For a city as small as Belfast, the amount of great gluten-free-friendly restaurants is pleasantly surprising! The food scene is always growing, with new restaurants opening on a weekly basis. Last week, I took to the heart of the city (BT1) to explore a number of different places that are great for gluten free food. Here are a few of my favourites:
Tucked in behind my fashion mothership (Zara), City Picnic is in an ideal location for anyone looking for some lunchtime shopping fuel. Using only homegrown, local produce, this little gem prides itself as serving 'The Best Burgers in Belfast'. With one of their owners being coeliac, City Picnic is a pretty unique diner because everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) on their menu can be made gluten free! Think of everything that is normally off limits if you're gluten free - burgers, chicken wings, 'messed up fries', hot dogs, wraps, nachos and chicken strips - and then think how challenging it is not to order four lunches at one time. Further to that, you can wash all of this down with a gluten free beer, prosecco or cocktail! I have no doubt that City Picnic will become an absolute favourite for any of you popping into the city centre!
My best friends used to live in Melbourne and would send me photos of themselves eating bowls of Pho in the local restaurants. I had never had it and became absolutely obsessed with trying to hunt down a gluten free bowl of Pho in Belfast, which turned out to be an impossible task. That is, until Yugo opened right in the heart of Belfast serving up a delight of Asian-fusion! It has now been open for over a year and I visited for the first time last week for lunch. It is in Donegall Square West (the righthand side of the City Hall), so it's in a great location for shopping pit stops or for dinner before a night out in Belfast!
Yugo has a lovely open kitchen which is framed by hanging plants and low hanging wicker lights - the decor is gorgeous! Much to the despair of the person I am dining with, there is nothing I love more than watching a chef at work while I wait for my food (...my eyes focused only on the chef doesn't make for great conversation)! I ordered the Beef Pho (of course), the Panang Curry, Sushi and Asian Greens Salad. This is honestly some of the best, fresh food that I have tried locally. Every single dish was packed with flavour, I felt like I was experiencing something new with every bite! Further to that, the staff were brilliant. I love dining in restaurants which make me feel completely welcomed and at ease about being coeliac. They couldn't have done more for me and made sure to tell me that the dishes were gluten free when they were serving them. That saves you the bother of having to check because they look too good to be gluten free. Yugo has raced it's way onto my favourite restaurants list, I can't wait to go back!
When you're planning a date night but you don't know what you want to eat, or planning a group dinner and need to accommodate lots of different diets, Home restaurant is the perfect option for you in Belfast. Suitable for Coeliacs? Tick! Vegan Options? Tick! A 'skinny' menu for gym bunnies? Tick! Home is situated on Wellington Place, about a thirty second walk from the city hall. I told the restaurant at the time of booking that I was coeliac and when the manger led us to our table, I was pleasantly surprised to find two gluten free menus already on the table - the standard gluten free menu and the 'skinny' gluten free menu. After tossing the skinny menu to one side, I had the difficult task of choosing what to eat. There are SO many gluten free options. Everything from a burger, to salmon, to sweet potato curry and more. For starter, it was an easy choice, the salt and pepper prawns. Even now, I always find anything in a batter, tempura or breaded a total treat. The prawns were perfectly cooked and the lemon tartare on the side was the perfect accompaniment to take a little heat off the prawns.
One thing that stood out to me for main was the steak because of two things in the description - firstly, they use Peter Hannan's (of Hannan Meats) which is pretty much the best quality meat you will find in NI, and secondly, it came with parmesan and truffle fries and they are my favs! The Cafe de Paris butter was a really nice change from being offered garlic butter and melted wonderfully over the perfectly cooked, butter-like steak. I could write a whole blog post on the truffle and parmesan fries, but I won't, I will just say that they are incredible and the best I have had. You need to go at once and order some!
My ideal night is one that is powered by guacamole and margaritas...in excess. La Taqueria takes the crown for my favourite date night restaurant in Belfast. Friendly staff serve up authentic Mexican food in a relaxed, candle lit and intimate setting. It is tucked away in Castle Street up a flight of stairs (the left hand side of Primark), which is great because the calories burned walking up the stairs, leaves room for extra tacos! Yes, the tacos are gluten free, along with about 80% of their menu! The staff are so helpful with going through the menu to show all of the gluten free dishes and chat through the ingredients and which tacos are their favourites. I'm always happy to choose their suggestions!
Don't expect standard 'chicken' or 'beef' tacos. Their traditional soft shell tacos (made from corn) are filled with the most gorgeous ingredients. My favs are the 'chorizo rojo' (ground pork seasoned with chipotle ancho chilli and spices, which is shown in front of Andy below), the salsa prawns and normally one of their specials, like pulled pork with pineapple. The tacos are served on wooden sharing boards, I call them 'sharing boards' so that Andy has to share with me, feel free to eat all 3 yourself. I order a huge bowl of guacamole and frijoles refries (black bean mash with fresh cheese) on the side so that our table looks like a Mexican fiesta. You don't get this close to Mexico every day and once you visit La Taqueria, you're going to be a regular!
Taylor & Clay, Bullit Hotel
This is a hotel restaurant like no other. Housed in the trendy Bullit Hotel, Taylor and Clay is a fantastic choice for brunch, lunch or dinner. At the heart of the restaurant sits a huge Asador grill and the enticing smells from the grill drift all around the restaurant, meaning your mouth begins to water as soon as you're being shown to your table. To kick off lunch, I ordered an apple gin with elderflower tonic, which was recommended to me by the friendly hostess (also a coeliac). Andy and I both ordered the famous wagyu beef burgers (gluten free for me) and I went with the coeliac friendly choice of the black rice and feta salad side. The burgers are served with a tangy bois boudran sauce...now I don't know what this is, but all I can tell you is that it is bloody fantastic! The burger crumbled at every bite, the meat was dark and the flavours from the grill were fantastic. The burger was huge and I was enjoying it so much that I barely got to touch my salad before the complete and utter fullness set in. The black wild rice along with the tang from the feta and the sweetness and smokiness from the grilled sweetcorn were an incredible combination and the amount I ate was enough to leave me with very happy memories! Again, most definitely another restaurant for your visit list!
When you finish your meal, a lovely way to make your day a little bit lovelier is to take the lift up to the roof and visit Bullit's roof top bar, Babel. Babel has a panoramic view of Belfast and on a sunny day, it is the spot to be! The cocktails are unique and gorgeous, my favourite being 'The Babel'. Outside, they have a lovely little roof garden, surrounded by plants and twinkle lights!
Thank you so much to Belfast one for planning a gorgeous day. This post was sponsored by Belfast One, but we all know how much I love eating so all views are most definitely my own!
If you would like to plan your own day of eating in Belfast, click here to see a complete guide of what our gorgeous city has to offer you!