Gluten Free Restaurant Reviews

I don’t eat out a lot.  I think like most celiacs I’m most comfortable eating in my own home where I can control the ingredients and cooking methods.   Just one mistake in the kitchen can leave me with a stomach ache for the rest of the night and bathroom issues for a day or two.  Besides, I actually prefer my own cooking ;)  But it is nice once in a while to delegate that job to someone else; to sit back, order a nice glass of wine and be served.  I've assembled this collection of mini gluten free restaurant reviews in order to share my dining out experiences and hopefully help you to decide which establishments you might like to try.

It's mostly the big chains out here in the ‘burbs' so I've started with them.  Over time though I've discovered few private establishments.  I’ll update this page with my impressions as I try different spots.  Ratings are based entirely on my own experience as a gluten free diner and mostly in the locations near my home.

If you want a quick reference of who in Ontario has a gluten free menu, here is a good page to check.  Also, many restaurants now post allergy guides and include “wheat and gluten sources” as an allergen so check those out too.

Share Your GF Dining Experience!

Other's would love to hear about your gluten free restaurant experience. Whether it's a favourite spot in your home town or a gem you've come across while travelling. Tell us what you love and maybe what you didn't love so much.


Click the alphabet links or scroll down to see my reviews

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

B


Boston Pizza

Boston Pizza is kind of my go to place.  If I'm in a strange town and I want a good, stress free meal that I don't need to worry about, there is almost always a Boston Pizza to save the day.  In fact, I’d say they are ahead of the crowd when it comes to a casual dining spot that is mostly pizza / pasta catering to the gluten free customer.  They have a number of "Glutenwise" pizza and pasta options.  Also, staff and managers are knowledgeable about gluten issues.  And the best part is, of all the times I've eaten at Boston Pizza I've have always enjoyed my meal and always felt fine afterward.

I understand from internet research that they use “Gluten Wise” as opposed to gluten free because these items are prepared in the same kitchen facility, so there is still opportunity for cross contamination.  This is always a risk when eating in a restaurant and it seems to me they do take reasonable precautions.

Naturally Gluten-Free Rating - three stars - good food, good menu selection, good service

Would I go again? Absolutely!


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C


Canada's Wonderland

Pleasant Surprise at Canada’s Wonderland:  I don’t usually have high expectations going to places like theme parks.   However I thought I should share an unexpected positive experience I had this past weekend at Wonderland.  The Back Lot Cafe has gf personal pizzas, burritos, chicken fingers and fries.  The best part however was the young man behind the counter who served me.  Perhaps low expectations are the keys to a positive surprise.  When I asked for a gluten free burrito, he immediately asked me if I had an allergy.  When I said yes (Celiac isn’t technically an allergy but I’ve learned to let go of that) he immediately changed his gloves, asked if it was okay to heat my wrap on the grill so long as he covered it with paper, then proceeded to make me a delicious chicken burrito with black beans, guacamole, salsa, rice... and the best part is, I felt fine afterward.  Go Canada’s Wonderland, and thant’s for educating your staff about special dietary needs!  Check out the options here:  https://www.canadaswonderland.com/plan-a-visit/special-dietary-needsPleasant Surprise at Canada’s Wonderland:  I don’t usually have high expectations going to places like theme parks.   However I thought I should share an unexpected positive experience I had this past weekend at Wonderland.  The Back Lot Cafe has gf personal pizzas, burritos, chicken fingers and fries.  The best part however was the young man behind the counter who served me.  Perhaps low expectations are the keys to a positive surprise.  When I asked for a gluten free burrito, he immediately asked me if I had an allergy.  When I said yes (Celiac isn’t technically an allergy but I’ve learned to let go of that) he immediately changed his gloves, asked if it was okay to heat my wrap on the grill so long as he covered it with paper, then proceeded to make me a delicious chicken burrito with black beans, guacamole, salsa, rice... and the best part is, I felt fine afterward.  Go Canada’s Wonderland, and thank’s for educating your staff about special dietary needs!  Check out the options here:  https://www.canadaswonderland.com/plan-a-visit/special-dietary-needs


Casey’s Bar and Grill 

There is one in the local mall here so it’s my lunch stop while shopping.   They have a pretty generous gluten free menu.  I usually get the Pad Thai because it’s really really good.  Staff is friendly, service is good.  No complaints, and the food court is definitely no competition! 

