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Dec 28, 2008 09:27 AM

Gluten-free restos

What's your favorite gluten-free resto in TO? I am always looking for new places for gluten-free options!

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  1. Depends on if you're the celiac type (no gluten at all) or the gluten intolerant type (wheat in soy sauce ok).

    I haven't heard of any specifically gluten free places in toronto, but I"m pretty new here. Being the intolerant type, I don't usually have a problem finding something to eat unless I'm at a place that only serves sandwiches, pizza or pastas.

    8 Replies
    1. re: DoNutAlter

      I agree 100%. I'd also avoid many Chinese restos as soy is pretty integral and the language barrier may sometimes make you less than trusting that the offending ingredients will be eliminated. Beyond that, other Asian (eg. Thai, Japanese) should be fine along with just about any other restaurant that offers meat, fish and veggie options - you should be able to find loads of things straight off the menu and a few options that can be made with minimal substitutions. The key is to get a waiter/waitress who takes your intolerance/allergy seriously and offers to check with the chef to ensure there are no problematic ingredients in your dish.

      1. re: peppermint pate

        soy sauce isn't used as widely as you think in Chinese food. I would say it's at the same risk level as Japanese for gluten free folks. Meaning it's not that risky at all. The two main obstacles for both cuisines will be dumpling skins and noodles that aren't rice or vermicelli.

        1. re: aser

          The problem with being celiac is that cross contamination is a problem. Woks are not cleaned with soap so there may be traces of wheat left in the wok. Cutting surfaces may also contain wheat.

          Recently I went to a chinese restaurant where they were totally cognizant about celiac but they said they also couldn't do anything for my celiac gf except give her plain steamed chinese broccoli and steamed rice. Not even the snow pea leaves were safe apparently.

          Wheat is also in chicken stock, chili garlic, oyster, and worchestershire sauce.

          Chinese restaurants are a minefield I'm afraid.

          1. re: CoffeeAddict416

            ok I understand the cross-contamination thing, although I don't think most celiacs are that ultra-sensitive. My gf also has a gluten allergy, so I understand how you feel, luckily she isn't ultra-sensitive where cross-contamination is a factor.

            I don't get how chicken stock or chili garlic can have wheat though?

            1. re: aser

              almost every single large brand of chicken stock has wheat listed as an ingredient. To give you an idea of how widespread it is I wasn't able to find a single chicken stock at T&T that didn't have wheat. Isn't that crazy?

              Western grcoery stores have a bit more selection and thank goodness there's wheat free stock that doesn't cost a fortune. I've also made stock from scratch so there's that option too. It's just not an option at Chiense restos unless they're making their own stock from scratch and can tell you if there is wheat in there or not.

              Chili garlic sauce from Lee Kum Kee and most other brands also contain wheat in the ingredient list. I don't know if any Chinese restaurants make their own from scratch but no one has been able to tell me yet that their recipes that use chili garlic is wheat free

              Other danger items are instant buckwheat noodles at japanese restaurants as they're usually 20% wheat. Also any soy or miso dish will be off limits at japanese or korean restaurants. Fake crab is also made with wheat and recently gave my gf a pretty upset stomach.

              haven't been able to find a asian restaurant that can guarantee me that their wonton or spring roll wrappers are wheat free because even if they're wheat free in recipe they might have been dusted with wheat after to keep them from sticking.

              1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                well I think any respectable Chinese restaurant will be making their own chicken stock and not buying cans of it. First of all, buying cans of chicken stock is cost prohibitive, food cost will skyrocket. Second of all, it just tastes better when it's made from scratch. Third, it's not really hard to make stock.

                Like I said before, the main problem areas will be noodles (except rice and vermicelli) and dumpling wrappers. You can pretty much forget about those.

                There is regular wheat flour in most buckwheat noodles because buckwheat is very unstable. It needs some regular wheat flour to give it strength. Yes you're right, you'll be hard pressed to find 100% buckwheat noodles here, or even in Japan. It's an artisan product that only a select few do, you might want to give soba canada a call to see if they can accommodate you.

                Chili garlic sauce I was not aware, thanks for the heads up.

                1. re: aser

                  Ted over at Soba Canada had this to say:

                  "But sometimes we are making Kisoba(100% soba) or Funori soba which kneads seaweed(Funori) instead of wheat flour."

                  The chicken stock thing i will try and pry some more answers out of the restaurants i go to. The one place i went recently could not guarantee that it was wheat free though =(

                  I think they were more concerned about reputation and lawsuits though from what my cantonese speaking friends were telling me she was saying in cantonese

                  1. re: aser

                    they have 100% buckwheat noodles at Sanko on Queen St. I believe they flagged them with a sign so you don't have to check the back of every noodle package.

