Celiac-Friendly Restaurants in Chicago

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For those of you who don't know, I moved to Chicago just about three years ago today. Prior to the big move, I had no ties to the city, and frankly, I had no idea what to expect.

When you make a big move like this, you hear all the city has to offer. Everyone shares the limitless opportunities and advantages, but most of those folks talking up city-life don't live with an autoimmune disease, especially one that affects your diet and lifestyle choices.

I knew Chicago was home to a certain style of "pizza" if you could call it that, a hotdog, a pitiful (at the time) baseball team or two, popcorn, and malort, but that was it.

What I came to discover over the last three years was that Chicago is home to grocery stores and restaurants galore that cater to those living with celiac disease. So, in light of my Chicago-versary, I felt it was time I shared some of my favorite food establishments for the new transplants like myself who are just starting out in the Windy City and for travellers looking to experience that sweet Summertime Chi

So with that, get packing and prepare to feast. Bon appetit! 


Below, I've listed some of my favorite celiac-friendly restaurants in Chicago. I laid them out by cuisine/meal type. So whether, you're making brunch plans, craving Greek or Italian food, I've got you covered. (FYI these are listed in no particular order - I love them all.)

Here's the scoop:

 

Brunch 

  • Tweet

This is my go-to brunch spot. Right off the Argyle Red-Line Stop, Tweet's eclectic vibe, cocktails, and expansive menu is catered to both celiacs and vegetarians. They offer a dedicated GF menu filled with goodies like GF pumpkin pancakes, GF bagels, GF bread, chilaquiles, and more. 

Spy the menu here.

  • Summer House Santa Monica 

This Lincoln Park hot spot is an escape from Chicago. It's decor will have you California Dreaming with its beachy vibes. Summer House has a dedicated gluten free menu for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Weekend Brunch. They offer pancakes, GF bread, and GF tortillas for tacos.

Spy the menu here.

*Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant

  • Wheat's End Cafe 

Wheat's End is not only .2 seconds from my apartment, it is also one of the 2 only 100% GLUTEN FREE ESTABLISHMENTS in CHICAGO. That's right folks - no bringing outside food into this joint. Everything is on the table for us. I'm talking pancakes, popovers, english muffins, biscuits, bagels, and more.

Spy the brunch menu here

 

American

  • Beatrix 

With locations in Streeterville, River North, and the Fulton Market, Beatrix is chalk full of options for those living gluten free. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with a celiac in mind. I have never been for breakfast/brunch -- but I can vouch for their lunch/dinner time offerings. They also cater! We've served their salads for lunch plenty of times at work. Their Supernatural Salad (WITHOUT MIGAS) is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE!

Spy the Streeterville menu here.

*Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant

  • Wilde 

I ADORE THIS PLACE! Located just down the street from me in Lakeview (feel free to pop on over to my place for a quick visit) is named after the Oscar Wilde. So all you literature fans and pun-loving guys and gals must check this place out. It's got a lovely sidewalk patio and if you're seated indoors this cozy nook looks just like a library. They serve brunch, lunch, and dinner. So if you'd kill for a sandwich or burger on GF (udi's) bread or are dying for some GF mac and cheese this is your place. Personally, I love their steak salad and brussel sprouts.

Spy the menu here.

  • Seven Lions 

Just off Michigan Ave, this is one of the lunch spots my office frequents for staff outings and birthday celebrations. They have a separate lunch and dinner menu for gluten free folks. I've enjoyed everything I've gotten there, whether that be a salad or an entree. I'd recommend the Tuna Nicoise Salad, the Cauliflower Steak, and the Mediterranean Chicken dish.

Spy the menu here.

  • Hub 51

This restaurant by day turns nightclub after hours. Though I've only been for lunch a handful of time, I can most certainly vouch for their cuisine. They do not have a dedicated GF menu, but their salads were safe / I didn't get sick while eating there. So if you are paranoid (fair) you may want to count this one out.

Spy the menu here.

  • Siena Tavern 

This is another lunch spot of our office. Located in River North, has a lovely patio and a great GF menu for those looking to please a big group of celiacs and non-celiac family/friends. Note the grilled octopus is a killer dish to share (though you may not want to..)

Spy the menu here.

