Hong Kong: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

This year I took my very first trip to Asia to visit a friend in Hong Kong. A city full to the brim with amazing Dim Sum and other traditionally glutenous treats, I was sceptical about just how well I would eat when I was there. I had heard endless reports of just how hard it is to come across safe gluten free options and so took it upon myself to research every single place I would be eating. What happened? I ended finding some amazing places and never went hungry. From Dim Sum to Venezuelan Empanadas, from crepes to epic toasties – Hong Kong really does have it all! Check out my guide for a number of options within Hong Kong itself and a bonus addition for Macao, which is just an hour’s ferry ride away and well worth a trip.

Sweetpea Cafe

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Officially Hong Kong’s sole 100% spot, Sweetpea Cafe really found a gap in the market. This gorgeous little cafe is hidden away in the hilly streets of Hong Kong Central and has a menu with more options than you would think from the size of the place itself. Get ready to be wowed by the impressive cake counter as soon as you walk into the shop, which offers a selection of vegan and sugar free cakes too. The sandwiches here are all delicious, and individually made to order, including a selection of toasties. However be warned, Sweetpea Cafe works on a cash only basis and prices are high as, unsurprisingly, gluten free products are hard to source in Hong Kong. I thought this was a great shame however as I would have quite happily eaten breakfast here most days had it been more affordable. Definitely a must-visit, if for nothing more than a wonderful slice of cake and a latte with homemade nut mylk! Closed on Mondays.

Where?
4 Shin Hing Street
Hong Kong Central

Fresca

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Another Hong Kong Central find, Fresca offers up healthy breakfast and lunch options which you can either enjoy in-store or to go. Fresca is most known for its amazing salad bar, which boasts many gluten free options that can be mixed and matched for a decent sized lunch. The cafe also offers several gluten free sweet treats however, which are widely advertised. Their steamed muffins come in several flavours and are made using all natural ingredients. I opted for salted caramel, which paired nicely with a coffee. The gluten free crepes are undoubtedly the yummiest thing on the menu at Fresca however, and come stuffed with either banana and nutella or baked apples and summer berries. Closed on Mondays.

Brickhouse

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Everyone headed to Hong Kong must put one night aside to head to Brickhouse where nearly all tacos are gluten free! Even better, if you go on Monday or Tuesday, the restaurant has a great deal on tacos between 6pm and 8pm and always has a delicious taco of the month on offer. Several starters are also gluten free – just be sure to ask a member of staff for guidance on the menu. Brickhouse fills up pretty quickly most nights so get there early to avoid disappointment. We were lucky enough to sit at the bar in front of the chefs and so got to watch all our delicious food being prepared (which is basically my version of being in a toy shop). Don’t forget to wash your food down with several of the house margaritas – they’re fantastic! Closed on Sundays.

Where?
20 D’Aguilar Street
Hong Kong Central

Yardbird

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For the most delicious rice dishes you’ll try during your entire stay, head straight to Yardbird. This chicken-lovers paradise is located in the bustling Sheung Wan area of Hong Kong and pays great attention to dietary requirements. A number of rice dishes – including the unbeatable Chicken Rice – are gluten free and both incredibly filling and good value for money. While the fried chicken on offer at Yardbird is also gluten free, it is not coeliac safe due to cross contamination and the use of a shared fryer. While this was heartbreaking to learn at first, I quickly got over it when I received my main and a delicious steaming bowl of edamame beans. Top marks for both food and the general vibe at this Soho hotspot. Closed on Sundays.

Where?
154-158 Wing Lok Street
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

Picada

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I did not expect to find so much amazing Latin American food in Hong Kong but I really hit the jackpot with Picada. Not only does this restaurant offer an amazing variety of meat and fish dishes as main courses, but an impressive starter selection too including (lo and behold) gluten free fried chicken AND gluten free empanadas. Of course we had to order both and we were by no means disappointed. It was hard to believe the fried chicken was gluten free and the empanadas were not only beautiful (pink, green and yellow) but each and every one delicious. Picada also has a delicious selection of cocktails and live music on the weekends – what’s not to like? Closed on Saturdays.

