Table of Contents
- Gluten-Free Food in New York City
- Best Gluten-Free Bakeries in New York City (Dedicated Gluten-Free)
- Best Gluten-Free Restaurants in New York City (Dedicated Gluten-Free)
- Best Restaurants with Gluten-Free Options in New York City
- Best Pizzerias with Gluten-Free Options in New York City
- Where to Stay in New York City
- Things to Do in New York City
New York City is a mecca of gluten-free dining. You would be hard-pressed to find another city with more celiac-safe options than New York. So, if you want to make your travel plans according to the sites you want to see instead of the safe food you need to live, this is your chance! There will always be gluten-free food somewhere nearby. Welcome to gluten-free New York City!
Manhattan is a continual feast of sites, sounds, and, of course, gluten-free food. Even a “bomb cyclone” snow storm (weathercasters are marketing geniuses with storm names) on one of our trips did not slow us down. We ordered Door Dash and ate on. Miss E loved it so much that she announced she is moving to New York for college.
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Let’s dive into this New York City Gluten-Free Guide! Like Miss E you just might want to move there, too. At the very least, you will be ready to pay the city a visit.
Best Gluten-Free Bakeries in New York City (Dedicated Gluten-Free)
Modern Bread and Bagel – Modern Bread and Bagel is a bakery/cafe with breakfast, brunch, and lunch options. Very popular with the gluten-free crowd for skillfully creating all the gluten-filled favorite foods you have been missing, made in a 100% gluten-free environment. You can enjoy rugelach, pita, challah (on Fridays), bagels, bread, sandwiches on the amazing bread, and bagels, salads, and pastries. Happily, Modern Bread and Bagel is growing. It recently launched a dinner service called Modern @Night, and the menu includes fish and chips. I was thrilled when this fabulous bakery expanded to Woodland Hills, CA (closer to home for me)!
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC – 100% gluten-free, vegan and kosher, Erin McKenna’s also has popular locations in Orlando (Disney Springs), LA/Santa Monica, and New York City. The Cinnamon Crumb Cake is my husband’s favorite, and Miss E loves the thin mint cookies.
By the Way Bakery – Everything is gluten-free and dairy-free, from cakes to mini cakes and scones to amazing whoopie pies. You would never know what a challenge texture is in gluten-free baking, because the baked goods here are so moist.
Elisa’s Love Bites – I have not personally made it to this bakery, yet, but decided to include it on the list because of its adorable Puppy Love Dog Treats. Everything at Elisa’s is gluten-free and refined-sugar-free.
Noglu Bakery & Cafe – With the intricate beauty you would expect of pastries and a bakery born in France, Noglu’s other locations are in Paris. When I walked into this shop, I was taken back to my childhood in Europe You will have a hard time choosing between gorgeous tarts, eclairs, and cream puffs, but you can’t go wrong. Ready-made sandwiches on Noglu’s baguettes are great for a grab-and-go meal while sightseeing or for the trip home.
Senza Gluten by Jemiko Cafe & Bakery – Chef Jemiko’s passion is quality, celiac-safe food. He delivers it in this charming and casual location, just down the street from his popular Senza Gluten Restaurant. Stay for the delicious flatbread pizza or pick up bakery goodies, such as red velvet cake by the slice or a 6″ cake to share. Note: only cash and AmEx are accepted.
Posh Pop Bakeshop – This dedicated gluten-free bakeshop is truly one-of-a-kind. Posh Pop Bakeshop has the most creative take on standard bakery items I have ever seen. Try a slice of orange creamsicle cake, funfetti cheesecake, or a s’more brownie. In addition to the new spin on those bakery reliables, Post Pop has managed to create delicious, gluten-free versions of food you thought you would never have again, like soft pretzels and fair food favorites, funnel cake, and fried Oreos.
7 Grain Army – If you are in Brooklyn, this treasure is the place to go. Baked goods, hot breakfast items, sandwiches, pizza, everything is gluten-free with a focus on clean eating. Relish some of the “other grains” like sorghum, teff, and millet. Note that 7 Grain Army uses gluten-free oats in a lot of baked goods, so be sure to ask about ingredients if you are sensitive to oats.
Gluten-Free New York Bagels
Where can I get a gluten-free bagel in New York?
