Madrid: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

Spain has always been a great destination for anyone gluten free and the Spanish capital of Madrid is no exception. One of the first places I ever travelled as a gluten free person and the home of notorious bakery Celicioso and tapas galore, Madrid will have you spoilt for choice. Just take note that most restaurants in Madrid still take bookings, especially at peak times on weekends, so call ahead to make sure you secure your spot!

Sana Locura Gluten Free Bakery

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By far my favourite bakery in Madrid, Sana Locura boasts one of the most impressive cake, pastry and bread counters I’ve ever seen in my life. The bakery has a family business atmosphere and is always buzzing with people either buying treats to go or sitting down for breakfast and lunch. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Sana Locura’s croissants or red velvet cake. And if you’re dairy free order a delicious soy or rice milk latte and ask the staff to point you towards any dairy free sweet treats for the perfect afternoon combination. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Calle del Gral Oraá 49
28006 Madrid

Celicioso

The original gluten free bakery in Madrid, Celicioso has branched out to four different locations across the city, and now even has branches in Malaga and Marbella. Picture anything you miss since going gluten free and I can guarantee you that Celicioso offers the gluten free version. Perfect for brunch (order the legendary avo toast!) or lunch with an epic sweet and savoury selection of goods to pack in your bag to fuel your sightseeing around Madrid, Celicioso is somewhere you will want to visit over and over again.

Where?
Calle de O’Donnell, 4
28009 Madrid

Plaza del Callao, 2, 9º planta
28013 Madrid

Calle de Hortaleza 3
28004 Madrid

Calle del Barquillo 19
28004 Madrid

Maestro Churrero

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Lo and behold – a place that has finally answered all our gluten free churro prayers! Maestro Churrero prepares its gluten free churros separately so there’s no chance of cross contamination and you can even dip them into lactose free hot chocolate. A perfect spot for in between meals or even to start your day because is there ever a bad time for churros?!

Where?
Plaza de Jacinto Benavente 2
28012 Madrid

Pasteleria La Oriental

Another winner on the gluten free bakery scene in Madrid, La Oriental is packed almost to the ceiling with gluten free cakes, cookies, tarts and pastries that will make you do a double take. Their traditional Roscon cake is something else and keeps well for a few days if you want to stash one away in your hand luggage! Better yet, La Oriental is open seven days a week!

Where?
Calle de Ferraz 47
28008 Madrid

Solo de Croquetas

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Croquettes are a special part of the Spanish food scene and sadly one that we’re rarely able to indulge in. So you will be delighted to know that Madrid is home to a 100% gluten free croquette restaurant where you can sample the whole menu and wash down your selections with an icy gluten free beer. Perfect for lunch!

Where?
Calle de Echegaray 5
28014 Madrid

Mercado de San Miguel

Well worth a visit, Mercado de San Miguel is one of Madrid’s oldest markets, with an array of food and drink stalls offering some of the freshest seafood, tapas and chilled cava I’ve ever had. Keep your eyes peeled for what’s on offer gluten free wise as the menus at various stalls can change. I hopped around sampling tortilla and fresh prawns at different stalls when I went but I have it on good authority that Tacos Margaritas y Punto is 100% gluten free and well worth a pitt stop for their outrageously delicious tacos.

Where?
Plaza de San Miguel S/N
28005 Madrid

La Tintoreria

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A traditional Spanish restaurant, La Tintoreria is a great spot for tortilla and a good platter of traditional jamon. The staff are very clued up when it comes to allergies and will take extra care when serving a gluten free customer. Booking advised, especially on Fridays and Saturdays if you want to ensure you are seated!

Where?
Calle Espoz y Mina 20
28012 Madrid

Emma y Julia

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In the market for some delicious Italian food while in Madrid? Well when it comes to the menu on offer at Emma y Julia I think it’s well worth a go! This restaurant makes almost every single item on its regular menu gluten free upon request and has some of the best pizza I’ve had in years. The portions are huge and the staff go out of their way to accomodate coeliacs and customers with dietary requirements. Another gem that is sure to set you up well for a night out on the town! Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Calle de la Cava Baja 19
28005 Madrid

Taberna La Concha

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By far my favourite tapas bar in Madrid, Taberna La Concha is small, traditional and offers an extensive gluten free menu upon request. What’s special about Taberna La Concha is the albondigas or meatballs which are so rarely gluten free and here they are huge and delicious! This restaurant is perfect for a late night dinner but be prepared to wait in line as it’s a popular spot!

