Most of us know someone who can’t eat gluten. The number of people diagnosed in the UK with coeliac disease increased fourfold between 1990 and 2011 (most likely to do with better diagnosis, rather than more people developing the condition) with 1 in 100 people in the UK affected by the disease.
For those with coeliac disease, vegan or following a gluten-free diet, the hardest part can be finding somewhere to eat. Often restricted to chain restaurants offering few sans gluten dishes, it’s tricky to come across those hidden gems that do offer gluten-free, and importantly, tasty, fare.
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So we’ve done the hard work for you. Click through the gallery below for 29 of the coolest restaurants, cafes and bakeries in the UK that make worrying about gluten a thing of the past.
About: If you're looking for a South American adventure head to one of Ceviche's three locations in the capital, where diners wash down ceviche (raw fish cured in citrus juices) with Pisco Sours. It's a buzzing spot perfect for an evening meal in the summer.
Menu: Most Peruvian food is naturally gluten-free, with many dishes made up of quinoa, amaranth and corn. Must-try dishes include don ceviche (raw seabass with amarillo chilli tiger's milk) and pulpazo (grilled octopus).
Pho, various locations
About: Pho serves the kind of street foods you'd find in Vietnam (think bowls of pho, bun noodles, goi salads and fresh spring rolls) and has expanded nationwide, with branches in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton and Leeds, among others.
Menu: All the items on the menu are gluten-free, with only four exceptions (Saigon, Halida, Beer Lao beers and the chocolate slab dessert). Pho says those dishes arrive pre-packaged to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.
Le Bistrot Pierre, various locations
About: A small chain of bistros offering relaxed and affordable french food cooked up by chefs who regularly travel though France, sampling the cuisine and selecting their favourite dishes to bring back to the UK.
Menu: There are extensive gluten-free lunch and dinner menus, including steak-frites, gluten-free brioche with mushroom fricassee and crispy fried squid.
Indian Summer, Brighton
About: Indian Summer has long been a Brighton favourite, tucked away down The Lanes since 2001. It’s so well-regarded that it also offers cookery lessons.
Menu: Nearly all of the authentic Indian dishes are gluten-free or can be on request, including sesame scallops, paneer tikka and masala dosa.
About: Nibsy's was Reading's first exclusively gluten-free coffee shop, opening in winter 2014 to rave reviews. Free Wi-Fi makes it the perfect spot to work a little or while away some weekend hours.
Menu: The cakes, sandwiches, quiches and coffee (locally roasted in Winchester, no less) are always made fresh on-site, with classic bakes such as lemon drizzle and coffee, as well as creations like rhubarb and ginger frangipane tart.
About: Pizza is often a no-go for coeliacs, but Dough in the Northern Quarter offers bases made from rice flour (as well as the usual) and all pizzas are made from scratch on the premises.
Menu: The huge menu clearly marks which options can be gluten-free (most of them) including a fair amount of the antipasti and starters, too.
Banana Tree, London
About: Since the 90s, Banana Tree has been bringing the cuisine of Indo-China to the UK and there are now six restaurants across London.
Menu: Banana Tree have a pretty good gluten-free offering, with everything from dried pulled beef with aromatic herbs and peanuts to roast duck curry and ‘The Legendary Rendang’ – a fragrant, slow-cooked curry with a coconut-based sauce.
Wahaca, various locations
About: Mexican street food in a buzzy, bright setting. There are 21 restaurants nationwide, including Cardiff, Manchester, London and Bristol.
Menu: Wahaca takes gluten-free seriously and a separate menu spells out the kitchen's policy, avoiding those niggling feelings of being awkward. Enjoy tacos and enchiladas galore.
The Truscott Arms, London
About: This independent Victorian pub in the heart of Maida Vale has not only won the heart of locals, but diners across London with its self-described “relaxed excellence”.