  • Bandera 

This place lies in the heart of the Magnificent Mile - so perfect for those getting their shop on when downtown in Chicago. I've had good and bad servers here, so be prepared and make sure to inform them of your needs UP FRONT. Note the portions are also massive so SHARE!!!! FYI there is also no dedicated GF menu.

Spy the menu here

  • Remington's 

This is another Loop dining spot that our office has on their rotations for special occasions. The food is good, but not an expansive slew of offerings for those with celiacs. I've been for both lunch and dinner. So I've done a salad (go for the Wrightwood) and I've had the branzino. Both are good if you're looking to go somewhere a bit ritzier. It's perfect for a working lunch.

Spy the menu here.

  • Tavern at the Park

Since this place is literally attached to my building, I've been here too many times to count. They have a lovely rooftop with a great view of millenium park (hence the name), so if it's nice out ask to sit up top. You won't regret it. The portions are HUGE and delicious! So don't worry, you get your money's worth. They don't have a separate GF menu, but all items are marked GF, so it's easy to spot out what is safe to eat. GO FOR THE AHI TUNA! If you aren't a fish person then try the risotto or either the steak or chopped vegetable salads.

Spy the menu here.

 

Italian

  • Tesori

Another office staple. It's the perfect place to take a long lunch if you're in the loop. Note - it is rarely crazy crowded too, so don't worry about not getting a seat. They do not have a dedicated GF menu, but all items that are vegetarian and GF are clearly marked for your convenience. I've enjoyed each of their salads (the chopped tuscan is my personal favorite) and the Make sure to save room for dessert --- the sorbet is delish!

Spy the menu here.

  • Basil Leaf Cafe 

This cute little place in Lincoln Park allows you to eat in or carry-out. So if you're craving italian but want to enjoy it in the comfort of your home curled up on the couch -- this is your place. They've got GF PASTA, salads, soups, entrees, and more. There isn't a dedicated menu but everything is marked for your convenience.

Spy the menu here.

  • Quartino 

Located in River North, Quartino has perfected the small plate / tapas style menu for Italian food. They have GF menu with pasta, risotto, and classic entrees for you to enjoy (whether you decide to share or not). I will say since they are small plates this one gets pricey pretty quickly, so word to the wise, don't come STARVING.

Spy the menu here.

 

Mediterranean

  • The Gundis 

THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST (QUASI) MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE  IN CHICAGO. This family-owned Kurdish restaurant is to die for. They have both brunch and dinner options for those dining in. There is not a dedicated GF menu, but they are well aware of what gluten is. They actually have gluten free bread - so just make sure you ask for it and clarify your specific allergies.

If you pop in go for the grilled octopus. It's AMAZING! And splurge on apps and dessert. You won't regret it. Go for the calamari to start, grab the octopus or the mountain salad, and finish things off with the dark chocolate pomegranate mousse. 

Spy their menu here.

  • Ema 

Love this place! I've only been twice and have been itching to go back. They have a GF menu filled with a range mediterranean-style dishes (small plates). The kebabs are delish (chicken and lamb are delish). I've also had their butternut squash risotto def not mediterranean but fit the bill on a meat-free day for me.  

Spy the menu here.

*Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant

  • Athena 

If you haven't done Greektown in Chicago, you're doing it wrong. It's the only place worth going for more authentic greek food in the city. Athena is one of the many popular choices in the greek neighborhood. It's one of the bigger more commercialized offerings, but still DIVINE. Note though that they do not have a dedicated GF, so be smart. Who wants to try the rest with me???

Spy the menu here.

  • IDOF

Okay - so this place is very much fast casual, but it's still delish and distinctly mediterranean so it's going and staying in this section. It's basically a more delicious version of a Chipotle that serves mediterranean cuisine and is LESS EXPENSIVE. Baba Ghanouj for DAYSSSSSS!

Spy their DIY menu here

 

Sushi

  • Sushi Para 

Unlimited sushi for $20 and its BYOB. Need I say more?! Yes, they have GF soy sauce.

Spy the Lincoln Park menu here.