Where?
2F & 3F LKF 29 Building
29 Wyndham Street
Hong Kong Central

Madame Fu

I was told that gluten free dim sum was not a thing. Whoever told me this was oh so wrong. Madame Fu – a beautiful eatery tucked away in the brand new Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts – offers a fully gluten free menu to diners upon request which includes a selection of phenomenal dim sum. A little on the pricier side, this restaurant also has a selection of gluten free main dishes and desserts which are all almost too pretty to eat. I highly recommend a trip here for lunch one day when you’re wanting a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Where?
Shop 03-101A Blk
3 No.10 Hollywood Rd
Hong Kong Central

Mott 32

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Located in the Standard Chartered Bank Building, Mott 32 has two Michelin stars. The menu is mostly designed for sharing and offers up traditional Cantonese cuisine with a modern flair. Gluten free diners will receive an extensive gluten free menu upon request, which is almost identical to the regular menu with the exception of a handful of dishes. We ordered from the gluten free menu and shared everything, including lobster dim sum which was probably the most delicious thing I had during my entire stay in Hong Kong. While the meal was expensive it was totally worth it and an ideal spot for a special occasion or when you feel tempted to just treat yourself!

Where?
Standard Chartered Bank Building
4-4A Des Voeux Rd Central
Hong Kong Central

Pizza Express

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I was as surprised as you to see that not only does Pizza Express exist in Hong Kong, it offers gluten free bases too! With several branches across the city, rest assured you can give into those pizza cravings pretty easily whilst in Hong Kong. We opted for takeaway gluten free pizzas one evening as a no-fuss dinner and the bases were just as good as in the UK and the attention paid to dietary requirements also on a par. Check the company website for your closest branch.

Shopping

Filling up your suitcase with gluten free bread and other essentials before heading to Hong Kong is something I would highly recommend. However, a chain of supermarkets around the city – Market Place by Jason’s – has an impressive selection of sweet treats and snacks that you can top up with whilst you are there. I noticed a number of gluten free bread, cake and pancake mixes so ideal if you are staying in self-catered accommodation during your stay. Important to note there is no dedicated gluten free section in these stores so be prepared to scour the aisles like I did. Check the company website for your nearest branch.

Gluten Free at the Venetian in Macau

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During my time in Hong Kong, we took a day trip to Macau, via the Turbo Jet Ferry which took just under one hour. Known as Chinese Vegas, Macao is home to multiple famous hotels including the MGM Grand, The Parisian, Mandarin Oriental and more. We opted for a bottomless brunch at The Venetian where we sat for three hours plus indulging in The Portofino restaurant’s endless raw seafood, steak, cheese and salad bars as well as limitless mimosas, Bloody Marys and more. The gluten free options here were fantastic and I was given great guidance by staff on duty as to what was gluten free. I was brought my own basket of gluten free bread but I advise stating your dietary requirements when you book to ensure they have bread for you. Check the hotel website for current prices and table availability.

Vichenzo Sin Tacc

Last year, I made my bi-annual pilgrimage to Buenos Aires – also known as the Europe of the south. This beautiful, hectic city was my home for almost three years in my twenties and will continue to draw me back every so often, not least because some of my bestest friends in the world live there. A huge part of my time in Argentina revolved around food – cuisine which is traditionally gluten-heavy. Yes, steak is the main act but when Argentines aren’t eating steaks, they’re usually tucking into amazing fresh pastas and milanesas – a tradition passed down from the Italian community that settled there at the turn of the 20th century. So, returning to this city has often made me nervous, for obvious gluten-related reasons.

What I discovered upon returning was a complete surprise however. The city’s gluten free scene in the last three years has totally exploded, with a long list of 100% gluten free eateries and bakeries sprouting up in multiple areas. Luckily for us, that explosion includes the 100% gluten free bakery and pasta factory Vichenzo, tucked away in the Montserrat neighbourhood, which is a hop skip and a jump from Avenida de Julio.

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Vichenzo opened its doors to the public in October 2015, primarily as a pasta producer. “The original idea was to create a high quality and delicious product that would, in addition, be gluten free and safe for coeliacs or those intolerant to gluten,” Vichenzo co-founder Gaston told me. “We saw the gluten free market as a challenge, and one that would make us grow,” Gaston said. The pair therefore put their learnings from their pasta maestro and store namesake Vicente Fabiz to use and created a range of fresh, gluten free pastas using traditional methods and machinery. The range of traditional pastas on offer in store quickly expanded beyond spaghetti and gnocchi to delights including spinach tagliatelle, beetroot ravioli, salmon casoncelli and more. Today, the store acts also as a bakery, offering a huge array of fresh bread, pastries, cakes and beyond.