      2. I'm not the gluten-intolerant one but the GF is
        WE've tried pizza recently from both pizza pizza and pizza nova. pizza nova's toppings are miles ahead of pizza pizza and pizza nova's allergen list is the most detailed i've ever seen! Having said that i'd say the pizza nova crust is pretty bad. It looks sort of like a buckwheat crepe that's 1/4" inch thick and it's about as tough as a biscotti! it's like eating a pizza biscuit.

        1. Welcome to the board. An oft-discussed topic. Here's where I'd go:

          Big Mama's Boy
          Magic Oven Pizza
          Live Organic Food Bar
          Cafe Vert

          None of these are exclusively gluten-free but advertise gluten-free dishes.

          and Deep Blue Fish & Chips supposedly has gluten-free batter.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Edith S

            Deep Blue has a gluten free batter and it is delicious!!!

            1. re: shana

              OMG the batter is wicked there!

              And for non-celiac types try the cajun poutine! to DIE FOR

            2. re: Edith S

              although cafe vert's menu says lots of organics, the truth is that if they run out of organic they go across the street to no frills to get repalcements, and as we know no frills does not sell organic. they did this with chicken and yoghurt when i was there. most items that said organic were not at the time when i was there. it's very deceptive and i had to talk about it with the waitress to actually find out that the items were not organic. it's really deceiving.. but i can assure you they'll still charge you the organic price. the food i ended up having there was mediocre... quite bland.. pretty boring.. i don't recommend it at all.

              i love Live organic food bar. their cooked dishes are great.. especially teh specials. they have a few options that are grain-free. they actually specify on their menu the items that are gluten free with "g/f"... it's a great place, i love it.

              magic oven is also pretty good for what it is... i haven't tried any gluten-free items though... everything i've ever eaten their was choc-full of gluten. good though, so i'm guessing that perhaps their g/f options would be similar in yumminess?

              1. re: pinkskittles

                I haven't had the gluten free dough, but I did have the spelt flour dough at Magic Oven on Dupont. It tasted like a pre-made frozen focaccia. Maybe it wasn't, but it didn't satisfy the pizza cravings ...

                1. re: DoNutAlter

                  Please do try Big Mamma's Boy for pizza if you happen to find yourself in Cabbagetown.

                  1. re: Googs

                    nice, I'd never heard of that place, thanks!

                2. re: pinkskittles

                  There's a No Frills across the street from Cafe Vert? News to me! And BTW, No Frills sells organic salad greens in a plastic tub like most grocery stores do these days.

                  1. re: Dimbulb

                    There's zero wrong with using goods from No Frills if it's in the right hands. Remember that your grandma could make terrific meals out of humble grocery store offerings. It's a lost art that needs to be found again.

              2. Il Fornello's also offers some gluten-free options.

                Live Organic Food Bar
                264 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R1V7, CA

                Cafe Vert
                946 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1J7, CA

                Il Fornello
                1560 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4T2S9, CA

                Magic Oven
                6 Wellesley St W, Toronto, ON M4Y1E7, CA

                Big Mamma's Boy
                554 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M4X1P6, CA

                1. Fressen is really great for wheat and gluten free options. i was there recently and neither my friend nor i am vegan, but she is celiac and we both enjoyed an excellent meal. i've been there for brunch and dinner and would go back. i like that their menu has things i would never find in any other restaurant, plus i feel like i'm eating really healthy!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: auberginegal

                    I heard dinner at Fressen is good but I went for lunch and thought it was the absolute pits. I had a roasted vegetable sandwich with marinated tomatoes and lettuce on a home made bun with potato salad and greens. The sandwich bread wasn't bad but everything that was grilled was incredibly oily. They went way too overboard on the olive oil. The lettuce on the sandwich and on the side greens were incredibly gritty. The potato salad is bland and forgettable.

                    I also tried the tempeh and it was dry and tasteless. I don't know if this was just me though as I've never tried tempeh before so i have no baseline for good tempeh.

                    The corn fitters were also pretty meh. Undercooked I think yet burned on the outside.

                    1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                      Don't give up on tempeh, it's moist and tasty!

                      I've found lots of vegetarian restaurants screw it up, but its usually good at Indonesian places. Its not too difficult to cook with either as long as you don't dry it out and appropriately sauce it.

                        1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                          I went to Fressen for dinner and was blown away with my selections. It was superb.

                          I found another link for suggestions on wheat-free places in Toronto: