Updated 12/3/12: What originally started as just a review of six gluten-free restaurants in Chicago, I have decided to try to make this page one of the best resources for gluten-free eaters in the Chicagoland area.
Here are links to gluten-free friendly restaurants in the area, by location:
Northside – Lakeview
- Cassava Bread
- Native Foods Cafe
- Chicago’s Pizza
- The Chicago Diner
- Mista Pizza
- Pie Hole Pizza Joint
- Mia Francesca
- Homemade Pizza Co.
- Tapas Gitana
- Wilde Bar and Restaurant
Northside – Lincoln Park
- Vinci Restaurant
- Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe and Pizzeria
- Homemade Pizza Co.
- Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba
- Sal’s Deli
- Mon Ami Gabi
- Trattoria Gianni
Here are my reviews of some of the restaurants I’ve tried:
With my girlfriend recently purchasing a new condo in Chicago, I have been spending quite a bit of time up there lately. I knew Chicago had so many great restaurants, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of outstanding gluten-free restaurants in the area. We try to eat at a couple new places every time I go up there, so I will go through the best gluten-free places we have been so far, as well as some others that I have heard great things about and am looking forward to trying soon.
This little vegan cafe is located on Halsted in between Addison and Belmont. Chicago Diner has the slogan “meat free since ’83″. Not all of the menu is gluten-free, since they use items like seitan and tempeh as meat substitutes, but they do have their own gluten-free menu so you can be sure what you are eating is safe. Some of the highlights on the menu are the Taco Salad, Royal Benedict (brunch), Avocado Tostadas, and some other tofu-based dishes. Here is a link to their gluten-free menu. I love the Royal Benedict because it is truly difficult to find a good gf breakfast sandwich anywhere these days. This one comes with your choice of tofu or fried egg on gluten-free toast, with spinach, mushrooms, onions and vegan hollandaise. I have eaten at the Chicago Diner around ten times already, and everything I’ve had to this point has been absolutely delicious.
Wilde Bar and Grill
Bars are about the last place on earth I would expect to find a gluten-free menu, mainly because nearly all bar food could be classified as “unhealthy”, so it came as a pleasant surprise to find a bold gluten-free menu at Wilde Bar on Broadway in between Belmont and Diversey. The thing I love about Wilde is that they have gluten-free buns, so it is possible to get all the standard bar food – gluten-free style. I usually get the Wilde Burger, which is an Irish Whiskey Glazed burger with Irish Cheddar cheese. Some other items I’ve tried and enjoyed are the Buffalo Chicken sandwich, the Roasted Beets and Goat cheese salad, and the Atlantic Salmon Club sandwich. An appetizer that I seem to order WAY too much is the gf Mac ‘n Cheese, which is made with penne pasta. My mouth is watering just typing that last sentence. Here is their gluten-free menu for those interested in looking it over. They also have a gluten-free brunch menu on their site as well, which contains most of the breakfast staples you would expect.
I will be the first to admit that gluten-free pizza can be very hit-or-miss, and is usually all over the place with regards to taste and consistency at the different pizza joints. I think it is fantastic that Chicago has so many pizza places that are offering gluten-free pizzas now. I have gotten delivery from Chicago’s Pizza twice, and I can safely say it is the best deep-dish gluten-free pizza I have had thus far. I love both the plain cheese pizzas and pepperoni as well. Their pizzas have the exact same taste and comforting feeling that you get from regular deep-dish pizzas. And yes, afterwards you won’t feel like moving or doing anything either.
Deleece is an upscale restaurant attached to the Mercury Theatre on Southport, just north of the Music Box Theatre. You actually have to enter through the doors of the Mercury Theatre; go right to attend a show, head left to dine at the restaurant. While they do not have a gluten-free menu, their Veggie Tostada and Berkshire Porkchop are fantastic. Highly recommend Deleece if you are looking for dining close to the Mercury Theater.
For an authentic Italian meal in the River North area of Chicago, be sure to check out Quartino Ristorante and Wine Bar. They have the most in-depth gluten-free menu for an Italian place that I have ever seen. While Quartino is considered fine dining, the prices are quite affordable. When I went there last year, I got the gf spaghetti with tomato sauce and sausage, and it was absolutely delicious. You have the option to get the gluten-free pasta in any of their regular pasta dishes, so the options are pretty extensive. The gluten-free menu is also chalk-full of soups, salads, cheeses, smoked meats, risottos, and steaks and seafood. There is something for everyone.
Francesca’s is a chain of fine Italian restaurants in the Chicagoland area. I have been to two of the locations – Lakeview and Arlington Heights. Their gluten-free menu consists of some pasta dishes, which are made with quinoa linguine, and some delicious desserts. You can also get a few of the entrees from the regular menu prepared gluten-free, such as some chicken, fish, and more pasta dishes. Francesca’s is an extremely popular restaurant, so reservations are probably a good idea, as I have never seen more than a couple tables open. Like Quartino’s above, it is possible to have a very filling, amazing Italian meal with some fine wine for pretty reasonable prices.
Marcello’s Father and Son
Marcello’s has been my go-to pizza delivery place since I discovered it towards the end of 2010. There are three locations in the Chicagoland area; I use the Lincoln Park restaurant to deliver to Lakeview. Their “Abbe’s Gluten-Free Menu” consists of 12″ thin pizza, 8″ pan pizza (my fav), a couple pastas (both very good), and some salads and desserts. I have ordered the spinach salad from Marcello’s a couple times to go with my pizza, and it is huge. I was able to eat it for about three days afterwards. I love their 8″ pan pizza, which is the perfect size for one person to eat and feel satisfied after. Honestly, everything I have ever gotten from there has bee delicious, so I feel safe recommending everything on their gluten-free menu.
Mista is a little BYOB restaurant on Broadway just north of Diversey with a menu full of wraps, pizza, lasagna, and gourmet salads. Their ingredients are fresh, natural, and organic. I used to go there all the time because they offered gluten-free vegetable lasagna (still on the menu by the way), and it was great. Since then, they have added so many more gluten-free options. All of their traditional and signature pizzas are available gluten-free now, and for people who are dairy-free, they have Vegan cheese at an extra charge. The regular 10-inch pizzas are a very filling meal for one person. The highlight of the menu for me is the gluten-free wraps. I usually get the chicken caesar wrap with Vegan cheese, or the ”Hero” wrap, which is basically an Italian wrap. They also have tuna and veggie wraps available. Mista is a nice spot for a little date night with your significant other.
That is it for now. As I try more restaurants with gluten-free menus, I will come back and update this page with my thoughts on it.