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 for those who eat gluten free. And the flourless chocolate cake, with coconut whipped cream, is enough to make me drive the hour down there all by itself. The owner/manager is super friendly and does a great job.
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 fryer that uses PALM OIL if you're allergic to peanuts. The fried chicken, and french fries, were 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? They're working on offering a gluten free waffle so you can even have chicken and waffles!
Elizabeth's, Rocky Hill
Elizabeth's Restaurant is tucked into the corner of a somewhat run-down plaza off exit 23 in Rocky Hill. The menu is Italian and 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 Brazilian cheese bread rolls in stock, baked fresh when you mention you're gluten free at arrival. They make it there! I usually get the chicken Paulos, chicken breast topped with tomatos and mozzarella in a tomato-cream sauce with pasta. The eggplant and chicken parm are always just right.
Shoreline Diner, Guilford
The Shoreline Diner is a classic diner that offers an excellent gluten free and vegetarian menu. My favorite is the vegan chili, which not being vegan I top with a small mountain of sour cream. They have nice juicy turkey burgers, and a HUGE gluten free breakfast menu. The cheesecake is safe, and delicious. They even offer vegan gluten free chocolate chip cookies, baked fresh every day, at the end of your meal. THOSE are tasty.
Nature's Grocer, Vernon
Nature's Grocer was opened by a retired couple of teachers. The wife was diagnosed with Celiac, and her husband became so good at baking 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 soups, salads, smoothies, and breakfast on the weekend. They keep the case stocked with gluten free baked goods. It's also a full health food store, so you can get all your staples there. My favorite items are the turkey panini and the pancakes on the weekend. And the chocolate chip almond coffee cake. And the ginger cookies. Ok, I like all of it!
Burton's Grill, South Windsor
Burton's is actually a small restaurant chain with about 8-9 locations. They have had a dedicated gluten free menu 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 6 years, and have never gotten sick. They're very very careful.
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 it really is amazingly good! They have stuffed breads in their freezer and a crazy selection of cupcakes all the time. Great place to visit all around, my boyfriend loves the cheesecake bars. They have donuts, muffins, rolls, and burger buns in the freezer as well.
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 really great hot soups, and a rack in the cooler of sandwiches made with gluten free bread. They carry fresh local gluten free baked goods, like slices of cake and muffins. They've recently started offering full dinners to take home and reheat as well. It's a very convenient place when you're on the go to get good, tasty, safe food.
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 and yell your name to find you. Seating is every man for himself. The food is just plain awesome. I usually get the nachos, with housemade guacamole. But the caprese salad, served on toasted Rudi's bread, is oddly maybe the best thing on the menu. It's so well done, and the tomatos so rich and flavorful. The restaurant is on Chapel, so good luck with the parking!
Home Restaurant, Branford
This place really kid of does feel like a home. The waitstaff is outstanding and always makes you feel welcome. They have a really nice rotating specials menu. The chef comes out regularly to check on patrons and talk to them, so does the owner. They have the best french fries I have ever had, hands down. They come with special dipping sauces they make there. Usually a barbecue sauce and a couple mayo-based sauces. I found the gluten free macaroni & cheese to be quite strange, it's very orange and tastes like Cheez-its. 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!