01 of 10
Atlanta’s Most Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants
The South may be known for its fried chicken, fried green tomatoes and peach cobbler, but in Atlanta's culinary treasure cove, you’ll also find handfuls of gluten-free gems that serve a healthy helping of flavor without all that pesky gluten.
These celiac-friendly recommendations are based on countless dining experiences and thousands of questions posed to servers about menus. Read on for tips on how to avoid gluten at restaurants, plus the best restaurants in Atlanta that serve gluten-free options.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
A Guide to Avoiding Gluten at Restaurants
Of course, having gluten-free options on the menu is the first step, but a knowledgeable staff is paramount, especially when a dedicated GF menu isn't available. "You can have the salmon without the glaze. Stay away from the ribeye. I highly recommend the roasted chicken—we can swap out the farro for mashed potatoes," a knowledgeable server might say.
Don’t leave it all up to the server, though. Just as important is for you to be aware of which ingredients contain gluten. Apart from the more obvious gluten-laden items like pasta, bread, flour tortillas, muffins, and cake, look out for:
- sauces (steer clear from soy sauce, teriyaki, ponzu and eel sauces)
- salad dressings, gravies, and soups that may use flour as a thickening agent
- wheat and its companion grains, like millet, farro, barley, and rye
- fake crab, wasabi, and pickled ginger
- breadcrumbs that sneak onto or atop dishes
And remember, rice, cornmeal, potatoes, quinoa, and buckwheat are all naturally gluten-free, unless you are ultra-sensitive to cross-contamination, as they could have been processed in the same facility, or deep-fried in the same oil, as wheat.
As for GF substitutes for baked goods, the struggle for all GF bakers is finding the elusive combination of flours (usually a mix of almond, tapioca, coconut, rice and more), starches and other critical ingredients (xantham gum) to achieve not only a desirable taste but also an adequate consistency.
Rather than just asking if an item is gluten-free, tell your server that you have celiac disease or an allergy—if they’re well-trained, they’ll alert the chef, who should then take extra precaution not to cross-contaminate. (Keep in mind, cross-contamination can occur at any restaurant, so please use your best judgment. You know your body better than anyone else.)Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Arepa Mia
If you’re not familiar with the overstuffed glory of a Venezuelan arepa sandwich, then you’re in for a treat. Arepa Mia runs sparkling-clean, 100 percent gluten-free kitchens in its two locations (a stall at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in Old Fourth Ward and a brick-and-mortar location in Decatur) that churn out an impressive variety of Venezuelan dishes, including stuffed arepas, empanadas, cachapas, tostones and more.
Every item on Arepa Mia's menu is gluten-free thanks to the cuisine's reliance on corn masa, rather than wheat flour, to encase fresh vegetables, proteins, herbs, sauces and spices that are all naturally gluten-free.
Picking favorites is virtually impossible, but you can’t go wrong with a fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice, and an arepa sifrina (corn patty stuffed with shredded chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, guayanes cheese, Thai chili, and fried sweet plantains).Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Bantam + Biddy
Gluten-free diners with fried-chicken woes can dry their eyes. Bantam + Biddy offers a plentiful menu of Southern food, including a wide range of gluten-free options, like fried chicken, chicken tenders, sandwiches, cornbread, and sides. While the menu is not 100 percent gluten-free, sandwiches can be made with gluten-free bread and the menu clearly indicates which items are gluten-free with a handy "GF" icon.
Stop by this casual eatery for a healthier fix of decadent foods. Bantam + Biddy's GF batter is made with rice and tapioca flours that encase moist chicken strips, drumsticks or breasts with a light and crispy layer of breaded goodness. The naturally gluten-free jalapeño cornbread is a special treat since most bakers add wheat flour to cornbread's otherwise gluten-free list of ingredients in order to improve texture and consistency.
If you're feeling indulgent, go all in for the fried chicken tenders with a side of duck-fat fries and salad drizzled with orange-carrot vinaigrette; or, I order the heaping Southern cobb salad—mixed greens, Patak bacon, tomato, avocado, JB Farm egg, blue cheese and pecans crowned by fried chicken tenders (see a theme here?).
If fried chicken isn't your thing (really? are you sure?), try t he sautéed Maine salmon filet with dill mustard sauce and the meatloaf made with grass-fed beef and tomato gravy. Or try bottomless mimosas during weekend brunches complemented by the heaping Big Chicken Skillet: cheesy chicken potato hash topped with three fried chicken tenders and three eggs (get 'em poached).Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Brezza Cucina
You wouldn't expect to find an Italian restaurant in the ranks of go-to gluten-free restaurants, but then again Brezza Cucina is no ordinary restaurant. Culinary legend Jonathan Waxman's new outpost in Ponce City Market is helmed by executive chef Adam Evans, whose fresh menu is a showcase of simplicity at its finest.
