When I was a kid my Aunt and Uncle took my into NYC to see the sights. I remember two parts of that day like it was yesterday; a homeless man drinking out of the horse fountain, with a horse, and a rat in the subway. 10 year old Kristina wasn’t hard to impress. Now my NY visits focus on cramming in all the food humanely possible, because NY = foodie heaven. It’s also one of the only places that I can eat out without worry, close to what a dining experience was like before Celiac.
Last week I took you to Bareburger, Hu Kitchen, and The Little Beet; three of my favorite places to dine gluten free and paleo-ish in New York City. If you missed that check it out here: Dining Out: Paleo & Gluten Free Restaurants in NYC Part 1. Today we’re going for sushi, chinese, italian, some treats, and potatoes. All the potatoes. Hope you are hungry!
Lilli & Loo
792 Lexington Ave (between 61st & 62nd Streets)
Hubby and I treat NY like a food mission. Our first objective was straight up sushi. Safe Asian cuisine isn’t easy to come by back home so whenever we have the opportunity we take it, fully. Our original plan was to check into the hotel, grab a few items from the store, and then pick up some take out for a nice romantic lunch in Central Park. As always, New York City had other plans for us and all the subway lines we needed to get to the store and restaurant were closed for the weekend. After a walk that made my fitness tracker overheat and two hours later than expected, we finally made it to the restaurant. And boy were we hungry. We decided we got enough of the park on our trek over, skipped the takeout, and dined in. We probably should have stuck to the plan because hubby spilled a cup of soy sauce all over himself and the table. We had quite the laugh, especially being that he did the same exact thing the last time we ate here! He just gets THAT excited for sushi. I was also pretty excited and completely forgot to snap a picture until half our rolls were gone. FAIL!
We started by sharing 2 rolls from the gluten free sushi menu. I chose the Tuna Lover; spicy tuna and avocado topped with fresh tuna and pomegranate vinaigrette and Gary went for the Rainbow Volcano; yellow tail and jalapeno topped with assorted raw fish and avocado in a spicy aioli sauce. Both rolls were refreshing with a crunchy pop, but the pomegranate vinaigrette definitely hit the spot for me. I’m on a pomegranate kick right now and when I get on a food kick…forget it. I think I’ve eaten half the world’s plantains in the last 4 months, with the world’s pomegranate seeds a close second.
Shortly after my last bite of sushi I found my face buried in a plate of Borneo Orange Chicken. I’m still dreaming about it. Unlike a lot of gluten free breaded foods, the coating was perfectly balanced; not too thick, not too thin, crunchy. From my research they do use corn in the breading, but if you call ahead they can make it with arrowroot flour instead. Everything about this dish was intoxicating, leaving me wanting more and more. The inclusion of orange peels really brings the citrus flavor up a notch. Definitely one to try. It was served with white rice and steamed broccoli.
Lilli & Loo works in conjunction with the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and are very well versed in safe allergy and celiac friendly dining. On our first visit last year the waiter pointed out every common allergen in our meals to make sure nothing would affect us. To ensure no cross contamination allergy safe foods are prepared in a segregated part of the kitchen. Gluten free soy sauce is available, but if you are following paleo or don’t tolerate soy then bring your own coconut aminos.
We definitely hit NY on a budget, counting Lilli & Loo as one of our ‘splurge’ meals. They were one of the more expensive places we visited, but the portions were generous enough that we saved some money by splitting everything and still left full. If you make it before 4 on a weekday you can order from the gluten free special lunch menu and dine for under $15. We got there at 4:10. Thanks subways.
Burlap Sack Potato Eatery (dedicated gluten free)
507 Third Avenue (corner of 34st and 3rd Ave.)
This place is genius. Straight up genius. Potato is in the name so I really shouldn’t have to say much else, but I have to tell you all about it cause it was so freaking good. It’s for the best that I don’t live in NY because if I did I’d turn into a potato. Or a burlap sack. Or a potato in a burlap sack.