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“Many of our products came about because of what particular customers requested of us and they became permanent,” Gaston said, who told me when I visited the store that the store’s only enemy is time and the limitations that it creates. The duo have successfully overcome the trials and tribulations of creating gluten free dough for their pastas and pizzas. However, as everyone and anyone gluten free will know, this is a science, given that a change in the humidity of a kitchen or the slight over-pour of an ingredient can leave the dough unusable. Having tried and tested a multitude of the store’s offerings I can vouch for Vichenzo and the success it has had in creating top notch gluten free products, not least the ready-made pasta dishes and fresh Milanesa sandwiches on crusty bread that you can take to go and eat right then and there in the street.

Discovering that neither Gaston nor Pablo were themselves gluten free makes the story of Vichenzo all the more exciting. In my experience, gluten free businesses come about because of health issues in the owners or founders themselves and so having the opportunity to visit a shop where gluten free is just considered normal in the eyes of two non coeliacs really was an eye opener. Luckily for the people of Buenos Aires, Vichenzo will continue to grow as a business. While plans are still not finalized, it looks possible that the north of the city could be home to a new shop in the future. In the meantime, those reading this from outside of Argentina: get on a plane to Buenos Aires and head straight to Vichenzo. You will not be sorry and I can say with confidence you will never have had a gluten free experience like it!

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Vichenzo Sin Tacc (Closed on Sundays)
Salta 529
C1074 Buenos Aires
Argentina

Amsterdam: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

If canals, culture and good gluten free food are your thing then you will not be disappointed by Amsterdam. Every time I venture to the Dutch capital I count myself lucky, not least because of the spiffing public transport which allows me to hop from gluten free destination to gluten free destination with relative ease. Feast your eyes upon the diverse options in my guide which I have pulled together after several trips to this gem of a city! From traditional Dutch fare to vegan Italian delicacies – Amsterdam has it, so eet smakelijk!

Mastino V

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Vegans and gluten free eaters alike will rejoice when they realise that coming to Amsterdam can include delicious, wood fired pizza. The team behind De Pijp’s trendy Mastino pizzeria decided to open Amsterdam’s first 100% gluten free and vegan restaurant in 2017, when they noticed a gap in the market. Mastino V serves up pizza to-go or eat-in in a completely no frills environment, with 12 tantalising options on the menu to choose from. I can highly recommend the “Love” pizza, which features a sensational vegan pesto. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Bilderdijkstraat 192 H
1053 LE Amsterdam

Luza’s Caffeine Club

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Forever searching for the perfect sandwich, I was delighted to come across Luza’s – a new gluten free friendly café – on my most recent trip to Amsterdam. This gorgeously quaint café will serve you Parisian vibes with your sandwiches and tea and is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet moment in the Dutch capital. While most sandwiches can be made on homemade gluten free bread, you may wish to try one of the gluten free quiche options, which alongside a number of free from cakes are proudly displayed in the café window. All food is prepared in an open kitchen in the corner of the restaurant and could not be fresher!

Where?
Van Woustraat 47
1074 AC Amsterdam

DeLepel

Another fairly new addition to the gluten free scene, DeLepel’s mission is simple: serve authentic Italian gelato to the masses in a 100% worry-free zone. Gelateria owner Massimo opened up shop in De Pijp just last year and produces all-natural ice cream which can be served in either a cup or gluten free cone. Yes you read right! Even better, not a single ingredient containing gluten is present on the premises so ice cream fans can eat in peace without worrying about cross contamination, which is a fear in so many ice cream shops across the globe. Pick from up to 24 different gelato and dairy free sorbet flavours and be sure to look out for the six weekly special flavours. Not in the mood for ice cream? No problem – Massimo even offers freshly-made tiramisu and other chilled desserts to customers. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Ceintuurbaan 320
1072 GP Amsterdam

Stroom

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In case you fancy a brunch or a sandwich on delicious, homemade gluten free bread you should definitely head to Stroom. Located in the De Pijp area, this Brooklyn style coffee shop come sandwich bar has one of the most gluten free friendly menus in Amsterdam. Almost all sandwiches can be prepared on free from bread, including toasties, which can be paired with a variety of soups too. Perfect spot for a lazy or working lunch.