Menu: Feast on a typical pub lunch of fish and chips, sausage and mash, pork belly and many more, all gluten-free (and many dairy-free on request). Plus, it boasts several gluten-free beers: what’s not to like?
Café Andaluz, Scotland
About: A Spanish restaurant chain in three Scottish cities (Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow), serving tapas, paellas and a huge range of Spanish wines and cocktails in a relaxed and bustling atmosphere.
Menu: An extensive range of vegetarian and meat dishes are on offer ensuring you won't be dining on the same small plate all night. Expect the likes of grilled asparagus with Manchego, hot roast king prawns and tagine of lamb shoulder.
About: Yotam Ottolenghi's Soho spot has a light, bright feel and offers a seasonal menu full of bold flavours.
Menu: On request, your server will bring you a gluten-free menu. It changes daily, but expect dishes such as black rice with coconut milk, banana and mango (pictured) for breakfast and crushed beetroot with date molasses or octopus with red quinoa and olive puree at lunch.
Fosters Fish & Chips, Manchester
The Goring, London
About: Along with The Ritz, The Goring is one of only two hotels to be granted a Royal Warrant. If that's not enough, its afternoon tea is award-winning. A quintessential Brit experience in five-star luxury.
Menu: The hotel offers a gluten-free option for afternoon tea that, happily, boasts soft scones that don't crumble and a wide range of sweet treats.
NomNom Bakery, London
About: Nom Nom Bakery bakes to order cupcakes, cakes, dougnhuts, muffins and breads, all free from gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, yeast and sugar to prove that dietary restrictions don't have to mean anything less than delicious. Orders are collected from its Hampstead premises.
Menu: While the menu constantly changes, previous home-made gems have included rose and pistachio cupcakes, cinnamon sugar doughnuts, caramelised apple muffins and a three-tier choco-berry cake, all made in a gluten-free kitchen.
Lost and Found, Birmingham
About: Set in a spacious Grade II-listed building, Lost and Found is all about classic British favourites. There are also branches in Leeds and Knutsford.
Menu: The kitchen team bakes gluten-free bread in-house for sandwiches at lunch, while mains in the evening can be adjusted: just ask your server when you arrive.
The Modern Pantry, London
About: From lunch to coffee to pancakes, The Modern Pantry is a one-stop shop for any meal or meeting in a homely, yet chic, setting.
Menu: Chef Anna Hansen’s all-day menu is peppered with gluten-free options. Think white wine steamed mussels and saffron aioli, and pork belly with chorizo grits and ice creams. As for dessert, there are plenty of exciting sorbet flavours, such as apple and tamarind or blackcurrant and liquorice, and there's a popular gluten-free afternoon tea too.
About: Martha's is all about healthy and hearty fast food, whether you're looking for gluten-free options, seasonal ingredients or meals designed to ‘slow burn’ (make you feel fuller for longer).
Menu: For breakfast, there's wholegrain porridge and egg pots, while for lunch you can choose from a range of salads and rice boxes with meat and home-made slaw. The menu also showcases seasonal hero ingredients and marks which items are low in saturated fat or dairy-free.
Honest Burgers, London
About: London chain Honest Burger serves famously plump patties with crispy, hand-cut, skin-on chips in 13 locations across the capital.
Menu: Honest Burger is a bit of a go-to for coeliac sufferers with a burger craving, as not only can gluten-free buns can be requested at any of the branches, they can be accompanied by gluten-free onion rings and washed down with a gluten-free beer.
Rossopomodoro, various locations
About: If you're a fan of authentic Neapolitan pizza then head to one of Rossopomodoro's 10 locations (London, Newcastle and Birmingham). Ingredients are sourced from Naples and cooked in traditional wood-burning ovens.
Menu: Six of the pizzas, including the Ventura (with parma ham) and the Capricciosa (artichokes and black olives) can be cooked with a gluten-free base. Let them know your dietary requirements when booking a table so they can ensure demand doesn't outstrip supply.
