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Oct 20, 2008 10:03 AM

Gluten Free Toronto

I know there is a message board from this last year but as everyone on here often comments - things change so quickly!
I thought I would start a new board. I am living downtown for the first time and am Gluten Free (That means nothing with wheat flour in it, amongst other things.)

Here are the spots I know of that serve GF foods:
Villa (very yummy and excellent service)
Pizza Pizza
Big Momma's Boy (Going this week)
Il Fiorno
...and typically I just eat a lot of Thai being it's the safest bet!

I would love for you CHer's who know the city so well to share any other places that you know of. Even if they are not strictly GF - if you know of a place that has knowledgeable staff that would know their product enough or be willing to accommodate for someone with this challenge.

It feels to me that the only option when eating out is to go to an expensive place where I can speak to the chef directly, and that is not always in the budget!

I can't be the only GF person out here! Please share your awesome eateries!

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  1. Il Fornello - all locations have spelt pizza dough as well as rice flour pastas
    The Big Carrot - their take out counter of prepared foods as well as their Juice Bar
    Bar Mercurio - has a GF pizza on the menu but I thought it was inedible

    3 Replies
    1. re: GRobin

      Please note that spelt is a form of wheat and is NOT gluten-free!!!!!

      1. re: jcanncuk

        although, aside from spelt, Il Fornello does offer gluten-free pasta and pizza dough.

        1. re: JamieK

          I recently tried the gluten-free pizza at Il Fornello (which apparently is a new - and better - recipe than they used to offer). I was really pleasantly surprised. It tasted great, the texture was good, and I didn't feel deprived not having wheat. It wasn't my absolute favourite pizza crust ever (Terroni's crust is my fave), but I certainly had no complaints.

    2. Magic Oven has some GF options.

      7 Replies
      1. re: chyxx

        I've never tried the Magic Oven. Is it any good?

        1. re: bacchus_is_watching

          Well, the last time I ordered from there I got a medium pizza and it cost me over $30. I was too shocked by the sticker price to really enjoy my slices!

          1. re: chyxx

            I saw the prices on their website which is why I wanted to know quality before I ordered! Now that Pizza Pizza has GF food I can always go there to fill a cheap pizza craving!

          2. re: bacchus_is_watching

            If you're willing to spend Magic Oven money, you're far better off going to Big Momma's Boy. A much superior pizza in every way possible. That is, if you consider what Magic Oven makes pizza at all. I don't.

            1. re: Googs

              I have since been to big mamas boy and did not have a great experiance. The food was wonderful but my friends order was messed up. Tthey put meat on a vegetarian pizza and at first tried to tell her it wasn't meat it was browned cheese. It wasn't until we all tasted it and insisted that it was meat that she checked with the kitchen and admit the mistake. She had to wait 20 minutes after we ate to get her meal and we were charged full price. Not impressed.

              1. re: bacchus_is_watching

                Sorry about your experience. I usually make a point of saying Big Momma's Boy has great pizza, but lousy service not aided in the least by clumsy management intervention. The taste is worth the wait, but you really have to be prepared for that. I apologize for neglecting to say that in the original post. It's too bad really. If they could behave more professionally, they could probably do much better financially.

                1. re: Googs

                  Hi Googs,
                  Despite all that I would go back - the food was good. It's just not a place I would take guests. If the service picked up it would be an amazing gluten free place!

        2. My DH is Celiac and we have a lot of confidence in the smaller, chef-run restos. We have had excellent service with lots of options at: The Rosebud, Weezies, Kultura (although they goofed on a dish that contained wheat pasta!! That was easy to figure out though! I must say the food was mostly mediocre at best anyway), Tomi Kro, Dr Generosity in Bloor West Village, many Japanese restos (just bring your on GF soy sauce), Karuchie (although sadly closed), South Indian Masala Dosa....... There are more I can't think of right now......I think the best strategy is to call ahead and speak to someone before showing up, if they are reasonably confident about accomodating you, go for it, if they seem perplexed, find somewhere else!

          Thai and Vietnamese restos are also a good bet - soy sauce is not used much and most noodles are rice based. Korean is a land mine as wheat is used to ferment almost everything in Korean cooking.......Japanese is a good bet if you stick to non-deep fried sushi.

          For the splurge, Splendido and Treadwell (in Port Dalhousie, St Catharine's) were both able to provide excellent GF tasting menus!

          14 Replies
          1. re: jcanncuk

            Thanks so much for the info!
            I wasn't aware that Korean food would not be good - thanks for the warning.
            I am not big on Sushi but went to a friends favorite place (Mazz at Bloor and Dovercourt) and ate what I thought were very smart choices but because I don't like sushi it didn't turn out too well. I'm not the biggest fan of Japanese so this isn't a great loss for me.
            I have never tried Vietnamese - is there a place you would recommend?
            I love Thai and eat it a lot but I am afraid of overdoing it!
            Does anyone know of any bakeries that sell GF food?

