Health + Fitness

No Gluten? No Meat? Here’s Where to Eat in Orlando

(Photo: Everything/Shutterstock.com)

Eating gluten free in Orlando doesn’t have to be a hassle! This city offers plenty of food destinations where you can find snacks and meals that are equal parts tasty and hep to your dietary restrictions. Here, 10 gluten-free spots to quell your cravings (and keep even your bread-obsessed fellow travelers happy):

  1. Dandelion Communitea Cafe. A converted historic bungalow in Orlando’s downtown, Dandelion Communitea Cafe bills itself as a vegan, organic, celiac-friendly meeting spot, which means those going gluten-free will have no problem finding a nosh here. Take a seat in a window booth and order any one of the eight “Dandy Dishes” in a bowl, like the Eve’s Revenge: a mix of apples (of course), organic or soy feta cheese, walnuts, red onion and raisins topped with raspberry vinaigrette.
  2. Raphsodic Cooperative Company is the only bakery in town that’s 100 percent allergy-conscious. From cookies, scones, cinnamon rolls, brownies and cupcakes (in creative flavors like habanero-chocolate and rosemary-lavender) to full-on tiered wedding cakes, this vegan, gluten-free bakery proves that your gluten-free sweet tooth has nothing to worry about.
  3. Noodles & Rice Cafe. Asian food is usually a good bet for those abstaining from gluten, and this spot in the Mills 50 District (named after the cross-streets of Mills Ave and SR Hwy 50/Colonial Drive) is no exception. What is special about this place is the endless customization available. The spicy soba noodles are a perennial favorite — spiked with the Korean chili paste “gochujang.” For an authentically a la carte experience, try the hot pot. Just steer clear of the Sichuan-style broth unless you’re ready to have your taste buds blown off with spice.
  4. Mellow Mushroom. With two locations in Orlando (one in Winter Park and one in east Orlando near UCF), Mellow Mushroom is one of the only spots slinging beyond-decent, out-of-this-world pizza with a gluten-free option. Let your server know you’d like the gluten-free crust, and just about everything else can come from the menu. Favorites include the Kosmic Karma, a red-sauce based pie with feta, mozzarella, spinach, and two kinds of tomatoes. Vegan cheese is also available on request.
  5. Roy’s Restaurant. Tropical fare with Hawaiian influences are menu staples at Roy’s on the strip of Sand Lake Road, known as Orlando’s “Restaurant Row.” While many of the menu items contain gluten, a quick note to your server will alert the kitchen. Chefs at Roy’s are adept at adapting their recipes for a gluten-intolerant palate, so feel free to choose Island-Style Ahi Poke laced with truffled soy sauce to start.
  6. Primo at JW Marriott Grande Lakes. James Beard award-winner Melissa Kelly is known for her fresh farm-to-table approach in the kitchen, and most of the food that comes through the Primo kitchen at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes comes right from the hotel’s on-site farm and gardens. Gluten-free diners can rest assured that the kitchen will adhere to the preparation standards for their diet. The menu changes often, but you can count on local, seasonal, sustainable dishes like wood-grilled duck breast with toasted farro, apple chutney and sautéed turnips.
  7. Pharmacy. Recently named Best Critics Choice Restaurant by the Orlando Sentinel, Tyler Brassil’s speakeasy, hidden behind a secret elevator door, serves food as good as the craft cocktails at the bar. There are plenty of gluten-free options on the menu (be sure to alert your server before ordering so any substitutions can be made in advance), and just because you’re abstaining from wheat doesn’t mean that you won’t find some truly inventive dishes here, as well as some of the strongest elixirs in town.
  8. Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop. Quick service and delicious falafel are first and foremost at this cute spot in College Park. Ditch the pita and opt for a salad or hummus bowl to forgo the gluten here. Fill your bowl with the freshly fried falafel, lentils or shawarma-style meat, and top off with your choice of veggies like pickled turnips, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.
  9. Copper Canyon Grill. The Orlando location of Copper Canyon Grill has been praised by the gluten-free community since its recent opening at Pointe Orlando on International Drive. With a separate gluten-free menu that boasts 15 different apps and entrees including sandwiches with special gluten-free buns — hallelujah! — this place makes going gluten-free super-delicious. There’s also a separate GF alcohol menu to make getting your buzz on a bit simpler.
  10. Cafe Tu Tu Tango. This I-Drive tapas spot is dedicated to painters, sculptors and performers, and still manages to pull off gluten-free dishes with serious panache. Don’t miss the Korean-style short ribs or the goat cheese timbale. Portions are small and meant for sharing, so notify your server before ordering so necessary arrangements can be made. If you’re visiting in the evening (especially on the weekend), make reservations to avoid a lengthy wait.