Paleo & Gluten Free Restaurants in NYC!
New York City is one of my favorite places on earth. I recently spent 10 days visiting family in NY, four of them in NYC. I was determined to eat everything I possibly could. If you follow my instagram, you know that eat I did.
Prior to my trip I spent a lot of time researching safe places for me to eat. I can’t stress how helpful this is for traveling with a food allergy or diet concern. I’m a complete foodie and want to make each meal count, so I take the extra time to research menus, cross contamination procedures, and reviews before I travel. I mentioned in a previous post, Packing Paleo: Gluten Free Travel Tips that we find it really helpful to program allergy & celiac safe restaurants into google maps on our phones, so no matter what happens (like every subway you need being closed for repairs) it’s super easy to find a safe meal.
I use paleo as a template, not a place of perfection, so some of the reviews will include non paleo foods. While I didn’t stick to strict paleo in the city (cause all the FOOD!), I was extremely careful about eating gluten free. If it’s important for you to eat strict paleo and you can actually resist the gluten free breadsticks from Risoterria sticking to paleo is pretty easy to do. To save you time on the research, here is part one of my favorite Paleo and GF restaurants in the big apple.
795 Columbus Ave. New York, NY (Upper West Side) & locations throughout NYC
From the minute I came across Bareburger in my research, I knew I HAD to eat there and I HAD to try the ostrich. Yes, I just said ostrich. Bareburger has multiple locations throughout NYC, Philadelphia, Toronto, Connecticut, New Jersey, & Ohio serving up organic, grass fed, and pasture raised fare. They stock a wide variety of proteins, including organic grassfed beef & bison, organic uncured hotdogs, cage free poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), and pastured raised meats – elk, ostrich, lamb, & wild boar. For those skipping out on the lovely creature foods, you have the option of a sweet potato & wild rice patty. They also have black bean or quinoa pattiess, but they are not listed as GF.
The gluten free bun options consist of a collard leaf wrap or gluten free tapioca & rice bun. I don’t particularly care for buns as I like to taste my meat so I went with the wrap. It seemed like the leaf was presoaked or slightly steamed which made it a lot more pliable and enjoyable than any collard wrap I’ve ever had before. Although, I’ve never had a collard stuffed with wild boar until then…mmmm. Yeah, I got the boar and not the ostrich. I was super disappointed to find out that they don’t serve ostrich at all the locations, so if you are itching to try it, make sure you dine at one of the locations that serve it. The sweet and nutty flavor of wild boar is one of my favorites and Bareburger cooked up a patty that was juicy and full of flavor.
You have two options for your burger – you can build your own or choose one of their speciality burgers. While the speciality options looked great, Gary and I both built our own. You are given a list and choose your patty, bun, cheese, bacon, veggies, sauce, and spread. Two words… DUCK BACON! Yes, they have duck bacon. I had to ignore the $3+ up charge when ordering, but it was worth every penny. Other options are country bacon or brisket.
Sides are called Bare Shares and ordered a la carte. We had the sweet potato and french fry bowl, along with an order of spicy pickles. The fries came served with specially made dipping sauces, but because of my allergy elimination diet I unfortunately had to skip out on the curry ginger ketchup. Gary ate every last drop, so it surely didn’t go to waste. They use a non-gmo canola oil for fries, so if you are strict paleo or don’t tolerate canola oil you need to skip them. I ate enough fries for 10 people, so it all works out.
The Bareburger menu has a disclaimer about cross contamination, stating that the gluten free items are not recommended for people with celiac disease and those with sensitivities should exercise judgement in consuming these foods. Normally this would send me running in the opposite direction as I am sensitive to the slightest bit of CC, but after a lot of internet research and talking to the staff I was completely comfortable with my meal. The waitress explained that they state it for legal reasons (she even recited it when I asked about procedures), but they have not had a problem and do take the proper precautions in the kitchen. The kitchen was also in view, so if you have that gluten hawk eye you can use it.
I will be sure to visit Bareburger again the next time I head to NY. Quality sourced ingredients, a wide array of options, great service, and killer ambiance. The walls were lined with paintings of animal heads on human bodies. I couldn’t ask for a better meal from a burger joint. Cause DUCK BACON! Considering the quality ingredients they were pretty fairly priced for a sit down NY restaurant meal, about $20-$30 a person for a burger and sides.
Hu Kitchen (dedicated gluten free)
78 5th Ave. New York, NY
No worries about eating here my paleo friends, Hu Kitchen is the paleo mecca.
When you walk in you immediately know you are in the right place – music, yoga clothes, cross fitters, a juice bar, butter coffee, and an amazing selection of paleo foods. Hu is set up cafeteria style with different bars for different options – coffee, juice/smoothie, mash, entrees, bowls, and a deli counter style prepared foods section. They also carry shelf stable grab and go snacks. We frequented Hu on our last trip to NY and ate there twice this time around. The entire restaurant is gluten free which means no cross contamination concerns. The entire menu is dairy and grain-free unless noted. They also use quality fats, including coconut oil and they DO NOT use canola oil! Since I don’t eat out often I don’t get hung up on canola oil, but it’s so refreshing to see restaurants considering the role of fat when creating their menu. Hu has more than just a tasty menu, they have a great philosophy and mission. Hu Kitchen aims to serve foods for humans, with the utmost respect for both the ingredients and nutrition. According to their website, Hu is based off of 8 basic pillars that helps them to get back to the human way of eating ‘without sacrificing the sensual experience of eating delicious food.’ Learn more about these pillars here.
