I was lucky enough to spend around 2 months working in Barcelona last year and I now visit there regularly as my company has an office there.
I really love Barcelona – the weather, the food, the architecture and the variety makes it an amazing place to visit. If you are a coeliac or on a gluten free diet for other reasons you don’t need to worry about spending a weekend or a few days here – there are a number of fantastic restaurants with tasty gluten free food and it is really well understood by waiting staff and chefs.
Here’s a list of 8 restaurants and some supermarkets to visit in Barcelona if you are on a gluten free diet:
Type of Cuisine: Brunch, Crepes, Burgers, Cocktail
Address: Dipatacio, 55 (near to Placa Espanya)
Comments: GF crepes, GF burgers with bun, GF bread. Menus available in English and staff really friendly with good understanding of gluten free. Cheap, good quality vino too!
Rating: Staff Knowledge – 8/10; GF Choices – 9/10; Quality/Taste – 8/10
Type of Cuisine: Vegetarian
Address: Carrer de Jovellanos, 2, 08001
Comments: Delicious veggie food and amazing presentation.
Comments: GF marked on the menu. Nicely presented and delicious food. Lots of choice for gluten free including chocolate cake!
Rating: Staff Knowledge – 7/10; GF Choices – 7/10; Quality/Taste – 8/10
Out of China
Type of Cuisine: Chinese
Address: Carrer de Muntaner, 100 (Metro – Universitat, Hospital Clinic, Provenca)
Comments: Gluten free items marked on menu. Great GF dumplings. Good choice of main dishes, which are nice but lacking a little in spice (e.g. Spicy beef was not in the slightest bit spicy!)
Rating: Staff knowledge – 8/10; GF Choices – 9/10; Quality/Taste – 6/10
Il Piccolo Focone
Type of Cuisine: Italian
Area: Eixample, near to Sagrada Familia
Address: C/Dos de Maig, 268 (Metro – Encants, Sagrada Familia, Clot, Sant Pau)
Comments: Gluten free pasta, pizza and desserts.
Rating: I’ve not been to this one yet.
Type of Cuisine: Japanese
Address: Arenas Centre – GRAN VIA DE LES CORTS CATALANES 373-385, 5ª PLANTA
Comments: Great choice of sushi, almost all are gluten free. GF choices clearly marked on menu and GF soy sauce available. Not many non sushi gluten free items on the menu. I had a nice Bento box the last time I visited.
Rating: Staff Knowledge – 7/10; GF Choices – 7/10; Quality/Taste – 8/10
Type of Cuisine: Catalan
Area: Many areas (chain restaurant)
Address: Multiple – see website.
Comments: Separate gluten free menu available. GF bread & beer also available. Good cross contamination measures – your food is brought out the kitchen with a silver cover over it. Some strange accompaniments though – I was brought crisps with my steak!
Rating: Staff Knowledge – 10/10; GF Choices – 6/10; Quality/Taste – 6/10
Type of cuisine: Thai
Address: Dipatacio, 273
Comments: Lovely Pad Thai and Thai curry. They have a small GF section in their menu, but when you question them you find out that there are a lot of other GF choices that are just not marked on the menu.
Rating: Staff Knowledge – 6/10; GF Choices – 6/10; Quality/Taste – 8/10
Area: El Raval
Address: Dr Dou, 14
Comments: Delicious food and a great choice of gluten free options. Most of the main courses are gluten free and a large proportion of the starters are also gluten free. The monkfish is amazing (apart from the time I got the bit with the eyeballs in it). The also do a lovely salmon starter with guacamole, which you can see in the photo on the left.
Rating: Staff Knowledge – 9/10; GF Choices – 7/10; Quality/Taste – 9/10
The El Corte Ingles supermarket in the basement of this massive store on Placa Catalunya has a huge gluten free section (perhaps the biggest I have ever seen). They do very nice GF French style baguettes.
The Carrefour on Las Ramblas has a really nice fresh sushi making counter, with lots of packs of sushi (including the ingredients on the back). Also in the basement they have a decent gluten free section, right at the back beside the organic section.
Mercadona – you’ll find this supermarket in many places throughout Barcelona. It’s not particularly great, but if you bring your own GF rolls or bread you can pick up some nice ham, cheese, salad etc.
The coeliac society of Barcelona also has a nice PDF booklet of recommended restaurants.
If you know of any other gluten free restaurants in Barcelona please leave me a comment below and if you are heading there soon, have a great trip!
Earlier this year I went for a long weekend in Madrid and had the challenge of eating out gluten free for every meal while I was there. This is something that I’ve never done since before my diagnosis of coeliac disease – I normally go for the safetly of self catering with perhaps one or two meals out. I’ll be writing specifically about gluten free food in Madrid in another post, but I thought it was also worth writing a general post about eating gluten free in Spain. In particular what sort of foods are typically gluten free in restaurants, how to ask for gluten free food in Spanish and what sort of gluten free food is available in supermarkets.
