Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Gluten-free NYC

I hadn't expected any difficulties in eating out gluten-free in New York- they cater for all kinds of choices, diets, fads etc, right? Not quite!

We started our week long break in Hudson where we stayed with my sister. She had bought in lots of G-F staples (pasta, pizza etc) and some yummy treats that we don't usually get (frozen G-F breakfast waffles anyone?-a company called Van's make them, although US only I think.)

The first restaurant we ate out at in Hudson was a diner called American Glory- how thrilling to find a place that highlights items on the menu that are NOT gluten-free, with everything else being fine for Coeliacs. If this was what a small place in Hudson had to offer, we had high hopes for Manhattan.

Next stop, Times Square, with 2 ravenous and slightly jet-lagged kids (not to mention adults). The first place we found to eat in was O'Lunney's Irish Pub ( I know, I know, we go all the way to America and end up in an Irish Pub, but we were hungry!!). Again, we were thrilled when they said they had a G-F menu. Alex picked a curry and we sighed with relief that we had been able to find somewhere that could cater for her so easily. After lunch we marched the little ladies down 5th Avenue. Alex desperately wanted to go back to the hotel as she was dying to try on the Rapunzel wedding dress she had gotten at the massive Disney Store, so we ignored her complaints about feeling tired/ sick/ wanting to go home. Well, we had egg on our face (and puke on our shoes), when poor Alex then vomited all over the FAO Schwartz 'restroom' (yep, picked up the American lingo!), and we realised that her gluten-free curry must not have been as gluten-free as we were led to believe. As I've explained in previous posts, Alex continues to vomit for a while when she's had gluten, however, after emptying her stomach in the toy shop, she was really keen to continue our adventure, which was a princess carriage ride in Central Park. Without going into too much detail about what happened next- beware the blankets on those carriages- you never know what's been on them!!!

The following evening we spent quite a long time wandering around the area we were staying in (upper west side), looking for a restaurant that would cater for Alex, however very few were able to help.We tried a few places who all told us they couldn't guarantee anything on their menu. We had an amusing communication issue in one place, where the greeter pronounced 'fruit' in the same way we pronounced 'food', so she was trying to convince us that 'all food is gluten-free', and must have been wondering why we wanted 'any fruit that didn't contain gluten' for our 4 year old at 8 o'clock at night!

If only we had made the miraculous discovery of G-Free NYC earlier in our trip. This is a really cute little shop on West 85th Street (between Columbus and CPW). They have every type of G-F product you can imagine, fresh, dried and frozen. Alex made a young friend in there who also had Coeliac's and loves princesses (why don't adults start conversations with 'so what's your favourite princess'- life would be brighter?!). And even better, the fabulously helpful owner had a list of local restaurants that catered well for Coeliac's. For anyone who has to eat G-F and will be spending time in NY- a visit to this gluten-free hub of knowledge is a must.

As a result of their suggestions, Alex was able to experience a fab stack of G-F American pancakes the next morning at Cafe 82,  a place that we would have walked past without a second glance, had we not been aware of their G-F menu. Not only do they do lots of G-F options, they did us a sandwich to take away, so we were set up for the day.

So over all, we survived our American adventure, although not as easily as we had expected. A bit more internet research prior to the trip rather than during the trip next time I think will mean we will spend less time wandering around looking for food and more time sitting eating it!


  1. I am so sorry you found it a bit difficult to eat gluten-free in NYC. Please reach out on your next visit. In the meantime, here is my most recent post about eating globally gluten-free in NYC:

    1. Thank you Erin, I wish I'd done my research and seen your blog before I went- what a fantastic resource and mine of information! Hopefully I can return to NYC someday and try some of those cuisines. Great blog! Jen