A Gluten Free Guide To London: Eating Out

In just under a month the sporting eyes of the world will be on London, the host of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have tickets to watch the Games and are wondering where you can find good gluten free restaurants during your visit to London? Perhaps you’re even an athlete heading to London to compete! Or maybe you are visiting on holiday or on a business trip? For any reason to visit our fantastic city, this comprehensive guide to London’s gluten free food and dining options is for you.

The restaurants I’ve listed below have been chosen because I’ve visited them and know they can offer a good, reliable gluten free dining experience. Perhaps chain restaurants may not be everyone’s idea of a gastronomic meal out, however the advantage they have for the allergic or intolerant diner is that many have allergy menus and procedures in place to cook safely for those with food sensitivities.

London Collage V2 1024x640 A Gluten Free Guide To London: Eating Out

Light Bites

Pod – Plenty of gluten free breakfast and lunch ideas including veggie packed salads, nori wraps and hot dishes along with individually wrapped gluten free (and some nut free) sweet treats are on offer at this growing chain. Clear allergy labelling is shown against the dishes on the menu boards. £

Eliot’s Cafe - If you are into food markets, this cool little restaurant with a daily changing menu is perfectly situated for Borough market. I booked a table for Saturday brunch (of delicious leek, goat’s cheese and Jersey Royal frittata) here via OpenDining with a note on my dietary restrictions. I was extremely impressed they called me back within 10 minutes to confirm they could safely cater for me. Check their website for opening times. ££

Starbucks – Offer gluten free sandwiches on Genius bread (fillings change from time to time), salads and cakes. The packaging does not shout about the sandwiches being gluten free so it may be worth asking if they have any in stock if you can’t immediately see them. The gluten free cakes are usually unwrapped (and thus present a possible cross contamination risk) but it’s possible to ask for a wrapped one from behind the counter. £

WAGfree Cafe - Gluten and wheat free cafe and bakery serving a great choice of gluten free pasta, toasties, cakes, biscuits in great atmosphere of Brixton Village. As of January 2013 WAGfree are supplying their wonderful products to Selfridges in London. Check their website here for location and current opening hours. £

Refuel on the Tourist Trail

Tate Modern – Offers gluten free options as well as delicious gluten free cakes if you need a sugar fix with your modern art. £

Royal Academy – The Peyton & Byrne restaurant has been very accommodating in adapting dishes to be gluten free on numerous Friday night visits. They also do gluten free chocolate cake. ££

British Museum - Offers gluten free Afternoon Tea for a very reasonable £18. Advance notice required. ££

Reasonably Priced Lunch or Dinner

Honest Burgers – Located in the thriving culinary centre that is Brixton Village. Honest serves arguably London’s best burger in a gluten free bun from the WAGfree cafe along with house chips (French fries) with rosemary salt which can’t be beaten. They even offer gluten free Daura beer! Well worth the short Tube hop on the Victoria line south to eat here. £

Leon – Possibly my favourite place for a healthy quick lunch with a wide choice of gluten free options such as felafel served with rice and slaw is my favourite. Clear and well displayed allergy labelling. They even have a kid’s menu. Branches located all over London and expanding. Can be found landside at Heathrow T3 and also King’s Cross for any Eurostar travellers. £

Itsu – A chain of good sushi restaurants located all over London and even airside at Heathrow T5. Itsu offer a good range of gluten free options which are shown on their website here. They do not offer gluten free soy sauce but this may change in the future, so do ask. £

Wahaca – Chain of Mexican restaurants set up by a former Masterchef winner. There is a gluten free menu, waiters are (normally) very clued up and there are plenty of gluten free options. There is one branch located near to Trafalgar Square/Covent Garden and Olympic Park visitors can get their taco fix in the Wahaca at the Westfield shopping mall, Stratford. ££

Zizzi, Carluccio’s and Bella Italia – Three Italian chain restaurants which are easily found all over London. All three offer gluten free pasta, Carluccio’s providing a laminated gluten free menu. Bella Italia additionally offers gluten free pizza. ££

Something Special

Perhaps you’d like a special romantic meal? Or maybe you’d like to entertain a client (or even better, be entertained?). London has many excellent and Michelin starred restaurants and the majority of these will be able to cater for gluten free diets without fuss by adapting the dishes. Good restaurants do get booked up long in advance so if you have somewhere special in mind, make sure you call in advance and reserve a table. At the same time, notify the restaurant of your dietary restrictions, discuss with them how they will handle cooking for you and ask they confirm which menu options would be suitable for you.

