The Dish: 10 Gluten-Free-Friendly Places

Whether you eat gluten-free due to an allergy or for lifestyle reasons, there are plenty of local restaurants and businesses that can cater to your needs.

Lola’s Blue Farm’s gluten-free fish and chips, clam cakes and shrimp.

Dining out is easier than it used to be for those with restrictive diets. Whether you eat gluten-free due to an allergy or for lifestyle reasons, there are plenty of local restaurants and businesses that can cater to your needs. But you don’t need to stick to strict nutrition in order to enjoy these gluten-free foods or restaurants; the recipes and dishes are delicious no matter what type of diet you follow.

Here are some of our favorite gluten-free-friendly businesses:

  1. Lola’s Blue Farm

A 1977 Volkswagen Bus serves up some great New England fare with an entirely gluten-free twist, including fish and chips, fried oysters, clam cakes and fried shrimp made using a chia seed, panko and corn batter. The business was founded by Christina Scotti after she discovered she had celiac disease and didn’t want to miss out on eating her favorite foods. “My whole father’s side of the family is from Rhode Island, and the idea of never being able to have traditional New England food in the summers again was sad to me, until I thought about creating a new option,” Scotti says. The former reporter covered entrepreneurship and was inspired by the various budding business owners she interviewed around the country. In turn, she decided to launch a small business of her own. Scotti adapted a ’70s VW bus because she loves the music from that era and the sense of freedom and adventure the bus connotes, and she named it after her dog, Lola. Find the bus at its main spot at the seawall in Narragansett on Saturdays starting July 1, and at this summer’s Newport folk and jazz festivals. It is the first gluten-free truck to be at these events!

  1. Two Little Buns

This little bakery pops up at the Hope Street, Armory and Goddard Park farmers markets selling gluten-free and vegan baked goods. Baker Jessica Sullivan’s line of snacks, treats and breads rivals the texture and flavors of traditional versions. Sullivan, who is gluten-intolerant, decided to launch the business after being unable to find good bread to meet her dietary needs. She creates a four-flour blend using ingredients from Bob’s Red Mill (made in a gluten-free facility), including organic brown rice flour, organic oats, tapioca flour and potato flour, and mixes them all together for her dough base. Bread varieties include bare bread, basil, country herb, dill, garlic rosemary, onion chive, molasses oat and sandwich rolls. There are various gluten-free snacks including cheesy crunchers and pizza crunchers, honey and maple grahams, bread crumbs and croutons. For those with a sweet tooth, try cinnamon rolls, apple muffins, double chocolate chunk cookies and much more. Sullivan is transitioning all goods to vegan. 401-339-6500,


A sandwich made with bread from Two Little Buns.

  1. Eli’s Kitchen

While working on the opening menu for Eli’s, chef-owner Eli Dunn wanted his restaurant to be as inclusive as possible without losing sight of his style of cooking. The restaurant caters to all sort of diets, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. At Eli’s, you can indulge in shrimp and grits, Thai yellow chicken curry and chicken jambalaya sans gluten. But don’t miss the gluten-free falafel or sweet chili cauliflower; there are so many options! Even the children’s menu has gluten-free, hand-breaded chicken nuggets that put Mickie D’s to shame. A vegan and gluten-free tasting customized to each guest’s dietary needs (called Pam’s dinner; it’s named after Eli’s wife) is also available. At the time when Eli’s opened, Pam was vegan and gluten-free, and Eli tested all his recipes on her discerning palate. “It’s also an opportunity for my cooks to be creative ‘a la minute,’ ” says Dunn. “I’ve had folks literally hand me a list of food allergies that we used to brainstorm and come up with something delicious in the middle of the rush. It’s a challenge, but worth it when folks who can’t eat at other restaurants tell me how much they appreciate my willingness to go above and beyond for them.” 40 Market St., Warren, 401-245-1809,


Shrimp and grits from Eli’s Kitchen.