Naturally Gluten-Free Rating - three stars - good food, good menu selection, good service

Would I go again?  Yes for sure.


Chanterelle Bistro

Address: 33 Division Street, Clarington, ON, L1C 1N1

Spoiler alert, this is my new favourite spot for a special night out.  It’s privately owned, situated in Bowmanville, Ontario.  I’d call it fine dining with a small town twist.  The setting is elegant, yet quaint.  The service is good.  Prices are up there for this area, but compared to other higher end establishments, not so bad.  And certainly nothing compared to the city.  

Now to the food.  The food is a-a-a-mazing!  Jim and I went there for our anniversary a couple of weeks ago.  When I let the server know about my diet issue, she went and spoke with the chef and came back with the message that anything on the menu could be made gluten free.  A moment later she came back with a plate of rice crackers and humus, since I couldn't have the bread.  It's the little thoughtful touches that matter.

I had the duck confit, hubby ordered veal tenderloin.  The first bite from both of us elicited an “oh...my...god! This is amazing”.  We barely spoke though the meal beyond various sounds of satisfaction like “mmmm”  and “mmmm”.  Did I mention that the food is amazing?

The wine list has a good selection, along with the name brand beer you would typically find.  I chose the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which paired nicely with the duck.  Hubby's a beer drinker and he's happy if they have his favourite brand, which they did.

We finished off with the crème brulee which was beautifully rich and creamy with a perfect crust of caramelized sugar on top.

A lovely dinner, a lovely evening!

Naturally Gluten-Free Rating – five stars - great food, good service, excellent menu choices.  

Would I go back? Soon I hope.


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E


East Side Mario’s 

Updated review:  Tried East Side's again recently and actually upgraded their rating.  They have a new gluten free menu and it's actually pretty good.  The pizza is thin crust and tasty and I had absolutely no problem afterward. 

As a casual dining spot with a comfortable atmosphere, a nice patio for a summer sangria and in the case of the one near me, it's close to the cinema so makes for a good dinner and movie spot East Side Mario's is a good choice.  The GF menue has a number of items that look appetizing.  I'll definitely go back and try some of them out.



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J


Jim's Pizza & Pasta

Jim’s Pizza – Port Hope

22 Walton St., Port Hope, ON

You can often tell how good a place is by how hard it is to get a table.  Jim’s is tiny and it’s always packed!  Luckily they have take out so if you call it in you can pick it up in about 30 min.  They deliver too.  In the restaurant, it takes a bit of time to get the food to the table; likely because the kitchen is so busy handling take out as well as eat in orders but I say it’s worth the wait.  A far as the menu goes, gluten free options are limited but who cares, you go there for the pizza and they have a great gluten free pizza crust.  One problem, just try to walk down the north side of Walton Street without being drawn inside by the aroma, I dare you.

Naturally Gluten-Free Rating – four stars

Would I go back?  I have several times.


K


K.B. Foods

Address:  120 Brock St. N. Whitby, ON

This restaurant is located in downtown Whitby (just east of Toronto) where Chef and Owner Kevin Brown has made a real mark in the restaurant scene with his slightly more upscale yet casual establishment.  He makes a conscious effort to support neighbouring farmers as evidenced by his menu which changes on a weekly basis to take advantage of the freshest ingredients available.  In fact Chef Brown has supported the local farmers for quite a number of years, even before it was fashionable.

We went with the group of thirteen, which was a little tight in the small dining room.  However the service was good, our waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu and wine selections, and my celiac was easily accommodated. 

The wine list is reasonable extensive with a good selection of domestic and imported vintages.  The choice of beers was a bit disappointing.  There are a few specialty selections, but to ingnore the staple Labatt and Molson products in a largely blue collar suburb is an oversight. 

