Philadelphia Gluten-Free Travel Guide

by Catherine Murray 

The birthplace of our democracy experienced a rebirth of its own over the past few decades. With intense flavors from immigrant cultures and modern takes on old standbys, gluten free travelers have abundant options in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. 

DO THIS

Go Public
Ditch the car and explore Philadelphia via the far-reaching public transportation system, rideshare, by bike, or foot. You’ll arrive to your destinations less frazzled and ready to take in all that the city has to offer.

Schuylkill River
Grab wheels at one of the many bike share stations around town or at a bike rental shop and explore the Schuylkill River Trail. From south to north, bike along the newly designed boardwalk, stop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to run up the “Rocky” steps and take a picture with the iconic statue of the champion himself, dodge the crew teams carrying skulls on Boathouse Row, then take a breather under the cherry blossom trees. The adventure is 6 to 7 miles roundtrip, depending on your starting point. schuylkillrivertrail.com/ 

Schuylkill River Trail (photo Visit Philly + J.Fusco)

Italian Market
This old-school marketplace has plenty of gluten free options. Stop at Taffet’s, a dedicated GF bakery, and San Roman Tortilleria for freshly pressed steaming tortillas and salsas; and spend time wandering the tightly packed aisles at Fante’s, where you can find every kitchen gadget imaginable for a steal. Go on the earlier side; most businesses close around 3pm. Closed Monday. italianmarketphilly.org

City Hall Clocktower 
This lesser-known attraction boasts unbeatable views from above Philadelphia’s cityscape. Buy the affordable tickets in the Visitors Center in East Portal and then enter through City Hall’s northeast door. phlvisitorcenter.com/CityHallTowerTour

Independence Hall & Grounds 
No visit to Philadelphia is complete without a walk on the cobblestone streets around Independence Hall. If the line to get inside is too long, content yourself with free access to the Liberty Bell and educational signage for a taste of the revolutionary spirit. nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/independencehall.htm

Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States of America

Barnes Foundation museum 
Soak in the vast collection of impressionist art displayed on gallery walls. Formerly a private museum located in the suburbs, the collection was moved downtown (not without controversy) for better public access on Ben Franklin Parkway’s corridor of museums. barnesfoundation.org/

Barnes Foundation (photo Visit Philly + R.Kennedy)

STAY HERE

Kimpton Hotel Monaco 
Immerse yourself in luxury and history by staying on Independence Mall. Rest in the smartly designed rooms and unwind at the rooftop bar. monaco-philadelphia.com

Warwick 
Stay in the heart of the city in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood for a very walkable home base. Enjoy the sleek decor and a killer coffee shop in the lobby. warwickrittenhouse.com

Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, Restaurant and Hotel
Become a local by staying in one of the timeless guest rooms in Fishtown at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. Spend time planning your itinerary at the bar over a glass of Italian wine or classic cocktail. wmmulherinssons.com/hotel

Aloft Philadelphia Downtown
If you can’t decide on a neighborhood and want to be in the heart of it all, book a room downtown at Aloft. Perfect for a work trip with its proximity to the convention center and expansive lobby in a former bank building. marriott.com/hotels/hotel-photos/phlad-aloft-philadelphia-downtown

Penn’s View Hotel 
Make history your home with a stay at this family-run boutique hotel. On the National Register of Historic Places, it’s ideally situated in Old City and has 51 uniquely designed rooms with charming features like exposed brick, beams, and balconies. Tip: call and book a room with views of the Delaware River and the Ben Franklin Bridge. pennsviewhotel.com

Penn’s View Hotel


DRINK IT IN 

V Street
Drink creative cocktails that pair perfectly with bold flavors of vegan street food. V Street also boasts a large selection of natural wines. If you’re across town, go to its critically acclaimed sister restaurant, Vedge, and enjoy the menu of small plates at the bar. streetfood.com

Hale & True 
Order a flight of handcrafted cider and gluten-free snacks at this airy tasting room just off South Street. The dry-fermented ciders with creative and balanced flavors will leave you refreshed and wondering why you ever drank a bottle of the overly sweet, mass produced stuff. Disclosure: the author of this article spends several nights a week happily slinging their cider. haleandtrue.com

Hale & True interior


La Colombe 
Grab a cuppa at one of the many La Colombes around town, or make the sojourn to the mothership La Colombe, in Fishtown, for a draft latte and afternoon lost in thought in the the industrial chic decor. lacolombe.com

EAT HERE

Philadelphia has a rich BYOB scene due to Pennsylvania’s premium price on liquor licenses. Buy a bottle of wine at one of the state liquor stores, or better yet, peruse the wine selection at DiBruno Brothers or put together a six pack of GF beer at bottle shops like The Foodery.

Umai Umai 
This tucked-away spot in the Fairmount neighborhood has innovative sushi rolls that are packed with flavor and satisfying texture. The friendly serving staff will provide you GF tamari upon request, guide you through the GF options, and modify rolls to your heart’s desire. BYOB. Must-try: Nemo roll featuring snow crab and potato flake crunch wrapped in cucumber. umai-umai.com

Middle Child
This casual, counter-service breakfast, soup, and sandwich joint will inspire you to grab an extra paper towel and weep with joy while devouring a generous sandwich on the perfect gluten-free focaccia (baked by New York’s Krumville Bakery). Must-try: turkey club with house-made pickles (request GF bread). middlechildphilly.com

Middle Child interior

Good King Tavern 
Don’t be fooled by the unassuming nature and affordable prices. Good King puts out French comfort food that will make you think you’re sipping wine in the Left Bank instead of South Philly. Must-try: socca (a chickpea flatbread) paired with ratatouille. thegoodkingtavern.com

Monsu 
The trained-in-Italy Irish chef behind Monsu has children with celiac disease and routinely makes handmade pasta for gluten-free diners. Call ahead and let them know your dietary preferences Consider the price-fixed menu; it’s a mere $40 for four courses featuring bountiful GF options. BYOB. Must-try: chestnut-flour gnocchi if it’s on the day’s menu. monsuphilly.com

Lolita
You’re in for a lively evening on the13th Street corridor at this Mexican street food restaurant, which has an almost entirely gluten-free menu. Must-try: fried chicken tacos. lolitaphilly.com

Lolita fried chicken tacos

Stock
Bowls of pho and homemade lemongrass tea beckon at this tiny Southeast Asian restaurant. While not everything on the menu can be made gluten-free, it’s worth a trip alone for the khao poon (spicy rice soup) and papaya salad. Must-try: pho! stockphilly.com/

Dizengoff Try one of nationally acclaimed chef Michael Solomonov’s casual eateries on Sansom Street for lunch. Modeled after Israeli hummus stalls, Dizengoff makes the creamiest hummus  you can imagine piled high with savory toppings ranging from succulent meats to roasted vegetables. Must-try: Hummus (sub cucumbers for pita). dizengoffhummus.com

Dizengoff (photo Visit Philly)

Kanella Grill 
Cozy and affordable Kanella Grill serves Greek dishes that will transport you to the turquoise isles. Expect bountiful gluten-free options. Kanella takes extra precautions on cross-contamination and has a dedicated GF fryer. BYOB. Must-try: salty and satisfying grilled halloumi.kanellarestaurant.com

Okie Dokie Donuts
These not-to-be-missed fried donuts with rotating seasonal flavors are sold in pop ups across town. They’re made in a South Philly kitchen with extensive measures to prevent cross-contamination. For where to get donuts when you are in town (typically on weekends) follow @okiedokiedonuts on Instagram. Must-try: GF donut flavor of choice. okiedokiedonuts.com


GLUTEN-FREE SAFE HAVEN

Pure Fare 
For a quiet spot to recharge downtown, stop by this casual eatery for salad, sandwich, or treat. All items are made in house and gluten free. Must-try: zucchini chocolate chip muffin is a perfect pick me up. purefare.com

About the Author


Catherine Murray is a writer and start-up food business consultant based in Philadelphia. She’s passionate about hospitality and connecting with others over delicious gluten free meals. Follow her on Instagram @freeandplenty

Opening photo: Flying Bronco LLC


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