laid out so neatly that you would easily be able to spot something suspicious. Japan also sells plenty of gluten-free soy sauces, so you can carry one with you when you eat sushi. For a truly fun-filled night, go to Robot Restaurant in Tokyo’s red light district.
Not only is this vibrant South African city so diverse that it boasts a wide variety of gluten-free cuisines, such as South Indian, but the South African diet is very meat-centric, complimented with vegetables and fruit. Since Cape Town is a coastal city, it also specializes in a variety of seafood. For a breathtaking experience, go to the allergy-friendly Kirstenbosch Tea Room, located at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, one of our top 10 parks in the world for picnicking.
Paleo dieters, rejoice! Denver-based nutritionist Camilla Carboni, co-author of the best-selling book PALEO Cleanse, can attest to the fact that the mountain town is safe not only for gluten-free travelers, but regular travelers, too; people want to eat the gluten-free foods of Denver. Even the airport is full of gluten-free options. Root Down offers fresh, world-inspired seasonal dishes like carrot and Thai red curry soup with apple-pear chutney and roasted Kashmiri chicken (and other delicious menu items clearly marked GF).
You wouldn’t expect the land of pizza and pasta to be on this list, yet Italy is remarkably aware of and helpful toward gluten-free diners. You could do your research in advance, but take a look at many of the menus outside restaurants and you’ll see a section called “per celiaci,” for celiacs. For delicious gluten-free pizza, go to Voglia di Pizza in Campo De Fiori. Their risotto will also astound you.
Texan friendliness extends to Austin, which has garnered praise for being one of the most gluten-friendly cities in America. The areas of Allendale and Hyde Park are especially great for people with celiac disease. You can even join the fun at iconic favorites like Hut’s Hamburgers, which offers gluten-free buns (but avoid their fries, which are cooked in proximity to breaded onion rings).
New York has such a plethora of amazing restaurants; inevitably, there are many gluten-friendly options to choose from among them. When abroad, you are keen to eat the food of that particular cuisine — as you should be — but New York is known for so many different foods that it doesn’t really have any particular cuisine, except, unfortunately for celiacs, maybe New York-style pizza and bagels. Oh wait, you can get those gluten-free, too — at Mozzarelli’s and Jennifer’s Way, respectively.
The “breads,” so to speak, of Mexico are primarily made from corn, which makes street food very accessible — and who can say no to chilaquiles smothered in chile sauce, quesadillas (typically done here with corn, not the more familiar flour, tortillas) with Oaxaca cheese, and arroz con leche? Mexico City is one of the rare cities where you might even forget that you have dietary restrictions. Adventurous gluten-free eaters: try crickets at Café de Tacuba.
A lot of South Indian cuisine is gluten-free by default, so why Cochin as opposed to, say, Chennai, or even Colombo in Sri Lanka? Because Cochin is in Kerala, and Kerala cooks use often rice and fish as their main ingredients — along with lots of spices. You’ll never feel like you are missing out on food in Kerala, because the few popular wheat items (chappatis or parathas) are not technically Kerala cuisine; wheat items are better in North India, anyway. Here, you’ll want to eat appam — a pancake made from rice and coconut milk. Enjoy it under a colorful canopy at Ginger House Restaurant, located in the historic Jewish district.
You may laugh at the hilarious “allergy pride parade” skit on Portlandia, but there is a reason it exists: the city of Portland, Oregon, is extremely accommodating to people with food allergies, from its slew of gluten-free pizzerias to restaurants and food carts that don’t just have gluten-free items on the menu, but are 100 percent gluten-free. There is even a gluten-free brewery (attached to a gluten-free gastropub, called Ground Breaker Brewing. Your first stop should be New Cascadia, a “traditional” bakery that is 100 percent gluten-free, with delicious baguettes, pies, and savory meals. Book your tickets for late September; not only will the weather be pleasant, but it’s also when the annual Gluten-Free Food Allergy Festival usually takes place.