Most in our party enjoyed their meals though my husband reported his pheasant was a bit dry.  I had the wild boar.  It was very tasty if a bit on the fatty side.  It was served with candied heirloom beets, batons of carrots and peppers on a bed of sauerkraut with an onion and apple braising sauce draped over the chop. I wanted to pick up the bone with my fingers to chew off every last morsel of meat, but refrained.

This is a lovely spot for an evening out if you’re looking for something a little on the trendy side in the heart of suburbia. 

Gluten free restaurant review, four stars.  Would I go back?  Yes for sure but will have to find another dining partner as my meat-and-potatoes-bud-light-drinking hubby was less than impressed.


The Keg: 

For a nice dinner out, this is one of my favourites among the chain restaurants.  I’ve never been disappointed in the food, and as soon as I let them know about my need to a gluten free restaurant meal, I’ve always felt very well taken care of.

They don’t have a specific gluten free menu, but they do have a nice list that shows what menu items are gluten free and which ones can be altered to be gluten free.  I think I like this better and there are actually quite a few choices.

I’ve had the lobster dinner, crab, arctic char to name a few items.  All were stellar!  We went there for my birthday and since I can’t have cake, they brought me a Crème Brule.  It was awesome!

The wait staff each time I’ve visited have indicated “gluten allergy” on my order so the kitchen staff know to be extra careful, and I’ve never had an issue.

Gluten free restaurant review - four stars - great food, good menu selection, great service

Would I go again? Absolutely!


Kelsey’s

This as you may be aware is a more casual spot.  We go there sometimes for birthdays or an informal meal out with friends.

The wait staff is friendly and accommodating.   Some are knowledgeable about gluten but not all.

As far as gluten free restaurant meals go, there is no gluten free menu but there is an allergy guide that shows which menu choices have gluten.  Choices are somewhat limited but there are a few things.  I’ve had the Greek  Salad and substituted the chicken for grilled salmon because I’m mistrustful of chicken in chain restaurants.  I’ve also ordered just a baked potato and salad in the past and that makes a nice meal.

Our last visit was less than a total success but it worked out fine in the end.  The salmon I ordered was seriously over cooked.  I used to be the type who wouldn’t say anything, but I’ve changed my tune on that.  Restaurant meals are expensive and I’m limited in what I can order, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask for it to be prepared properly.

The manager came out an apologized, replaced my meal and offered me a free dessert.  Sadly there is nothing on the dessert menu I can have so I gave it to one of the kids.

Gluten free restaurant review - two stars - okay food, limited menu selection, good service

Would I go again?  Probably.  It’s a family favourite and it’s convenient.  For a gluten free dining experience though I wouldn't say it’s stellar.


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M


Madoc Dairy

Address: 203 Russell St., Madoc, ON, K0K 2K0

I'm including this as an example of how good things can happen in an unlikely situation if you explain your needs and the establishment cares and is willing to work with you.  We were driving along highway 7 on our way home from Renfrew ON.  Starving and looking for a spot that the rest of the family would like and that would be safe for me.  Choices were slim.  We stopped at this little road side spot, not expecting much, and our expectations were greatly exceeded!  The food was really good.  Roadside diner style of course: burgers, fries, various sandwiches, salads. But the test of a good restaurant, as you and I know, is when a patron has a special need.  Pretty much everything on the menu had bread incorporated in some way.  So I explained to the waitress that I have celiac and need a gluten free meal.  She didn’t really know what that meant so I went on to say that I can’t have wheat (rye or barley rarely comes up in this situations) so that means no bread, my food can’t touch bread and it can’t touch a surface that anything breaded or battered has been cooked on.  This lady dug in! She started brainstorming the items on the menu with me and ways they could make them gluten free.  We came up with a bunless bacon cheese burger (she double checked with the kitchen that the burger was pure beef, no fillers) and a house salad.  She had my burger cooked in a separate pan, not on the grill, and we chose a salad dressing that I knew to be gluten free.  A successful meal and this weary traveller left satisfied.  Left a good tip too ;)

Gluten free restaurant review – three stars.  Would I go back? Yes.


