By: Lauren Frankfort
Dating can become tricky when you have any sort of health issue — especially if it’s a food allergy. When I met my fiancé Jordan in 2014, I was diagnosed with celiac disease only a few years prior. Back then, being gluten-free wasn’t as much of a pervasive trend as it is now. Every time I went out to eat I had a whole spiel prepared explaining not only what I could and could not eat, but how it needed to be prepared (no cross contamination, please). This made for awkward first date fodder, so I often tried to avoid the subject for as long as possible. Funny enough, my first date with Jordan went so well we decided to grab food and I had to break the gluten-free ice much earlier than normal. Being the kind and caring person he is, it was never a problem.
Nowadays there are plenty more spots to dine gluten-free, but it can still be hard to please your S.O. if they’re craving a carb-heavy meal. Here, some of our favorite date-night spots in NYC for those that have to eat gluten-free (whether it’s to make your partner happy or not).
Best Gluten-Free Date Spots
Friedmans, Multiple Locations
The most glorious of gluten-free spots, Friedmans is probably my favorite restaurant ever. Perfect for both brunch and dinner dates, they have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, so if you’re celiac like me, you can actually eat the fried chicken and waffles listed on the menu (separate fryer, woot!). The food is new American with some old-school Jewish flair (hey pastrami heyyy), and bound to satisfy even the biggest gluten lovers (I said fried chicken and waffles, need I say more?). The best part is there are multiple locations, so it’s convenient to get to from a number of neighborhoods. Be warned, though, they don’t take reservations.
Bistango, Kips Bay
One of New York’s gluten-free institutions, Bistango has that old-school New York Italian restaurant vibe — with plenty of certified gluten-free options. They even serve you warm gluten-free bread before your meal! This Murray Hill icon is super cozy, with warm dim lighting and the scent of fresh garlic setting the tone for an indulgent and very classic New York date night.
Lilli & Loo, Lenox Hill
If you’re craving a low-key night of Chinese and then maybe a movie at home, Lilli and Loo is your spot. Like the other restaurants listed, they have a separate gluten-free fryer, so you can eat your gluten-free sesame chicken in peace. They have a full regular menu, too, so your partner can load up on all the gluten they want.
The Nolita institution is known for its phenomenal pizza, but fun fact: they have an array of gluten-free options including mozzarella sticks. Mozzarella-freaking-sticks. If you’re up for a downtown date night with some of the best pizza and Italian eats in the city — and are willing to wait awhile — there is no place more intimate or delicious.
Zizi Limona, Williamsburg
This Williamsburg treasure has it all: location, cute ass atmosphere, and a bomb menu. There is no dedicated gluten-free kitchen, but they’re very good about noting food allergies, and plenty on the menu (hummus, FTW!) is naturally GF.
Senza Gluten, Greenwich Village
The name says it all: Senza Gluten is another gluten-free haven tucked into tight Greenwich Village streets. While everything on the menu is gluten-free, it’s so delicious your partner shouldn’t mind. Plus, the atmosphere is ultra-romantic.
Otto, Greenwich Village
Have I mentioned too many Italian restaurants? Well there’s a good reason: gluten-free pasta is probably the easiest (and safest) gluten-free substitute for restaurants to incorporate. This Mario Batali institution is one such spot, with decadent cheese plates, gorgeous bowls of pasta and glee-inducing gelato (try the olive oil flavor, you won’t be sorry), making it a date-night must.
By Chloe, Multiple Neighborhoods
The fast casual vegan spot may not be the fanciest date, but damn their gluten-free By Chloe burger and gluten-free mac ‘n’ cheese are sure delicious. Plus, it’s an adorable environment in the heart of Greenwich Village (and Chelsea…and Soho), so you can grab a bite and then go for a romantic stroll around some of Manhattans most desirable neighborhoods.