 

Steakhouse

  • Tango Sur 

Bigger and better than its sister establishment (though both still are amazing) Bodega Sur. This Argentinian steakhouse has huge portions and killer cuts of beef. I kid you not when I say I ordered a filet and they served me to 6 ou cuts for $30 with like 5 sweet potatoes. LEFTOVERS FOR WEEKS!!!!! This place fills up quickly, but it is 100% worth the wait. Also note it is BYOB.

Spy the menu here.

  • Chicago Cut 

Okay so this place is CRAZY EXPENSIVE, but still good. If you have a major special occasion I'd check this place out. I took myself (yes just me - #singleandfabulous! - not a question mark - SATC) for my first Chicagoversary. They have a beautiful location off the river, so eat outside if you can! It's a five-star restaurant for a reason. Keep an eye out for celebs. I sat near several Blackhawks when I went.

Spy the menu here.

  • STK

Went here for dinner recently and it did not disappoint. Apparently they do brunch, too. Our server was wonderful. They don't have a dedicated GF menu, but they were very knowledgeable of my celiac disease, and made me a special dessert free of charge because of it. SCORE! Go for the skirt steak.

Spy the menu here.

 

Latin/Mexican

  • Adobo Grill 

This Old Town fave has a dedicated gluten free menu filled with tacos, ceviches, entrees, and desserts for those craving some southwestern style cuisine. The guac, tacos, and the pechuga adobada are FIRE.

Spy the menu here.

  • Broken English 

The best place for GF TACOS, MARGS, and SANGRIA. Also only place I haven't gotten sick. They have locations all over Chicago in Lincoln Park, Old Town, and the Loop. All are perfection. Note they cater and deliver. #TACOTUESDAY

Spy the Old Town menu here.

  • Frontera Grill 

You can't come to Chicago (let alone live here) without going to at least one Rick Bayless joint. This James Beard award-winning chef is also the father of a daughter with food allergies, so he knows what's at stake. Frontera is probably his most mainstream restaurant in the city, but doesn't disappoint. I will note though, their website doesn't label GF menu items...so be smart friends.

Spy the menu here.

 

Fast-Casual

  • Nando's 

Portuguese flame-grilled peri-peri chicken aka delicious spicy grilled chicken AND corn on the cob. This place is heaven on earth. They have a few locations in Chicago, some in DC, but are primarily in the UK, so if you want a unique offering, that's on the healthier side - hit up nandos.

Spy the menu here

  • Sopraffina 

Sopraffina is basically the go-to for all working professionals in the Loop. It's got the feel of a higher-end cafe with quick, made right in front of you options. They do breakfast and lunch. So they have all kinds of egg dishes, breads/bagels (not GF of course) but the egg souffles are safe. THEIR SALADS ARE WHERE IT'S AT THOUGH. They have a wide array of offerings out there for such a quick to serve place - at lunch they offer soup, salad, sandwiches, pasta, antipasti, and more. I love the mediter GRAIN ean (without the tabbouleh - not GF), the samantha, and the hilltop salads. **PRO TIP when you order, mix the salads and antipasti offerings (like the tuna).

Spy the menu here.

  • Native Foods 

This place is PERFECT for taking your vegetarian and vegan friends. There's no meat! All of the allergens are clearly labeled on the menu, too. And best of all they cater and they DELIVER! I really enjoyed the ensalada azteca, the pad thai, and the buddha bowl. If I had to pick between the three I'd def opt for the salad though.

Spy the menu here.

  • Just Salad 

Don't let the name fool you. They also serve wraps and toast (not GF), warm bowls, smoothies, and soup. For my celiac friends - the warm bowls and salads are PERFECTION. As a place known for it's salad offerings I can attest that it's 10000000 times better than sweet greens and so much bigger portion-wise. Allergens are clearly labeled here too! The tandoori chicken salad is my fave! I wish they had more locations outside of the Loop though. If they had one in LP or Lakeview I'd be there on the regular.

Spy the menu here.

  • Bare Burger (CLOSED!!!!)

If a carnivore, vegan, and a dietician sat at one table for dinner - it likely would be at Bare Burger. IT IS CURRENTLY - but only temporarily for renovations. Aside from that, this place is truly a dream! It has a dedicated fryer so we celiacs can have our burgers / fries and eat them too. It's super casual with a build-your-own type of deal, so the world truly is your oyster. 

Spy the menu here.

Try any of these spots? Let me know in the comments below.