Nopi - Lebanese / Middle Eastern / Asian influenced dishes. Many naturally gluten free options or can be easily adapted which means your (non gluten free) dining companions should be very happy with the choice of gluten free sharing dishes. £££

Hakkasan – Think you can’t eat gluten free Chinese? Think again! With one day’s notice the kitchen can prepare dishes such as Golden Fried Soft Shell Crab gluten free and without the risk of cross contamination. The interior of this Michelin starred restaurant is dark, sexy and I particularly love the pink mojitos here. ££££

Nobu- Japanese food in this well known celeb spot on Park Lane. They were incredibly helpful with gluten free dining and provided me with gluten free soy sauce. ££££

Rivington Grill – On a recent visit I had notified their Shoreditch location in advance of my dietary restrictions. When I arrived the chef had pre-prepared a menu for me with the items I could eat indicated. Menu focuses on modern British cuisine and has a lovely brasserie feel. Olympic visitors may find the Greenwich location convenient. £££

Polpo – Arrived in London without making any plans? This Italian bacaro in Soho could be the place for you as they don’t take advance reservations. Reasonable selection of gluten free dishes to share. However, it scores extra points with me since they were playing The Smiths the last time I ate dinner there! £££

Something Different

Gluten Free Supperclub- Annie’s is a supper club located in a secret location in Bromley, south east London (10 minutes by overland train from Victoria station). All food is gluten free and is cooked in a gluten free kitchen. Annie can also cater for vegetarians, vegans and other dietary restrictions with advance notice. Dates are published several months in advance and get booked up quickly, check the website here  for dates and menu themes. ££

Fish & Chips – No trip to London could be complete without fish and chips! On Tuesday evenings, Olley’s in Brockwell Park offers this great British tradition in gluten free batter. Olley’s is 10 minutes by overland train from Victoria station to Herne Hill. ££

Indian - How about a curry (or ‘Ruby Murray’ in Cockney rhyming slang) on Brick Lane in London’s East End? This busy and vibrant street on the eastern edge of the City, London’s financial district is home to numerous restaurants from the Indian sub-continent. Indian food uses mainly non-wheat based flours making it an ideal choice for the gluten intolerant diner but obviously discuss cross contamination issues as you would in any restaurant. Not keen on spicy food? That’s OK, there are dishes such as korma or passanda which are less spicy. Indian food is also offers an excellent choice for vegetarians. ££

Gluten Free Afternoon Tea – Why not celebrate just being in one of the world’s most exciting cities by treating yourself to that quintessentially English tradition of Afternoon Tea?  Many of the top London hotels offer gluten free afternoon tea alongside their regular afternoon tea menus. Some also cater for additional dietary requirements such as diabetic and vegan. The best afternoon teas can be found at Brown’s HotelClaridges Hotel, and Fortnum & Mason. Prices vary but budget for around £40 per person. Afternoon Tea is VERY popular and weekend slots can be booked weeks or even months in advance so please plan ahead and reserve if at all possible. £££

*Afternoon tea at the British Museum is next on my list of afternoon treats (with a slice of culture, of course!).

What are your favourite gluten free places to eat in London? Please do leave a comment below and help fellow travellers to London, along with residents, get the best out of gluten free London. 

33 Responses to A Gluten Free Guide To London: Eating Out
  1. Caleigh
    July 1, 2012 | 7:39 pm

    I massively helpful post, thanks! One I shall refer to often, I’m sure.

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 1, 2012 | 10:07 pm

      Thanks, Caleigh. If you come across anywhere new and exciting, please do let me know!

  2. Kevin Gollop
    July 1, 2012 | 9:40 pm

    I recently visited some of these restaurants (on Sian’s recommendation) when I came to London for the allergy show. Wahaca and Honest Burger were brilliant restaurants and Leon’s was the perfect place for lunch more than once. I’ve also eaten at Carluccio’s several times in Bristol and always love it. Bella Italia is not so high quality, but has good choices and I was well looked after when I visited in Plymouth. Gluten free menu waiting for me at the table and the waitor went through the specials to tell me what was GF without me asking.

    I would also recommend Otto Pizza in Notting Hill. Lovely deep dish pizza on a gluten free base, washed down with a gluten free beer!

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 1, 2012 | 10:18 pm

      Thanks very much for your comment, Kevin. I agree with you about Carluccio’s and Zizzi’s vs. Bella Italia and it’s always great to have choice, especially outside of London.

      I haven’t been to Otto Pizza yet but based on your recommendation, I’m going to try it out.

  3. Larafriendly
    July 1, 2012 | 11:41 pm

    This is a really good guide! As a London resident, I have found over the years that more and moer restaurants are becoming clued up about offering gluten free options.
    Pizza express (restaurants all over London and the rest of the UK) will make a gluten free pizza, but you have to bring your own base (not ideal), but their Aubergine parmigiana is now gluten free (any very yummy)
    Bella Italia (restaurants nationwide) will make a gluten free pizza
    If you are on the go, some sainsburys stores and some M&S stores offer gluten free sandwiches.
    And many restaurants are now listing gluten free options on the menu. (La Tasca – a nationwide tapas chain and Giraffe)do this.

