Toronto, Canada is my hometown and the city where most of my family still lives. It's also an excellent spot for finding gluten free places to eat. My oldest son is medically gluten free, and as such even the smallest amount of cross-contamination can make him sick. While there are plenty of restaurants that fast-food places that offer gluten free options, I'm equally concerned with preparation methods and so the locations I recommend below are ones that have a reputation for knowledgeable food preparation practices. As with all things, sometimes establishments change their ingredients or policies, so always double check before ordering.
1- South St. Burger Co.
My first recommendation is a burger chain. I've included them here because a) burgers are often hard to find gluten free and b) they are great about safe food prep. South Street Burger Co. serve up gluten free patties with the option of a gluten free bun for a small mark-up. They also serve NY Fries, which are gluten free and fried in a separate fryer according to the company website. Finally, they have separate toasters for the bun, and the servers change gloves when preparing it. It's one of the few places my son can have a burger and fries like everyone else, bun and all. Locations vary.
More info at www.southstburger.com
2- Southern Accent
This restaurant serves up "cajun, creole, and soul" food. What I like about them is not only that they have a separate gluten free menu with several options, but right at the top is a statement encouraging customers to let wait staff know if they are Celiac. That is a pretty good indication that they are knowledgeable about Celiac disease and take the need for precaution seriously. It also just looks like a really fun place to eat.
- 595 Markham Street, Toronto
- Open at 5pm, Tues-Sun
3- Riz on Bayview
This Asian eatery has perhaps the biggest gluten free menu I've seen at a location that is not 100% gluten free. They also have gluten free all-you-can-taste menus for lunch and dinner, and the options are incredible. It's the only restaurant I've seen that offers gluten free dim sum in the city, and have a reputation for safe food handling practices when it comes to preparing safe gluten free food.
- 1677 Bayview Ave., Toronto
- Noon-10pm Sun-Thurs, Noon-11pm Fri-Sat
4- Relish Bar and Grill
This tapas bar on the Danforth is home to live music nightly and an extensive gluten free menu at great prices. Not a traditional tapas bar in the sense that it is not a Spanish eatery, but a tapas bar in the spirit of small plates meant to be shared with a crowd. While the notion of shared plates makes most people with Celiac shudder at the thought, this establishment takes gluten free seriously and offers an extensive selection of gluten free options. No more nibbling on that one gluten free option from the menu while everyone else feasts! They also have a wide selection of dairy free and vegan options, and they cater, deliver, and offer take-out.
- 2152 Danforth Ave., Toronto
- Open 11:30am Tues-Sun, and from 4pm Monday
5- Cardinal Rule
Cardinal Rule bills itself as a modern diner offering breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, but with a twist- plenty of gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options are available. They were also featured on an episode of Gotta Eat Here, so you know they're doing something right. The menu is clearly labeled to let diners know what is gluten free, and I was surprised to note just how much is available, including deep fried pickles! From burgers to wraps, eggs every way, to good old nachos, Cardinal Rule is a relaxed place to enjoy a great meal. I have not inquired about whether there is a shared fryer, so please make sure to ask about certain prep practices before ordering.
- 5 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto
- Mon-Fri 11am-11pm, Sat-Sun 10am-11pm
6- Magic Oven
A small chain of Italian eateries that offer a reasonable selection of gluten free pizza, pasta, salad, mains, and desserts. There are locations across the city, and they also offer take-out and delivery. The menu is clearly labeled, and every pizza and sandwich can be made with a gluten free crust or bun. Menus can vary by location but all are available online. Ask at each specific location about practices to avoid cross-contamination. It's nice to have more than one pizza or pasta option available!
- Locations vary. Check website for more information
- Hours vary by location
7- Hibiscus Cafe
This small, family run cafe is located in Toronto's famous Kensington market. The cafe is small, as are most places in Kensignton Market, but cozy and welcoming. The best part? No worries about cross-contamination because it's 100% gluten free! They specialize in buckwheat crepes (buckwheat is gluten free) but also offer a selection of soups, salads, desserts, and most famously, dairy-free ice cream.
- 238 Augusta Ave., Toronto
- Tues-Sun 11:30am-6pm
8- The Burger Cellar
If the idea of a burger and wine bar intrigues you, then this is the place for you. Upscale burgers served up with the option of a gluten free bun, along with an extensive wine list. If burgers aren't your thing, they also offer a variety of mains, as well as milkshakes, bagged lunches, and a kids menu. They do serve up chicken fingers and fried calamari, so be sure to inquire about whether the fryer is shared with the fries for contamination issues.
9- Arepa Cafe
Arepa Cafe is a Venezuelan eatery that specializes in naturally gluten free corn arepas, prepared almost as a grilled cornbread. Served up with a choice of beef, chicken, pork, fish, vegetarian, or cheese, they make a filling and delicious meal. Arepa Cafe also offers a variety of combos and sides to make your meal complete. While much of the menu is gluten free, not all items are, so be sure to ask for confirmation when ordering. They also cater.
- 490 Queen Street West, Toronto
- Mon-Wed 11am-9pm, Thurs-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-8pm
10- Off The Hook Gourmet Co
Gluten Free Fish and Chips! You need more? Fine. This seafood restaurant offers up a variety of seafood dishes such as chowders and crab cakes, as well as Canadian faves like poutine. While not everything is gluten free, it has a reputation for having a great gluten free selection, as well as a dedicated fryer. Make sure to ask about the fryer when ordering, to make sure the practice hasn't changed. Otherwise, dig in! They also offer take-out and delivery.
- 749 Broadview Ave., Toronto
- Mon 4-9pm, Tues-Thurs 11:30-9pm, Fri 11:30-10pm, Sat 11:30-9pm, Sun 12-8pm