Eating gluten-free in the Capital Region

By Jessica Pasko

gluten_free_cupcake_from_scratch.jpgUpdate: We've created a listing of Capital Region gluten-free restaurant options.

Let's be honest, eating a gluten-free diet kind of, well, sucks. But it doesn't have to be a gloomy, boring, rice-only existence. And no, we're not talking about the gluten-free menus at certain chain restaurants, much as those are appreciated.

Actually, there are quite a few restaurants locally that are making it just a little easier to avoid the dreaded wheat. Here are a few tips we've picked up for navigating the minefield (or should we say wheat field) of Capital Region cuisine:

Look for specialty menus at local places
Avenue A in Albany has all the gluten-free items on its menu starred -- the caldo verde (Portuguese kale and chorizo soup) in particular is delicious. Center Square stalwart El Loco has their own gluten-free menu - just ask. They'll even give you dedicated gluten-free chips from the Green Mountain Gringo brand. KD's Fish Fry in Ballston Spa offers a gluten-free menu of fish and chips, onion rings and more.

Don't be afraid to ask
At Saratoga staple Hattie's, the famous fried chicken is, of course, a no go, but the kitchen staff is usually happy to accommodate. On one trip, they dredged the soft shell crab in cornmeal only, and another time, they blackened the catfish instead of frying it. Plenty of local restaurants are willing to accommodate you when it comes to keeping up good customer relations.

Seek out the gluten-free perks at local joints
Saso's Noodle House on Central Ave. in Albany keeps wheat-free soy sauce on hand for the asking. Saratoga's The Wheatfields (somewhat ironically) will serve any of their pasta dishes with gluten-free pasta, and nearby pizzeria Nunzio's Pink Store will make a gluten-free pizza if you call ahead of time. Recently, we very happily noticed they stock the GF beer Red Bridge at Albany's Washington Tavern, of all places.

Support local GF bakers and producers
We've already sung the praises of the gluten-free cupcakes and brownies at Scratch (that's one of their cupcakes up on the right). A more recent discovery is the line of baked goods produced by Saratoga Gluten-Free Gourmet, which we found at the excellent natural foods store in Stuyvesant Plaza, It's Only Natural.

Check out Sherry Lynn's when it reopens
Currently based in Brunswick, this all GF cafe and bakery is planning a move to Latham soon. Sandwiches, pizza, soft pretzels, you name it - they make all the things you miss. Update: It's open.

If you've got any further tips to make eating out locally while avoiding wheat, rye and barley a little easier, please send them along!


I think I'd rather just kill myself.

That was a little harsh Craig! My sister has Celiac Disease and has eaten a gluten free diet her whole life. I don't like to hear people make those sorts of statements because it is something that people and families actually have to life with.

You'd never tell someone with Diabetes taking insulin daily or someone with cancer going through chemo that they should just kill themselves, would you? I'd hope not.

Eating gluten free is what my sister and many others need to do to be healthy. And it has made life so much easier that food companies and restaurants are making additions/changes to their menus and products and adding a larger variety of gluten free options.

Thanks for the tips and I appreciate this post. I am going to pick up some things from the bakery to bring to my sister when I go visit her in a few weeks.

Wow...Craig...that was a really harsh comment. I hope that you never have to deal with it, but there are those of us who have Celiac Disease and need to be on this strick diet. It's nice to see that area restaurants are able to accomodate persons with food allergies and sensitivies.

I was just being sarcastic. I'm very grateful that I don't have any food allergies, and it was the thought of all the foods that non-gluten eaters can't touch (most of which I love) that prompted my (admittedly crass, but still tongue-in-cheek) statement.

I also applaud the restaurants that put this info on their menus. As someone who googles prospective meal choices before even entering the restaurant (in order to avoid choosing something that's 1000 calories per forkful) I appreciate any and all nutritional info.

Thanks for the news, I learned about a couple new spots! Here's one for you-
"50 South" located on the stretch of Route 50 between Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs (the B. Spa end) is very accomodating of the gluten-free diet. Many of their waitstaff, and definitely the managers and owner, Kim Klopstock, are knowledgeable about gluten. (Kim's catering business Lily and the Rose has mega experience dealing with food allergies and such.) They use only wheat-free tamari and serve gluten-free rice crackers with their house tapenade. Their menu is a funky and fun combination of simpler diner-type food (soup/sandwich, chicken wings, fries, breakfast all day, etc.) and more interesting (to me) upscale dinners (entrees such duck breast, tuna, shrimp, filet mignon with yummy sides) and one or two gluten-free deserts. Something to satisfy everyone, and its not expensive. At last visit, they did not have a dedicated fryer, but its on their list of improvements.

What a great post. I thought I knew about most gluten-free dining options in the Capital Region, but you opened my eyes (and soon my mouth and wallet) to some new eateries. Great work!

A co-worker of mine sent me this link. So many people and places are becoming aware of the needs of those of us who are gluten free. A lot of times when I eat out I have a little fear in the back of my mind that people don't truely understand how ill I will become if there is gluten in the food I eat. I always think they tell me it is wheat free and don't actually know.

Thanks for the information it gets a little boring sometimes eating the same things at the same places all the time.

Just wanted to let you know KD's Fish Fry has greatly expanded with a small retail section, global meals to go and many yummy baked goods. In addition they have a new web site Thanks

yeah, sounds good!

I'd like to invite readers to join a new support group, Saratoga County Food Allergy/Sensitivities Support Group. Our second meeting is being graciously hosted by Dawn at KD's Fish Fry on Monday, December 15, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. There is no cost to attend or join. Please register by emailing me at

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