Vancouver is a city known for its foodie culture (which is good, because the cost of living here has driven most other culture out of the city…). People eat out often in Vancouver and restaurants abound. Knowledge of Celiac disease and gluten-free awareness is high in the city. At any restaurant you go to, your server will almost certainly understand your dietary needs and will be happy to help you out. That being said, I have had three cases of severe gluten poisoning – mostly the result of uninformed staff. I get it, Celiac is a confusing and difficult to manage disease. As a resident of this beautiful, rainy city, I have put together a gluten-free guide to Vancouver to help you have the best dining out experience. Laura and I have personally eaten at all of these budget friendly restaurants, more than once, so our opinions are on the up.
Gluten-Free Guide to Vancouver
You would be hard pressed to find a restaurant in Vancouver that couldn’t accommodate your gluten-free diet at some level. If you’re a carnivore, eating out will be even easier. But, if you’re a vegetarian, menus become considerably less abundant in choices. Almost all major restaurants will say they have a gluten-free menu, but this is often little more than a list of their salads. Cactus Club, for example, has literally one thing on their gluten-free menu I can eat. Even then, I have to order their pecan salad without the pecans. Still, while not everywhere has a great selection, you won’t starve.
But part of the fun of eating out is trying new things! It is such a treat for a gluten-free person to be able to open a menu and have options! The following list of restaurants are either entirely gluten-free or have a ton of gluten-free options. Many of them are vegan as well, or at least have vegan options. These places are worth seeking out and, if you’re in Vancouver and want to experience local culture, restaurants are a great place to do it!
This guide is broken down into two sections – bakeries and restaurants – for your perusing convenience. A few of these places are not in Vancouver proper, but are still worth mentioning. If you are wanting to try the quintessentially Canadian dish of poutine -as you well should – also check out my Gluten-Free Poutine in Vancouver post.
Gluten-Free Bakeries in Vancouver
The Gluten-Free Epicurean Hands down, our favourite gluten-free bakery…in Vancouver at least. They have a huge selection of both sweet and savoury items, as well as frozen goodies to take home. This place is so good, I wrote a whole article about it (The Gluten-Free Epicurean: The Best Gluten-Free Bakery in Vancouver). Check it out for our complete review!
Lemonade This is a sweet little bakery on Cambie St. They have an excellent selection of breads, cakes, and other little nibbles. Quality is good here, but the location means we don’t visit often.
Panne Rizo We like to come to this bakery to grab a yummy sandwich on the way to the beach. They have some sweet stuff too, but their savoury items are what they are better known for.
Edible Flours Laura goes here often as it’s close to her office. You would think she would bring home treats for me as well, but alas, some days I must accept I am not constantly the centre of her world. Everything here is vegan and they have an extensive gluten-free selection. Knowledgeable about cross-contamination, they make sure to keep a clean kitchen.
Cartems This famous donuterie is not entirely gluten-free, but it is such a treat to find a gluten-free donut that I couldn’t pass it over. My favourite here is the honey parmesan donut, but they usually have a selection of a few different flavours. If there is a flavour you would like to try, but it’s not available gluten-free, you can request one to be made and they will set it aside for you the next morning when they’re cooking up a fresh batch.
Smallflower Associated with The Wallflower restaurant, this bakery shut its doors recently. You can still find them at farmer’s markets or order online though.
Two Daughters Bakeshop Located in North Vancouver, we haven’t tested this bakery out yet – let us know how it is if you go! Their vegan and gluten-free wares are available at numerous locations throughout Vancouver as well.
Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery Located in New Westminster, you’re not likely to stumble across this one. However, it’s right at the New Westminster Quay which is a bit of a tourist attraction. (My mind was completely blown when I found out New Westminster had the largest tin soldier in the world. IN THE WORLD! Bam!). We have had a lot of desserts from this bakery because I have family in New West and they love making sure they have treats for us – and I love them for it! I have yet to encounter a dessert here I don’t like.
Zena’s Gluten-Free Bakery There is really no reason to go to Maple Ridge. We only know about this place because Laura grew up here and our favourite hair stylist works out this way. Still, if you’re heading out of Vancouver, you might want to consider a detour to this bakery. Their bagels and cinnamon buns are to die for! Just get there early before they’re all gone.
