Let’s face it, eating gluten-free in any country is a task. If you speak the language and can decipher the ingredients and menus, then it’s a little easier; but add in those foreign words made of unfamiliar consonant blends and obsure dots and lines and it really becomes interesting. You’ll be glad to hear, though, that eating gluten-free (and more importantly, confidently eating gluten-free) in Amsterdam is possible. Actually, it’s more than possible – it can be quite the adventure. Here are my gluten-free highlights from the city of a million bridges…
Bagels and Beans
This was the first food adventure of my trip and it did not disappoint. There’s several of these quiet, homely eateries dotted around the city. You’ll spot them by the almost Medieval-style writing on the circular logo that hangs above the shop door, steaming coffee cup and brush-stroke bagel letting you know the menu is, basically, that: coffee and bagels.
Moderately priced, the menu has a decent variation of fillings and all can be made on their gluten-free bagel, which (said with a happy tone of suprise) is soft and tasty and not at all cardboard like (you know what I mean, fellow gluten avoiderers!). There are savoury options, from the classic cream cheese to BLT, as well as sweet options and breakfast delights. They have a range of hot drinks and smoothies, as well as juices and a particularly scrumptious vanilla soda. And your gluten-lover friends don’t have to miss out – they have a full range of glutenous bagels for them to enjoy (and you to lust over).
The best bit, though? They talk to you. I went to two different branches and on both occasions the lovely server (who was actually genuinely lovely and spoke better English than I do) asked me if I was allergic, coeliac, how allergic, etc. Ok, they told me, we like to know so that we can ensure different knives and boards are used. We’ll make sure it’s safe for you. I don’t know about you, GFFs (gluten-free friends, as you will henceforth be known), but that doesn’t half make those already delicious bagels taste even better!
Locations: Waterlooplein 2; Raadhuisstraat 18; Keizersgracht 504; Roetersstraat 2A; and many, many more places!
I’m going to start with the brutal honesty for this one… it’s not cheap. But what this place does have going for it is that it is entirely gluten-free. Yep, not a chance of cross-contamination or those errant, mischievous crumbs that sneak onto our plates and cause us misery. Not a chance.
Mastino V is a dedicated gluten-free and vegan restaurant (though regular mozarella can be requested if you’re a particular dairy fiend) and serves up pizza, focaccia, and some rather appealing looking deserts. If you’re a dairy-intolerant soul like me, there’s a certain degree of comfort that can come from knowing you can choose from ANY pizza on the menu and know it has been nowhere near a cow.
We ordered a pizza each as our server told us they were really just one-person size. In hindsight, a pizza could have been combined with one of the focaccias on offer and some salad, and we probably wouldn’t have left empty-bellied and with a little more change in our pockets, but our pizzas were decent enough. If you like deep-dish, don’t bother. The pizza base at Mastino’s is thin and crispy, and you won’t experience that dripping-down-your-hands-leaving-your-fingers-cheesy-greasy euphoria, but it’s gluten-free and vegan pizza, so that’s a win at least.
Is it worth the price tag? Well, at over fifty Euros for a one-course meal for two, I’ll let you be the judge. But still, pizza.
Boy did I hear about the joys of SLA before I even arrived in Holland…! I’m not gonna lie, I had high expectations after all the praises I had heard sung about it. And I was not disappointed. SLA is a heaven for vegans and health-conscious folks alike. Serving salad bowls, smoothies and other wonderfully healthy, filling, plant-based and whole-food concoctions, there are plenty of gluten-free options to be enjoyed. They have an English menu so you don’t need to worry about dusting off Google translate, and if you ask the server behind the counter they will happily pull out an allergen booklet telling you exactly which dishes you can enjoy whether you’re avoiding gluten, nuts, diary, lactose, you name it.
Much like the food it serves up, the SLA venues are simple, comforting and peaceful. You’ll find yourself sitting amongst busy workers enjoying a lunch break, next to students cramming in that last hour of revision, or families enjoying a healthy meal. Happy food and happy people – that sums up SLA. And with the added benefit of leaving knowing you’ve eaten healthily and feeling better for it, one of the numerous SLAs on offer around the city should definitely be on your to-visit list.
P.S. Have you guessed what ‘sla’ means, yet? Yep, you guessed it: salad. I see what they did there…
Now, I know it’s not a-la-carte sort of fare, but sometimes you just need a guilty little treat of a meal. And the good news is, in Amsterdam that guilty little treat can take the form of McDonald’s. Yep, their fries are gluten-free. Just for you, I tested an extra large bag, just to be absolutely sure they were safe, of course. You can also add a gluten-free bun to your hamburger or cheeseburger.
My tip would be to make this your ‘I’m on my way home and I don’t want to go back to reality’ treat at the airport before you board the plane.
You won’t get a meal here, but what you will get is little drops of sugary goodness to make you smile. Dotted around the city, you’ll no doubt not be too far from a STACH and a sugar fix. Their window displays speak for themselves: meringues. Oh. My. Word. Those meringues. Almost as big as my head (What’s that I hear you say? The perfect size for a meringue. Yes, I agree completely.) they are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to flavours: chocolate, salted caramel, strawberry, pistachio, the list is endless. Go on, treat yourself.
Oh, and while you’re there, do yourself a favour and get a florentiner too. You will NOT regret it.