Where?
Calle de la Cava Baja 7
28005 Madrid

La Gamella

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Finally, if you’re in need of a top notch brunch to start or end your time in Madrid on a high, venture to La Gamella for a gorgeous and gluten free friendly brunch. Most things on the menu can be made gluten free and can be all washed down with a mimosa with freshly squeezed orange juice and followed with an array of sweet treats to accompany a post brunch espresso. The Eggs Benedict here is incredible so don’t forget to call and reserve your table as this place gets packed during the day on weekends.

Where?
Calle de Alfonso XII 4
28014 Madrid

Burger King

Like the rest of Spain, Burger King in Madrid offers a gluten free bun for their burgers and cheeseburgers. Better yet, this option is available at the airport so in case you didn’t have enough pastries or tapas while in Madrid, you can grab a cheeseburger on your way out of the country. Check with each branch if the chips are fried separately as sometimes they are not. P.S. McDonald’s has gluten free options in Spain too!

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Côte Brasserie: A Coeliac UK Accredited Gem (Invite)

While eating out for gluten free folk in the UK is becoming easier in terms of the variety of options available, places that adhere strictly to standards safe enough for coeliacs are still a rarity. UK chain Côte Brasserie is one of those exceptions, and is fully accredited by Coeliac UK. To celebrate Coeliac UK Awareness week, the team at Côte invited me along to try their extensive gluten free menu with some of my wonderful gluten free friends. I have always been a fan of this restaurant, which offers up traditional and modern French dishes with a twist. Côte has recently however revamped its gluten free offerings and even now has a dedicated Gluten Free Prestige set menu so coeliacs need not feel left out of the two and three course deals offered in all branches.

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While perusing the menu, we ordered a selection of mixed olives and saucisson sec to start, which paired perfectly with Côte’s wonderfully crisp sparkling wine Blanc de Blancs Brut. I then opted for the Prawn Gratinee as a starter: king prawns baked in a white wine, garlic, chilli and tomato sauce. This came with a serving of gluten free toast on the side and was one of the most delicious starters I have had in a restaurant for quite some time – not least because of the blue gluten free flags that came in the dish to indicate that this was indeed coeliac safe! My friend Jessie and I also shared a chicken parfait, which came with a serving of cornichons, spiced apple chutney and more gluten free bread, toasted to perfection.

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For my main, I could not resist ordering a fillet steak, recommended to me by the manager. Perfectly cooked, the steak was served with a generous portion of Côte’s trademark coeliac safe fries and truffle hollandaise sauce. To add a touch of greenery to our meal, Jessie and I also ordered some creamed spinach and French beans to accompany our meal. Again, our meals came with gluten free flags intact, allowing us to be fully relaxed without having to ask the usual twenty questions that follow the arrival of food for most gluten free diners.

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What’s important to note about Côte is that you will need to save room for dessert. Forget the usual single ice cream option all of us gluten free diners are far too familiar with in most restaurants – Côte offers a great selection including Creme Brulee, chocolate compote, crumble and more. I finally decided on the mixed summer berries with warm white chocolate sauce, which I would quite happily eat everyday if I could.
To conclude, I urge you all to head to Côte as soon as you can to see for yourselves just how wide a variety they have on offer for gluten free diners. If you have any other dietary requirements, intolerances or allergies, Côte will also go above and beyond to ensure you eat well and safely. Thank you again to the team for taking such good care of us – we all can’t wait to come back!

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We dined at the Soho branch of Côte Brasserie on Wardour Street. Tables bookable on the company website and on Quandoo.

Empanadas by Lincoln’s Cafe, Holborn

Where From? Lincoln’s Cafe, Holborn
Available in Store from Monday to Friday

As a massive empanada fan, I cannot tell you my delight in coming across what Lincoln’s Cafe has to offer. This modest eatery tucked away behind Holborn station in the West End of London not only offers gluten free bread as an option for its vast sandwich menu, but a selection of homemade Colombian savoury treats too. Pictured, the Empanada de Pollo (Chicken), is a must-try if you’re passing, and even if you’re not, I would recommend the trip purely for this! This empanada is corn based and is perfectly crispy on the outside when heated and soft as a pillow inside, jam-packed full of flavour. Whilst you’re there, you would be silly to not also try some of the Pan de Bono (traditional Colombian cheese bread), an arepa or a vegetable stuffed empanada. This store closes early every day so make your way there before 4pm to avoid disappointment!