The week after Gary and I stayed in NYC alone we took the train back in and visited for a day with my pre-teen cousins. I told them about Burlap Sack in advance and all week they talked about how they were going to eat ‘at the potato place.’ It was an absolute hit. We dragged them all over Manhattan & Brooklyn, winding down our day with 2 barely upright kids for dinner at Burlap. I’m still wondering what special ingredients are in those potatoes because near comatose kids popped alive after eating there – alive enough to keep going until 2 in the morning.
Fast, casual, but delicious, you can easily eat paleo at Burlap Sack. The entire restaurant is gluten free so there are no cross contamination concerns. You start with your choice of base and build your own creation. Base options include a baked potato (traditional or sweet), fries (traditional or sweet), baked potato medallions, rice, or tater tots. All fries are fresh, hand cut in the restaurant daily. While your tater tots are totting, cause you know you picked tater tots, a friendly potato person will guide you around the counter as you choose your toppings. Poultry is free-range and organic, beef & pork is responsibility raised, and vegetables are non-gmo. All sauces are made fresh on-site, without preservatives or any food coloring. Score! Your first topping choice is protein – grilled chicken, ground turkey mini meatballs, grilled steak, or slow cooked pork. Next up is type of cheese and then unlimited vegetables. Everything gets tossed in a bowl before finding it’s way atop your taters, making sure you have all that deliciousness in every bite. Now that you have a giant mountain of veggies on your plate you get your pick pick of homemade sauce. Choices include a variety of aiolis, marinara, buffalo, sour cream, and real cheese queso. Unlike my pre-paleo Subway days, Burlap Sack is super generous with their sauces, even asking hubby if he wanted more – he chose 2!
I had grilled steak over tater tots completely garlic-fied. I smelled of garlic for days and it was awesome. I topped mine with cheddar, broccoli, red onions, scallions, fresh pressed garlic, chives, and garlic aioli. Hubs had the slow cooked pork over sweet fries with chipotle aioli, sour cream, cheddar, and more vegetables than normal. Even the kids loaded up on the vegetables. Apparently potatoes make people want to eat their veggies!
Burlap Sack is crazy affordable, 4 of us dining for $43 including drinks. Potatoes start just over $7 and the price increases depending on your choice of meat. Burlap also has a great view of the Empire State Building. We were so consumed by the heaps of delicious food in front of us that we didn’t notice until we left. I didn’t even notice the coke my husband was drinking either….ick.
Upper West Side: Amsterdam Ave @ 78th Street
West Village: 270 Bleecker St @ Morton
Risotteria was the first real sit down restaurant meal in which I didn’t get sick after my celiac diagnosis so it holds a dear place in my heart. Bleecker Street, the West Village original location, has a charm quite unlike anywhere I’ve been. Staff members wear anti-gluten themed shirts and tables are so crammed together that they have to pull them out to seat you. It’s true NYC dining. As much as we love the vibe of West Village, we were thrilled to find that a second location opened up about a 10 minute walk from our hotel.
Aside from the creamy and perfectly cooked risotto, Risotteria is famous for their breadsticks. They are better than any ‘real’ breadstick I’ve ever had. Although I knew I would pay for it dearly because of the yeast, I just couldn’t resist. They were as tasty as I remember, crunchy on the outside, and fluffy soft on the inside – the perfect accompaniment to sop up my cheesy risotto.
We started our meal with an Original Sin Cider and a salad with fresh mozzarella, oven roasted tomato, red onion & balsamic vinaigrette. Simple, but bursting with flavor, I convinced myself that everything I was about to eat was 100% on target because the light & refreshing greens outweighed it all. I’ve had the pleasure of trying a few risotto’s on the menu, but this time I went with my favorite, shrimp with garlic, roasted peppers, and spinach + add all the mozzarella. Gary had a calamari with roasted garlic and it took everything I had to not eat his too! The servings were much bigger than I remember from the West Village location, large enough that Gary and I would have been more than satisfied splitting one. We were too full for dessert, so we grabbed an Orio Cakester, Risotteria’s play on an Oreo for later. It didn’t make it to later. We killed it the minute we got back to the hotel and unbuttoned our jeans.
