Ten best places to eat gluten free in Connecticut
I have been living gluten-free for ten years. I am definitely a foodie and LOVE a good meal, so am always looking for a place to eat out safely that has something great to offer. Just being gluten free isn't enough- food should taste good, too! So here is a list of the ten best places I've found to eat in Connecticut that serve gluten free food safely.
Organic Planet, Greenwich
The owners of Organic Planet also own the Back Forty Farm, where they get most of their produce. They use beef locally raised in CT, and have even had turkey from local pastures on their menu! So virtually everything on the menu is organic, and local where possible. But the best part is that their food is SO unbelievably delicious. I had the best burger, hands down, I've ever had there. They serve the burger in a gluten free tortilla wrap for those who eat gluten free. And the flourless chocolate cake, with coconut cream whipped cream on top, is enough to make me take the hour long ride down there all by itself.
Hearty Kitchen, West Hartford
Fried chicken? Did someone say fried chicken? It's actually gluten free? Are you sure? Try PASTURED chicken, fried in it's own gluten free dedicated fryer. Oh, I almost forgot, they use PEANUT OIL. But don't worry, they have a whole separate THIRD dedicated fryer that uses PALM OIL if you're allergic to peanuts. The fried chicken, and french fries, was incredible. What's amazing is that the food was somehow, magically, just a tiny bit BETTER when reheated the next day in the oven! How does that happen?
Elizabeth's, Rocky Hill
Elizabeth's Restaurant is tucked in a little corner of a somewhat run-down plaza off exit 23 in Rocky Hill. The menu is Italian-Portuguese, and runs to large portions, rich flavors, and heavy sauces. My boyfriend recently talked me into trying the gluten free calamari, and the fact that I actually enjoyed it is a serious credit to the restaurant, given my aversion to squid. The kitchen keeps a stock of gluten free Brazilian cheese bread on hand for gluten free customers, and it's always a little different because they make it there! It comes with a dish of roasted garlic in olive oil, and this amazing spicy tomato bruschetta dip. I usually get the chicken Paulos, which is chicken breast with tomatos and fresh mozz on top in a tomato cream sauce with pasta. Also, the house made creamy Italian dressing is super tasty. The eggplant and chicken parm is always just right.
Shoreline Diner, Guilford
The Shoreline is a classic diner that offers an excellent gluten free menu, and also a vegetarian menu. My favorite is the vegan bean chili, which since I'm not vegan I top with a mountain of sour cream. They have good, juicy turkey burgers, and a HUGE gluten free breakfast menu, available all day. The cheesecake is gluten free and delicious. They even offer vegan, gluten free chocolate chip cookies, baked fresh every day, at the end of your meal.
Nature's Grocer, Vernon
Nature's Grocer was opened by a retired couple of teachers. The wife was diagnosed with Celiac, and the husband became so good at baking things for her they decided to make a go of it in retail. Now, over four years later, it's grown to a full-blown cafe serving salads, wraps, smoothies, and breakfast on the weekend, in addition to all the gluten free baked goods. It's also a well-stocked health food store, so you can get all your gluten free staples too. He makes the BEST cookies, ever. My favorite items are the turkey panini and the pancakes on Saturdays. And the chocolate chip almond coffee cake. And the ginger giants cookies. Ok, I just like everything!
Burton's Grill, South Windsor
Burton's is actually a small restaurant chain with about 8-9 locations, I think. There's a few in the Boston area as well. They have had a dedicated menu for gluten free for a long time, since well before it became so trendy. They have an appetizer of grilled zucchini stuffed with goat cheese in a tomato sauce that I always order, even if I'm too stuffed to eat it! They have excellent french fries, and the steak sandwich is the best, it's made with tenderloin chunks. I've been eating there regularly for over 5 years, and never gotten sick once.
Freckled Frosting, Seymour
Freckled Frosting is a fairly new dedicated gluten free bakery. All the offerings I've tried have been very good, I really like the 'pop-tarts' and their cookies are really fabulous. They do pizza Friday nights, and we picked one up recently. They have fantastic pizza! The sauce is great, the crust is crispy, the cheese is stretchy and rich. They have stuffed breads in their freezer, we tried the turkey & broccoli, it was soooo tasty. Great place to visit all around, my boyfriend LOVES the cheesecake bars.
Thyme & Season, Hamden
Thyme & Season is actually just a regular health food store, but they've created a section of prepared foods that really serves the gluten free consumer very well. There's a self-serve bar of hot soups, labelled clearly, and a rack of sandwiches made with Udi's breads. They carry fresh gluten free baked goods, cakes and muffins and such, from a local bakery. They are now doing full prepared meals available to take home and heat, like turkey tenderloin with mashed potato, for example. It's definitely a convenient place to stop if you're on the go, and their soups are really tasty.
Claire's Corner Copia, New Haven
Claire's is a vegetarian, mostly organic, mostly Mexican food cafe where you give your order at the counter and they bring your food out yelling your name. Seating is first come-first served, and the food is just plain awesome. I usually get the nachos with the housemade fresh guacamole. But the caprese salad, served on toasted Rudi's bread, is oddly maybe the best dish on the menu. It's truly incredible, the tomatos are so rich and fresh, and the marinade is so flavorful. It's on Chapel, so good luck with the parking on the street!
Home Restaurant, Branford
This place really kind of does feel like a home. The waitstaff is outstanding and always makes your gluten free needs feel welcome. They have a really nice rotating specials menu, and the chef comes out regularly to check on his patrons and see how things are going. We've talked with the owner on numerous occasions, and told him how good the food is. They have the best french fries I've ever had, hands down. They come with three different house made dipping sauces, which also rotates. Usually a barbecue sauce of some kind and a couple mayo-based dips. I found the gluten free mac & cheese to be very strange, it was orange and tasted like Cheezits, so if that's your thing then go for it.
Gluten free dining has come a long way in the past ten years. Most of the places on this list didn't exist ten years ago. It's wonderful to have all the options we have now! I would be hard pressed to say which place is my favorite. Organic Planet, Hearty Kitchen, and Claire's really appeal to me with their dedication to healthy, organic foods, and serving the gluten free community safely. It's hard to beat an organic burger with chocolate cake, but the fried chicken and french fries at Hearty Kitchen just might do it!