First, in my opinion it seems like there is a very good awareness of Coeliac disease and gluten free food in Spain. However, it is definitely worth learning a few words in Spanish, both to help you decipher food labels in shops and also to make sure that the people serving you in restaurants understand you. Here are a few basic gluten free words in Spanish to help you out:
1) Sin Gluten = Gluten Free: this is an easy one to remember and is very useful. You’ll see this on food packaging (I was amazed at how many packets of crisps were “sin gluten” in Spain compared to here!). It’s also a good phrase to know when you are served your food. You can point to it and just confirm that it is gluten free by saying “sin gluten?” as a question. You can also do the same if you are out at a market or somewhere with stalls that sells food. Just point and ask.
2) ¿Tienes algo sin gluten? = Do you have something gluten free? This is a good one to use before you go into a restaurant. I used it every time I went into a restuarant in Madrid and was understood each time (even with my poor attempt at a Spanish accent!). I found that usually the waiter or waitress could tell me immediately what was gluten free, or they went off into the kitchen to ask the chef. If you want to be extra sure they understand you then back it up with the phrase below.
3) Soy Celíaca = I am Coeliac: Usually I used this phrase just to be doubly sure that they understood why I wanted gluten free food. Most of the time it looked like people understood me!
4) Trigo = Wheat – a good one to learn so that you can understand food labels.
5) Cebada = Barley
6) Centeno = Rye
7) Avena = Oats
Hopefully if you are armed with all of the above, this will help you to survive gluten free in Spain, both in restaurants and in the supermarket.
If you’ve been to Spain before you probably already know that tapas are very popular. There are a few tapas that are commonly gluten free, but you definitely want to make sure that this is the case in each restaurant or bar that you go into because it is always possible that recipes are slightly different or there is a risk of cross contamination. Here are a few tapas that are usually gluten free:
- Olives (Aceitunas)
- Spanish Omelette (Tortilla)
- Spicy Potatos (patata bravas) – be careful here as there is always a chance that they have been fried with other food so there is a risk of cross contamination.
- Manchego cheese
- Serrano ham, Chorizo (double check).
- Salad (e.g. ensalada mixta) – quite often contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives and tuna. Usually this is just served with olive oil, but it’s always best to check first.
Usually a combination of the above makes a really nice meal.
If you are self catering you’ll find that many of the larger supermarkets have a fantastic range of gluten free products. I went into the Cortes Inglis, which is a big department store with a food section (usually in the basement) and I was really impressed with the range of gluten free food available. Probably about three times as many products as there are in my big local Tesco store. Products included baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolat, magdeleines (little fairy cakes), lots of different types of bread & rolls, cereals, pasta and more. So if you’re on a self catering holiday you will probably find that you don’t need to bring any gluten free stuff in your suitcase unless you are going somewhere very remote without a decent size of supermarket nearby.
I hope you found this post helpful and if you’ve been to Spain before while on a gluten free diet please post any tips you have below. Thanks!
Last month my friend Michelle & I had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant called Yeni, in Hanover Street, Edinburgh. I was extra excited to find that the menu was clearly labeled with “GF” against each dish that was gluten free AND over half the menu is suitable for a gluten free diet. Yay Hay!
Yeni serves a mixture of middle eastern and mediterranean meze dishes which are kind of similar to Spanish Tapas, with a twist. The menu includes items such as Humus (GF pitta bread available!), Kizartma (mediterranean veg with garlic yoghurt), oven baked aubergine, Falafal, garlic mushrooms, prawns sauteed in olive oil & garlic, patates with a spicy tomato sauce, Dolma (stuffed vine leaves), Kebabs, salads and more.
The interior of the restaurant was very bright and modern looking and had a nice ambience, although very quiet for a Thursday night (perhaps due to it being a pretty cold, dark February night?). The staff were also very helpful and friendly and they had a good understanding of the gluten free diet.
The majority of the dishes are around the £4 mark and the menu advises choosing 3-4 dishes per person. We decided to go for 6 in total – spicy potatoes, baked Aubergine, Kofta, Caprese Skewers, Kizarrtma and Prawns in garlic and oil.
The baked Aubergine dish was tender and very flavoursome, the koftas were amazing and I loved the garlicy yoghurt and roasted veg. The dishes are all very similar in size to a starter and if you feel that you don’t have enough you can always order a couple of additional dishes.
Overall we had a fantastic meal and I’d definitely return again in the near future. Not only is this a good place for coeliacs, it is also perfect for vegans and vegetarians – you will be spoilt for choice.