Montana’s Cookhouse

Went to Montana’s a few weeks ago to celebrate my son’s 24th birthday.  They don’t have a specific gluten free menu, but they have a little icon on their menu that highlights “gluten friendly” choices as well as a pretty comprehensive nutrition and allergy guide that highlights "wheat and gluten free choices.  This is nice because it's much easier than having to go through a long list including every sauce and dressing to figure out what you can eat.  I ordered the Cedar Roasted Salmon and made sure to let the waiter know that I have celiac so that he would inform the kitchen.  My salmon came over cooked.  I find many of the chain restaurants do that with fish so I’m thinking that I should specify when I order.  I sent it back and got a new one that was done perfectly.  A good experience overall.  My son eats gluten free as well although he has not been formally diagnosed with celiac.  He ordered ribs with shrimp skewers and was very satisfied - and he got to wear the goofy hat :o

Gluten free restaurant review - three stars - good food, good menu selection, good service

Would I go again?  Yes


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O

Olympus Burgers

55 Mill St. S., Port Hope, ON

This is rare find and Port Hope’s award winning pride and joy. Voted Canada’s Best Burger in Canadian Living magazine and featured on “You Gotta Eat Here”, what more need be said?  It’s a gluten free burger lover’s Mecca that’s what!  They have gluten free buns; all of their toppings are gluten free.  They even have gluten free fries!  Yes you read that correctly.  They have a dedicated fryer for their french fries so there is no cross contamination.  The owner George Kallonakis obviously takes pride in his establishment and the food he serves as he’s been there every time I have (confession, that’s quite a few times) welcoming customers with a friendly smile and bussing tables. The staff behind the counter greet you with a smile, are happy to explain the menu options and deliver the food to the indoor table or the outdoor patio piping hot and juicy delicious.

Naturally Gluten-Free Rating – five stars

Would I go back?  I think I covered that already ;)


R


Rendez-Vous Ethiopian Restaurant

Address:  1408 Danforth Ave. Toronto, ON

This is a little gem tucked away in the far reaches of the Danforth in Toronto.  My daughter and I stopped here for lunch one afternoon that we were in the city.  It was recommended by a classmate of mine who did an ethnic foods project on Ethiopia. 

Rendez-Vous is a small, intimate spot.  The atmosphere is casual and fun and the staff are friendly and happy to help if you need any explanation of the menu items.  Though there were just two of us, we noticed the other patrons in larger groups and were definitely having a good time.  The decor is bright oranges and yellows and though I’ve never been to Africa, it does seem reminiscent of a sunset on the Sahara (though only the eastern region of Ethiopia is dessert).  The art-work also gives an authentic feel.  Paintings mirror the theme colours and photographs smile broadly at you from over the bar.  It’s nothing fancy though.  The bar facia could use a paint touch up and the washroom though clean, features a flower arrangement that could use some attention from the vacuum.

The food is really the star attraction.  Like many non-European ethnic  options, Ethiopian food does not rely heavily on wheat  flour so you’ll have lots of options here.  Be sure to ask for the teff injera though because they do make one from wheat flour.  Not all the choices on the menu are gluten-free so let your server know about your needs.  We ordered lamb tibs with a vegetarian assortment as recommended by our server.  The food comes dotted in little mounds on a huge plate lined with injera and a plate of injera on the side.  Eating is a communal activity here as everyone eats off the same plate, tearing off pieces of injera to pick up bits of the saucy, flavourful fodder.  Whether you prefer mild or very spicy, you’ll find something here as they cover the full range.

If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary and feeling a bit adventurous, give this African gem a try!

Gluten Free Restaurant Review – Three stars.  Would I go back?  That’s a big YES!


S


Salad King

Address:  340 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON

This trendy thai restaurant is my university age daughter’s favourite place to eat in the city.  Like her its young, its artsy and urban.   Designed by students, the long tables and uncomfortable chairs are more reminiscent of a cafeteria than a restaurant.  Yet the witty remarks stencilled on the walls and the row of private stalls behind the door marked “true happiness  this way” (all washrooms should be like this.  Who ever thought separate common rooms with a skirt on one and pants on the other was an efficient use of space) along with the clamour contribute to the contemporary atmosphere and frankly, I like it too.  The prices are reasonable, the food is good and the downtown location is convenient to everything in the city that matters.  The menu clearly marks the items that are gluten free with little wheat icons.  All in all it’s simple, it’s popular and it’s great.

