If you have food allergies or intolerances, you’ll know how delightful it is to find a café or restaurant that dishes up great meals you can enjoy. You’ll also know the importance of ordering food that meets special food requirements, including for coeliacs who require gluten-free food.
These days, it is common to find restaurants or cafés that take gluten-free seriously. After all, living with coeliac disease should not mean you can’t eat out. Many places in Canberra now offer a range of gluten-free meals. And they don’t have to be boring either. Think gluten-free takeaway, cakes, baked goods and even pizza.
But, with so many options to choose from, how do you know which ones are the best? In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing a gluten-free venue, and share our list of where to find the best in Canberra.
What makes a great gluten-free café, restaurant or bakery?
Choosing a gluten-free café, restaurant or bakery can take the stress out of what can be an emotionally draining dining experience. It lets you sit back and enjoy eating out, without worrying about allergies and intolerances.
It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing a gluten-free café or restaurant.
- Variety. Being coeliac or having food allergies shouldn’t mean compromising when dining out. You’ll want more than just meat and salad. You’ll want more than one dish on the menu to choose from. You’ll also want to bear in mind that gluten free doesn’t always mean coeliac-safe gluten free, so still check out the menu.
- Respect. You’ll want a café or restaurant that doesn’t pay lip service to gluten-free needs. This is a place that understands being coeliac is serious if information on food isn’t accurate or if it isn’t prepared correctly.
- Quality. When spending money dining out, you want your taste buds to dance. There’s no excuse for venues to offer lack-lustre dishes for those with special food requirements. You’ll want to head to a dining establishment that packs a punch with gluten-free dishes.
- Price. You won’t want to be punished on price because of special food requirements. Gluten-free dishes should be reasonably priced, even though it can cost more to make them. You want fair, not exorbitant, prices.
- Knowledge. Heading to a hospitality venue that understands the importance of food intolerances and knows how to deal with them honestly is your best bet. This includes with ingredients and food preparation.
The best gluten-free venues in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Sweet Bones is a vegan café and bakery. It sources as much local and organic ingredients as possible and most items can be made gluten free. Sweet Bones has a passion for no-frills whole foods. The café has a rustic, rock’n’roll feeing with a friendly local vibe. The food is inventive, cruelty free and most of all delicious.
Sarah Alker wrote on Google, “Very friendly staff, amazing vegan treats and good meals for fair price.”
eighty/twenty believes everyone benefits from clean, natural and unprocessed whole foods. The café serves healthy, honest and delicious meals as well as nutrient-packed smoothies, homemade raw desserts and great coffee. The menu, which changes seasonally, includes plenty of gluten free, dairy free, vegan and vegetarian options.
Peter Spaz wrote on Google, “Goodness gracious. Who thought healthy food could taste so good! Very busy cafe but deservedly so. We had the Green Nourish and Japanese Bowls …”
Joe’s Thai Food embraces gluten-free and vegan dishes that are delicious and available mild to medium. Joe has been mastering the wok and cooking delicious Thai food for more than 20 years. He’s passionate about heart-warming meals and uses skills he has learned from being head chef at many well-known restaurants around Canberra.
On Google, Ben Phillipps wrote, “Hidden gem of a place. We were expecting a slightly dodgy place, but we got the best Thai food of my lifetime.”
Ricardo’s Café can modify many meals to accommodate those who prefer gluten-free, vegetarian and dairy-free food. Creative pastries, all-day breakfast and high tea are served in a relaxed, light-filled café in Ricardo’s Jamison Plaza location.
On Google, Norma Barakat wrote, “I’m a regular customer and have never had a disappointing experience. Staff are friendly, the coffee is great (ONA Coffee), food is generous, tasty and reasonably priced and, of course, the desserts are special.”
Local Press on the Kingston Foreshore is a health-conscious, rustic eatery that plates inventive modern Australian food. The café is passionate about delicious whole foods (meat to vegan) that are unrefined, unprocessed and free of unnecessary additives and preservatives. An interesting range of gluten-free dishes are available.
Jaala Kellam wrote on Google, “Really good coffee, tasty gluten free food, very friendly staff, and heaps of indoor seating (in the air con) or outdoor seats if the weather suits.”
Akiba is inspired by the informal and exciting atmosphere of great food halls and dining rooms throughout the East-Asia region. Food showcases the many styles of Asian barbecue, raw bar and modern-day Dim Sum. Cooked over live fuel of wood and charcoal, Akiba makes the most of local produce. A separate gluten-free menu is available.
Kat Lodder wrote on Google, “This has to be my favourite restaurant on the planet. I absolutely loved everything about it!”
If you’re looking for more information on healthy food, you might like our articles on the best organic produce delivery services, best fresh food markets and the best vegan products Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with gluten-free cafés, restaurant or cake place in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the gluten-free cafés, restaurants or cake places listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all cafés and restaurants offer gluten-free food?
Not all cafés and restaurants offer gluten-free food, although more and more do. Many promote this on their menus, website and/or on social media.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac Australia says that people with coeliac disease have immune systems that react abnormally to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats). This causes bowel damage. Serious health consequences can result if the condition isn’t diagnosed and treated properly. Following a gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.
Do cafés and restaurants charge more for gluten-free dishes?
Some restaurants charge more for gluten-free dishes and some don’t. It’s best to check online to see what gluten-free dishes are on the menu and what they cost. Most venues now have their menus online. If they don’t, you can call to discuss (avoid calling at peak service times). Remember, however, that you sometimes pay more because it costs most cafés and restaurants more to provide gluten-free alternatives.
Is gluten-free dining a lifestyle choice?
For some people, gluten-free dining is a lifestyle choice. For others it’s a serious medical issue. If you have coeliac disease, be specific when booking or ordering by saying something like: “I’m looking for gluten-free meals due to coeliac disease.” You can also check online to see if the café or restaurant is accredited by Coeliac Australia.
What is cross-contamination?
Cross-contamination is when foods containing gluten are in contact with foods that don’t. This can happen in many ways. One example using the same utensils to cook all food, instead of separate ones for gluten-free cooking. Food preparation areas should be separate. The same appliances, such as toasters and grills, shouldn’t be used to prepare both gluten food and gluten-free food.