Where?
Ferdinand Bolstraat 151
1072 LH Amsterdam

Loetje

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Famous Dutch steak restaurant Loetje knows its stuff when it comes to gluten free dining, and lists all allergens in its clearly marked and accessible menu. As this eatery is known for its meat, staff will urge you to try the traditional Dutch beef steak, which comes swimming in a rich and delectable gluten free gravy. French fries, naturally, are the perfect accompaniment to this meat fiesta, and here they are fried in their own oil to avoid any risk of cross contamination with other fried items served onsite. Vegetarians needn’t shy away however as they will be catered for too. Loetje now has several locations across the city but my favourite is listed below.

Where?
Ferdinand Bolstraat 188A
1072 LV Amsterdam

The Meets

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Another new spot to add to your De Pijp list, The Meets is a gluten free, vegan haven with plenty of free from options which not only are delicious but healthy too. It’s the perfect spot for breakfast or lunch with incredibly allergy-aware staff who triple check everything for you according to your allergy or dietary requirement. Take your pick from the clearly labelled menu from a selection of soups, salads and wraps or if you’re feeling something sweet opt for a vegan twix bar and wash it down with a beautifully instagrammable turmeric latte.

Where?
Cornelius Troostplein 3,
1072 JJ Amsterdam

Puri Mas

Many say that the Netherlands is responsible for introducing Indonesian cuisine to northern Europe. For that reason alone, no one should miss out on a proper Indonesian culinary experience when they’re in Amsterdam, even the gluten free crowd. Puri Mas is located in the centre of the city and immediately feels like a fine dining restaurant as soon as you step in. The staff are wonderfully accommodating and take allergies seriously. Given the style in many Indonesian restaurants is sharing plates, I was naturally nervous. However, say you’re gluten free, and the chef will prepare almost single dish without any gluten containing ingredients. I was able to share with the entire group and felt like a regular diner. Puri Mas serves up a mixture of meat, fish and vegetable dishes which are all fragrant and perfectly seasoned and needs to be shouted about!

Where?
Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 37-41
1017 NG Amsterdam

Pancakes Amsterdam

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With three Amsterdam locations, gluten free tourists won’t have to skip the quintessentially Dutch pancake experience when they are in town! Here, most pancakes on the menu – both sweet and savoury – can be made using the house gluten free batter, which is buckwheat-based. Gluten free pancakes are prepped in separate pans, according to staff, and so risk of cross contamination is very low. I can never resist a savoury pancake when I am here and often leave no room for dessert so sharing is highly recommended! Get ready to queue – Pancakes Amsterdam is highly popular with gluten free and non gluten free patrons alike!

Where?
Berenstraat 38
1016 GH Amsterdam

Prins Hendrikkade 48
1012 AC Amsterdam

Prinsengracht 277
1016 GW Amsterdam

Omelegg

Never have I seen such an homage to eggs! Omelegg (if you hadn’t guessed from the name) serves up everything egg-based and has a humongous menu to boot. While this institution of a restaurant does not have any gluten free bread, the omelettes are so generously sized that you won’t miss it. Just about every omelette combination can be served with delightfully dressed mixed leaves on the side instead of toast to make a delicious breakfast, brunch or lunch. The restaurant also serves Shakshuka and fry ups for those egg fans wanting something a little different to the traditional fare. Luckily for us, Omelegg has two locations. Go early to avoid disappointment!

Where?
Ferdinand Bolstraat 143
1072 LH Amsterdam

Nieuwebrugsteeg 24
1012 AC Amsterdam

La Viña Experience

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La Vina Experience has become a staple for coeliacs in Amsterdam. It labels itself as a Spanish and Mediterranean style restaurant but most diners going may not in fact realise that the majority of dishes are gluten free. Owner and restaurant sommelier Jacqueline is a coeliac herself and so naturally wanted to cater to the free from crowd and provide them with a comfortable and elegant dining experience. Make sure you try the hot spinach dip with gluten free toast to start and then tuck into the freshly grilled squid or Spanish smoked BBQ ribs with frites and plenty of Dutch mayonnaise.

Where?
Maasstraat 72
1078 HL Amsterdam

Cafe Piazza

In case you’re in the mood for pasta, Cafe Piazza has a number of delicious options on its gluten free menu. Sit down and mention you are gluten free and a long list will be reeled off by staff – something which made me feel immediately at ease in this modest Nieuwmarkt eatery. As well as fresh starters and main dishes starring different types of meat and fish, gluten free diners can tuck into a rustic lasagne or a simple spaghetti with homemade pesto sauce, to name but a few of the heavenly carb-loaded options. Save room for dessert – chocolate lovers won’t want to skip the Tartufo Nero.

