Readers of this blog in the UK will be familiar with our Italian chains offering gluten free meals such as Pizza Express, Carluccio’s, Ask, and Prezzo. Whenever I visit a city in the UK I’m unfamiliar with, I know that these chains can offer a good, reliable gluten free menu, should I not find somewhere local to eat.
On our recent trip to Valencia, I discovered that there is an equivalent Italian restaurant chain in Spain.
I think most people will agree they favour an independent restaurant over a chain, however when you are a diner with an allergy – and particularly the parent of a child with dietary restrictions – it’s very reassuring to visit chain restaurants. Why? They have standardised menus and ingredients which means you know what’s on offer. Their websites are regularly updated and you can plan eating there in advance. Many chain restaurants have cross contamination measures which reduce the risk of error in food preparation. Chain restaurants are also frequently accredited with national bodies supporting Coeliacs, as Pizza Express is with Coeliac UK, for example.
In truth we stumbled into Gino’s in Valencia not knowing anything about this restaurant. We had been walking a long way (kids were thankfully in the buggy) but nonetheless they were getting pretty hangry as it was long past their lunchtime. In Spain, McDonald’s offers gluten free buns with their burgers and I’d spotted the golden arches from some distance away. When we arrived, I noticed there was an Italian next door and out of interest quickly scanned the menu where I spotted they had gluten free options. I like the occasional gluten free McDonald’s when I’m travelling in Europe but I knew everyone would prefer pasta for lunch.
We went in and I was presented with the gluten free menu.
I later found out that Gino’s Restaurants are accredited with FACE, the Federation of Coeliac Associations of Spain.
It’s true that it’s the most massive of menus, but after walking for miles already that day (and with more walking mileage planned), I was happy to have pasta.
Even if it wasn’t the most extensive menu, there was still pasta, pizza and even a couple of types of gluten free beer.
What I liked about Gino’s is that they had a gluten free menu for kids and this was including in the regular menu, meaning kids would be treated the same whether gluten free or not.
The portion size of my spaghetti bolognese was also good.
I was also brought my own pot of Parmesan cheese, to avoid cross contamination with the gluten-eaters’ Parmesan.
I ordered some gluten free garlic bread, just because I could. My kids ate as much of this as I did.
I wasn’t in the mood for dessert, but had I been then the gluten free tiramisu would have been my choice.
Is this the best (gluten free) food in Spain? No. But if you – or your child/ren – need to find somewhere to eat in Spain offering both adult and children’s gluten free meals, and which is accredited by the Spanish Coeliac associations, then it’s worth remembering Gino’s can offer this.
Location: Multiple restaurants in 18 cities around Spain including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Seville
Cost: Excellent value. Under EUR 50 for 4 people (2 adult mains plus one side and 2 kids meals) including drinks. And look at the great price of a gluten free beer, EUR 2.55!
Would I come back?: Si! I’m off to Madrid and will have Gino’s as a backup plan in case I need to be saved from a gluten free dining fate worse than McDonald’s.
PIN FOR LATER