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Gluten free in Glasgow: Escape to the city

How I chose gluten free restaurants and a hotel for a weekend city break in Glasgow

Having kids is a wonderful new beginning, but it is also the end of some things. Like weekends away together as a couple. Since our youngest is now 18 months old, I decided it was about time Lynds and I had a bit of grown up gluten free fun in the city (Glasgow - 2 1/2 hours from us here in Oban). So Granny was recruited, and the planning began.

We were to hand over our precious twosome at lunchtime on Friday and then go mad for 48 hours before pickup at lunchtime Sunday. So I had some serious planning to do. I needed to find gluten free restaurants for Friday lunch and dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast and lunch.So as well as coeliac-friendly restaurants, I had to find a gluten-free-competent hotel to provide breakfasts.

Truly gluten free restaurants

My other criteria were that a restaurant had to truly commit to doing gluten free food, not just claim to have ‘gluten free options’. If you search The List website, Glasgow and Edinburgh’s listings site, you get hundreds of restaurants claiming to do ‘Gluten free options’: Google’s ‘gluten free options’ search of The List

But then when you see that some of these are cake shops, and are unlikely to use separate baking trays for gluten free cakes, or have other cross-contamination issues, then if you’re a sensitive coeliac like me, you’ll steer clear. Same goes for pizza restaurants offering gluten free pizzas or pasta. I am sure some are really good, but how many bake their pizzas in an oven with normal pizzas? How many ensure pans are cleaned completely before boiling gluten free pasta in them?

If I’m sounding paranoid to you, you probably don’t suffer from cross-contamination like I do :-)

Gluten free Glasgow web search

So my first stop was to search the web for other coeliacs’ reviews of Glasgow restaurants and hotels. I found surprisingly few, but enough to get started. I emailed the restaurants with the following enquiry:

My restaurant enquiry email


I am hoping to come to your restaurant on .....

However, I am coeliac and have to check whether your kitchen is able to prepare gluten free food for me.

I ask as not all kitchens are happy to do this as cross-contamination such must be avoided - such as chopping boards previously used for bread, shared toasters and cooking oil.

I’d love to come as I have heard great things, but I have to be 100% sure about the gluten issue.

Many thanks for your help,”

About 80% of restaurants got back to me, which is a pretty good hit rate I reckon. Some said “yes, that’s no problem”, and some said more like “We’ve been doing gluten free options for 10 years and have a dedicated gluten free menu. If you have any other dietary restrictions, let us know and our chef will try to accommodate you”.

Guess which ones I went for?

My choices of gluten free hotel and restaurants

In the end, I chose the Radisson SAS hotel which I had found a review about by a coeliac (can’t lay my hands on it now), but their email response was really knowledgeable and helpful. Plus, they do an award-winning breakfast buffet, from which I should easily find some gluten free options.

For a lunch restaurants, we plumped for Cafe Andaluz, which has west end and city centre restaurants. They have a dedicated gluten free menu and I love tapas, so that was an easy decision.

For dinner on the Friday night, we needed somewhere in the west end again as we were heading to a comedy show later in Oran Mor on Byres Road. I was really excited to read a good review of the Ubiquitous Chip by a coeliac. I’ve known about the place for years, and it’s supposed to be fantastic. Then, when their email response was good, we were in. Here’s the Ubiquitous Chip’s website.

Saturday night we were lined up for a show at the Theatre Royal so I needed to find somewhere in the city centre. And seeing as it was our ‘posh night’ it had to be a posh restaurant. After a few false starts, I discovered Manna . Another restaurant review by a coeliac had led me there, and again, their response to my email, and subsequent phone call, was great.

What are my chances?

To be honest, if I escape 7 meals out without being glutened it will be a miracle, but I’ve done my groundwork so you never know. I’ll report back - watch this space.

And if you know of any good restaurants or hotels in Glasgow where you have had reliably gluten free food, please let me know and I’ll add them to this article.

For the post-match analysis, see Gluten free Glasgow - The Aftermath


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