24-Hours in Vancouver, British Columbia: A Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free Guide
Vancouver, British Columbia has been on my list of places to visit for years and this summer I finally got the chance to experience it for myself! The city is gorgeous, surrounded by water, mountains, and nice Canadians everywhere you turn! As always before I travel I conducted extensive research on what the gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free options were and I’m happy to report that there were more options than I even had enough time to try! I’ve distilled the long list into a concise bite-sized guide of the best gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free spots in Vancouver.
Start off your day with gluten-free doughnuts from Cartem’s Donuterie. With a rotating list of gluten-free, vegan, and “regular” options, there’s a doughnut flavor for everyone. I sampled their cream soda doughnut (pictured above), chocolate, and vanilla. Their gluten-free doughnuts are baked, not fried, in order to avoid cross-contamination from regular doughnuts which makes them (slightly) healthier? Two thumbs up.
Another reason I love Cartems Donuterie is that their gluten-free mix doesn’t contain any nut ingredients, however please be aware that they do make quite a few flavors with nut toppings if you have an allergy. Make sure to pick up a bag of their gluten-free cake/doughnut mix which they sell so you can make them at home! Get there early as they only make a limited number of gluten-free doughnuts which tend to sell out later in the day.
When visiting Vancouver, don’t miss The Gluten Free Epicurean, a 100% gluten-free bakery. Each item is made with their very own organic flour mix, and they offer a wide variety of sweet and savory options that are gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar free, grain free, and vegan. What to order? Pick from smoothies, 4 kinds of pizza, and daily sandwiches (veggie and meat options).
In the mood for something sweet? You’ve come to the right place. I’m going to take you on a visual tour of just a few of the incredible baked goods. The lemon huckleberry cake pictured above is what dreams are made of.
More gluten-free rainbow sprinkle gluten-free doughnuts? Why not!
And lastly..gluten-free, nut-free apple fritters. Words can’t express my delight when I took a bite into this pastry. YUM!
Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe is another great spot to visit for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even dinner. While they’re not an 100% allergen-free kitchen, most of their menu can be made gluten-free and nut-free. All bread can be substituted with gluten-free corn English muffins, or brown rice tortillas. Don’t you love places that give you more than one allergy-free option? Don’t miss the Salt Spring Frittata (spinach, caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes, and optional goat feta) for breakfast and the salmon burger for lunch. Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe also works directly with local organic farms to ensure that their menu has the smallest ecological footprint possible.
Have a craving for pizza? Head to Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. which offers dishes made from local & organic produce, free range organic meats, and ocean wise seafood..plus Vancouver traditional flatbread gluten-free pizza! I didn’t even know that was a thing, but apparently it is! There are also many dishes on their menu that are naturally nut-free as well, which is a win-win for me!
It wouldn’t be an Allergy Free Wife guide without the inclusion of tacos, which are hands down my favorite food! La Taqueria Pinche makes their tacos from traditional recipes with local, organic, and sustainable ingredients. My two favorite tacos were the al pastor taco (pork marinated in achiote chili and pineapple) and the hongos con kale (trio of mushrooms & kale stewed in salsa). All tacos with the exception of the seafood tacos are served on fresh, homemade corn tortillas which are naturally gluten free. If you have a nut allergy, please note that there is a pollo con mole taco which contains nuts.
It’s official: I’m starting a petition to get SMAK to come open a location in NYC! Their menu is 100% gluten free, and clearly outlines if a dish is also vegan, dairy-free, spicy, or contains nuts. Nothing makes me happier than a clearly outlined allergen menu. My favorite dish was the Chicken Cesar Salad with GLUTEN-FREE croutons, and the mango lassi smoothie. Yum!
Get your after-lunch sweet treat at Lemonade Gluten-Free Bakery, which was opened by Pastry Chef Tracy Kadonoff after she discovered she had a gluten-allergy twenty years into working with gluten-based flours! In addition to being 100% gluten-free, there are also many dairy-free and egg-free options. I had to stop myself from eating multiple chocolate gluten-free croissants…they were THAT good!
While I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants, I must say that I’ve now had three really great experiences dining at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar. The benefit of a chain restaurant is they typically have a detailed allergen menu, which is the case with The Keg Steakhouse + Bar. I ordered a salad off the gluten-free menu, and my husband ordered a filet with french fries. Our food was delivered by a restaurant manager, who verbally noted that our food had been safely prepared according to our dietary allergens! Chain or not, I highly recommend The Keg Steakhouse + Bar!
If you’re still hungry after dinner, head to Nice Vice for plant-based ice cream that’s gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. With a base that’s made from a mixture of sweet potato milk, coconut milk, and brown rice and flavors like chocolate lavender, vanilla rose, earl grey of blueberry, and more you’ll be transported to allergy-free ice cream heaven!
Everyone in Vancouver is obsessed with Bella Gelateria which serves up their award-winning gelato made from organic, local ingredients. As I’ve been avoiding dairy, I wasn’t too into the idea of heavy cream gelato, but was pleased to see that they offered a dairy-free chocolate gelato and lemon sorbet. It was pretty delicious, and perhaps worth the 30-minute line which seems to be a common daily occurrence.
I’ll close with this photo of me finishing a long 4-hour hike which was necessary after eating ALL the food in Vancouver!