Updated 2014: Where to Eat Gluten Free in Hamilton, ON
Eating Gluten Free (especially if you have Celiac Disease contamination issues) is never easy. I have lived in Hamilton for a couple years now, and although I don't know ALL the places, here are some local restaurants where you should be able to eat safely. This list has been updated from last years blog post, with new restaurants I have tried and some recommendations from people who have emailed me. Thanks for all your suggestions!
If you think somewhere is gluten free, but it's not listed here, you can email me. Some places have gluten free items that I would NOT recommend for someone with an allergy or celiac disease. Alternatively, maybe I have missed somewhere and would be happy to add a new place to this list!
GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS
10 Cannon St E, Hamilton, ON L8L 1Z5
I eat here at least once a week. The soups change daily and are labelled with a "C" when they are celiac-friendly. Instead of a bun on the side, they have the option of an apple or veggie sticks. Another bonus: the fries are gluten free, as they are the only thing to enter the deep frier. They also carry Rudy's Paleta's, which are popsicles and ice creams that are all gluten free and packaged separately.
I recommend: Soup! They change all the time but there is always a range of delicious options. I often get a small soup and a small fries.
194 Locke Street South, Hamilton, ON L8P 4B4
Chuck's Burgers are gluten free. You can't find it on the website, and nobody replied to my email asking about it, but they do also have a gluten free deep frier. They have gluten free buns, but frankly... I've found the buns disappointing. They kind of crumble to bits after the first bite. Still, it's awesome to have a burger (out of the house!) and the fries are amazeballs. Kind of like Swiss Chalet fries. I think the menu contains sweet potato fries, but unfortunately, those are no good for celiacs (wrong fryer).
I recommend: trying a crazy burger combo. You can choose your toppings and what kind of burger (lamb, bacon, beef, etc). And the fries. Of course.
236 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8R 2L2
Not really a full restaurant, but the green smoothies are delicious and all gluten free. They also have a bunch of vegan, organic, gluten free meals to go (and usually one or two hot items).
I recommend: The smoothies. So yummy and healthy!
486 James St. N, Hamilton, ON
I haven't eaten here since I was diagnosed but I have heard good things from a fellow Celiac (Thanks, James!). I promise to update this once I know more.
27 King William St, Hamilton, ON L8R 1A1
I've posted about this one before, but here it is for the record! They have freshly roasted coffee, lots of drinks, and some gluten free baked items that normally I can't eat because they are too close to gluten items for my liking. However, they will make you up a gluten free meal, and seem pretty well versed on contamination issues.
I recommend: All day breakfast with gluten free toast and some freshly roasted espresso beans.
107 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8R2K4
This place is amazing! For gluten free mexican food, you can't beat Mex-i-can. Most items are gluten free, and made in house (even the corn tortillas). Avoid items in wheat tortilla shells, for obvious reasons, but don't worry about contamination because they don't make the wheat shells in house. Also, I must have eaten here more than 30 times and I've never gotten sick. The staff are super friendly, and they always remember my food preferences. The atmosphere is distinctly NOT on the fancy side, but the food comes in large portions.
I recommend: getting a main dish instead of the appetizer versions because the bean dip and rice are delicious, the quesadillas, the flautas, and also everything else. You can have the tortilla chips and the sauce they bring to the table, so knock yourself out.
824 King St W, Hamilton, ON L8S 1K3 (Hamilton)
835 Paramount Dr, Stoney Creek, ON L8J0B4 (Stoney Creek)
Valentino's is Italian food. I've only been once, but it was super yummy and filling. I got the gluten free pasta, because the waitress recommended that for people with serious food allergies, the pizza oven might not be safe enough? Has anyone else tried the pizza? They also have gluten free gelato. They scraped the top layer off the gelato, just in case any gluten had fallen in it, so you can also ask for that.
I recommend: The gelato. Ah-mazing.
970 Upper James Street Hamilton, ON, L9C 3A5
I haven't been here yet, but this is a recommendation from a reader, Kim (thanks, Kim!). According to the menu, you can get your pasta dishes made with rice pasta, and apparently they have been quite good about cross-contamination. I can't wait to try this one!
