January 13, 2020
A gluten free diet, it’s fun, isn’t it? The paranoia about getting sick while eating out. The explaining — dear God, the explaining — your diet to people who don’t understand it. Getting to a restaurant and asking what’s gluten free only to find out they have one thing. Oh, a salad, you say? Great, there’s nothing I love more than being ravenous with hunger and eating a bland salad.
The worst of this always seems to be when you’re in a rush. Most sit-down restaurants, especially in the Northeast, have at least one or two things that are fairly decent — but fast food? Yikes, talk about a difficult time.
It makes sense, though. It’s hard to prepare gluten-free food properly for celiac disease and severe allergy sufferers in a fact-paced environment. The risk of cross contamination — when wheat or gluten is transferred to items that might otherwise be gluten free — is just too high.
Despite this, you’d be surprised how many decent fast-dining options there are in the Philadelphia. Whether you have celiac disease or just a gluten sensitivity, these are the best gluten-free, fast-dining spots in the city.
With eight locations across the Philadelphia area, including six in the city proper, it's a great spot when you're in the mood for a decent, Asian-inspired meal. There are some limitations here, as soy sauce, which contains wheat, is commonly used. The spicy garlic and red coconut curry sauces are gluten free. You also have an option between brown rice and rice noodles. When you place your order, make sure to alert someone on the staff of your allergy with your order number to avoid cross contamination.
148 W. Girard Ave. | Menu
This is the best place in the city when you're dying for a gluten-free hoagie, hands down. Paesano's gluten-free bread keeps it's shape, doesn't fall apart, and substituted in on nearly any sandwich for an additional $2.50. Their cheesesteaks and Atista sandwich (roast suckling pork with broccoli rabe) are truly delectable. Also try the beef brisket with horseradish mayo.
If you're craving falafel, this is the place to go in Philly. This Michael Solomonov hot spot serves up gluten free falafel and fries from a dedicated fryer. While you can't eat the pita, the loaded fries and the falafel salad make a pretty hefty meal. It's probably the one salad I don't mind devouring when I'm starved. The tahini milkshakes are also dairy-free!
248 S. 11th St. | Menu
If you live in Philadelphia and haven’t eaten at Middle Child yet, what are you even doing with your life? The deli serves a pretty decent gluten-free bread option for an additional $2 with incredible fixings for breakfast and lunch. Short-rib corned beef and egg? Yes, please. Also, if you like dank sandwich memes and content, you can follow them on Instagram.
1823 Passyunk Ave. | Menu
This East Passyunk spot has a build your own burger option with a gluten-free bun for an extra $1.50 and you can get just about anything added to it — beef, turkey, chicken, ahi tuna, and even lamb. Their tater tots and fries are fried in a dedicated fryer, so they're safe. Fair warning: This is a cash only spot, but you can order online.
51 N. 12th St. | Menu
Gluten-free corn dogs? Gluten-free poutine? Gluten-free funnel cake?! Are you in gluten-free heaven? The answer is yes, yes you are. This Reading Terminal Market restaurant is a gluten-free paradise for fried food. Try any one of their corn dog varieties, including their sweet potato corn dog topped sour cream and chorizo. It doesn't even taste gluten free ... and isn't that best kind of gluten free?
10 S. 20th St. | Menu
If you want a healthy, southern meal (which I know sounds counterintuitive), then this is the place for you. All of their items are gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free and shellfish free — and everything manages to still be delicious. With everything from southern-style collard greens, dirty rice, brisket, and chicken it's hard not to love their home-y selection.
With seven locations in the Philadelphia-area, including at Citizens Bank Park and Wells Fargo Center, Shake Shack is a great fast-dining option. They do not have a dedicated fryer, and the cheeseburger is the only option — but it's a pretty good cheeseburger. The bun doesn't fall apart, and it's not too heavy, costing an additional $1. Not to mention that they really do take proper care when preparing your burger separately from areas that contain gluten.
With two locations in Center City and another location in Wynnefield, this fast-dining spot offers an entire gluten-free menu that features organic and grass-fed ingredients. You can build a bowl starting with a protein of your choice, like beef or tofu with your choice of sides, like roasted sweet potatoes and balsamic beets.