Tooting: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

Those of y’all who follow my Instagram account will know by now that I LOVE my neighbourhood. I grew up in South East London and three years ago switched things up by moving South West to Tooting. In the past three years alone, this area has seen an immense amount of change, especially when it comes to food! Home to the famous Tooting Market and Broadway Market, this area has something for everyone, and is especially great when it comes to gluten free. Enjoy reading through my guide and seeing for yourself just how awesome this southern corner of the capital is!

Boom Bap Burger

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I’ve tried a lot of burgers in my time, and since going gluten free seven years ago, I’ve tried even more. However, top of my list for anyone visiting Tooting has got to be Boom Bap Burger, which offers delicious gluten free patties, packed full of flavour, and perfectly sguidgy gluten free burger buns to boot. The french fries are fried in their own separate fryer and are the perfect vehicle for mounds of cheese if you’re in the mood for epic cheesy fries to accompany your burger. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Unit 2, Tooting Market
20 Totterdown Street
London SW17 8TA

Mamma Mia Pasta

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If you’re a gnocchi fan like me, you won’t be disappointed that gnocchi is your only gluten free option at this family-run pasta restaurant inside Tooting Broadway Market – you’ll be ELATED. Gluten free gnocchi is still incredibly hard to come across on the London restaurant scene and here at Mamma Mia Pasta, the chef will top it with any sauce you desire, whilst taking extra care to avoid cross contamination. I highly recommend you opt for the slow cooked tomato and basil sauce with burrata – absolute winner! State your allergy or dietary requirement and you’ll be wonderfully taken care of. Closed on Sundays and Mondays. 

Where?
Tooting Broadway Market
The Cave
29 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0RJ

Herbies

Tooting is now home to Herbies – the market’s first vegan takeaway restaurant, which is both reasonably priced and perfect when you’re in the mood for something on the healthier side. Currently gluten free on the menu are the turmeric cauliflower with a zesty tahnini and lemon dressing, the garbanzo salad with a chive dressing (without the pearl barley) and the signature squash and green bean satay, served with cauliflower rice. A little birdie also told me that the Herbies kitchen is working on a gluten free batter for its indulgent fried items so watch this space! Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Unit 13, Tooting Market
20 Totterdown Street
London SW17 8TA

Plot

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Another sleek addition to Tooting Market, Plot specialises in small plates with a Michelin-star-style twist. The menu changes frequently, in line with what is in season, but there are always naturally gluten free options on offer here. Perfect for date night or for an occasion warranting more than a burger! Plot has seats all the way down its chic bar where you can eat and watch the action in the kitchen, whilst sipping on a glass of wine from the hand picked list. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?
70-72 Broadway Market
29 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0RL

The Gorringe Park

This isn’t just my favourite pub in Tooting because it’s local but because a large portion of the menu is gluten free! And the items safe for us to eat are not just steak, or grilled fish and mash – they include things like croquettes, breaded camembert, calamari and much much more! The Gorringe Park has a separate fryer for all of its gluten free items, meaning the chips are safe to eat – something which sadly seems to be a rarity in pubs these days. If you’re in the mood for culture with your meal, pop on down to the pub cinema in the basement, which shows several movies daily and is free – just buy yourself a drink or a snack and enjoy!

Where?
29 London Road
London SW17 9JR

Brickwood Coffee and Bread

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This Australian-themed brunch spot has a plethora of gluten free options available for breakfast or brunch each day. Brickwood offers gluten free bread to its diners which can be easily swapped into your meal to make signature dishes like the Avo toast with chorizo or feta or eggs any way safe to eat. Brickwood even has hash nuggets to accompany your brunch – just be warned you may not want to share they’re so good! Be sure to state your dietary requirements upon arrival and you’ll be in good hands!

Where?
Tooting Market
21-23 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0SN

Barra 10

Argentina has come to Tooting! The team behind this traditional style parilla restaurant (or Argentine steak house) are from Buenos Aires itself and offer an array of traditional dishes, many of which are naturally gluten free. Venture here for perfectly cooked steak, wine from the famous Mendoza region, oh and a provoleta – barbecued provolone cheese – for a quintessentially Porteño experience! Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?
16 Broadway Market
Tooting High Street
London SW17 0RL

Milk Teeth

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I definitely can’t complain when it comes to Tooting’s brunch offerings. Milk Teeth – sister restaurant of Balham’s Milk – is always spot on when you’re in the mood for eggs, perfect flat whites and retro hip hop, all at the same time. Gluten free diners can choose between several dishes but are likely to be drawn to signature numbers like sweetcorn fritters with kasundi and the Young Betty – Milk Teeth’s answer to Eggs Benedict, served atop homemade cornbread and drizzled with Espresso Hollandaise. Those in the mood for sweet treats can also order a slice of the pistachio and polenta cake with buttercream frosting – it’s truly delightful AND gluten free!

