Nantucket is my favorite place to vacation. The cobblestone streets, spring-like weather in summer, sandy beaches, fresh seafood, homage to history and the laid back vibe make this an idyllic vacation spot.
You won’t find Starbucks or McDonalds on the island, which is how it sets itself apart from other tourist destinations. And the fact that it so accommodating to people on a gluten-free diet makes it jump right to the top of my list.
Dining gluten free in Nantucket is a breeze and offers many opportunities to eat fresh seafood (lobster all day), vegetables and produce. Local restaurants offer casual, family and fine dining, grab and go and catering, too. Gluten-free diners can find bread and buns, burritos, baked goods, pizza, pasta and macaroni & cheese on restaurant menus. A number of restaurants on Nantucket understand the importance of preventing cross contact and observe strict protocols.
Grocery shopping is easy because of the abundance of gluten-free products offered at local stores. The two Stop and Shops on the island have stepped up their game by offering entire sections of gluten-free products, both shelf stable and frozen.
Annye’s Whole Foods has a great selection of gluten-free products. If you give them a call before you arrive they will customize an order.
Bartlett’s Farm, a small store on the south wharf, offers farm-fresh produce and many gluten-free products.
Stop and Shop has a smaller store in town and a larger one a mile outside of town. The in-town location has a decent selection, but you’ll find more than twice the choices if you make the trip to the bigger store. Breads from Udi’s Gluten Free, Schar and Glutino and pretzels, pasta, cereal, cookies, cones, crackers, breadcrumbs, baking mixes, tortillas, pita bread and more line the shelves.
Where to go for breakfast
Black-Eyed Susan’s is an institution on Nantucket, which makes it one of the hardest places to get a table. This historic spot is quite small and features first-come-first-served counter and table seating. The menu offers traditional breakfast items such as cheese grits, sausage and eggs. Try the homemade corned beef hash topped with eggs-over-easy for a real treat.
The Green is hands down my favorite place to go for breakfast. Breakfast burritos are made with brown rice wraps and can be stuffed with eggs, zucchini, goat cheese, salsa and the list goes on. The restaurant offers a selection of sweet and savory baked goods that change daily. While I was there, gluten-free peanut
butter chocolate chip cookies, chocolate dipped scones, herbed scones, coffee cake and sweet breads filled the display case. All the baked goods were exceptional.
Where to go for lunch
NIXS Brewpub has a selection of hot and cold sandwiches and burgers that can be served on gluten-free buns. Order a NIXS pork belly burger topped with Swiss cheese and a sunny side up egg or a lobster roll with citrus-chive mayo. The fries are made in a dedicated fryer, too.
Sea Grille’s lunch menu includes lobster rolls and lobster salad. Bring in your own bun (hot dog buns work the best) and assemble a lobster roll at the table. Since hot dog and hamburger rolls aren’t available in the grocery stores, this is one item you’ll want to bring from home.
Something Natural is ‘the’ place to go on the island for sandwiches. While the restaurant doesn’t offer gluten-free bread, customers are encouraged to bring their own and prepare sandwiches on a separate tray with dedicated utensils and ingredients. Get there before the lunch rush to dine outside at picnic tables among the trees and flowers.
Where to go for dinner
American Seasons offers a fine dining experience with imaginative dishes. We started with the Terrine of rabbit and foie gras with yellow tomato jam and radish salad. It is important to me to eat as much lobster as possible when on the island,
so the salad of lobster, poached asparagus, herbs, avocado and lobster vinaigrette served as dinner. The salad was surprisingly light and rich with the avocado adding an unexpected creamy texture to contrast the crunch of the veggies.
B-ack Yard BBQ is a top notch barbeque restaurant offering a full menu of smoked meats, sides and sandwiches. All but a few items on the menu are gluten free with highlights including gluten-free buns for sandwiches, macaroni and cheese and fries. Wash it all down with a cold glass of cider.
Millie’s is one of the newer restaurants on the west side of the island offering a menu full of Mexican cuisine with seafood influences. Tacos are served on corn tortillas and quesadillas can be, too. The salads are layered with fresh seafood, bright vegetables and other flavorful ingredients. The Gibbs Pond salad has mixed greens, roasted tomato and corn salad, fingerling potatoes and a ton of lobster all dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette. The mix of textures and flavors combine for the perfect bite. Time it just right and you have the perfect view to watch the sun set.
Slip 14, located right on the wharf, offers diners a mix of seafood and meat. One of the hostesses follows a gluten-free diet and she readily pointed out safe dishes. The night we were there the restaurant featured a generous portion of local fluke over greens and sweet corn puree. The fluke was cooked two ways, crunchy and traditional, adding an unexpected texture to the dish.
The Nantucket Lobster Trap is a great casual place to get reasonably priced and delicious boiled lobster, clams, oysters and sides. Sit down, strap on a bib, decide how many pounds of lobster to order and indulge. All the sides are all gluten free except the fries, and cider is available.
Where to go for dessert
Restaurants offer a selection of gluten-free desserts, but the best and most popular place to get dessert is at The Juice Bar in town.
The Juice Bar is a funny name for this must-visit spot known for its homemade ice cream.
Yes, juices and smoothies are available, but it is the ice cream that has customers lined down the block and around the corner. Visit The Juice Bar during the day and there is no wait, but come after dinner and you could be standing in line anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. You’ll have to bring your own gluten-free cone if you don’t want the ice cream in a cup, but you can buy a box of cones at Stop and Shop. Ask your server to change gloves prior to making your order. The ice cream is rich, flavorful, and definitely worth the wait and the calories.
Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.