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Food allergies are already tough, but these intolerances (or serious aversions) to different ingredients and chemicals can mean big trouble when it comes to dining out. Ask any lactose-, dairy-, soy-, or gluten-intolerant diner — they’ve experienced the menu fear associated with trying a new place, only to find they are ordering a green salad (sans dressing) while everyone else eats like a king.
It definitely doesn’t have to be that hard. Sydney restaurants have come a long way from pub dinners and meat-and-three-veg menus; now, even the most rustic of establishments tend to offer at least one decent option for the coeliacs and gluten intolerant.
For the best, read our picks of Sydney’s top restaurants for a GF feast.
Rough & Bare has been playing with their gluten-free sourdough bread recipe for ages now. And it's safe to say that they've officially crushed it. The gluten-free and refined sugar-free café in Mona Vale and St Leonards sports an entire all-day menu of nutrient-dense foods, including their famous sourdough with a generous amount of butter and, our favourite add-on, house chia. Open from 8am on weekends, brunching here is a must, especially because they have the vegan Chocolate Plant Cakes on offer.
Fabulous Asian-fusion cuisine? Tick. Harbour views in Sydney’s buzzing Barangaroo? Tick. Delicious gluten-free options, even if you’re ordering from the set menu? Tick. Tick. Tick. Muum Maam, with a dining room in Surry Hills to boot, is perfect for a romantic date night or an office lunch with coworkers. We loved the whole fried snapper, and don’t forget the green papaya salad with calamari and lime.
This modern cafe in Neutral Bay is dedicated to providing those with coeliac disease gluten-free options for an affordable price. Everything on the menu is naturally g-free or can be specially prepared sans gluten. In fact, the cafe caters to almost all diet restrictions; from lactose-free chicken sliders to vegan fried rice, there are options for everyone. Cafe Free has a rotating menu, too. We recommend celebrating finding one of the few affordable gluten-free eateries in Sydney with one of their custom-made cakes.
Rockpool Dining Groups’ Japanese gem Saké has more awards and commendations from Sydney (and international) food critics than you can shake a bamboo stick at. Far from a cut-price sushi outlet, Saké is worth every cent the moment that Hiramasa Kingfish melts in your mouth. Almost the entire menu at their three Sydney-area restaurants is served gluten-free—or at least can be tailored to meet the diet—and the chef’s prefer tamari rather than its wheat-heavy cousin soy sauce. Need a recommendation? Try the $49 lunch bento option, a smorgasbord of amazing food, for a truly decadent mid-week treat.
Rubyos is frequently voted one of Newtown’s best fusion restaurants — and being that it’s in the cultural melting pot that is Sydney’s Inner West, that's saying something. We love the healthy, tasty, and unique seasonal menu that Rubyos serves up, not least because of all the alternate diet-friendly dishes. The smoked bean and sweet potato cakes are a standout (with basil and green soy pesto), but best of all, the seven-course banquet menu is 100% gluten-free, so you can enjoy pretty much everything Rubyos has to offer (including the exceptional cocktails.)
Established in 1969, Rozelle’s Harvest Vegetarian was built on principles of ethical eating and plant-based sustenance; which well and truly align with the diners of today. From interesting, vegetable-based dishes, a legacy was born — providing a dining option for those who don’t follow a traditional diet. Try the vegetarian souffle, the low-FODMAP rice paper rolls, the vegan tapas plate, or the gluten-free Indian Pakorhas with yoghurt mint dressing. And with monthly cooking classes with chef extraordinaire Adam de Ath, you can even book in and learn how to recreate your favourites.
Named Waterloo’s most Instagram-worthy establishment, Cuppa Flower certainly didn’t disappoint. Part trendy cafe, part commercial florist, Cuppa Flower will tempt all of your senses from the minute you step through the floral entranceway. If you’re in for brunch, nab a table early or you’ll be joining the queue round the block from about 11am. It’s hard to choose the tastiest (or prettiest!) dish on the menu, but as we're suckers for ingenuity, that badge of honour would have to go to the Omurice (crab and fried rice omelette). And with a full page of smoothies and frappuccinos (gluten-free, of course) to supplement your food, your taste buds are in good hands.
Authentic Lebanese with a bias to fresh and healthy flavours — sign us up! Zahli is a beautiful modern space nestled in the heart of Surry Hills’ dining district, with a seasonal menu packed full of local produce and Middle Eastern flavours. But it’s what’s missing from the dishes that is most impressive. That’s right — gluten is conspicuously absent from a good bunch of the dishes. We went crazy for the Lemon Garlic Chicken with a side of haloumi and, of course, a side of loubieh (is it weird to be excited by green beans?). The menu isn’t all gluten-free, but there are a ton of things which are, meaning you can drag your mum/dad/partner/gym buddy along for a feast and not worry that either of you will walk out disappointed... or hungry, for that matter.
Mexican food: flour tortillas. Cheesy burritos. Tacos, tostadas, corn chips. Not exactly the healthiest pick of the global cuisines, right? Enter: Méjico! It’s a chic Inner Sydney establishment, perfect for a weeknight margarita and a delicious meal shared with friends (hint: wear your stretchy pants). There are some must-haves adorning the menu—like Yucatan spiced pulled pork with crispy kale—alongside a rotating roster of dairy- and gluten-free treats. It’s all listed out on the menu, so you’ll know exactly what you can dig into. Just be sure to leave room for a bite-sized tequila and citrus cheesecake to round out the food coma.
Overlooking the serene Woolloomooloo Harbour, prominently placed on Sydney’s Finger Wharf, you’re hard-pressed to find a better spot for seriously tasty pan-Asian food. The menu blends the best of Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian flavours to create a unique dining experience suitable for larger groups, functions, or intimate encounters with just one other. We won’t bother picking apart the menu and telling you which signature dishes to try; they’re all too good to miss. Grab one of the chef’s banquets (yup, all gluten-free) and take a culinary journey through the heart of Asia. Okay, okay, if we have to pick one, we can’t get over the Pork & Peanut San Choy Bau.
Anason gives every other Barangaroo establishment a run for its money. Anason is great for a casual meal, but we love their function and event packages even more. For a very reasonable price, the restaurant will serve up a stunning array of canapes (think kadayif king prawns and beef kofte), and the entire tasting menu can be tailored gluten-free. Add to this a two-hour unlimited drinks menu (with some excellent Turkish wine and beer, plus house-brewed soft drink) and you’ve got an unforgettable entertainment venue for your next big bash. Make sure tell your server you’re gluten-free to prevent any cross-contamination.
Meet nonie’s, an artisan gluten-free bakery pop-up at Carriageworks Farmers Market the first and third Saturdays of each month. Their artisan breads, pita, crackers, and muesli are handmade using top-quality ingredients and absolutely no dairy, gums, or preservatives. If you can’t make it out to Carriageworks on a Saturday, look for their glorious breads available at select local cafés and businesses around Sydney, including Feather and Bone butcher.
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