Gluten Free Boston: A Complete Guide for Celiacs
Let’s get this out of the way at the top – Boston is definitely not the best city for gluten free foodies in the United States. If you’re making a trip specifically for gluten free food, we’d say that Boston is probably not even on the shortlist of places we’d recommend.
However, travel is about more than just the food, and Boston is well worth a visit for the history and culture. The intent behind this guide is to help you find safe gluten free places to eat while you’re in Boston.
Just know that you’re probably not going to be blown away by the food (with one exception: Kane’s Donuts).
This guide, which was updated in May 2022 after almost a week spent in Boston eating our way through the city, will take you through our perspective on (and experience with) the best gluten free restaurants in Boston.
We’ll give you three different categories of gluten free restaurant:
- Dedicated gluten free restaurants where everything on the food menu is gluten free
- Dedicated gluten free bakeries where all of the baked goods they make are gluten free)
- Celiac-safe restaurants where we’re confident that, despite a mixed kitchen, they can serve you a safe gluten free meal
Sound good? Let’s into the best gluten free restaurants and bakeries in Boston!
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one and purchase something, I make a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. It goes without saying that I would never recommend something I wouldn’t use or do myself.
Gluten Free Boston: The Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Boston (+ Gluten Free Bakeries!)
Let’s get right into the best places to eat gluten free in Boston.
We think that it’s worth mentioning that we’ve been to almost every single gluten free restaurant and bakery on this list. If we haven’t, we’ll say so. We’ve done the work to ask about things to look out for, and have excluded a few places that we ultimately didn’t think have what it takes to serve a consistently safe meal.
With everything constantly changing right now, we do our best to keep these guides up to date. However, it’s nearly impossible to check on every single restaurant at any given time, which is why we need YOUR help!
Have feedback, like a place that no longer has a dedicated gluten free fryer, or a new gluten free bakery that popped up? We’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below and we’ll make sure to make updates.
One important note: There are a lot of places that have gluten free options in Boston, but that we wouldn’t feel comfortable eating at for various reasons (usually, a lack of processes to prevent cross-contact with gluten in the kitchen). As a result, you won’t find them on this list. Which, sadly, means that you’re not going to find things like gluten free lobster rolls or gluten free cannoli on this list, because exactly none of the places we reached out to had a good answer for how they prevent cross-contact (one place that is commonly recommended even advised me not to eat there if I have Celiac Disease). It’s a bummer to not be able to experience a lobster roll or proper cannoli, but speaking as someone who has been there, you definitely don’t want to be sick on vacation.
Dedicated Gluten Free Restaurants in Boston
There aren’t all that many dedicated gluten free restaurants in Boston, and I found the lack of options a little disappointing compared to other cities in the Northeast like Philadelphia and, of course, New York City, which is basically gluten free heaven.
We loved Grainmaker so much that we actually went three separate times over the course of about six days in Boston.
Think Chipotle, but with a focus on Southeast Asian flavors instead of Mexican flavors. It’s fast-casual, and they have options to do their premade signature bowls, or to build your own. They also have excellent vegetarian options too, which was great for us (we don’t eat a whole lot of meat these days).
Most of the bowls use a rice base, and then you get a combination of veggies, a protein, and some other toppings followed by a sauce. They also have some salad dishes and noodle dishes if a rice bowl isn’t what you’re in the mood for.
We really liked both the OG – a peanut lime sauce with sweet potatoes and kale/bok choy – and the curry, which was surprisingly spicy (in a good way).
Last, but certainly not least, they have pan-fried potstickers that we enjoyed, especially when dipped in the slightly tangy, savory ponzu sauce.
There are a couple of locations in Boston, one in downtown Boston, one west of the city center in Somerville, which we stopped at on the way to and way back from visiting friends in Vermont.
Poke by Love Art
We weren’t quite sure how to feel about poke bowls – especially Alysha, who isn’t so into the idea of raw fish – but we did some research and realized that Poke by Love Art have a non-fish protein option (marinated tofu, which is actually great) so we decided to go for it.
And we went back for more a few days later, which both tells you that there aren’t really THAT many gluten free restaurants in Boston, and also that we enjoyed this place. Plus, it was literally a block from our hotel (the CitizenM Boston if you’re curious – we absolutely love CitizenM Hotels and have stayed in three of them in 2022… and it’s only May at the time of writing).
Anyway, onto the poke bowls! We were lucky enough to have a very friendly staff member talk us through the menu on our first visit, and she gave us all sorts of opinions and ideas on how to make the most of our bowls.