Naked Souvlaki Box by The Athenian

Where From? The Athenian
Available at the London and Bristol Locations

Having to skip on the warm and fluffy pitta bread when tucking into Greek food is definitely a sad state of affairs. However, when you find Greek food that is so good there’s no real need for the bread, you’re winning, and that’s exactly what I found at The Athenian! This modern chain brings traditional Greek flavours to the street food scene and is very allergen aware. The Athenian states clearly on its menu that the “Naked Souvlaki” is naturally gluten free, which is a box of fresh Greek Salad with herbs and grilled meat skewers – perfect with an accompanying portion of halloumi cheese. The team will also change their gloves for you when prepping your meal if you request gluten free, to avoid cross contamination, and will withhold the fries, which are not gluten free as they are fried together with other gluten-containing items. Go check this place out – you have four London locations to choose from, including inside my local hotspot Tooting Market. The Athenian also has a Bristol location, so what are you waiting for?

Ardiciocca: A 100% Gluten Free Trattoria Experience in Fulham

London’s ever-expanding gluten free scene is full of Italian food. Pizzas, pastas and more can often be found in gluten free form at restaurants across the city. Italian restaurants that cater entirely to gluten free diners are however, still a novelty. 100% gluten free trattoria Ardiciocca opened up shop three months ago in Fulham and has since remained a hidden gem – well until now.

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Ardiciocca is the latest project from Roberto Costa and the group behind Macellaio RC, which owns four other Italian restaurants in London and one in Milan. The goal for the new Fulham eatery was simple – Costa wanted to make the “comforting, homely” recipes of his childhood available to everyone – not just gluten eaters. The menu lends itself to simple and delicious flavours, many of which will instantly make you feel like you’re on vacation in Italy, as opposed to southwest London.

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With a chilled glass of Prosecco in our hands, we took our pick from the eclectic selection of starters, settling not on one, but three small plates to share between us. The mussel and potato croquettes instantly caught my eye in the typical way that a gluten free person is drawn to breaded, deep fried treats after lengthy periods without. While the croquettes were crispy, warm and bursting with flavour, I couldn’t help but think how a light aioli would have completed the dish. We also chose the salami, broad bean, pecorino cheese and fresh bread plate – the star of the show of which was most certainly the salami, dominated by a strong truffle flavour. I was incredibly impressed by the homemade bread, which was served warm from the oven. My dinner date Mateja also insisted on trying the brain – a delicacy which came fried in light crispy batter.

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Ardiciocca has a wide array of main dishes to choose from, which go way beyond the traditional pizza/pasta offering of many Italian eateries. These range from pickled fried mackerel to sausage stew and homemade hearty minestrone. However, we simply could not resist giving the Sardinian gnocchi and sausage ragú a go, as well as the Nduja pizza – the dough of which is made with gluten free flour and Ferrarelle water before it is left to rise for 72 hours. The ragú was perfectly seasoned and incredibly moreish, leaving me wishing for a second bowl. The pizza crust was thin and light, and topped with flavourful passata, creamy mozzarella and spicy sausage, the kick from which was neutralised softened slightly by the addition of fresh lemon and rocket.

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While we had next to no room left for dessert, I could not pass up the opportunity to sample the basil infused panna cotta – a flavour combination I had never seen on a menu before. It was tangy and refreshing, served with a drizzle of Italian honey on the side. The homemade chocolate torte is also definitely worth a try, only lacking in a side dollop of creme fraiche or gelato, which I’ll be sure to request next time I go.

Anyone in Fulham and beyond must not miss out on the opportunity to eat here for a meal full of flavour, tradition and excellent service to boot. Don’t forget to try a different glass of Italian wine with each course – you won’t be sorry!

Ardiciocca

461-465 North End Road

Fulham

London SW6 INZ

020-3848-6830

(Tables Bookable via email or telephone)

Toulouse: The Mini Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

Known for its cassoulet and confit de canard, Toulouse can be a food lover’s paradise. The city pulls in multitudes of tourists each year, especially during the summer months when the masses head to the wine region. It’s a beautiful city to walk around in, with lots of culture and a rich history. But how good is it for gluten free food you ask? Finding gluten-free friendly eateries can still be a challenge and so I’ve pulled together a mini guide to the provincial city, which will be perfect for anyone staying nearby and venturing in for the day or in Toulouse for a city-break over a weekend. Bon Appétit!