Where?
110 Mitcham Road
London SW17 9NG

Green Monkey

Tucked away behind Tooting Bec station, Green Monkey is a hidden gem for gluten free. Serving up delicious coffee, Green Monkey has a selection of sweet gluten free treats on offer including one of the best brownies I’ve ever had, topped with a salted caramel swirl. If you’re in the mood for something more substantial, Green Monkey whips up an epic Avo Toast on gluten free bread or a salt beef and chicken sandwich.

Where?
2d Tooting Bec Road
London SW17 7TS

Mud

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Another spot for the breakfast fans out there, Mud serves up all sorts of egg-based dishes seven days a week. Gluten free eaters can replace regular bread with gluten free bread on most breakfast dishes or can tuck into the buckwheat pancakes which are served wtih caremalised pear puree, pecans, lemon balm and maple creme fraiche. I tend to go big here and order the Eggs Benny with pork belly, and usually finish with at least three coffees just to bring me out of the food coma. Be sure to flag your requirements upon arrival so the team at Mud can take care of you!

Where?
141 Mitcham Road
London SW17 9PE

The Little Taperia

If you’re in the mood for Tapas, The Little Taperia has got you covered. This charming, neighbourhood restaurant has a traditional menu, featuring naturally gluten free favourites such as Tortilla Española, Garlic Prawns, Grilled Octopus and more, not to mention the amazing Jamon Serrano and cheese selection on offer. It’s worth mentioning that the team at The Little Taperia could not be more accomodating when it comes to dietary requirements, so while you can’t tuck into the fried items or the bread, they will do everything they can to make sure you don’t miss them!

Where?
143 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0RU

Nuvola – A Little Bakery

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I’m usually in the market for something sweet after all of the savoury treats that Tooting has to offer, and so tend to head on over to Nuvola – A Little Bakery. This organic bakery is not a gluten free dedicated facility but always has at least two delicious gluten free baked goods on offer. Run by former pastry chef Nuvola Tivoli, this bakery prides itself on handmade cakes made only with the best ingredients, which will make you even prouder to support such a great local business! Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Where?
Unit 25, Tooting Market
Totterdown Street
London SW17 0SN

Rosa’s Thai Cafe

As well as a plethora of independent shops and restaurants, Tooting has a number of reliable chains which offer solid gluten free options. Rosa’s Thai Cafe is one of those, offering a detailed gluten free menu upon request. Take your pick from a number of fragrant curries, stir fries, Asian salads and more and you’re sure to be well looked after.

Where?
70 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0RN

Honest Burgers

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A restaurant these days which needs little introduction, Honest Burgers has long had a home in Tooting. A great and fuss-free option for gluten free diners who want to tuck into a familiar and great-tasting burger, Honest Burgers offers all patties on a gluten free bun as well as coeliac-safe rosemary fries and onion rings. Wash it all down with a gluten free Daura Damm beer and you’ve got a winning combination!

Where?
72 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0RN

The Athenian

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You won’t even miss the pitta bread when you tuck into some naturally gluten free Greek street food at The Athenian. On offer for gluten free folk, the Naked Souvlaki box comes jam packed with fresh Greek salad, herbs, grilled meat and is made even better by a portion of grilled halloumi on the side. Staff members will change their gloves for you if you state your allergies and are intent on giving you a stress free ordering experience. The Athenian is part of a chain with locations now all around London and I couldn’t be happier to have it in Tooting!

Where?
Unit 3, Tooting Market
21-23 Totterdown Street
London SW17 0SN

Cardamom Club

Last but not least: Cardamom Club has been my favourite Indian food delivery restaurant since I moved to Tooting. This independent Tooting Bec takeaway has good allergy awareness and always delivers delicious meals that are piping hot. While I’ve tried a number of dishes from here, my number one has got to be Butter Chicken – a perfect combination of spice and creaminess. The Paneer Tikka is also fantastic, and makes for a great starter and is perfect for sharing!