About: London's Bombay-style cafe chain serves traditional Indian food and unique dishes from breakfast to dinner.
Menu: Much of the menu is naturally gluten-free, while other items can be adjusted on request. Expect a range of grilled dishes, curries and sides as well as gluten-free desserts, such as chocolate pudding with Kashmiri chilli ice cream.
Brasserie Blanc, nationwide
About: For a high-end, classically French experience, try Brasserie Blanc from – you guessed it – chef Raymond Blanc. The nationwide chain celebrated its 21st birthday recently and can be found in 20 locations, including Leeds, Bristol, Oxford, Portsmouth, London...
Menu: There’s a dedicated allergy menu to make everything really easy. Start with salads, steak tartare or moules, and move on to the likes of bouillabaise, slow-cooked lamb, rock lobster and chateaubriand.
Roma Bar, Sheffield
About: Roma was Sheffield’s first gluten-free restaurant and serves traditional Italian fare.
Menu: The chef is coeliac, so all dishes can be gluten-free on request. Expect antipasti, pizzas, pasta and paninis alongside imported Italian beers and wines.
Bee Shack, Dorset
About: The Bee Shack, a vintage-themed spot in Holwell, is no longer running as a full-time cafe, but you can still visit it as a monthly pop up in the Honeybuns gluten-free bakery (which delivers nationwide, FYI).
Menu: Fare is of course all from Honeybuns and all gluten-free, with possible menu items including caramel shortbread, pistachio cookies and any number of flapjacks.
About: This London eatery brings classic British comfort foods to the gluten-free community without compromising on taste. It's a casual and friendly spot, often filled with theatregoers heading to Sadler's Wells.
Menu: The first thing you'll notice is there's no need to look out for a green ‘G’ because the entire menu is gluten-free (it was the first Coeliac UK-accredited restaurant, in fact). The selection takes in brunch, pre-theatre and dinner, with a selection of pies, salads, burgers and sausage and mash on offer.
RSC Rooftop Restaurant, Stratford-Upon-Avon
About: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s rooftop eatery boasts the best views in Stratford – over the Bancroft Gardens and river – and great seasonal British food, from light snacks and afternoon tea to full à la carte.
Menu: Gluten-free options at dinner include starters of Coln Valley smoked salmon, crab and celeriac remoulade, and mains, such as confit pork belly with butter beans, black cabbage and bacon, and featherblade of beef with parmesan mash and green sauce.
About: The folks at Bird travelled to America and Asia and ate a LOT of chicken in a quest to bring Londoners the very best fried chicken – prepared without ingredients containing gluten.
Menu: The free-range wings glazed in a moreish honey-ginger syrup are a great gluten-free dish. Buns are a no go, but eat with chips (cooked separately from gluten ingredients), salads and slaws.
The Sweet Reason Company, nationwide
About: This cake delivery service offers the quality and freshness you would expect from a local bakery with the convenience of having it posted through your front door.
Menu: Its gluten-free boxes of brownie bites are a mix of four flavours: peanut butter, salted caramel, coconut and triple chocolate.
Farm Girl, London
About: Health and nutrition gets top billing in this Notting Hill cafe, offering tasty dishes in a light, bright, casual settings.
Menu: Alongside the lavender lattes and coconut drips, the food promises to be full of “nutrionally nurturing ingredients” and the menu is clearly marked for those wanting gluten- or dairy-free. An example GF smoothie might be kale, cucumber, coconut milk, olive oil, lucuma, bee pollen and avocado, while more sustaining dishes might be crab cakes or berry pancakes.
Naturally Chinese, Surrey
About: The restaurant’s menus are all about authentic and nutritious Chinese cooking, designed in collaboration with chefs and a nutritionist to try and accommodate various dietary requirements.
Menu: From deep-fried calamari and rice noodle rolls to Singapore noodles (one of their top-selling dishes), you'll want to try everything on their large gluten-free list.