This is the question all celiacs ask when we are heading to New York, right? I know it’s not just me. Already noted under dedicated gluten-free New York bakeries and restaurants, these 100% gluten-free businesses also make fabulous bagels:
Modern Bread and Bagel and Thyme & Tonic – Under the same ownership and next door to each other on the Upper West Side, both locations serve the same undetectably gluten-free, New York bagels. If you won’t be eating in New York soon, these bagels are worth the shipping!
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC – If you haven’t already spent all your money on the sweets here, the gluten-free bagels are wonderful, toasted right in the shop with vegan butter on the side.
Best Gluten Free Restaurants in New York City (Dedicated Gluten-Free)
Some of the best gluten free New York City restaurants are the cafes inside the bakeries on the above list of dedicated gluten-free bakeries in New York City. Here are a few more worthy contenders, including two closely linked to a gluten-free bakery:
Thyme & Tonic – Thyme and Tonic is a full-service, sister restaurant located next door to Modern Bread and Bagel (bakery and cafe, discussed above in the bakeries section). Thyme and Tonic is mostly vegan, has reasonable prices, and delicious pastries from the bakery next door.
TAP NYC – Some gluten-free restaurants have fallen into their “gluten-freeness” by accident. I don’t know for certain, but I have long suspected that TAP NYC is in the category. Naturally gluten-free, tapioca-based, Brazilian food is the heartbeat of this dedicated gluten-free restaurant. You don’t have to choose between sweet or savory crepes. Have both! Better, yet, if you share them, you’ll have room for the yummy cheese bread (Brazilian, tapioca, cheese bread, the inspiration for BraziBites). There are a few locations, so you will likely be near a TAP NYC at some point during your visit.
Senza Gluten – A trip to Italy or to Senza Gluten, the next best thing, will convince you that you can have all your Italian favorites, gluten-free. This restaurant has a mission to serve celiacs. Here we can “eat the bread” (if you are celiac, you know what a treat this is), and the lasagna, rigatoni, fried calamari, and tiramisu. It’s all fabulous. This restaurant is pricier than most of the restaurants in this guide, but well in line with a nice, Italian restaurant in New York City. Note: only cash and AmEx are accepted.
The Little Beet – This regional chain with locations around the city, greater New York and a few nearby states is both gluten-free and popular with vegetarians, although not exclusively vegetarian. It’s basically a choose-your-own-adventure where you build a bowl by picking the base, veggies, protein, and sauce. The pink hummus is worth adding for the fun of its fuchsia color alone! My husband, Miss E, and I all found the food healthy, fresh and delicious, so much so that we returned. CJ, who could live on burgers and pizza was not a fan.
Best Restaurants with Gluten-Free Options in New York City
These restaurants were selected as Go Gluten Freely’s “Best” because they check three important boxes:
- Celiac-safe – Best practices for cross-contamination prevention are in place, such as separate preparation areas, dedicated fryers, and labeling.
- Taste – These restaurants stand on their own as quality food establishments with spectacular dishes that will equally delight the gluten-free diner and the gluten-loving diner.
- Variety – The restaurants on this list have extensive gluten-free options, where either all or nearly all of the dishes on the menu can be made gluten-free.
Friedman’s – With so many amazing dedicated, gluten-free restaurants in New York City, you are probably wondering why you would even need to visit a restaurant that serves gluten food. Friedman’s is the answer to that question. There is no separate gluten-free menu, as nearly everything on the menu (except the matzo ball soup) can be made gluten-free. Friedman’s takes celiac disease and cross contamination seriously. Your gluten-free food is served with a specially-labeled food pick. The pastrami Reuben sandwich, buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, pancakes, and Korean chicken wings are just a few of the tasty menu options. I recommend trying the chicken and cheddar waffles because they are wonderful… and how often do you get to eat chicken and waffles? There are several locations around NYC making it easy to make a stop at a Friedman’s Restaurant at some point in your trip. You’d be wise to make that stop early in your trip because once you have tried Friedman’s, you will want to go back for more!
Lilli & Loo – An extensive gluten-free menu and cross-contamination education make this restaurant a go-to for gluten-free Chinese food in New York City, as well as gluten-free, Pan-Asian food. Sushi, breaded and fried dishes (thanks to a dedicated fryer), pork dumplings, so many of your favorites are available gluten-free. It was reassuring when our Lillo & Loo’s take-out arrived with gluten-free labels on each item.
