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A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY
Native New Yorker and gluten-free website founder Erin Smith shares her insider tips for an unforgettable trip to the Big Apple.
By Erin Smith
New York City. The City that Never Sleeps. The Big Apple. No matter what you call it, NYC is a place full of energy, excitement, diversity and a ton of gluten-free options. As a native New Yorker living with coeliac disease for more than four decades, I love helping gluten-free tourists navigate all the gluten-free food and landmarks our great city has to offer.
I could seriously write a book on exploring and eating in New York City. Trust me when I say that if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable travel experience, New York is the place to be. With more than 35 dedicated gluten-free restaurants, bakeries and food kiosks, the gluten-free food scene in New York City is one of the best in the entire United States. Adding in the melting pot of cultures, Broadway shows, hundreds of parks, museums and so much more, your only regret will be not staying here longer.
DINING GLOBALLY, STAYING LOCALLY
One of my favourite things about New York City is the wide variety of food from around the globe. You don’t have to go far to find gluten-free Mexican, Italian, Brazilian, Asian or Colombian food, to name just a few. With so many options, your hardest decision will be choosing a cuisine. Let’s eat!
Gluten-free Italian food is in abundance in NYC. Restaurants like Senza Gluten by Jemiko and Risotteria Melotti are dedicated gluten free, offering an authentic taste of Italy without the gluten. Pizza is basically a food group in New York City, with pizza shops on almost every corner. While most of those ones are off-limits, you can get your gluten-free pizza fix at Keste, Don Antonio and PizzArte.
If you’re looking for a taste of Asia, Nami Nori is serving up some of the best open-style sushi hand rolls in the entire city. Kimbap Lab is the only gluten-free Korean restaurant in all of NYC. Its traditional bulgogi beef kimbap and Korean fried chicken are great takeaway orders. Both restaurants have two locations: one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.
Sometimes you just need some comfort food after a full day of exploring NYC. With multiple locations throughout the city, local chain Friedman’s offers a full menu of all-American dishes including hamburgers, French fries, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken. The Friedman’s at the Edison Hotel is just steps away from Times Square and one of my favourite places to meet tourist friends. If you’re there for dinner on the weekend, you might be lucky enough to catch a performance by the Gayle’s Broadway Rose singing wait staff nearby. All gluten-free dishes are served with a small flag on the plate, but it’s always great to confirm with your server.
THE QUINTESSENTIAL NEW YORK BAGEL
Bagels are practically a way of life in NYC so you shouldn’t miss Modern Bread and Bagel. These gluten-free bagels are the best. You’ll have a hard time deciding on the toppings – and which desserts to eat after your meal. Grab a bagel and ‘schmear’ (local for cream cheese) with a coffee and stroll over to either Union Square Park or Central Park, depending on which location of Modern Bread you visit. Sitting in the park with a bagel basically makes you a true New Yorker.
“Sitting in the park with a bagel basically makes you a true New Yorker.”
There is no shortage of gluten-free desserts in New York. For your supersweet tooth, be sure to visit Posh Pop Bakeshop. This gluten-free bakery serves up over-the-top desserts including fried Oreos, cheesecakes, donuts and cake pops.
By the Way Bakery, a kosher gluten-free bakery, has two locations in Manhattan and also sells frozen products and cakes by the slice throughout Whole Foods Markets.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery has been serving gluten-free and vegan baked goods for more than 20 years. You can also find many gluten-free baked goods and naturally gluten-free fresh produce at the local Greenmarkets throughout the city. Local makers to look for include Meredith’s Bread and Sixteen Mill, both baked in a dedicated gluten-free facility. You’ll definitely get your sugar fix.
GETTING AROUND NEW YORK CITY
Traveling via subway, bus, bicycle or even boat are great ways to see the city but the best way to get around is walking – you can see so much more while getting in your daily steps. Pack a good pair of walking shoes, bring a big appetite and get ready to explore.
Local tip: The subway isn’t as daunting as it may seem and it can easily save you time getting from one place to the next. You can either buy a MetroCard from the machines or use OMNY, the contactless pay system by tapping your credit card on any OMNY entryway.
Local tip: Take the NYC Ferry from lower Manhattan to Midtown to get sweeping views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. Or hop on the free Staten Island ferry for a round-trip boat ride right alongside the Statue of Liberty.
WHAT'S ON THE MENU
Don’t miss Erin’s top picks for gluten-free meals, snacks and sweets in NYC.
- The Friedman’s at the Edison Hotel
- Posh Pop Bakeshop
- By the Way Bakery
- Modern Bread and Bagel
- Senza Gluten by Jemiko
About the author
Erin Smith is a New York native, the founder of Gluten Free Globetrotter and an advocate of for people living and thriving with celiac disease.
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