“How was New York?”, I’m asked as soon as I’m back in a very rainy London.
Most of my responses usually go something like this:
“I didn’t want to come back. We ate an incredible amount.”
“Just amazing. THE FOOD!”
“We well and truly ate our way around the city.”
“Everything tastes so much better there!”
“We just planned all our days around food.”
“I’ve got some cracking restaurants to tell you about.”
You get the picture. It would be weird if a food blogger went to NYC and wasn’t entranced by the food scene surely?
Admittedly, when I go abroad, I won’t usually do a ton of research. Sometimes I’ll know the key spots and just explore. Depending on the holiday, sometimes it’s nice to switch off a bit. Since being gluten free however, this isn’t something you can just leave to chance. Yes you’ll no doubt be able to have something on the menu, even if that something is a bowl of chips or a salad, but I’m not the type of person that just eats to purely refuel. I love my food, so I wasn’t going to let this be a wasted opportunity. I was going to make sure I enjoyed every since meal, and boy did we.
Luckily both of us were into our food, so research included speaking to lots of friends and colleagues who had been, reading blogs, scrolling through Instagram and watching vlogs. Before you know it, we had a list as long as your arm of must-eats, many of which I began to plot on a printed map. I went with my friend Emma, who too had a epic list, so together we began to plan out our days.
Plotting your restaurants, just as you would your attractions is a great way to plan. When you’re in a certain area, as you start to get peckish for lunch or dinner, you can have a look on your map to see what’s nearby. Plans were often scrapped however when we discovered new places on the way. Walking as well as getting the subway really allows you to get to know the city, and soon enough you’ll get your bearings, spotting new restaurants along the way. There’s nothing like seeing ‘gluten free options’ or ‘gluten free menu’ available. Call me weird, but it’s that weird butterfly feeling like when you bump into a crush. Food is my first love, so rightfully so, I had a few heart-skipping-beats moments. Soon enough Emma was used to me squealing at GF signs, and she too would get excited for me when food barely available in the UK was served gluten free.
So let’s get down to business. I’ve put together a must-eats list, starting with restaurants and spots that were clearly labelled gluten free. The second list, are restaurants you HAVE to try, however gf wasn’t clear on first approach. Don’t let this put you off however. I wouldn’t have included them if they weren’t accommodating and we able to speak to the chef and alter the recipe /dish slightly.
FAVE SPOTS – LABELLED GLUTEN FREE
1. The Butcher’s Daughter
Locations: Three NYC locations. We went to Lolita.
What: Hail Kale Caesar (with gf croutons and veggie chicken) and a Med bowl with cashew cream and fresh basil.
Go for: Lunch
Verdict: Totally veggie, this place is the one for big healthy salads after a big meaty meal the night before. Waiters were happy to chat through gluten free options (there are many). Blood orange mimosas were amazing here, as is the veggie chicken.
2. Erin McKenna’s Bakery
Location: East Village
What: More donuts, cupcakes, cookies than you could shake a stick at.
Verdict: There really is so much to choose from! All gluten free and vegan, you’re really spoilt for choice. Previously known as Babycakes, Erin has really done herself proud, and I wish I’d had time to go back for round two!
3. Tomkins square bagels
Location: East Village
What: Gluten Free Bagel
Verdict: “I genuinely think I’ve got tears in my eyes.” – Actually words utter as I took my first bite. (Can you tell I’m happy from the photo!?) Without doubt this was my favourite bagel of the trip. I mean, you can’t go to NYC and not have a bagel?! And because this is the US, everything is going to be bigger. I was gobsmacked by the sheer amount of filling stuffed into my gf bagel! I went for the whole hog – cream cheese, smoked salmon and avocado, finishing off with a gluten free cookie.
Another spot for bagels is Murray’s (however, although tasty, these were slightly drier in texture than Tomkins. Still worth a visit though!).
Location: Various. We went to Hell’s Kitchen.
What: Buckeroo burger with sweet fries
Verdict: Bareburger are 100% organic and grass fed, using local food artisans and farmers. They have two gf bun options, a tapioca rice bun, which I went gone for. We both ordered the Buckeroo (beef, brisket, wild mushrooms, aged cheddar, smoke sauce) with sweet fries. These guys are a chain, so a few of these restaurants dotted about.
5. The Grey Dog
What: Only the best GF PANCAKES! And gf bread to make cracking sarnies.
Verdict: These pancakes, smothered in bacon, maple syrup and strawberries were THE perfect hangover cure. The fluffiest, lightest pancakes I’ve had in years and the answer to all my prayers.
6. Juice Generation
What: Green juice & a strawberry smoothie
Verdict: A great to pick up a quick lunch or morning juice. They also have a mini gf bakery and packed up sushi and salads to take away. Grab one and head to Central Park.
Location: Little Italy
What: GF pizza & pasta
Verdict: – The best gf pizza in town apparently. Sadly the lady behind me had the last gf dough! So I had gf pasta and meatballs which was also really nice. Lots of Italian places in Little Italy will have gf options on their menu, so keep your eyes peeled. But this place is a winner
Other places that weren’t labelled, but when we asked could easily adapt where –
What: Huevos Rancheros and a full breakfast
Verdict: A brilliant breakfast in a great location. Anything involving eggs is always a winner, but huevos rancheros is a big favourite. Definitely head back to the High Line for a long walk or grab a bite to eat at on the way, or head first for brunch, and walk it off. This is one of the only gluten free options however, but staff were happy to chat through options of how I could edit my order.
9. Mary’s Fish Camp
Location: Greenwich Village
What: Shellfish stew
Verdict: I would never usually order shellfish, but I am a big fish fan, so thought I’d give it a go. I’m so glad I did, as this was probably one of the big highlights. The chef was happy to make this gf by removing breadcrumbs from the top and not frying the cod breadcrumbs.
- After you walk the Highline (definitely recommend) there’s a cookie sandwich ice cream place, Melt Bakery. They don’t have GF on the menu, but I asked and she had a few! (Already wrapped up separately).
- Starbucks are awful. They don’t even have an allergy menu! I asked to see what to see if I could have a frapp, and they said, ‘Oh it’s all online.’ So disappointing for such a HUGE chain.
- Sniff out your local Whole Foods as soon as you get there. They have lots of good basics. I grabbed a frozen pack of four GF muffins and had some for breakfast to save time hunting for somewhere I could grab something. Sushi is also great, as it’s fully labelled. Ask and they’ll grab you some GF soy sauce.
- When flying, make sure you log on to your flight options to request a gluten free meal. We flew with British Airways, and although the meal was far blander and less interesting than other’s options, at least it was safe to eat. Not something you want to chance your luck with on a flight!
- EAT ALL THE REESE’S! I’m a huge peanut butter fan so took a huge advantage over the fact that Reese’s peanut butter cups are gluten free. The white chocolate ones are a particular hit. I brought a few bags back for family who eye’s lit up as they bit into the cups. Nan’s reaction was priceless: “Oooofff, BEAUUUDDIFUL!”
NYC was easily one of the easiest holidays I’ve been on for gluten free. I would 100% suggest you do your research and make sure you have some places up your sleeve. There’s nothing worse than wondering around, bellies rubbling, but once you do just a small amount of research, you’ll realise how easy it can be. Keep your eyes open to restaurants you might spot on the way too, there’s nothing like coming across a gem.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to tweet me @lorileysesh or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Going to NYC is a big deal. If I can, I’m more than happy to help.