Risotteria is not a completely gluten free restaurant as they serve gluten containing pizza and paninis. They have no problems controlling for cross contamination as gluten is treated like the odd ball in their kitchen, not the reverse. I completely forgot to notify the wait staff of my Celiac and I did not get sick at all. I think this just shows how comfortable I feel eating there, so much so that my normal gluten hawk eye was completely at rest. It’s so refreshing to enjoy a meal ‘like a normal person,’ but next time I go I will definitely still notify the staff. I was just so at ease that I truly forgot about my celiac for a short moment.
An appetizer, drinks, 2 risottos, and a dessert set us back less than $80. It’s definitely more expensive than what we would normally spend for the two of us, but worth every penny as part of the NY experience. The service was impeccable and we enjoyed people watching from our patio table.
No vacation is complete without treats. Below are some of my favorite paleo and gluten free treats.
Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Company
25 East 17th Street (NW corner of Union Square)
Fruit disguised as ice cream, Chloe’s is a perfect stop for a hot day walking around New York City. Nestled in Union Square, it’s in a great location for grabbing a treat and strolling through or resting in the park. All soft serve flavors are vegan and gluten free, consisting of only 3 ingredients – real fruit, water, and a touch of organic cane sugar. They are free of the 8 major allergens. Flavors change daily, with banana, blood orange, blueberry, cranberry, dark chocolate, mango, pear, pineapple, plum, pumpkin, raspberry, strawberry, and tangerine in rotation. Toppings seemed endless and GF options included fresh fruit, sprinkles, gluten free cookies, chocolate, and nuts. I was surprised to find GF carob chips, which was nice as I am supposed to avoid chocolate. They do have some gluten containing items in the toppings area so you may want to ask for fresh toppings or stick to the fruit side. I tried plum & mango, and also nabbed a sample of pineapple. I really enjoyed the sweet sweet mango, but plum had to be my favorite.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery (Babycakes NYC)
248 Broome St. (Corner of Broome St & Ludlow)
Erin McKenna, a well respected entrepreneur, baker, and cook book author knows how to make a gluten free treat. So much so that she has successful allergen free bakeries in 3 states. This bakery is not for the strict paleo, but a wonderland for someone with allergies as she avoids gluten, soy, dairy, and egg. 100% gluten free, vegan, and kosher, Erin McKenna’s Bakery is nestled between The Bowery and Chinatown. It’s an interesting neighborhood with 20 year olds swimming in fire hydrant fueled kiddie pools and colorful street art lining the buildings. Don’t be deterred by the sticker shock of a $4 donut, it’s dense and cakey and you will love every bite.
Gluten Free NYC
77 West 85th St (Between Columbus Ave & Central Park West)
GF NYC is the gluten free foodie & Celiac grocery store heaven. Luckily they were only a short walk from our hotel, so we took a stroll on our last day to see if they had anything worthy of taking home. The walls are lined with gluten free products, most of which I had never heard of. The center display has grab and go treat options. We chose some cookies for our walk back. I was thrilled to finally find Artisan Tropic chips and bought a bag of cinnamon plantains and cassava to take home. They even were giving out samples of them! I was a bit surprised at how tiny the store was, but everything in NY is tiny.
There are Whole Foods all over the city. We stocked up our hotel room with fresh fruit, root vegetable chips, dried mango, and a few GF treats. After visiting the green market at Union Square we stopped into Whole Foods to grab some additional items for lunch and had a picnic in Union Square Park. At the WF’s in Columbus Circle we found Kombrewcha that they don’t stock at home. Whole Foods is always worth a trip in new cities as they carry a lot of locale specific items.
We didn’t get here this time, but this dedicated GF bakery is great spot to grab an inexpensive quick lunch (hot panini) and GF treat.
Located in Chelsea Market, they serve up a killer BLAT (Bacon, avocado, lettuce, & tomato) sandwich on gluten free bread. Grab it to go and enjoy it while people watching on the High Line. I heard there is now a Times Square location, but I avoid Times Square like it’s the plague.
Most of all just enjoy every second of being in New York City. There is really no place like it! And eat some potatoes for me!