Gluten-free in NYC Part I


Check out gluten-free in NYC part II here.

I’ve already eaten at some of the best gluten-free friendly restaurants that New York City has to offer and after this post today, I’ll still have at least 3 more restaurants to share with you.

To anyone living with allergies and traveling to New York in the future – don’t worry… NYC has your back.

Let’s go through a couple of my favorite finds, shall we?

Raw vegan goodness: Pure Food and Wine


Pure Food and Wine is one of three raw food eating spots in New York that are owned by One Lucky Duck founder, Sarma Melngailis. What I love about Sarma is that she’s created a company with the intention of inspiring a shift. She’s said that she wants to make things better – for people, animals, and the earth – not just in small ways, but in big ways too. Now that’s a restaurant and vision I can get behind.

The restaurant was easy to get to from the Subway, just a 3 minute walk from the train once you figure out what direction to walk in. That’s always the hardest part, isn’t it? I was very surprised to see how clean and polished the space was. I imaged that I would be visiting a restaurant that looked like a granola-eating, trail hiking, raw looking place. But it was so very opposite. Clean lines, nice details, well dressed staff, it was a nice treat!


I was having a hard time deciding what to order from the menu – there’s just so many amazing things to choose from. So, I asked the waiter what his favorite was. He recommended the brazil nut sea vegetable croquettes with tartare sauce, local honey sweet chili sauce, wild arugula and pink pepper. Something I would never, ever order for myself; I don’t care for arugula, but I decided to go for it.

What a great suggestion it was. Lunch was absolutely unreal. The tartare sauce was a thing of dreams, the arugula was tossed in a delicious, light dressing… I wouldn’t even know how to recreate this.

If I had more time on my trip, this is a restaurant I was go back to again and again. It puts all other raw food restaurants I’ve ever visited to absolute shame. Such a great experience.


I ordered the most expensive item on the menu so lunch came to around $20. The folks beside me both ordered ginormous salads that were around the $14 mark so there are definitely lots of options to choose from based on your taste and budget.

I had to talk myself down from ordering dessert from Pure Food and Wine, get out of my seat and head down to the next stop on my culinary adventures…

Pure Food and Wine on Urbanspoon

Unreal vegan ice cream: Lula’s Sweet Apothecary


Lula’s Sweet Apothecary is a vegan ice cream shop off the beaten path. I couldn’t even tell you how I got there if I tried. I got lost for 45 minutes, walking aimlessly through the streets until I spotted a street name that matched my map.

Oh, did I mention it was absolutely freezing cold that day? Like, chilling winds, at least -15C… I bit too cold, even for this Canadian girl. But nothing was going to get in the way of me enjoying a bowl of ice cream.

Note: Lula’s is currently closed.


Once I did find it, I hustled into the little shop to try to get warm and was immediately greeted by a smiling Blythe (the owner of the shop) ready to scoop me up anything my little heart desired.

So here’s the deal… she makes her own creamy cashew milk that she then naturally flavors, adds to an ice cream machine and can then make into a sundae, banana split, regular cone, dish of ice cream, malts, shakes… anything. I nearly cried in excitement as she was explaining all of my options.


It wasn’t hard to land on a couple of favorites after I taste tested a couple of them. Carob, maple walnut and cinnamon were my absolute favorites.


I was really surprised when she told me that my dessert was only $5.50. I would have paid $10 for this in a heart beat. It’s been at least a decade since I ordered ice cream from an ice cream shop. The whole experience was just mind blowing.

So I sat down with my little bowl of ice cream; my big fluffy mittens in the background and my hands still numb from the cold, and I savored each and every scoop.


It was so creamy, so naturally flavorful and surprisingly light. I could have ordered another… but I didn’t.

Lula's Sweet Apothecary on Urbanspoon

Ethiopian at it’s finest: Awash

Awash (3)

It’s no secret that I love Indian food. The spices, intense flavors, eating with my hands, it’s where it’s at. Knowing this, many of my friends have urged me to try Ethiopian food, but I’ve just never gotten around to it. The cool thing about Ethiopian is that their breads are made from teff, an ancient North African cereal grass and nutritional powerhouse that just happens to be gluten-free.

Awash; one of NYC’s best Ethiopian restaurants just happened to be a couple of blocks from the hostel so I took it as a sign to finally jump into Ethiopian cuisine.