Gluten free restaurant review – three stars.  Would I go back?  Yes, of course.


Schooner's Fish & Chips

Address: 1337 King St. E., Oshawa, ON, L1H 1J2

Just when you thought you could never again have those crunchy melt in your mouth, drip down your chin English style fish and chips, along came Schooner’s. This is a little privately owned establishment n the edge town, between Oshawa and Courtice in Ontario.  They are actually certified gluten free!  They have a whole separate section of fryers for their gluten free menu items which include the fish and chips of course, plus gf tartar sauce, gravy and a few other items as well.  Definitely a find and definitely worth visiting!

Gluten free restaurant review – four stars.  Would I go back?  Yes, often.


Shoeless Joe’s 

This is one that's been inconsistent at best.  I tried it a few years ago as another dinner and movie spot for the “Girls Night Out”.  They had a dinner and movie special though you had to order specific items.  Since I can’t have any of those items, they did still provide the movie ticket at their price which is a little less than the box office.  Little accommodations like that go a long way in my opinion.  They don't have a specific gluten free menu, but do have an allergy guide and a few gluten free choices.  They are quite accommodating if you ask.  I’ve had the Pad Thai.  The standard version is not gluten free but they prepared it gluten free for me.  It was very good.  I’ve also had the baked salmon and it was good too.  A few more visits uncovered the inconsistencies.  A couple of times items we ordered were unavailable, other times the food was just not great.  My husband and I decided to give it another try just a few weeks ago and were disappointed.

Gluten free restaurant review - two stars - inconsistent food quality, okay menu selection, mediocre service

Would I go back?  Not high on the list


South Street Burgers

I know, Iknow.  I’m all about the healthy stuff.  But don’t you just get the craving for a burger and fries once in a while?!  I dropped my daughter off at her job at South Street Burgers today and she treated me to dinner.  Guess what!  It was really good.  Their patties are gluten free, their fries and gluten free (done in a separate fryer from anything battered) and they have gluten free buns.  The atmosphere is definitely casual burger joint.  Kind of warehouse-ish with ceiling beams and ductwork exposed and lighting that’s designed to look like hanging lightbulbs.  The burger was nice and juicy, a good selection of topping and the New York fries were hot and crispy.  And their beef is raised without hormones or antibiotics.  Bonus!  What more could you ask for?  Ok and the service was pretty awesome too ;)


St. Louis Bar andGrill

This is casual dining; a good spot for wings and a beverage after a round of golf.  It's a great example of "ask every time and take nothing for granted!".  I'd been to a particular location several time as I was assured that the wings were done in a separate fryer and were glute free.  They even did nachos for me in the wing fryer so they would be gluten free too!  What a bonus!!  However, I visited another location, assuming it would have the same set up and, it's a good thing I asked because they did not.  Their fryer was share.  Also, be sure to ask for the allergy guide as not all the sauces are gluten free and let the server know that you are on a gluten free diet. 

Update: This is location specific so be sure to ask.  I was recently in a St. Louis location that only had one fryer so the wings there are not gluten free.

Gluten free restaurant review – three stars.  Would I go back?  I'd call first to check on the fryer situation.


Stone's Throw Pub & Grill

Address: 39 Martin Rd., Clarington, ON, L1C 4W6

Stone’s Throw:

Updated Review.

I’ve been there a few times and originally wrote a very positive review.  This was one of the first local restaurants to offer a gluten free menu and theirs was especially unique in that they offered gluten free burgers and fries cooked in a dedicated fryer.  At the time, to have found a restaurant where I could order a burger and fries made me feel like I’d died and gone to heaven.  Unfortunately they have changed their menu and the number of gluten free options is quite reduced.  They have the standard salmon offering and a Pad Thai and I think one or two other items but I can’t even verify on the website because gluten free fare is not even mentioned, or at least not that I can find.  I had the Pad Thai which wasn’t bad.  With so many restaurants offering gluten free options these days I was disappointed to see this one, which originally led the way, taking a step backward.