Where?
Kloveniersburgwal 5
1011 JT Amsterdam

Vapiano

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Sometimes all you need is a chain to get your pizza fix. International restaurant group Vapiano does exactly what it says on the tin – fast, cheap and tasty pizza in a number of locations across the city. Gluten free pizzas are cooked separately and on their own special foil tray to avoid cross contamination and can be enjoyed straight out of the box with a decently priced glass of wine onsite or taken to go for those not wanting to sit in the middle of the hustle and bustle. For your closest restaurant, check out the company website.

McDonald’sIMG_0204Yes, Amsterdam is one of the few cities that offer the Mcdonald’s experience to gluten free visitors and I can confirm it is fantastic. Most classic burgers can be made on a fluffy, sesame seed gluten free bun, served with the classic french fries which I can’t seem to get enough of. If you don’t want to miss out on the more quintessentially Dutch food options during your stay in the city, save this indulgent stop for your route home and enjoy at the Amsterdam Schipol Airport branch. For your closest restaurant, use the online store locator.

Haesje Claes

Typical Dutch cuisine is known for being hearty, warming and often laced with wheat flour. At one of Amsterdam’s oldest restaurants Haesje Claes however, gluten free folk needn’t feel left out – there is a whole menu for you! From a selection of naturally gluten free fresh fish starter plates to filling stews and fried dishes – this canal side restaurant has it all! I asked the waitress what she recommended last time I went and was not disappointed. I started off my meal with some salted herring, smoked salmon and a gluten free beer, before moving on to a Stamppot stew loaded with meatballs, sausage and bacon. Those wanting lighter fare can opt for pan fried fish if they need to ensure room is left for gluten free dessert pancakes!

Where?
Spuistraat 275
1012 VR Amsterdam

Bagels and Beans

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This long-standing Netherlands chain became accessible to gluten free diners a few years ago when it introduced a gluten free bagel. Bagels and Beans now make breakfast or lunch as a gluten free tourist incredibly easy. Stop by and choose from a number of cream-cheese flavours or more sandwich-like fillings, all of which can be prepared on a toasted gluten free bagel. With over 20 locations in Amsterdam, how can you go wrong? Use the online store locator to find your nearest branch.

Shopping

De Glutenvrije Winkel

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Not only is Oostpoort’s gluten free hot spot De Gluten Vrije Winkel your one stop destination for every single gluten free pantry or frozen item you might ever want, it also offers fresh cakes, bread and amazing sandwiches you can eat in or take away, with a number of dairy free options. Owner Nadia has been passionate about bringing the best of gluten free to her customers ever since her son was diagnosed a coeliac. Wonderful family business which I already can’t wait to visit again! Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?
Pretoriusstraat 37
1092 EZ Amsterdam

Meanwhile, general supermarkets in Amsterdam are often fantastic for gluten free options, with the wonderful Albert Heijn firmly in the lead. Here you can stock up on an array of gluten free pantry items, including gluten free caramel waffles or Stroopwafels, which I highly recommend you fill your suitcase with on the way home!

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Marqt, meanwhile, is home to a vast array of gluten free and organic products, including more widely available goods from labels like Schar and Genius. Don’t forget to pick up a packet of chocolate-covered gluten free waffles here by Damhert Nutrition!

 

Lisbon: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

The sun always seems to be shining on Portugal’s hilly capital, which is not only one of the world’s oldest cities, but one of the richest when it comes to culture, nightlife and good food. However, as the home of the Pasteis de Nata – or custard tarts – Lisbon can, at first, seem impenetrable for a gluten free traveller. I can assure you that this is most certainly not the case. While so much of Portuguese cuisine is naturally gluten free, a lot of restaurants and producers have gone out of their way to prove that they are moving with the times and catering to gluten free diners specifically. Here’s hoping this guide convinces you to book those flights you’ve been considering!

Pastelaria Zarzuela

If you arrive hungry and in need of breakfast, lunch or a sweet treat, Zarzuela should be your first destination. Located in the hilly and historical Bairro Alto district, this bar and bakery is Lisbon’s most well-known gluten free spot, known for its cross-contamination awareness and Pasteis de Nata! The bakery also produces gluten filled treats but keeps them strictly separate from the gluten free items, in separate and clearly marked display cases. As well as the vast array of cakes, pastries and sweets, patrons can sit down and tuck into a gluten free toasted or fresh sandwich, pasta dishes and homemade gluten free pizzas. All go perfectly with a bottle of Daura Damm beer so pull up a chair! Closed on Tuesdays.