For example, you can replace the protein in any bowl, and you get two servings of it, so you can go half and half if there are different proteins you want to try at no additional cost.
The Hot Luau bowl was definitely the favorite – we’re suckers for a good kick of spice, and the garlic edamame salad was lovely.
They have a location up near North Station / TD Arena that is roughly five minutes away from the North End, and is only a slight detour if you’re following the north end of the Freedom Trail.
Naco Taco (ONLY North Station)
After some thinking, I think we were a little unfair to Naco Taco, a restaurant in Cambridge (across the river near MIT) that is NOT 100% gluten free, but has an outpost at TD Arena that IS dedicated gluten free. It’s in a big food hall that is definitely at its busiest around Bruins and Celtics games.
Our original take on Naco Taco was that it’s not even worth considering as an option, because the food just wasn’t as good as other tacos we’ve had, dedicated gluten free or not.
We went on a non-game day, and the food didn’t taste fresh, and it was pretty bland compared to what we’re used to. Even the tortillas were a little off.
After a few days of thinking and talking about it, we realized that comparing tacos in California (or anywhere on the west coast, really) to tacos in Massachusetts really isn’t fair.
So our revised take is that Naco Taco is a good, safe option if you’re going to a Celtics / Bruins game at the arena, or if you’re going to a concert there. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth making a detour for.
Full disclosure: we passed on eating at Mother Juice. It’s safe and everything is gluten free (though they do use oats), we just weren’t really into the menu. Juices aren’t our thing, and none of the bowls called to us.
Still, it’s a good option for a quick, healthy meal. They have juices, smoothies, and bigger items like bowls and toasts to choose from.
The taco bowl is what we would’ve gone for – we were curious what the walnut meat would taste like – but they were sold out of it on the day we stopped by, so we ended up deciding not to eat here.
Dedicated Gluten Free Bakeries in Boston
There are two gluten free bakeries in Boston (that we discovered, anyway), and one of them is actually in Cambridge, a solid distance away from downtown Boston and the core that most tourists stay in.
Violette Bakery is the gluten free bakery over in Cambridge, which is a 15-20 minute drive (or a slightly longer T ride) away from downtown Boston. Unfortunately, we thought it was the better bakery even though it’s by far the less convenient option to reach.
If you’re looking for some gluten free treats, this is the best place to go. They have eclairs, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and cream puffs. Plus, some other take-and-bake options and things like frozen quiches.
Alysha had defected from the #glutenfreelife for the morning, and she had gone to the excellent bagel place a few doors down (that is definitely NOT gluten free), so I was on my own for this one. I got a slice of squash and chèvre quiche, an eclair, and a Boston cream puff (which was basically Boston Cream Pie, but in cream puff form).
They also have weekly specials that are available for just a couple of days that look amazing. We weren’t around to take advantage, but you can see the upcoming schedule here on their website.
Did I eat all that? I sure did. Although Alysha did get a few bites of the eclair and cream puff when I was done with them.
It’s worth noting that they do use gluten free oats in some of their products, so if you’re sensitive make sure to ask them to help you figure out what does and doesn’t have oats. The staff were more than happy to investigate ingredients, in my experience.
Jennifer Lee’s Bakery
This gluten free bakery is inside the Boston Public Market, and has a stand that sells 100% gluten free baked goods like muffins, cupcakes, donuts, cookies, and if you’re lucky, cannoli. They also happen to be free of all of the top 9 allergens (egg, dairy, peanuts, etc.) which makes them perfect for anyone with multiple intolerances.
They’re also at a wide range of local farmers markets, if you’re able to visit them there. You can find an up-to-date list on their website.
The story here is very similar to many other gluten free businesses out there – the owner was a baker by trade, with her own gluten-filled bakery. Until she was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. Unhappy with the gluten free baked goods on the market – particularly with the ones that were also egg and nut free – she set out to create her own.
For what it’s worth, I really love their mission, which is very, very similar to our mission here at Wheatless Wanderlust. They say:
“Our mission is to create a place where people, especially children with food allergies, can walk into, and be able to feel “normal” and be able to pick out anything they want without fear.”
We stopped by a couple of times, and I am still kicking myself weeks later because they had cannoli the first time. We had just eaten, so I said “we’ll come back a different day, I’m sure they’ll still have them.”
Narrator: they didn’t.
But the French toast cupcake we had was good, especially considering it’s also dairy and egg free, which means the texture is just never going to be as good as some of the other baked goods that contain those things.
