That is, until my recent visit to Vancouver. I checked out a few websites online that list gluten-free options and I enlisted the help of Robyn and Andrea from Gluten Free Vancouver to steer me toward some of their favourite places to eat and favourite bakeries as well. I also put out a call on my Facebook Page for your suggestions of places I couldn't miss out on.
I was in Vancouver with my mom for 5 nights and got to visit with my brother who lives there. In that time I got to check out a number of great restaurants!
After a 5+ hour flight, we were hungry. The pamphlet at the Vancouver Airport indicated White Spot as having gluten-free options. We headed on our way to grab some lunch.
White Spot (different location... this time Granville Street). I ordered the pasta with Marinara Sauce. Quite good, though not my favourite and not really anything too special. Still nice to have the assurance of ordering from a separate gluten-free menu.
White Spot is a fairly cheap and casual chain restaurant in the Vancouver area. While the food was pretty good and I was thankful to have this option around for those times where I was really hungry, I likely wouldn't go out of my way to visit again.
1212 Commercial Drive, Vancouver ("The Drive")
My brother had a gift certificate for this place so it was an easy decision to visit on my first evening in Vancouver. Looking over the menu online and seeing the "mazina tortillas" (tortillas made of wheat and corn flour) I thought I was in for a dinner of plain ol' salad. Boy, was I wrong! They had an entire gluten-free menu!
Unfortunately this menu is not available online. Most of the menu items involved meat in some fashion so I decided on the 7 layer dip, which was served with tostones (fried plantain, cut lengthwise).
This restaurant is also where I got my first taste of the beer that is available in Vancouver! (I will have an upcoming blog post featuring all of the gluten-free beer I saw in Vancouver.)
2724 West 4h Avenue, Vancouver (Kitsilano)
This vegetarian restaurant is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is located in Kitsilano, which is a great shopping area and also very close to the beach. When I inquired about gluten-free options, the server informed me that the tortillas and tortilla chips were just made with corn, plus they have gluten-free bread so there were plenty of options I could choose from. This was a real treat! I am so used to skimming over a menu and immediately cutting out 50-80% of the options because they contain meat and here I was looking at a menu that was completely vegetarian, with many gluten-free options.
Amazing selection of food! Huge portions! I can't say enough about this restaurant. We ordered the Chilaquiles Enchilada and Tuscan Nachos.
While service here was a little slow, the large portion sizes made up for the lack of service.
This chain restaurant is also in Ontario and they offer a gluten-free menu at all locations. I have always enjoyed the gluten-free spaghettini from a Toronto location. I was still full from my lunch earlier in the day so I decided on a light dinner and ordered the California Spring Salad.
1535 Johnston Street, Creekhouse #102, Granville Island, Vancouver
Located on Granville Island, I visited Sandbar on the Friday of my visit, a really wet and rainy day. I think the only vegetarian and gluten-free option was this pizza. Granted, I couldn't really ask for anything more since this WAS a fish restaurant. Heck, they even had a whole fish menu indicating which fish was available that day!
They do offer gluten-free pasta as well but I didn't have a chance to try that out.
I was quite disappointed with my visit to Nuba. First of all, I showed up at the Yaletown location at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and stood around for over 10 minutes waiting for the girl inside to open the door. She finally came over and informed me (through the door) that they open at 12. When I told her the website said they open at 11:30 she repeated that they open at 12 and walked away. Whoa. So... I walked around the block to see what else was around and returned to Nuba at 12. (They have since updated the website, thankfully.)
I knew before I arrived that I was ordering the falafel plate. I have a soft spot for falafel and will take every opportunity to test out falafel in a restaurant if it is gluten-free.
818 Howe Street, Vancouver
On my last full day in Vancouver, I remembered that I had seen a sign for Chipotle while walking around downtown. I had previously been to Chipotle in Buffalo and loved the food. I visited a location in Toronto (Yonge and Dundas) but didn't enjoy my meal there. The quality of the food at this location in Vancouver has restored my faith in the chain!
8808 Osler Avenue (behind the Coast Hotel), Vancouver
I had been in contact with Cravings over twitter before visiting Vancouver. I knew this restaurant would be a gem so I added it to my "must visit" list. I saved the best for last! On my way to the airport, my mom and I met up with my brother one last time for lunch.
I felt like I needed something a little healthier this day after eating a lot of not-so-healthy meals earlier in my trip. I settled on the Caesar salad and stir fry. The manager/owner(?) came out from the back and asked if I eat eggs. I said yes and she informed me she would be making croutons from their own gluten-free bread (which contains eggs). Wow, what a treat! Fresh croutons! (Pre-Celiac, I enjoyed snacking on croutons on their own, that's how much I love them!) Yummy!
I can't remember the last time I got to enjoy a Caesar salad with croutons. The stir fry was also very fresh. This colourful and healthy kick was just what I needed to end my trip!
Overall, I am extremely impressed with the gluten-free offerings in Vancouver. Pair that with the mountains, fresh air, ocean views and friendly streets, Vancouver is a great place for anyone looking to explore other areas of Canada.