Where?
R. Barnadino Costa 21-23
1200-052 Lisbon

Brown’s Hotel Group and Restaurants

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If you’re looking for gorgeous accommodation which offers a great gluten free breakfast and access to a bar, look no further than the Brown’s Hotel Group. I had the pleasure of staying at the group’s central location for a whole week and realised that the gluten free bread there was second to none. Put a call in to the hotel prior to your arrival and they will ensure you are provided with the crustiest and warmest of bread baskets each morning. The rolls are heated in an oven away from the toasters used for regular bread so there is no chance of cross contamination. The breakfast buffet has an ample selection of cured meats, cheeses and fresh fruit as well as eggs, bacon and gluten free cereal upon request.

Where?
Rua da Assunção nº75
1100-042 Lisbon

Rua dos Sapateiros 73
1100-579 Lisbon

Rua da Vitória 88
1100-619 Lisbon

Time Out Market Lisboa

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Foodies from near and far will rejoice when they step inside the recently refurbished Mercado da Ribeira market, which in 2014 was taken over by travel guide publisher Time Out. The market is now home to a multitude of upmarket food stalls, which in many cases are headed up by top Lisbon chefs and offer wine pairing to compliment the dishes on offer. Seafood dominates the agenda here, which makes sense given the market’s close proximity to the river bank. The only problem inside the Time Out Market is that there is too much choice, with many of the stalls listing the GF options clearly on their billboard-style menus. I personally recommend you start your market journey with a glass of the chilled Vinho Verde of the day at Manteigaria Silva and wander over to top chef Alexandre Silva’s kitchen for the black rice with sauteed scallops and seaweed or some hearty and fresh Bacalao atop a bed of spinach. If you’re not stuffed, snack on some freshly sliced ham from various vendors or an ice cream from Santini, where the staff will show you a gluten free allergen chart and open a new barrel of ice cream before serving you to avoid cross contamination.

Where?
Av. 24 de Julho 49
1200-479 Lisbon

Flower Power

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A true hidden gem in the Bairro Alto district, Flower Power is a flower and art shop turned restaurant which prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients. You’ll find a number of traditional Portuguese dishes on the menu, including the most delicious baked bacalao and on the dessert menu: one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever had, made up of lots of layers of thin chewy meringue. The waiting staff here go above and beyond to tend to anyone with a dietary requirement and you’ll enjoy your meal surrounded by beautiful art – what more could you ask for?

Where?
Calçada do Combro 2
1200-086 Lisbon

Nicolau Lisboa

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Arguably the most Instagrammed cafe in Lisbon, Nicolau’s pastel colours and organic menu offerings draw in patrons from all over the world. You will undoubtedly have to wait for a table here but the gluten free crepiocas are worth the wait. They are clearly marked on the menu as gluten free, as well as the buckwheat pancakes and a selection of cakes. It’s a good idea to mention your dietary requirements upon arrival regardless as the hustle and bustle in this cafe is non stop. There are two additional locations in Lisbon – Amelia and Basilio – but their gluten free options are more limited so it’s definitely worth paying Nicolau a visit!

Where?
R. São Nicolau 17
1100-547 Lisbon

McDonald’s

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While people may not set out to eat McDonald’s in a place as gastronomically rich as Lisbon, sometimes it will just happen. With numerous locations across the city, McDonald’s is a goldmine for gluten free patrons desperate to get their hands on some nostalgic and coeliac-safe junk food. Portugal offers a gluten free bun as a substitute on every single hamburger with the exception of the deep fried chicken and fish fillets. As always, the classic french fries are safe and fried in their own separate fryer so a complete meal of indulgence is possible! McDonald’s in Portugal also offers a number of gluten free extras including soups and salads. Those of you craving something sweet can enjoy a gluten free cone for your ice cream after your meal. A selection of locations are listed below.