Lucas et Marie Sans Genes

A highly popular free from spot, Lucas and Marie Sans Genes is a 100% gluten free bakery, which also specialises in vegan products too. From beautiful pastries to homemade bread, you’ll be spoilt for choice here and will not have to worry about traces. The bakery prides itself on creating food that is free of up to 14 key allergens and is entirely organic. A lovely family run business created by mother Marie and her son Lucas, this place is a must-visit for coeliacs and vegans alike who will go absolutely crazy over the pastry selection – trust me! Closed on Sundays.

Where?
28 Rue des Polinaires
31000 Toulouse

Yard – La Burger Factory

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If you’re craving a proper hamburger while you’re in Toulouse, this is your one-stop shop. This fast food joint is incredibly gluten free friendly, and offers most burgers on a soft and squidgy sesame seed gluten free bun! I was assured that the regular fries and sweet potato fries are also safe, so just be sure to state your dietary requirements at the beginning so the staff make sure to take extra care of you. I opted for a classic cheese burger, which is entirely gluten free when the house Yard sauce is removed and it was absolutely delicious. Yard gets brownie points in my book for also offering a gluten free beer on the menu – the perfect accompaniment to your burger!

Where?
51 Rue du Taur
31000 Toulouse

Invita

Another organic hotspot, Invita is a great destination for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch while you’re in Toulouse. The menu, which is entirely vegetarian, has a great array of options from salads to gluten free pizzas (yes you read correctly!) to galettes. What’s great about Invita is their availability of a weekday meal deal, where you can get two courses for €16 or three for €20. As I hate missing out on dessert, I’d personally recommend you opt for three courses! If you fancy a pizza or vegetarian lasagne course, head to Invita on a Friday or Saturday when they are available. Vegan options are also aplenty!

Where?
18 Rue d’Aubuisson
31000 Toulouse

Pastel & Sarrasin

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Everytime I venture to France I crave crepes and galettes. Luckily for the gluten free community, more and more places are starting to offer a gluten free friendly alternative so that everyone can feel included. Pastel et Sarrasin is a must-visit during your time in Toulouse as they not only use the freshest of ingredients to top and fill their pancakes, but they offer a gluten free batter on the menu too. This expansive restaurant has lots of indoor seating and sets up tables outside on warmer days so you can watch the world going by while you feast. WARNING: As Pastel et Sarrasin deals with non gluten free flour in its kitchen as well, the company warns that traces in the preparation area are a possibility but they take as much care as is possible to avoid that by keeping the gluten free batter away from the rest and cleaning the pans before use.

Where?
75 Rue du Taur
31000 Toulouse

Silex & Fourchette

Are you both gluten and lactose free? Then Silex & Fourchette must be your first stop in the city. This is the first “paleo” restaurant I have seen in continental Europe, so imagine my excitement, especially as paleo food is all naturally gluten free! Silex & Fourchette serves lunch five days a week and has a monthly Sunday brunch for only €18, which includes a lot of food, so check the company website to see if brunch falls on your weekend! The most photographed and ordered item here is undoubtedly the paleo burger, which comes with sweet potato fries and is definitely worth a try! Closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Where?
138 Grande Rue Saint-Michel
31400 Toulouse

Aux Douces Heures

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While not an obvious gluten free spot, Aux Douces Heures is the perfect place to stop for a coffee and a rest while you are whizzing around Toulouse. The regular menu at this French tea room is not gluten free, but the team at Aux Douces Heures make sure to always have at least two freshly baked gluten free sweet treats to accompany your coffee or tea for a pick-me-up. The cakes are kept separately from the rest of the restaurant’s offerings and are usually displayed in the window next to a welcoming gluten free sign. The chocolate tart makes a regular appearance and is deliciously rich. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
9bis Rue des Lois
31000 Toulouse

Shopping

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Supermarkets in France have come a long way in the past few years, and that includes smaller city branches. The two biggest supermarket chains in Toulouse are Carrefour and Monoprix, both of which have several stores across the city, so you are never too far from gluten free snacks or necessities. I was able to find gluten free bread, pasta and cookies in all shops I went into so check the company website for your nearest store and stock up!