Other Gluten Free Restaurants in Boston
Here are some other restaurants in Boston that, while not 100% gluten free, have protocols and processes in place to ensure that they can serve you a safe meal.
The usual caveat about eating out gluten free applies here – it’s on you to communicate your needs to the server and restaurant, and your experience may be different than mine.
Let’s be honest, things change all the time in kitchens, and service largely depends on the luck of the draw in terms of which server you end up with, which line cook is working that day, and things like that which are largely out of your control.
Eating out comes with an inherent risk. You need to clearly communicate your needs to staff everywhere, but it’s especially important here. Make sure to:
- Always let the server know that you have Celiac Disease and need to eat gluten free. Some people use “gluten allergy,” which seems to work too, but I’m skeptical that places who don’t even know what “Celiac” means have any processes to minimize cross contact anyway.
- Ask them (very nicely) to help you figure out what is safe for you.
- Confirm with the server when the food arrives that your meal is in fact gluten free.
More Gluten Free Travel Guides for the USA
Planning a trip in the United States, but need to eat gluten free? We’ve written a bunch of in-depth travel guides to the best gluten free restaurants and bakeries in many of our favorite cities in the US to help you find the best places to eat.
Gluten Free Seattle, Washington
Gluten Free San Francisco, California
Gluten Free Los Angeles, California
Gluten Free Santa Barbara, California
Gluten Free San Diego, California
Gluten Free Sacramento, California
Gluten Free Boston, Massachusetts
Gluten Free Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, the chances are good that you’ve noticed that we have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with gluten free donuts. Donuts are the best food group, especially donuts that are ACTUALLY fried, and aren’t just a cake that is baked in the shape of a donut.
You know who has amazing gluten free fried donuts? KANE’S. I’ve had this place on my list for several years now after having seen gluten free Instagram stars make the pilgrimage, and FINALLY made it this year. Not once, not twice, but three times (in five days).
Now, this is a mixed facility, which means they also have donuts that are NOT gluten free. Which is usually a strong no from me – I don’t mess with mixed bakeries.
However, my friend Jennifer from the Nomadic Fitzpatricks was involved in helping them create a gluten free environment to make donuts that would be safe for Celiacs. It involves completely separate kitchen spaces for baking the gluten free donuts, separate transportation, and a well-trained staff to actually serve the donuts.
Every single time I ordered (which was three different times), I watched the person taking my order immediately change their gloves as soon as I said “gluten free”, and the gluten free donuts are stored in a separate area of the kitchen.
They have flavors from wacky ones, like apple cider and maple bacon, to the core flavors you’d expect like glazed, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate glazed. Plus, a few filled donuts (we enjoyed the jelly filled, though the vivid red color of the jam is always a little alarming).
The gluten free donuts are significantly smaller than the regular donuts, and they are also significantly more expensive. However, they’re among the best gluten free donuts we’ve ever had – we’d put them in the top tier with places like Petunia’s Pies and Pastries in Portland and Bigwig Donuts in Salem, Oregon.
And they’re worth the wait, extra money, and the trip to Boston.
Another thing you might know about us if you’ve been following along on our travels is that we are head-over-heels in love with arepas. Specifically, the Venezuelan variety, which is basically a corn cake sandwich stuffed with things like cheese, plantains, avocado and various meats.
After I searched for “coffee in Boston” and “gluten free donuts in Boston,” I searched “arepas in Boston.” And to my delight, I found Carolicious! They have two locations in Boston, one in the MIT Student Center (where they have a cool food incubator that they’re a part of), and one further into Cambridge, which is inside a brewery.
The MIT location is more convenient for people in Central Boston, but it’s also closed on weekends. The brewery location is open weekends, but the brewery has zero gluten free beverage options when I checked.
They are not a 100% gluten free facility, unfortunately, but they’re about as close as it gets and were able to easily answer my questions about keeping the one item on their menu that contains gluten separate.
They have an appetizer called tequenos, which are kind of like mozzarella sticks in that they’re dough filled with cheese. Unfortunately, the dough is not gluten free. However, they are cooked in the air fryer, which is completely separate from the way they cook anything else in the kitchen. They were also more than happy to change their gloves when I asked them to just to be completely safe.
Our favorite is generally anything with fried sweet plantains, and we liked the pabellon here. We also make an effort to try the Reina pepiada, which is a combination of mayo, avocado, cheese, and chicken. After the fact, we realized that it’s definitely not avocado season in May in Massachusetts, and the filling suffered for it.