Bistango – Like the other restaurants in this section, the variety of options at Bistango may overwhelm the celiac not used to having so many choices. Once you get over the volume of options on a menu where EVERY dish can be made gluten-free, pick your favorite, and you won’t be disappointed. May I suggest the gluten-free meatballs?
Best Pizzerias with Gluten-Free Options in New York City
“Where can I get a gluten-free pizza in New York City?” is probably your most pressing question after bagels. Read on!
Don Antonio – A regular on “best pizza in NYC” lists, Don Antonio’s is also a standout New York Pizzeria for celiac and gluten-free diners. Don Antonio specializes in Neopolitan pizzas, and anything on the menu can be made gluten-free. They have a separate oven, dedicated prep area, and cross-contamination prevention. These are the kind of gluten-free pizzas you rarely find outside of Italy with a delicious, traditional crust. In addition to pizza, Don Antonio serves gluten-free calzones and gluten-free, fried appetizers.
Important note: Don Antonio uses wheat starch in its crust. These pizzas would not be safe for folks with a wheat allergy. As a celiac, I confidently eat products with gluten-free wheat starch from reputable companies. Here is more information on the topic of wheat starch from Schar, a trusted source in the celiac community for gluten-free products, some of which are made with wheat starch.
Keste Pizza & Vino – With a separate oven and kitchen, the gluten-free options are endless and mouthwatering… pizza, calzone, desserts, gluten-free meatballs, gluten-free focaccia, and gluten-free lasagna. Under the same umbrella as Don Antonio, Keste Pizza also uses wheat starch in its crusts.
If a trip to New York City is sadly not in your immediate future, Keste Pizza has nationwide shipping in the US, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
Alternatively, if you want to make your own it-tastes-like-real-pizza, I highly recommend you buy Gluten-Free Caputo Flour to get the same authentic texture offered at Don Antonio and Keste Pizza & Vino. Note, Gluten-Free Caputo Flour contains gluten-free, wheat starch, which is not suitable for those with a wheat allergy. Order Gluten-Free Caputo Flour on Amazon and try this recipe for your pizza dough.
Little Italy Pizza – This pizzeria makes the list because of its “above and beyond” cross-contamination prevention steps. Your gluten-free pizza comes with a disposable pizza cutter on its own individual tin. The crusts are outsourced Conte’s pizza crusts as a further safety measure. Little Italy Pizza even delivered our pizza in a snowstorm big enough to shut down the subway!
Where to Stay in New York City
Lotte New York Palace (The Towers)
Splurge for the Towers, on the top 14 floors of the Lotte, for incredible views and a 5-star experience. Our wall-to-wall windows overlooked what would eventually become a snow-covered St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
This historic hotel with its grand staircase and magnificent courtyard looks like it should be in the movies. It is! The location on Madison Avenue is just a five-minute walk to Rockefeller Center.
Most importantly, the hotel was wonderful about gluten-free food and cross-contamination prevention. I always advise emailing your hotel directly in advance of your stay. This gives your the safest culinary experience and allows the chef time to source ingredients for quality substitutes.
While I have not stayed at the Hotel Edison, this well-located hotel makes into this New York City Gluten-Free Guide, because it is home to Friedman’s at the Edison. Everything wonderful already discussed in the Friedman’s description above applies to this location… nearly everything on the menu can be made safely and deliciously gluten-free. Having a variety of gluten-free meals down the elevator from your room is a huge selling point when planning a celiac-safe getaway.
Gluten-free food well-covered, the Hotel Edison is in the heart of the Theater District and a quick walk to Times Square and Rockefeller Center.
Things to Do in New York City
A New York City highlight for families and Disneyphiles is the Behind the Magic Tour of The New Amsterdam Theater. This tour brings the magic of theater to life. You will be transformed into performers as you try on costumes from Newsies, Mary Poppins, The Lion King, and more.
Please note that group tours of the theater are not always available, depending on the season. When group tours are not open for booking, you can still reserve the “more than 10 people” option for just your family. You pay for 10 spots, but you get the benefit of a personalized, private tour.
Whether private or group, following up your tour by watching the Aladdin production is highly recommended. There is something special about seeing a Broadway play on the very stage where you stood earlier in the day.
NYC history comes to life in these restored apartments on the Lower East Side. It is a fascinating walk through the lives of residents, with a selection of tours focused on specific time periods, families, or historical themes. I would recommend this tour for older children and adults, as younger kids may quickly get bored. Book your tour online in advance.