Naturally Gluten Free rating - two stars

Would I go back.  Meh.  It’s handy, right between Oshawa and where I live in Port Hope and the food is fine but I wouldn’t necessarily seek it out.


Swiss Chalet 

Went there recently for a family gathering.  Honestly I’ve never really been a fan.  I don’t know what people see in that Chalet sauce.  I don’t eat chicken in restaurants unless I know they are free range / pasture raised, which is not likely in a chain restaurant.  I had steamed vegetables, no sauce and a salad with plain oil and vinegar.  The staff was not knowledgeable about gluten but the waitress was certainly friendly and made every effort.  When I asked about a particular sauce, she checked with the kitchen.  They didn’t know if it was gluten free so the server brought me the bottle so I could check the ingredients.  In all fairness, their roast chicken and ribs are don’t contain gluten so if you like that, you’ll likely be fine.  There is an allergy guide on line.

Gluten free restaurant review - one stars - okay food, limited menu selection, good service but limited knowledge

Would I go again?  Probably not, unless I'm out-voted by the family ;)


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T


Table + Loft

Whether you sit at the bar that he sourced from the wood from an old box car or on the bustling sidewalk patio, you’re in for a unique ‘city meets small town’ experience... more

Update:  I'm sad to report that the Table + Loft in Port Hope has gone out of business.  What a disappointment!  The food was great.  I'd read some reviews that the service had started to go down hill and in several cases that menu items weren't available.  The restaurant business is unforgiving for sure!


That's My Spot

680 Longworth Avenue, Bowmanville, ON

Popped in here the other night as Hubby and I were looking for a bite before heading back to the Port and wanted to try something new.  A friend had mentioned this so we decided to check it out.  We were greeted by a gentleman whom I believe was the manager.  I asked about gluten free options and after checking with the kitchen he said that I could have a steak.  Normally I’d have left to find something that gave me a bit more confidence but I was hungry so decided to give it a try.  When I opened the menu I found a few other item’s that had a gluten free indicator so I felt a bit better though perplexed by the fact that person who greeted and seated us didn’t seem to know the menu and didn’t seem familiar with gluten.  Five years ago that may not have been so strange but gluten free has  been in the forefront of food news and controversy long enough that anyone in the business should be aware.  Even more perplexing was the fact that the steak was not one of items marked gluten free on the menu  I ended up ordering Pad Thai, which wasn’t bad.  Overall the service was slow, the food was okay and I felt fine afterward.

Naturally Gluten-Free Rating – two stars

Would I go back? Probably not.


Tim Horton’s 

Well, the coffee is gluten free ;) and they have these little macaroons that aren't bad.  They are packaged and certified gluten free.  If you’re trying to limit sugar though then the macaroons are not the best choice.  They don’t have lactose free cream or milk though so I need to carry my own.  Yes I’ll continue to go to Timmy’s for coffee, I’m Canadian after all.  There are a few other menu items that don’t contain gluten: the chili, the turkey and wild rice stew and the potato bacon stew.  It doesn’t strike me as an environment that is going to be very careful about cross contamination however so I think I’ll pass.  Tim Horton’s even suggests that anyone with a food allergy refrain from consuming their product.

Gluten free restaurant review - one star - very limited menu selection

Would I go again?  Of course…eh – but just for the coffee.


U


Urban Herbivore

As the name suggests, this is a vegan restaurant in the heart of the city.  This place walks the walk.  They make everything from scratch and according to the website; most ingredients are local and organic.  The baked goods are made on site at the College Street location and a good selection are gluten free.  Actually the gluten-free baker extraordinaire is a class mate of mine from chef school and his stuff is great!  The main course fare is good too and the staff are knowledgeable about gluten.   When I took my daughter there her remark was “wow, I wish they had one of these up by the university”.  I’ve only been to the College Street location which is in a yoga studio and serves cafeteria style.  There is also one near the food court in the Eaton’s Centre.  The main location is at Kensington Market and I’d really like to check it out.

Gluten free restaurant review – three stars.  Would I go back?  Yes, looking forward to it.


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