The other thing that we enjoyed is the basil sauce that gets squirted onto all the arepas. It’s delicious, and we’d get a bottle of it if they sold it.
This isn’t so much a restaurant as a fun snack stop right in the Boston Public Market. Somehow, my mom found their nuts – which are labeled gluten free – in Seattle last Christmas, and I devoured a sample bag of them in about two hours flat.
Fast forward to May when we were walking through the Boston Public Market. We rounded the corner, and I did a double take, noticing the bright packages of sample size nuts that looked awfully familiar. Lo and behold, those nuts I got in Seattle were Q’s Nuts from Boston!
They’re labeled gluten free, and they have some fun sweet and savory flavor combinations, like Mexican Hot Chocolate and Rosemary Sea Salt.
La Famiglia Giorgio’s
Heads up! I’m going to go on a bit of a rant here before we get to the actual food at La Famiglia Giorgio’s.
We have mixed feelings on many of the Italian restaurants in the North End. On one hand, it’s a fun atmosphere and there’s clearly an important history of Italian immigrants that settled in the North End. Celebrating their heritage is great!
On the other hand, having spent nearly six weeks eating our way through Italy last fall, the food here makes us a little sad. It should really be referred to as “Italian-American.”
We’ve gotten way too into making Italian pastas at home, specifically the big four from Rome (carbonara, amatriciana, cacio e pepe, and pasta alla gricia) and bolognese, the latter of which looks nothing like the version that my mom made growing up.
If there’s one thing I think I know from talking to foodies in Italy, taking walking tours with locals, and connecting with friends who have relocated to Italy, it’s that you should NEVER EVER use cream in a traditional carbonara. And if a recipe for it calls for cream, find a new recipe. That might be a little more dogmatic than I really feel, but the idea is right.
What’s on the menu here? Carbonara. What’s an ingredient in it listed on the menu? Cream.
If you’re looking for authentic Italian food, this probably ain’t it. If you’re looking for solid Italian-American dinner with a nice ambiance and friendly staff, that’s where this place shines.
The other place this shines is their care with preparing gluten free dishes for gluten free diners. After calling a different place, who essentially said “we’re good with cross-contact,” I appreciated the level of detail that I got from La Famiglia Giorgio’s when I asked about their protocols.
Separate pasta water, separate prep areas, and separate pans for pizza (it does go into a shared oven, but it’s on a separate metal tray).
The other cool thing is the number of handmade gluten free pastas they have. There were a few that I’ve never actually heard of before, including the one that the server recommended for the spicy pizzaiola sauce we chose.
We’d focus on the gluten free pasta here, which is where we think they really stand out.
Like I said above, not the most authentic, but if you’re looking for a fun night out and some good pasta, it’s definitely worth your time.
Yellow Door Taqueria
I debated even putting Yellow Door Taqueria on my list, because there’s not really all that many gluten free options here that are safe for Celiacs.
The first thing you need to know is that you NEED to tell your server that you have Celiac Disease, and you need help finding menu options that are free from cross-contact with gluten (which mainly comes from the shared fryer).
The reason it’s on the list is because of the expertise with which they handled my questions, helping me sort through the menu to figure out what was gluten free, and what was tainted by cross-contact in the shared fryer.
The basic takeaway is that the chips ARE NOT safe (which is a little sad, especially since they’re labeled gluten free), and all of the tacos are safe (they’re on homemade corn tortillas) except for the Baja fish taco, which they can prepare grilled instead if you’re really craving a fish taco.
They also have a great cocktail list with a heavy focus on tequila and mezcal.
The taco caveat also applies here – if you’re from California and you’re expecting the same level of tacos, you’re probably going to be disappointed. That being said, the tacos were good, even though they’re a bit pricey.
Planning a trip to Boston? Don’t miss our guide to planning an amazing Boston weekend itinerary.
If you’re trying to figure out where to stay, don’t miss our detailed guide to the best places to stay in Boston, where we cover our top picks in terms of neighborhood with pros and cons, neighborhood highlights, and some cool places to stay that we picked out.
More Northeast USA Travel Guides
If you like this guide, you won’t want to miss our other travel guides for the northeast!
New York City
- 3 Days in New York City: A Perfect Long Weekend in NYC
- Where to Stay in New York City: The Best Areas + Hotels
- Gluten Free New York City: The Best GF Restaurants + Bakeries
- A Weekend in Boston: A Perfect 2 Day Boston Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Boston: A Complete Guide to the Best Areas
- Gluten Free Boston: A Complete Guide for Celiacs