            1. re: bacchus_is_watching

              south indian food - like Udupi Palace on Gerrard street (just west of Coxwell on the north side) uses a lot of chickpea, rice and lentil flours in their dosas, and appies so we've had good luck there with some GF friends.

              Moonbeam cafe in kensington has GF desserts - cookies and squares etc.

              Also this is not toronto based but is a FANTASTIC website with lots of great recipes for baked goods - and the writing is lovely - I happened upon it when researching recipes for a GF friend and I've been hooked ever since on her stories and we eat gluten - she even got a book deal out of it.

              1. re: shana

                I also love reading her site!
                She is an amazing writer!

              2. re: bacchus_is_watching

                For Vietnamese- MiMi on the North side of Gerrard East at Boulton is fantastic, and always busy( a good sign). Be aware- some orders come with Spring rolls, which are of course a no-no.

                1. re: bacchus_is_watching

                  In Leslieville, try pulp kitchen and Le Cafe Vert. Oh, and when you go to both, ask them to start carrying brown rice tortillas so that us Celiacs can enjoy some of the sandwiches...

                  1. re: amsuka

                    I will defiantly have to try some of these out! Thanks!

                    1. re: amsuka

                      To update- both are since closed.

                      1. re: amsuka

                        I thought that Pulp Kitchen reopened further east on Queen Street.

                        Pulp Kitchen
                        1129 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4M1J3, CA

                        1. re: Zengarden

                          That one closed too. A market-type shop is opening up in its space. I think.

                  2. re: jcanncuk

                    i'm curious that so many gf eaters mention eating Thai food - I checked with our local eatery, Real Thailand, and they told me they use oyster sauce in a lot of food (which has soy sauce) and even their COCONUT MILK has soy sauce in it as they get it pre-made in a can. Certainly a lot of the chain Thai restos would be doing the same. Anyone know of any that are truly gluten free? I know only of the one north of Bloor off Yonge St, near the library (forget its name) but the food is very bland.

                    1. re: mspapaya

                      soy sauce in canned coconut milk? that sounds pretty unusual. check the back of any coconut milk can and you certainly will not find any soy sauce in it.

                      also, oyster sauce use is unusual for thai cuisine. oyster sauce has a very strong and distinct taste, and is common with chinese cuisine. what thai dish are you talking about that uses it? i cannot think of a single one that might off the top of my head. usually, it's fish sauce that is used in everything and therefore, most thai cuisine should be fine.

                      i'm surprised real thailand uses this stuff you mentioned (if you mean the one on bloor) because that place is actually run by thais. i can see a chinese-run thai restaurant using soy sauce perhaps, but real thai cuisine uses fish sauce.

                      1. re: helenhelen

                        oyster sauce is quite common in thai cuisine. tho the thai brands do taste distinctly different than the chinese ones, it is essentially the same thing.

                        as for coconut milk, i have yet to see one with soy added, tho lately you will find that they are no longer 100% coconut milk, rather 60% with water added, some may be adding thickeners.

                        1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                          Yes, oyster sauce, not just fish sauce, is in ALOT of Thai food. And they often add soy sauce for extra flavour. About the coconut milk, I know it sounds strange to have soy sauce in it, I thought that too, but that's what they told me at Real Thailand on Bloor & Spadina, as they use a prepared sauce. My feeling is, if they do (and they're authentic Thai) then certainly places like Spring Rolls, etc are likely to. FYI, their cold salad rolls too also have soy sauce, as the mushrooms are marinated in it. Having said that, those who have been happily eating Thai with no reaction should be fine. Sometimes people who are gf can tolerate small amounts of wheat/gluten, so it really depends on how sensitive one is. I've also had very good experiences with Pho - I go to the Pho place on Ossington, just south of Dundas, and get their Tofu with rice noodles & rice broth (comes with vegan or meat broth) and have never had a reaction.

                      2. re: mspapaya

                        I have to think that the restaurant is thinking that the coconut milk as Soy MILK or soy PROTEIN in it? Also, pretty much every Thai restaurant we've been to (except Linda) has been able to modify their recipe in order to accomodate my celiac wife.

                        As far as vietnamese goes, the pho and spring rolls are usually the only two safe things on the menu. Everywhere else there is soy sauce or some kind of wheat-containing product added so it's a bit of a minefield.

                    2. Flaky Tart on Mt. Pleasant is making gluten-free desserts. You can order ahead to make sure you get what you want.

                      1. Hadn't seen this thread in a while so i thought I'd bump it up

                        Strangely Linda's was NOT able to provide any gluten free food except for the phud thai. That was really dissapointing because we had many options at Mengrai Thai.

                        Also had a gluten free meal that was incredibly thoughtful at Hua Sang on Baldwin. Unfortunately even they use gluten-free soya sauce (!!!) they don't have gluten free hoisin or oyster sauce which limits choice. My GF who is the celiac also got sick after due to cross contamination I believe. So even with good intentions it can be brutal out there.

                        I believe it was cross-contamination in this case as my GF usually feels awful right away after having gluten. This time it was very mild symptoms that came on strong after a day or so.