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 2, 2012 | 8:46 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I haven’t tried taking a gluten free base to Pizza Express, mainly because it seems more of a faff than finding an alternative restaurant! Have you tried doing this? If so, can you recommend a good pre-made gluten free pizza base? That’s a great tip on the aubergine parmigiana, I’ll have to try that!

      I’ve heard about the La Tasca gluten free menu (they also sell Daura GF beer) but I’ve not tried it yet.

      I’ll be posting later this week about where to shop for gluten free goods in London.

  4. Bego
    July 3, 2012 | 11:46 am

    This is a fabulous guide!I’m traveling to London and it will help me a lot. I’m waiting for your post about where to shop for gluten free goods in London.
    Thank you.

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 7, 2012 | 10:40 am

      Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful trip to London. Please do drop by and comment again if you have any recommendations from your trip.

  5. Charlotte @gofreecakes
    July 5, 2012 | 10:32 am

    Hi Sian,

    This is a great round up – many of our favourites are on your list too. We particularly love Wahaca, as many of their tacos etc are made with proper corn masa harina, which we get on very well with, not like the wheat flour tortillas you end up with in most supermarkets!

    Thanks for the tip on Hakkasan, we’ll have to give that a go. I’ve heard very good things about it.

    Best, Charlotte

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 7, 2012 | 10:46 am

      Hi Charlotte – glad we have such similar taste in eating out! I will post a write up on Wahaca soon. It’s a huge favourite of mine because of the quality of the food but also because they’ve been very clear about the allergen status of their dishes.

      You should definitely go to Hakkasan, it’s a real treat. Highly recommend a cocktail in the fabulous bar in the Connaught Hotel beforehand. Do let me know if you go there!

  6. JaneSarahA
    July 7, 2012 | 9:10 am

    You’ve missed the best gluten free Italian restaurant in London off your list! Cotto opposite Lambeth North tube station (or short walk from Waterloo). The welcoming owner is celiac so 90% of the pizza & pasta menu has a gf option. It’s worth going just for his homemade gf bread rolls!

    I recently visited the new Mexican restaurant La Bodegra Negra in Soho and most things on the menu are made with corn flour. Not that they highlight the meal choices are gf. So make sure you ask your waiter.

    Also Gates vegetarian restaurants in Islington & Hammersmith highlight the gf choices on their menu.

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 7, 2012 | 11:00 am

      Hi Jane, Thanks for the recommendations! The Gate has been on my ‘to visit’ list for many years. I’ve heard about Cotto but I’ve not visited it yet and I wanted to keep this guide to places which I have visited (or am about to visit). It’s easy to Google search the internet for gluten free places to eat out in London but I wanted to give more credible recommendations as someone who’s actually visited them. I’ve heard some mixed reports about Cotto but I shall give it a try based on your comments! Have you been to been to Bruschetta in Kingston? The food there is amazing but it’s located slightly out of London for many tourists and those who don’t live in SW London.

      Lucky you getting a table at La Bodegra Nero! I’ve tried a couple of times but they’re not had availability at the times I’ve wanted to go there. I should persevere though, it looks like a really fun place.

  7. JaneSarahA
    July 7, 2012 | 9:14 am

    Also I had the gluten free (& sugar free) Afternoom Tea at Brown’s hotel a few months ago. And the sandwiches and cakes were divine!! Well worth the £s.

    Keep up the good work. This is a great list for all us gf foodies.

    Jane

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 7, 2012 | 11:11 am

      Jane – Thank you! I agree with you about the afternoon tea Brown’s Hotel, the blog post is linked above. I couldn’t believe the quality of the desserts in the gluten and sugar free afternoon tea, that they had made delicious chocolate without sugar. Amazing.

      I’ve been quite a few times but I should say that on the last visit there was a mix up on a replenishment of gluten free sandwiches delivered to our table (they weren’t gluten free). It wasn’t our dedicated waitress who had delivered the sandwiches and I wasn’t paying attention to the fact the bread and sandwich contents looked different to the previous plates we’d received – I was talking too much! Both my dining companion and I were glutened from eating a mouthful before we realised they weren’t gluten free.

      The hotel handled it well and I was once again reminded that the gluten free diner must always be vigilant when eating out.

  8. Natasha T
    July 8, 2012 | 12:37 pm

    Hello! In terms of the higher end of things, I would also recommend Chez Bruce in Wandsworth Common. You have to book quite far in advance anyway so admittedly they had plenty of notice of my GF status but when I arrived I had my own personalised menu. It showed which dishes I could eat and which could be adapted if necessary. Also there were GF bread rolls which always make me happy! The desserts were delicious too. Highly recommended.