The only thing that could be improved is the dessert menu. The only gluten free choice is fruit salad & turkish delight and unfortunately even the ice cream contains wheat! However, I felt completely satisfied after sharing 6 filling dishes, so wasn’t too upset by the prospect of no dessert.
You can read more reviews of Yeni on Tripadvisor.
This dish is one of my favourite oriental dishes and always tastes amazing. My husband Stuart has been cooking this for a couple of years now and we got the original idea in a magazine from a recipe that used duck legs and savoy cabbage. He’s adapted the recipe to use duck breasts instead and we serve it with fluffy rice and pak choi rather than savoy cabbage and mash.
Ingredients for Gluten Free Soy, Ginger and Honey Duck (serves 2)
- 2 duck breasts
- 3cm (1 inch) root ginger, shredded
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red chilli, sliced (deseed if you don’t like it a little spicy!)
- 2 tbsp of gluten free soy sauce (we use Tamari)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3 fresh plum tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp five spice powder (double check the ingredients to ensure it is gluten free)
- 2 pak choi
- 1 tbsp seseme oil
- 150g (dry weight) Thai Rice
1) Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade
2) Put a lasagne style oven proof dish in the oven to heat
3) Sauté the chilli, ginger and garlic in seasme oil quickly for 1-2 minutes then put in the oven dish with the chopped tomatoes, soy sauce and honey
4) Cook for 5 minutes in oven
5) Seal the duck in a hot pan, skin down for 6-8 minutes. Turn duck to quickly colour.
6) Take the duck breasts and fat and add to oven dish.
7) Cook for 10 minutes in the oven.
8) Take the prepared pak choi and add to oven dish. Cover the pak choi with sauce to ensure that it cooks and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
9) Once the 10 minutes is complete, remove the duck from the dish and slice each duck breast.
10) Serve the pak choi on plate of rice and put slice duck breast on top, finishing with the sauce.
When I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease I immediately thought about Thai food as being one of the best types of cuisine available for people on a gluten free diet. Pretty much everything Thai should be gluten free apart from wheat based noodles, soy sauce based stir fries & deep fried starters. This leaves lots of tasty options such as Pad Thai, Coconut curries, rice paper spring rolls, Thai fishcakes, satay dishes and rice dishes.
If I am cooking gluten free Thai food myself, things are pretty simple as I can either make curries or use gluten free soy sauce in the stir fries.
I had the impression that going out for a Thai meal would also be pretty straightforward – surely there would be a great choice of curries and rice dishes or Pad Thai style noodles available. Unfortunately I have not had a good experience going out for a Thai meal yet. Actually that’s an understatement – I’ve not actually managed to have Thai meal out at all in Edinburgh.
Last night I tried to have a Thai meal in Edinburgh. I had high hopes – the Dusit Thai restaurant in Thistle street in Edinburgh had their menu marked up with “W” against any dish that contained wheat.
Unfortunately it was not as straightforward as that. When I arrived and asked about gluten free food I was told that I could not have any Thai curries as the meat was all marinated in Soy Sauce! What? I’ve never once seen Soy Sauce used in a Thai curry recipe – only fish sauce. He then said that I could have any stir fry dish but they would replace the soy sauce with salt. He told me that the waiter would look after me and let me know which dishes I could and couldn’t have.
To cut a long story short the waiter told me things that were inconsistent to what the other waiter had told me. He then mentioned that the menu was wrong and the things marked with “W” were out of date. At that point I decided that as much as I was craving Thai food I just wasn’t prepared to take the risk of ordering it in a restaurant with an out of date menu and staff who had inconsistent stories about what was and wasn’t gluten free! Not to mention that fact that they probably would probably use a wok that had traces of soy sauce on it from previous dishes – Argh! I really hope nobody goes into that restaurant and makes the assumption that the menu is up to date – this is a really risky thing for anyone with a wheat allergy or coeliac disease and orders off the menu without checking first.
My other experience of a Thai restuarant in Edinburgh was the Chang Thai restaurant. I walked in and asked if they had choices for a gluten free diet and the waitress thought I was asking if they had any food for free! After much explanation and repetition she finally understood me, looked quite horrified and said “Oh, no, we can’t cope with any allergies here, sorry.”
I had a similar experience in Miami when I visited a Thai restaurant. It took a while to get the “gluten free” through to them and for them to understand what I meant, then they told me that they had no idea what was in their curry paste as it was delivered to them. They also looked a bit scared of the idea of serving food to anyone who had any type of allergy or intolerance.
If you are reading this and you’ve had a successful gluten free experience at a Thai restaurant in Edinburgh, or anywhere else, please leave a comment for me and let me know where!
I’m not going to give up because I love Thai food and there are lots of other Thai restaurants in Edinburgh, but overall I am pretty disappointed in how hard it is to get gluten free Thai food in a restaurant considering so many of the Thai dishes are naturally gluten free.