65 Mall Rd, Hamilton, ON
The address I listed here is near Limeridge Mall but there is another location in Burlington (where the hyperlink goes to) that also serves gluten free food, and we have eaten at both. The Hamilton Mountain/Limeridge Mall location is takeout ONLY. We have enjoyed the fried rice (the chicken is our favourite), Beef with Almonds, Honey Garlic Spare Ribs, and a couple curry dishes. They can mostly accommodate anything with soy or curry based sauces (they have gluten free soy sauce), but nothing with breading or the deep frier. I would recommend not going on a friday or saturday evening, as I think it's harder for them to accommodate allergies in the crazy weekend dinner rush.
I recommend: the Chicken Fried Rice and Beef with Almonds.
1300 Garth Street, Unit #1, Hamilton, ON L9C 4L7
This is another restaurant I haven't tried (also suggested by Kim!). The menu does have lots of gluten free options listed, and she mentioned that they were good about allergies there.
2251 Rymal E, Stoney Creek, ON L8J 2V8
We eat here occasionally, as it's owned by the same people that own The Powerhouse (that we love!). The Powerhouse is, I think, more suited to eating gluten free safely, but the Vicar's Vice does have gluten free pizza crust (not listed on the menu), and they have always managed to feed me safely (although sometimes it takes a while for the food to get to the table!).
I recommend: The pepperoni & cheese pizza with garlic oil instead of tomato sauce... so yummy!
21 Jones St Hamilton, ON L8G 3H9
We eat here ALL the time, and they also catered our wedding. They have gluten free pizza and gluten free pasta. They are also able to make many of the menu items gluten free and have a gluten free menu (you just have to ask for it). I usually get the Canadian pizza with a gluten free crust. Note that some of the items on the gluten free menu share a deep fryer with other menu items, and are contaminated (sweet potato fries, for instance)... so watch out for that. Just explain to the wait staff if you have contamination issues. The kitchen does understand how to keep things separate, and I have never gotten sick there.
I recommend: The pizza. They let me mix and match the toppings, although that wasn't an option on the menu. It's a thin and crispy crust, just the way I like it!
GLUTEN FREE CHAIN RESTAURANTS
75 Centennial Pkwy N, Stoney Creek, ON L8E 2P2
Imagine my surprise when I heard about this one! Most chains have a really terrible way of treating people with food problems but I've eaten at this Jack Astor's three times without getting ill. You can ask the staff for details on what is available, and if there are questions, they can print out a kind of receipt with all the listed allergens for every dish. We found that helpful, because we could go through and cross off or write notes on what to remove before ordering.
I recommend: The nachos (we had them remove the cheese sauce, not because it had gluten, but because cheese sauce is nasty), and the pad thai.
1170 Upper James Street, Hamilton, Ontario L9C 3B1
The Keg has served me faithfully many times. Usually upon arrival you ask to speak to the manager, who will bring you an allergy guide/menu breakdown and sometimes a kitchen manager/chef. Depending on the size and newness of the Keg, they will have a separate prep area for allergies as well as maybe a deep fryer? Either way, you can get a steak and twice baked potato, no problem. Just watch for the nachos (Keg nachos! So good! Agh!), because the chips are made in house, and then you have to watch for the deep fryer. Also, the bacon bits are gluten free.
I recommend: Twice baked potatoes, steak and creme brulee.
151 York Blvd, Hamilton, ON
To my surprise, Swiss Chalet has proved to be a gluten free boon in hunger emergencies. The chicken, ribs, chalet sauce, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes and veggies are all gluten free. You just need to alert them that you have an allergy and ask them to change the gloves and cutting boards, and to package your food in a separate bag (if you are getting food to go). So far so good with their track record, too... I've eaten at Swiss Chalet more than a dozen times this year and haven't gotten sick yet!
I recommend: Quarter chicken and mashed potatoes! Yum!
So that's all for now! I expect I will be updating this fairly soon, as new places seem to open every week! Definitely let me know if you have any additions or warnings about certain places - The more we all share, the better!