Duuuude. Words don’t even describe how fantastic my meal was. The service was a bit slow, but very helpful and understanding of my allergies. Awash makes their bread from a combination of wheat flour and teff flour; I believe to save on cost, but at a price of $4 I could convert the bread to 100% teff, a small price to pay for a delicious meal.



I decided to get the meat & veggie platter for $12.95. It came with my choice of 2 meat and 3 veggie sauces. I’m not sure if they’re called sauces… do you know? Anyways, I chose: tibs wat (beef), doro wat (chicken), key sir alicha (red beets, carrots and potatoes), shio (chickpeas), yemisir kik wat (red lentil). The beet one was my favorite, wow. Everything was super spicy and rocked my world. It will definitely not be the last time I go for Ethiopian.

Awash on Urbanspoon


In between all of the eating and photography lessons, I’ve managed to do a bit of sightseeing, too. One of the must-see things during my trip was to visit Liberty Island. They aren’t allowing anyone on the island for the time being due to the damages from the hurricane, so I booked a trip with GrayLine, met them at Battery Park and went on a little 1 hour cruise to learn more about the city and see the lady of liberty from a distance.

Here are some of the pictures that I took along the way…

IMG_0439 IMG_0453 IMG_0455

Such a great city. If you haven’t yet, you have to visit, too!

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. Oh my goodness I am SO jealous right now! I’m glad you are having a good time on your solo trip! These photos are making me want to book a trip to NYC asap. It is such a spectacular place.

    • They’re rare in Montreal, too. There are only a couple of them… and now that I’ve been to these ones in New York, I can say that the ones in Montreal don’t even come close to the ones in New York.

    • So I went out for lunch again today…. to One Lucky Duck. Holy salad. Holy ANGELA salad. You have to go. You have to.

  2. Cashew milk ice cream… I may have a new mission in life. :) So glad to be able to take this trip vicariously with you – thanks for letting us all tag along on your journey!

    • Ya, ya it was the BEST ice cream I’ve ever had. That includes when I ate dairy. It was creamy, but not rich and heavy, you know? And the flavor was so natural and amazing. Ah!

    • Gosh, it was good. You’ll need to make a point to go. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of, I’m sure of it.

  3. Pure Food & Wine is just the best. I took my very omni family there for my birthday and they thought it was fantastic, which is definitely saying something. Great ambiance, amazing food for all.

    • Great call on taking the family there. I went again today and was amazed yet again. So, so good.

  4. I soooo want to take the restaurant tour of NYC. I live in Hanover, PA – Pennsylvania Dutch, meat and potatoes. Not a whole lot of healthy options so I do alot of cooking! I make all of my own bread from coconut flour and now that my husband has caught on, we go through at least two loaves a week! I accidentally made homemade sunflower seed butter (left in in the magic bullet a little too long) and it is fantastic with a little apple butter on the coconut bread! It’s very tempting to try and start a small venture in town to satisfy the needs of those who have allergies. I don’t have allergies to food but the gluten free/partial paleo has been the reason that I have lost 54 pounds!!

    • Wow, 54 pounds? That’s unreal! Congratulations, Lisanne. That’s a huge accomplishment. I’m sure if the community is in need of a place, you should look into it :)

  5. Stunning images, so sharp, clear, BLUE skies. Just gorgeous, Leanne! And I’ve always wanted to go to Pure…one day!

    And Ethiopian food. I can see it being your jam! I live nearby so many Indian and Ethiopian restaurants and just know that they would be your scene!

    • Thanks Averie. It was so, so cold that day, I was freezing my butt off on that cruise ride but I wasn’t going inside to warm up, no, no. I braved it hoping I would capture some rockin’ photos!

      Ya, you definitely have me figured out, Ethiopian is where it’s at. Can’t wait to find a good place in Montreal to frequent!

    • Well, you better get down here and get a nice big bowl of ice cream!

  6. You certainly picked great places to go! I’ve lived in NYC for nearly 4 years, but still have yet to go to Pure! I have checked out One Lucky Duck, though, and it never disappoints.

    I hope you got a chance to go to Tu-Lu’s or Babycakes for gluten free baked goods! Even from someone who is *not* gluten free, I love them both.

    • I didn’t have time to go to the bakeries. I was in class ALL day long and none of them were open early enough for me to make it there and to class in time. Guess I’m just going to have to come back! You’re very, very lucky to be living in this gorgeous city. I’m going to miss it a lot when I leave.