(Studio Tours are temporarily paused.)
This is a chance to see behind the scenes at some of your favorite productions, visit the working sets, and try your hand at producing your own show. My family experienced the behind-the-scenes-of-the-behind-the-scenes when we visited the in-studio medical office after Miss E got a fat lip on the sidewalk outside the studio. Bonus tip from a SoCal family: no matter how cold it is, do not walk with your hands in your coat pockets. The rest of the tour was a hit for all of us! This tour is logistically easy to combine with other Rockefeller activities, like the TODAY show, Top of the Rock, or shopping.
On your way to the Studio Tour, stop by Rockefeller Plaza EARLY to be in the outdoor audience of the TODAY Show. Check the TODAY website for updated requirements, which currently include ID and vaccination cards.
While NYC offers a handful of observatories, I recommend picking one per visit, to get the most value for your precious time. An argument can be made for the classic Empire State Building or the high-tech experience of World One Observatory; but if you are visiting Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock is an excellent choice for your trip’s observation tour. The Central Park vistas are unmatchable, and Top of the Rock gives you the best view OF the Empire State Building. Book your tickets online in advance, and opt for the Express Pass or VIP tickets if you want to maximize your time.
A curated tour, Instaworthy photo ops, excellent owner communication, horse-feeding interaction, and thoughtful details like a cozy blanket on a cold day are all part of the adventure of an NYC Horse & Carriage ride. I was concerned about booking a tour where animals might be mistreated. Frank, the owner, addresses the issue of horse care on the company website. The horses do not go out if it is too hot or too cold, and our horse appeared healthy and well-cared-for. We wanted to visit the American Museum of Natural History after our tour, so I emailed a request to Frank, who quickly responded that he could end our Central Park carriage ride at 72nd and Central Park West, only four blocks away from the museum. Advance reservations are required, and NYC Horse & Carriage offers a wide selection of tours, including proposal packages.
It’s important to set expectations for THE RIDE. This moving theatrical experience, where Midtown and Times Square are the stage and the audience is on a bus, is kitschy, to be sure, but it is a lot of fun. The entertainer/guides take the time to learn about two names in the audience, and everyone else’s name is a derivative of those names. We were Miss E, Miss E’s mom, Miss E’s dad, and Boy Miss E. As you can imagine this cracked my kids up, along with several references to the New York Public Li-berry. THE RIDE is a unique intro to the city, ideal for your arrival day.
Holiday and Winter Fun in NYC
On my kids’ most memorable NYC trip, the weather decided to throw in a bomb cyclone snowstorm that shut the city down for a day and gifted all of New York City and this family of Californians with a Winter Wonderland. Madison Avenue transformed into a quiet street in Sleepy-town, USA, and we traipsed across it with no traffic. Every surface was covered with snow, children gathered for sledding in Central Park, and we enjoyed watching flurries circle back up between skyscrapers. New York in the winter now holds a special place in my heart.
Tip: The week starting January 1st is a relatively quiet time for New York City. All of the tourists pour out of New York City on January 1st. Okay, not ALL, it’s still NYC. But it is a much less crowded version of the city after New Year’s Eve than before. The Christmas decorations are still up. It is delightful.
Whether you are catching the tail end of Christmas or visiting early in the season, Christmastime in New York is worth experiencing at least once. Every wonderful suggestion in this guide gets even better during the holidays.
Beautiful year-round, the Lotte New York Palace is absolutely breathtaking at Christmas. It is everything you have imagined for your holiday stay in NYC. There are decorations throughout and a Christmas tree in the beautiful courtyard… all excellent opportunities to snap your Christmas card photo.
Rockefeller Center offers the iconic NYC winter experience of ice skating at the Rink under the Rockefeller Christmas tree, the nightly Saks Fifth Avenue light show, and shopping, including popular Lego and American Girl stores.
Several Holiday Markets pop-up around the city. Some open before Thanksgiving and The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park usually continue a day or two into the new year. I have fond childhood memories of German Christmas Markets, so these markets are an especially sentimental treat.
There are so many wonderful places to eat in New York City. I would love to hear about your gluten-free finds! Comment below and sign up for the Go Gluten Freely newsletter for more inspiration for gluten-free living and traveling.