  1. The Malted Barley

Those following a gluten-free diet will love the Malted Barley’s gluten-free pretzels that come in varieties like asiago and parmesan, garlic and parsley, caraway and everything, with dipping sauces like chipotle aioli, bleu cheese, apricot butter and more (but take note the stuffed pretzels, beer cheese and honey mustard are not gluten-free). Or you can order any of the sandwiches with a gluten-free pretzel bun, including a grilled cheese, a BLT, the cannellini pretzel sandwich and many more options. The restaurant specializes in craft beer, offering thirty-seven draft lines and sixty-plus bottles and cans. There’s a gluten-free cranberry cider on tap (Downeast Cranberry Blend) and there are eight gluten-free bottles and cans (the Omission line of pale ale, lager and IPA and the Glutiny Pale Ale from New Belgium). 334 Westminster St., Providence, 401-490-0300; 42 High St., Westerly, 401-315-2184,

  1. Pizza J and Julians

Pizza J will gladly substitute gluten-free crust for any pizza. We like the Tony Clifton with herbed ricotta, potato, olive oil, roasted red pepper, onion and elephant garlic and the King Tidal Wave with smoked Tasso ham, roasted pineapple, scallions, cheese and red sauce. Vegans can also sub in vegan ricotta for cheese. There are many gluten-free appetizers, too, including sweet corn polenta with summer vegetable succotash. Julians, also on the West Side, offers a more extensive menu with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Pizza J, 967 Westminster St., Providence, 401-632-0555,; Julians, 318 Broadway, Providence, 401-861-1770,


The Tony Clifton with vegan cheese at Pizza J.

  1. Blackie’s Bull Dog Tavern

Blackie’s has an entirely gluten-free and paleo menu for those following a strict diet, and they are very mindful of all allergies by putting various stickers on plates so that the kitchen and servers are aware of allergies and guests can be assured they’ve been taken care of. “Many precautionary measures have been put into place, like designated fryolators, pans, knives, cooktops and cutting boards,” according to the menu. “We take great pride in providing our celiac community with a creative, extensive, safe and memorable dining experience.” Choices include the shrimp pad Thai salad, crispy squid and pulled pork nachos for apps, plus pizzas on Against the Grain crust. For pizzas, try the truffled wild mushroom or J.I.’s pie, or opt for a gluten-free burger or various entrees that range from seared scallops and grilled littlenecks to a cantina steak with a corn and bell pepper saute and whipped chorizo lime butter. 181 George Washington Hwy., Smithfield, 401-231-4777,

  1. Garden Grille and Wildflour Bakery

Garden Grille specifies gluten-free items on its menu so you can feel confident that you will get what you expect. Options include gluten-free nachos and cauliflower herb risotto cakes, Reggie’s Raw Heaven, No Noodle Pad Thai, gluten-free macaroni and cheese, a stir-fry bowl and more. There are plenty of brunch options as well, including the Sunday Sammy on a gluten-free English muffin. For dessert, head next door to Wildflour Vegan Bakery where you can indulge in gluten-free cupcakes, cookies, bars and tarts, brownies, cheesecakes and breads. There are dozens of sweet treats to choose from for restrictive diets. 727 East Ave., Pawtucket, 401-726-2826,; 727 East Ave, Pawtucket, 401-475-4718,

  1. Jo’s American Bistro

This Newport hotspot, in the heart of downtown, has a menu that can be altered to provide gluten-free-friendly options. Look for the gluten-free symbols on each item and simply let your server know. Some dishes that are already gluten-free, or can be prepared with gluten-friendly ingredients, include sticky glazed duck drumsticks with polenta; spinach and hummus dip; the Jo’s Burger and lobster salad roll; steak frites, a grilled pork chop or seafood fra diavolo. Even the french fries have their own fryer so no cross-contamination can occur. The restaurant uses meat and produce from local Rhode Island producers and whenever possible, chefs use natural meats with no hormones or antibiotics. 24 Memorial Blvd. W., Newport, 401-847-5506,


Grilled shrimp at Jo’s American Bistro. Photo by Kate Whitney Lucey Photography.

  1. Flatbread Company

Flatbread Company’s pizzas are wood-fired and spread with organic, wood-fired cauldron tomato sauce, free-range chicken and nitrate-free pepperoni and sausages. All varieties can be ordered on a small gluten-free flatbread, including the Providence Community Flatbread with caramelized onions, mushrooms, whole milk mozzarella and parmesan or the Punctuated Equilibrium with sweet red peppers, kalamata olives, red onions, Vermont Butter goat cheese and mozzarella. There is even a gluten-free brownie sundae for dessert featuring S.B. Winsor’s all-natural ice cream, warm homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup. 161 Cushing St., Providence, 401-273-2737,

  1. UMelt

At UMelt you can order any of the grilled cheese sandwiches on gluten-free bread for a small upcharge. Gourmet varieties include the tomato basil, the Vermonster with cheddar, maple glazed bacon and caramelized onions or the turkey brie with roasted turkey, brie and shallot fig jam. There are also gluten-free soups and potato chips. You can also order delivery online to make it even easier to get your gluten-free grilled cheese fix. 129 Weybosset St., Providence, 401-383-6732,

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