- Count ingredients, not calories
- Pull plants, push animals
- Minimize grains, always whole
- Embrace fat (INSERT KRISTINA HAPPY DANCE!)
- Get back to animal too
- Sweeten wisely
- Eat clean
As with any New York City restaurant, Hu isn’t all that big and can get crazy busy. On our first visit to Hu last year I trekked upstairs to the dining area. It was just as paleo as the food, because it was sardines, PACKED! I might have been lacking sleep & slightly hung over as I walked right into a mirror wall (next to a couple eating in the corner) thinking it was an extension to the dining area. It definitely wasn’t an extension, and that person that looked so much like me, was me. Duh. Don’t do that. Especially holding a tray of food.
A trip to Hu isn’t complete without stocking up on their chocolate bars – no cane sugar, no soy lecithin, no refined sugar, no gluten, no emulsified, no GMO, and 100% delicious. They also sell them on their website and in select Whole Food’s in the north east.
Hu Kitchen is the only paleo themed restaurant in the city, yet it is one of the most affordable places to dine. A generous sized entree with sides will set you back less than $15. Unless you are eating from a food cart or pizza oven, there aren’t very many meals in NY for that price, especially with ingredients that have been sourced responsibly. For groups of four I recommend the 4 entree + 4 side deal for only $38.95 – less than $10 per person! I’ve been able to try menu items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and they are all wonderful in their own right. The jordy cakes, sausage, & juice were the perfect post bar crawl pick me up . This time around we laid off the bars, and mirrors, and visited Hu for dinner. Gary and I both chose the wild meatloaf made with 100% grass fed organic ground beef, wild elk, and Berkshire pork. I added on a side of caramelized pineapples and a root veggie mash. Gary grabbed some of the grain free bread. If you don’t go there for anything else, try the pineapples! They are mouth explosions.
We also stopped in one day to grab a quick lunch from the bowl bar. Part of Hu’s appeal is the build your own options…. yes I have control issues. I started with a raw vegetable medley base and topped it with organic moroccan chicken garnished with thinly sliced red onion, cilantro, and hot sauce. Gary skipped the idea of lunch and went right to the pineapples drizzled with a cashew cream. Soooo good.
The Little Beet (dedicated GF)
135 West 50th Street, Between 6th & 7th Ave, New York, NY (Midtown)
For someone with celiac disease or a severe gluten sensitivity, dining in a dedicated gluten free restaurant is such a relief – no question and answer session prior to ordering, no worry distracting the experience, and no chance of getting sick. The entire The Little Beet menu is 100% gluten free…and guiltin’ free. They operate on the premise of serving real food deliciously, inspired by local, seasonal, and natural ingredients. Holding true to real food and transparency the website includes a list of food sources and farms.
I was really hoping to make it to The Little Beet for lunch, but our plans didn’t work out and we found ourselves there for breakfast. Unless you ditch the bun or only grab a juice, there are no substantial paleo options for breakfast. The breakfast menu includes oatmeal, avocado toast, or your choice of breakfast sandwich on a brown rice wrap or gluten free bun. Lunch & dinner can easily be ordered paleo as they have the create your plate option with some great vegetable sides. I find that if I build my own plate by only choosing the paleo ingredients I don’t feel deprived at all, but if I order straight from a menu and sub in paleo options I do. It seems like the same thing, but sometimes that little flip in perspective can make all the difference for staying on track.
If you build your own you have the choice of soup & sides, just sides, protein & sides, or a salad & protein. Protein options include chicken, steak, salmon, & tofu while side dishes include quinoa, lentils, cabbage with soba noodles, charred broccoli, charred string beans, charred kale, roasted sweet potatoes, or charred cauliflower. Does anyone else just LOVE their veggies charred?! If you prefer to order straight from the menu they have a few regular options as well as a rotating seasonal menu. The Little Beet also dishes out cold pressed juice and a good variety of gluten free baked goods. I’m not a juice person but the ‘wake up call’ spinach, mango, pineapple, avocado, & lemon juice was a nice & refreshing boost paired with the heaviness of the breakfast sandwich I devoured….and maybe that blueberry donut as well.
The Little Beet is great for a quick, healthy (sans donut), grab & go meal. It’s also affordable, cashing in around $10-$15 depending on your protein choice. I recommend grabbing your food and walking across the street to the nearby park & waterfall to enjoy a little bit of ambiance and nature in the heart of New York City.
Be sure to check back next week for Part 2 of Dining Out: Paleo and Gluten Free Restaurants NYC. I’ll be highlighting some of the best Asian and Italian foods I’ve ever had along with great NY snack spots and activities. Click here to subscribe by email and make sure you don’t miss it!