  7. Hi! I was in New Yor last wee as I frquently travel there. Please go to Candle 79 or Candle Cafe or Blossom cafe, all of which are vegan and heavenly. My steak and potatoes brother loved all of them! Babycakes douts and cookie sandwiches are a MUST on the lower east side. Gluten dairy free heaven!:) have fun!

    • Thanks Aubrey! I went to Candle 79 last night and was happy, but not blown away. It was good, but not phenomenal and cost far too much for me to ever be interested in going again. But babycakes, oh I wish I had had more time here. It was on the list of places I wanted to check out, but I just didn’t get to go! Thanks for the recommendation. Luck you, getting to travel to NYC frequently, that’s so great!

  8. Since cutting down on animal products this year, I am totally craving Ethopian food. Happy to hear it’s also traditionally gluten-free!

    • Oh yes, you must! They were super open to making the bread with 100% teff so I’m sure that other similar restaurants would do the same. It’s definitely worth it!

  9. So happy to see you made it to Pure Food & Wine. I went there on my vacation this summer and it was quite a memorable meal! I do regret that I didn’t make it to Lula’s but it’s on my list of must-visit places for my next trip!

  10. That looks amazing! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I have always wanted to go to New York so I am very jealous! I will be looking up the nearest Ethiopian restaraunt ASAP!

  11. Your trip looks lovely! I can’t wait to go there sometime! What class did you take there? So curious! Love following your blog, very informative and inspiring! Thanks! :)

    • Hi Laura – it was an awesome trip, that’s for sure. I went to an ICP class for natural lighting and photography. It was such a great workshop. I definitely recommend it.

  12. Candle Cafe is around the corner from Candle 79. It is cheaper & tastier. I have been wanting to go to Pure, but my fiancé is not into vegetarian…girls night! I have been to Lucky Duck & love their avocado smoothie! :)

    • Shoot! Well, now I know know for next time. Thanks for letting me know! Avocado smoothie, that sounds amazing.

  13. Whenever I see a gluten-free sign on food – I get a little giddy. So the next time I am travelling to NYC (hopefully for the marathon, so I can eat like a horse) I will be sure to check everything out!

    Thanks for taking one for the team, Leanne! You rock!

    • Oh my gosh you’re going to have so much darn fun in that city, Jessica! You HAVE to go to that marathon, you just have to. Definitely check out the pizza place I blogged about today. It was a thing of dreams.

  14. Oh Leanne…How moving was your re-discovery of the simple joy of ice cream…after a ten year hiatus?!..So hoping your culinary mastery will “de-code” the magic formula for re-creating (and sharing?!) this cashew milk/lighter version of the frozen treat!…Also…I am an Ethiopian cuisine FREAK…and the spice mixes are truly out of this world…I, too ALWAYS ask for the 100% Teff flour…and have always had good luck in this regard…Upcoming injera recipe on the Healthful Pursuit horizon?!…Hint…hint!!…I have no shame!…

    Love NYC….and miss it so! Thanks for the beautiful travelogue!!

    • Oh you better believe I was testing out cashew milk for the ice cream last night and trying to make injera on the cast iron… I didn’t even wait a full 24 hours from the time I got home to begin testing things out in the kitchen. I’m a lady on a mission!

  15. Hi Leanne! I am heading to NYC (from Australia!) for a holiday in May and have already been thinking about where I will eat to ensure my gluten free, dairy free and meat free needs are met. I haven’t been on an overseas trip since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and it is so good to have some great restaurant tips. Thank you! Merryn xx

    • I just posted another 4 restaurants that I visited during my trip. I’m confident that you’ll have no issue finding food there. Can’t wait to hear about how you like the city! Be sure to stop in and let me know if you found any other great places during your travels :)

  16. Hi – I just came across your blog and realized you were from Montreal. We are too! I’m actually heading to NYC in March with my food allergic son, so this is very helpful. I’m going to make a list of your restaurant recommendations. I adore Ethiopian as well and love Nile Blue here – have you tried it?


    • Hi Jennifer! So happy to “meet” you :) I was searching for Ethiopian restaurants in Montreal but didn’t know where to start. I think I’ll go there this weekend, thanks for the recommendation. You’ll have to let me know how you guys like NYC!

    • I didn’t try Nil Bleu, decided to do a cleanse last weekend. It’s in my calendar for dinner next week!

  17. Sadly, Lulu’s is closed at the moment. You might want to put a note in the article so people don’t trek down there and get disappointed!

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