Spring travel season is here, and New York City is calling! Whether you travel with friends and take in a show or bring the whole family and visit the parks, museums and iconic landmarks, there is delicious gluten-free food to be enjoyed along the way. Here are a few of our family’s favorites from a recent trip.
A delightful little nook, tucked inconspicuously into a block in the East Village/Flatiron District, Tu-Lu’s Bakery serves up baked goods and paninis. Make sure and pick up one of the cupcakes—one Yelp review claimed they’re far better than a nearby acclaimed traditional bakery. Born, as so often is the case, out of necessity for the owner, Tu-Lu’s is a tiny treasure trove of cookies and sweet breads.
Familiar flavors like a strawberry or cinnamon sugar donut—light crumb and spicy-sweet topping—mingle with specialty seasonal and holiday offerings. (Be sure to try the gingerbread if you happen to be around next winter—it’s amazing.) The entirely gluten-free bakery is worth a detour for an oatmeal cookie, complete with white chocolate chips and cranberries. Baked goods and pressed sandwiches are reasonably priced, and many items are available for shipping. (A cute and cozy bar seating area is perfect for snuggling up to your coffee and morning glory muffin, or grab them to-go and head out to explore the sights.)
The Little Beet
This fast casual treasure, now expanded to nine locations in and out of New York, has a “100% guiltin’ free” philosophy: “serve real food deliciously.” The Little Beet is the perfect place to stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Promoting a “veggie-forward” approach and proudly working to reduce food waste, these guys serve up flavor-punched, healthy food with a do-good mindset. The Little Beet features a “choose your own adventure” format, where diners can select from options like kaffir lime chicken; golden cauliflower, crunchy with a smattering of turmeric-laced almonds; crisp sautéed kale with cranberries; and the newest menu addition of barbecued jackfruit. Whether you eat meat or not, give it a try—it’s fantastic. Select a gluten-free grain and a sauce to round out your bowl at this all-gluten-free restaurant. Bright and airy with loads of seating and white-and-wood decor, it’s a great spot to rest for a few before exploring some more.
Sometime mid-morning or late afternoon, you’ll need a boost of energy to keep trucking. Let the tunes and the pink, neon-lit exterior guide you through the city’s gray tones around it, and make a point to hit up Cha Cha Matcha—as much a “must” for its atmosphere as the incredible quality matcha. Choose the classic hot matcha, whisked to order in a bowl in the traditional method; try an iced matcha latte with hazelnut milk; or get adventurous and enjoy a “blue” iced drink, with lavender honey offering additional health benefits and a glorious blue layer from algae (trust us—it’s delicious), served with a tropical flower on top. Whether it’s mid-March or mid-summer, or even if it’s winter, you should order the much-Instagrammed matcha soft serve. Choose a seasonally flavored swirl if you like (peppermint in winter is the perfect complement), or stick to the grassy, sweet glorious green swirl on its own, towering in a little pink cup—and be sure to post your photo and join the “in crowd.” Juggle for a table amongst laptops and social media icons, or grab your iced matcha latte and a treat for the road. (Can someone say gluten-free matcha donut?!)
The Meatball Shop
The servers and slogans are witty and irreverent, but the food is no joke at The Meatball Shop. An ever-evolving selection of seasonal ingredients and themed creations includes classics like spaghetti and “balls,” as the locals order, or, for traditional diners, hero sandwiches. Not all dishes are gluten free, but a surprising number are, including all sauces. The chicken meatball is your gluten-free go-to here, and you’ll want to order a bowl with risotto, polenta (the must-pick, in our opinion) or flavor-packed garlic cheese mashed potatoes. Choose from sides like sautéed greens or seasonal vegetables and a topper like traditional sauce, garlic cream, lemon butter or buffalo to make your dish truly your own.
The Meatball Shop feels a bit like a speakeasy, and once you’re in the dark, bricked, rustic interior, you’ll feel like an insider. Offering a full bar as well, this family-friendly option is also great for a casual date night. With several locations in the city, it makes an ideal location for a late-night dinner.
Can’t make the trip to NYC?
Before our wanderings, we discovered an online-only bakery, Krumville, “an artisanal online bakery with a passion for making sweet and savory gluten-free baked goods.” With exquisitely crafted cakes, cookies, muffins and breads, Krumville caters to anyone who appreciates fine baked goods—and these are cream of the crop. We sampled the strawberry vanilla cake. It was like summer, if summer was laced with Italian buttercream and fresh strawberries and perched atop a pedestal. We also tried the coconut layer cake. This beauty would make an incredible centerpiece for your Mother’s Day table, your mother-in-law’s birthday or your daughter’s sweet 16, or even a perfectly elegant wedding cake. (We took one of these cakes to a ladies’ evening out, and there might have been tears.)
Whether you hit the streets of the Big Apple or place your order from home, gluten-free diners can grab unique, flavorful tastes of New York.