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 14, 2012 | 2:58 pm

      Hello! Chez Bruce is a great suggestion. I used to go there a lot for birthdays and special occasions but I haven’t been since being gluten free. I love their cheese board! Wonderful to hear they how well they look after gluten free guests – providing a personalised menu and gluten free bread rolls always scores extra points for me.

  9. Carly
    July 17, 2012 | 5:35 pm

    The posher the better IMHO! Dinner by Heston also dealt marvellously with GF as did Hibiscus.

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      July 21, 2012 | 1:19 pm

      Glad to hear that Dinner by Heston is great for gluten free, I’m off there soon!

  10. Philippa
    August 1, 2012 | 11:38 am

    What a wonderful GF guide to London! I am currently going gluten free for a week as part of a blogger challenge and a good friend, who is GF, pointed me in the direction of your site, it’s fantastic!

    I would thoroughly recommend Mildreds in Soho – it’s a vegetarian restaurant and has heaps of GF options. Always packed, but fab food and atmos. :D

  11. Mayrain
    November 29, 2012 | 11:01 pm

    Great list! Thanks.
    Tomorrow I’m going for lunch at The Dulwich Picture Gallery who have said they have gluten free options. Fingers crossed! X

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      November 29, 2012 | 11:08 pm

      Thank you! I’d love to hear how you get in tomorrow. Dulwich Picture Gallery is on my ‘to visit soon’ list.

  12. the wandering foody
    December 12, 2012 | 12:07 pm

    Hi Gluten Free Mrs. D! I’m going back to London for a visit this week, and I’m glad I found your post. I’m definitely going to try Honest Burgers. Thanks!

  13. Charlotte @gofreecakes
    December 13, 2012 | 9:07 am

    Hi there Mrs D!

    Just thought I would share a restaurant in London I really liked who were very accommodating recently: No67 at the South London Gallery. http://blog.helloonline.com/freefromkitchen/2012/11/eating-out-in-london-no-67-restaurant.html

    Best wishes,

    Charlotte

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      December 27, 2012 | 12:52 pm

      Thanks for this, Charlotte. I actually drove past the South London Gallery the other day. Next time I’ll have to stop and give it a try!

  14. Sarah
    March 7, 2013 | 3:24 pm

    I have recently found out that I might have a gluten allergy and came to this website as a result of searching the web for what I will be able to eat.

    You’ve reassured me that although it won’t be easy, it’s possible and gf life doesn’t mean never eating out again!

    Thank you so much for all of the options and reviews!

    Sarah

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    September 4, 2013 | 3:55 pm

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  16. Mark
    September 10, 2013 | 12:58 pm

    A good list building here although I think one or two notable exceptions that I can address…

    Bruschetta in Kingston-Upon-Thames offfers the best GF pizza, bar none. The desserts are also amazing but your whole meal can be a GF extravaganza. Superb.

    Pizza Express do a very creditable GF menu now. The pizzas are good, not exceptional, primarily I assume as, unlike the above, they are not using a pizza oven nor using fresh bases.

    M&S & Waitrose stock GF sandwiches in many stores. While good, they have not changed the filling for as long as I can remember..

    Dont forget the mini Bakewell Tarts at Costa!

    Flour-less regards,
    Mark

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      October 21, 2013 | 3:30 pm

      Thanks very much for the tips, Mark! I’ve recently given birth to twins so I’m a little behind on updating this list so your additions are much appreciated.

      I’ve been to Bruschetta and I agree the food (particularly the pasta) is fantastic. I’m quite a fan of the Pizza Express gluten free pizza and I think it may be the best of the high street chains. Sadly the mini Bakewell tarts are off limits to me as they contain almonds which I’m allergic to.

  17. Eyad
    October 6, 2013 | 5:09 pm

    Pasta Brown is an Italian restaurant in Covent Garden who offers gluten free pasta. In my opinion, it is better than Carluccio’s and Zizzi.

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      October 21, 2013 | 3:27 pm

      Excellent, thanks very much for the tip. I shall check out Pasta Brown next time I’m in Covent Garden.

  18. an autumn in paris & london | The Little Gluten Free Globetrotter
    October 18, 2013 | 12:11 pm
  19. Chris T
    April 18, 2014 | 11:16 am

    Hi There Mrs D,

    I just wanted to let you know that Wahaca DO indeed offer a GF Menu – I am not sure if you can amend the posting to point this out…. Here is the link

    http://wahaca.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/glutenfreemenu_ARTWORK_JUNE_2013.pdf

    Otherwise it looks like am amazing blog :-)

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      April 18, 2014 | 11:33 am

      Many thanks for stopping by and commenting! I shall definitely update this, love the food at Wahaca and it’s great they offer a gluten free menu.

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