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.
Here are our picks for the top ceilac-friendly restaurants in town.
Also see our guide to the city's top 12 health fast casual restaurants, many of which offer gluten-free options.
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 the popular historic neighborhood Old Fourth Ward and a brick-and-mortar location in Avondale Estates) 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).
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 order the heaping Southern cobb salad—mixed greens, Patak bacon, tomato, avocado, JB Farm egg, blue cheese and pecans crowned by fried chicken tenders.
If fried chicken isn't your thing, try the 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).
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Upbeet
This instantly 'grammable spot on the Westside specializes in allergen-friendly organic bowls, salads and smoothies. Build your own meal choosing from a rice and/or greens base, proteins ranging from agave sriracha tofu to grilled chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables and over a dozen dressings like cashew lime and curry coconut. Feeling indecisive? The Aloha Bowl with bamboo rice, mango, fresh jalapeños, scallions, avocado, toasted macadamia and housemade ginger miso dressing with fair trade, wild-caught tuna poke is always a solid choice and 100% gluten free. Portions are generous, so odds are you'll have enough left over for another meal (and to ease the blow of a $15 salad!). Sweet and savory yogurt and smoothie bowls round out the menu. Don't sleep on the beverages, which range from hot or cold superfood lattes like matcha and golden milk to house-made lemonades like turmeric and charcoal.
ATL Gluten-Free Restaurants: Flower Child
You can't help but to "choose happy" in this brightly colored outpost of the national chain that serves up good vibes and even better fare. From avocado hummus starters to veggie-packed salads, grain bowls and wraps, the entire menu is vegan, paleo and gluten-free friendly and sourced from scratch. You can easily make a meal of the three for $10 "plates," which feature sides like red chili glazed sweet potato with bok choy and sesame seed and roasted butternut squash with black kale, toasted mulberry and maple chestnut vinaigrette.
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, Bhojanic and other top Indian restaurants in the city 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.
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 a 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).
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, a family-friendly, fast-casual stop. The GF crusts, made with rice flour, tapioca flour,and potato starch, are thin and crunchy, a difficult combination to pull off for most pizza stops.
Select the ingredients topping your thin and crunchy gluten-free crust or choose from signature flavors. Try 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.
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 of all of the above. 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.