While you won't find any GF substitutes for pasta, pizza or bread (though we hear Evans is working on a GF pizza dough), you'll find an armory of creative and impeccably prepared, naturally GF dishes, including the Insalata di Verdure (a salad of wood-roasted vegetables), a flavorful kale salad, two signature chicken options, gulf grouper, and the mouthwatering, bold braised lamb shank (no need for a knife, it practically melts off the bone) with olives, calabrese, pignol and polenta (cornmeal is naturally GF).
And since cocktails tend to be safe for most celiacs, make sure to complement your meal with one of my all-time favorite drinks, the Shrub (vodka, balsamic preserved citrus, ginger and red wine—if you're particularly sensitive, ask for Tito's vodka, which is made from GF corn, if you're especially sensitive to gluten, as many other liquors are grain-based).Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Himalayan Spice
Indian food is an easy and delicious gluten-free option since wheat flour is not commonly used in the cuisine. Chai Pani, Masti, and Bhojanic are all great options for gluten avoiders, but a favorite is Himalayan Spice, which offers a half-Nepali, half-Indian menu.
You'll love the melt-in-your-mouth lamb tikka masala, rich palak paneer, and abundantly flavorful chicken korma. Remember to skip the naan and ask for pappadam instead. Often made from lentil, chickpea, potato, tapioca or rice flour, crispy and waif-like pappadam is a satisfying and naturally GF alternative to naan, which is made with wheat flour.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Minero
Another Ponce City Market restaurant, Minero is James Beard Award-winner Sean Brock's first foray into Atlanta. The menu, which features vibrant and modern fare inspired by the fragrant spices, rich ingredients, and bold flavor combinations signature to Mexican cuisine, is almost entirely gluten-free, thanks to the use of made-from-scratch corn tortillas and corn chips.
Steer clear of the burritos (which are made with flour tortillas due to their size), churros and fried catfish. Though Mexican food is usually celiac friendly, Brock elevates traditional fare with contemporary touches and an unrelenting adherence to quality—his team tasted dozens of varieties of corn before choosing their three favorite vendors. Each day, the Minero team grinds the corn in-house and, using an ancient nixtamalization process, makes the fresh masa for its tortillas daily.
The extraordinarily filling and savory chilaquiles are my go-to order here—corn tortilla chips are covered in heirloom beans and pork, a fried egg and avocado, and smothered in crema, salsa, and queso fresco. The epic taco kit, which includes 20 warm tortillas, cotija cheese, chopped onion, salsa verde, cilantro, limes, and a choice of two meats is an engaging and creative option for a group of taco lovers (or one very hungry tacoholic).Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Radial Cafe
Who doesn’t love a restaurant that considers the size of its carbon footprint and the value of its neighboring farms? Radial Cafe is just that sort of place—the sort of place that takes composting, recycling and using in-season ingredients very seriously. Radial’s weekend brunch is beloved by locals, made evident by long wait times on Saturdays and Sundays.
You'll go bananas over the delicious gluten-free pancakes, which are enormous, delicious and, best of all, pancakes I can eat. Made with organic quinoa, corn, tapioca and buckwheat flours with ground flax instead of egg, these vegan and GF pancakes are just as fluffy and heart-warming as their wheat-riddled counterparts. Egg scrambles are also a delectable option for gluten-free diners. Try the gouda scramble, which tosses together a protein with three eggs, caramelized onions, tomato, gouda and fresh basil.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Uncle Maddio’s
Celiacs get insatiable cravings for pizza just like anyone else. Thank the pizza gods for Uncle Maddio’s when those hankerings set in! I have yet to find a gluten-free pizza as delicious as those found at this family-friendly, fast-casual stop. Uncle Maddio's GF crusts, which are made with rice flour, tapioca flour, and potato starch, are thin and crunchy, a difficult combination to pull off for most pizza stops, as most end up soggy.
Select the ingredients topping your thin and crunchy gluten-free crust or choose from signature flavors. I enjoy the Southwest Baja, which piles grilled chicken, black bean corn salsa, jalapeños, cilantro, and homemade chipotle ranch dressing over tomato basil sauce smothered by mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: FuegoMundo
This relaxed restaurant is hidden in a shopping complex just north of Buckead in Sandy Springs. Latin and Latin-fusion recipes fill the menu, many of them vegan, gluten-free, kosher, vegetarian or a combination. But FuegoMundo doesn’t sacrifice flavor when it omits wheat flour from its dishes; rather, a skilled combination of fresh produce (like cilantro, radicchio, and bok choy) and spices (like zatar, ginger, and paprika) pick up where gluten may have left off.
Start your meal with the cheesy yucca bread (free of gluten, soy, and dairy) and you’ll taste the magic of owner/chef Masha Hleap’s healthy concoctions. Try the Argentinean churrasco served with chimichurri, rice, beans, and plantains, or the Quinoa Veggie Salad Supreme.