Gluten-Free Restaurants in Vancouver
Chickpea This is our favourite restaurant at the moment. It is entirely vegan and the only gluten-containing item on their menu is pita bread (and some beverages and desserts) – which they will happily substitute out for chickpea fries at no additional cost. Chickpea fries?! Yeppers. They are amazing. The food quality here is super overall and, despite the niche market they are catering too, it is one of the better Lebanese restaurants in town. If you’re a person with a big stomach, you will love it here. They have sharing platters that come with bottomless side dishes (the eggplant is divine). Trust me though, you will fill up quickly.
MeeT This vegan restaurant was our favourite until we discovered Chickpea. The burger selection here is so incredible though, it is still our go-to place for the perfect combination of greasy and healthy. Seriously, they have like a dozen vegan burgers with my favourite being the Angry Burg – a veggie patty battered in gluten-free beer batter, deep-fried, and then lathered in hot sauce. They also have a great selection of French fry dishes. Their menu is about 95% gluten-free.
Scandalicious Get here before 11am on the weekends if you don’t want to stand in line. This is the breakfast place to come to if you’re gluten-free. There’s a huge selection of sweet and savoury waffles, as well as a few other treats – the giant cream puffs are mouth-watering and sell out quickly! Read my more in-depth review here.
The Wallflower One of the first restaurants in Vancouver to offer a substantial gluten-free menu – complete with gluten-free desserts. Not a ton of vegetarian recipes, but enough that you will have some choice. The Wallflower is pretty much a burger joint, but they also have a yummy brunch menu. I like the dessert waffles. And, yes, you can have dessert waffles for breakfast if you want!
Bandidas If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if hipsters got a hold of tacos, now is your chance to find out! While they have a selection of Mexican-inspired dishes, the tacos are where it’s at here. We’re talking stuffings along the lines of squash, tofu, and yams. It’s not a traditional taco by any means, but definitely super delicious! The Pete & Bit nachos loaded with goat cheese aren’t a bad choice either…
La Taquiera I have eaten a lot of tacos. Like, a lot. La Taquiera is our favourite place when we’re craving a more traditional taco. They have several options for vegetarians, with plenty of meats for carnivores as well. Sal y Limón is also a great taco place, but they don’t have much of a vegetarian selection.
Iki Sushi Ever since our trip to Japan, we have become hyper aware of how much gluten could be hidden in Japanese food. Sushi restaurants are as ubiquitous in Vancouver as coffee shops, so it’s such a treat to have one that is entirely gluten-free. All the things you never thought you would eat again – like tempura and teriyaki – are on menu here. The service is impeccable as well. The price point is a bit higher than the usual budget sushi place, but the quality is worth it. Located in Kitsilano, this is a great restaurant if you’re visiting the beach.
Jam Jar A more traditional Lebanese restaurant than Chickpea, the flavours in the dishes here are outstanding. Pita bread can be substituted out for gluten-free options for a small additional charge.
The Reef This Caribbean restaurant has existed ever since I moved to Vancouver, and I’ve been eating here almost as long. So, I’m pretty bored of the menu now, but they do have gluten-free options as well as tofu substitutions for meat. The jerk poutine just might be my favourite poutine ever…
Storm Crow Tavern I’m including this nerdy, game-themed restaurant because I used to love it for its gluten-free options as well as its price point. Prices have gone up and, last time I checked, their deep-fried pickles were no longer gluten-free, but they still have a decent selection of fried, pub-like foods. If you’re into board games, you will love it here. They have a selection of games you can play at your table, and you’re welcome to bring your own as well. They also have other nerdy-themed events happening if you’re into Buffy, The X-Files and such things (I am). Be forewarned though, I did get severely glutened here when a server insisted the gravy on my poutine was gluten-free. The menu is quite clear on gluten-related matters, but I had asked if I could get their new gravy gluten-free. The server said ‘yes,’ but it was definitely not.
Harambe There are plenty of little Ethiopian restaurants kicking around Vancouver, especially on the east side. I have tried two of them and this is the one that didn’t have me puking for hours and convulsing on the bathroom floor. I’ve written a separate review for this restaurant if you feel like checking it out.
St. Augustine’s A more upscale craft brew pub, there aren’t a ton of gluten-free options here. However, they do have gluten-free pizzas (flatbread style) as well as what counts as a decent selection in Vancouver of ciders. (Cider is taxed differently here than beer and is more expensive to produce which is why you can’t find it every where like you can in Portland).
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