Where?
18 Trinity Road
London SW17 7RE

Coori Free From

As my favourite gluten free brand Coori gets ready to open its new shop in Richmond, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you more about their story and how they came to be the household name that they are today. Many of you will know Coori from their 2013 pop-up in Selfridges Food Hall, which was the pioneer for gluten free space in the famous London department store and is now occupied by London bakery Beyond Bread. Coori closed its concession after several months, leaving customers eagerly anticipating its next move after almost ten years on the gluten free market in various shapes and forms. Others may remember Coori from the large scale Allergy and Free From Show which comes to London’s Olympia every year, where the team would prepare fresh stonebaked pizzas for the masses.

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I first came across Coori (which means heart in Sicilian dialect) when I moved to Tooting in south west London, several years ago. One day walking through my new local market I did a double take when I saw a small hand-written “100% gluten free” sign and realised that fresh pasta was being cooked and arancini being rolled, ready for the fryer. It was then that I met founder Julia, a gluten free scene veteran and cook, who was testing Tooting out as a pop-up space.

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Born and raised in Italy, Julia had always been exposed to good, simple cooking. However, when her sister was diagnosed with coeliac disease and Julia discovered she was gluten intolerant, her interest in food took a different turn and she leapt on what she saw as an opportunity to fill a huge gap in the market. “I wanted to take things back to the basics and start over with gluten free food,” Julia told me in an interview, as we sat enjoying a classic, and naturally gluten free Italian dessert: affogato. “Not only would creating good simple food for coeliacs make people happy, but it would help change perceptions of gluten free products, which for a long time were lacking in flavour and yet packed with additives and excessive amounts of sugar,” Julia said. This mindsight, as well as help and support from Coeliac UK, led Julia to open up a restaurant in 2008 – Bruschetta – in Kingston. The restaurant specialised in Italian classics like pasta and pizza, which back then were still a huge novelty.

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Julia commened that when she launched, she did not initially advertise the restaurant as gluten free, to test out her food on doubting customers. “I invited restaurant critics, journalists and bloggers to try my food without saying it was gluten free. After they ate it, I revealed that what they had just feasted on contained to no wheat, barley or rye and they couldn’t believe it,” she said. Julia continued to work on products and food that not only appealed to those unable to eat gluten, but to a wider audience who simply craved good food made from high quality ingredients. Julia soon became well-known in the gluten free community and after several years, switched her focus to manufacturing, which aided the launch of the company’s online business.

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Coori online began to ship pasta, flour mixes, sweet treats and more across the UK, quickly becoming a booming venture not only in London but in the north of the UK, where a staggeringly high percentage of coeliacs live. Julia still remains dedicated to working with a range of manufacturers, both in the UK and in her home country, to keep the company both localised and true to her own heritage. What makes Coori individual however, is that all recipes are created by Julia herself and then recreated by the manufacturer, as a means of keeping the business, which is headed up by Julia and her two close friends and business partners, “very much a family affair.”

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As business boomed, Coori was able to grow its customer base and venture into new fields, including the catering industry and department store scene. The pop-up at Selfridges was revolutionary. It drew in both gluten free customers desperate to try tantalising fresh pasta with a range of sauces or pizza slices fresh out of the oven, but also people without any particular dietary requirements. “The queues were always made up of a mixture of people, most of whom I quickly recognised as returning, happy customers,” Julia told me, adding that working in a customer facing environment is her real passion. “Seeing people come in on a daily basis and almost cry at the array of safe food they could choose from was really the highlight for me,” Julia said.

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However, after several happy months it was time for Coori to move on and focus on securing its own space again, now that it had so much backing and a fantastic reputation to boot. The new store, which will occupy an old local dairy dating back to 1980, will have a very similar offering to the Selfridges stall. Customers will be able to take their pick from an array of hot and cold snacks, meals and packaged food both prepared by Coori itself and by collaborating brands, including Italy’s Nutri-Free. Please join me in supporting this wonderful company, as it embarks on an exciting and utterly delicious new chapter.

Coori’s Richmond Cafe will open its doors to the public on June 2, 2018.

84 Hill Rise
Richmond
TW10 6UB

Photo Credits: Ilmi Perez-Stubbs