Where?
Centro Comercial Continente de Lojas 008
Av. Nações Unidas 1-4
1600 Lisbon

Praça Alvalade 14A-15D
1700-000 Lisbon

Aeroporto de Lisboa
Alameda das Comunidades Portuguesas
1700-008 Lisbon

La Trattoria

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It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, at some point during my travels I will crave what has got to be my favourite cuisine – Italian. While Lisbon may be peppered with Italian restaurants, the one that really goes out of its way to cater to the gluten free community is tucked away in the hills of the Campo de Ourique neighbourhood. Say you’re gluten free at La Trattoria and you’ll be immediately presented with the most wonderful of bread baskets, featuring ciabatta, breadsticks, olives and truffle ricotta dip. This restaurant has an extensive gluten free menu which includes a Melanzane Alla Parmigiana starter which could win awards – so crispy and cheesy, surrounded by bubbling tomato sauce and a crispy side salad for extra freshness. Choose from a number of sensational pasta dishes for your main or hearty meat and fish options and expect to leave stuffed and happy!

Where?
R. Artilharia 79
1250-038 Lisbon

A Marisqueira Do Lis

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Seafood lovers will not want to miss out on a night indulging in langoustines and fresh clams at this traditional Marisqueira. This no frills restaurant is permanently full of locals and seems to not have been inundated with tourists despite its delicious offerings. Choose from an array of naturally gluten free fresh shellfish and prepare to be amazed at the vast platters that then arrive at your table. The portions make it perfect for sharing and the ideal prep for drinks later on. Patrons should be prepared to wait for tables if arriving after 9pm but I promise it will be worth it! Closed on Tuesdays.

Where?
Av. Alm. Reis 27B
1150-008 Lisbon

Sacramento do Chiado

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If by now you haven’t had enough bacalao or codfish, I recommend you head straight to Sacramento do Chiado where the best Carpaccio de Bacalao of your life awaits. Order this to start and enjoy it solo or with some of the fresh gluten free bread that the restaurant brings upon request. While the decor may be garish, with deep reds and faux crystal chandeliers, you’ll want to stay at this contemporary Portuguese eatery for mains and desserts. The steaks are particularly good here, as are the traditional fried potatoes and vegetable sides. Incredibly accommodating staff made the experience all the more enjoyable.

Where?
Calçada Sacramento 40 a 46
1200-394

Restaurante Conqvistador

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What could possibly be better than taking in one of Lisbon’s most historic sites while enjoying a meal? Restaurante Conqvistador is located high up in the hilltop neighbourhood of Castelo, which is home to the medieval Sao Jorge castle. Have a seat outside on the tables set up on the cobblestone street or inside the tiled restaurant and start with a plate of freshly sauteed king prawns and some marinated olives. While this restaurant would not seem an obvious choice for the allergy or coeliac crowd, it cooks up a number of Portuguese specials daily that are again, naturally free from gluten. The veal in jus is a house speciality and comes complete with a fried egg and flash fried potatoes that are so thin they are essentially crisps – perfect for soaking up the moisture of the leftover sauce. Absolutely worth the hike!

Where?
Tv. de São Bartolomeu 12
1100-078 Lisbon

Bomjardin

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Last but not least, Bomjardin is a must-visit for the meat eaters out there. The concept of this old and historical eatery is simple – spit roasted chicken with piri piri seasoning and an array of sides. Do not dwell too long on the extensive menu because chicken is what this place does best. Choose your size and your piping hot plates will be with you in a flash. The fries are entirely safe for coeliacs and will be quickly topped up should you require more. The salads are large and also a good sharer to add green to your beautiful beige meal, which can be enjoyed al fresco or indoors. Order a bottle of Vinho Verde and enjoy!

Where?
Tv. de Santo Antão 11
1150-312 Lisbon

Nosolo Italia

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This Italian restaurant is located on the water edge with a wonderful view of the old port – Belem. You’ll be handed a gluten free menu upon arrival when you state your requirements from which you can choose a number of pasta dishes or pizza. One thing to note about this restaurant is that it is by no means a 100% gluten free kitchen so while the staff try their hardest to keep gluten free items separate, there is a risk of cross contamination. I enjoyed a lasagne (a rarity!) at Nosolo Italia and had only a great experience. The wine list is pretty decent too!

Where?
Avenida Brasília, 202, Santa Maria de Belém
1400-038 Lisbon

Shopping

Lisbon is home to multiple supermarkets, the larger ones of which are incredibly well stocked when it comes to gluten free snacks. Jumbo Pao de Acucar in the Amoireras Shopping Centre should be your one-stop-shop while you’re in Lisbon, with a reasonably priced and eclectic gluten free range. Be prepared to leave with multiple bags and stock for your Gluten Free Suitcase on the way home! Also check out Pingo Doce stores, dotted around the city for their Sem Gluten range.