Traveling with food allergies can be more than a challenge – it can be stressful, frustrating, and down right annoying. Add other people to the mix and you can feel like quite a pain in the rear. If you have food allergies, you know what I’m talking about. Before taking trips, I do research and do my best to find places I know I can eat. For whatever reason I had difficulties finding a good source for Boston restaurants so decided to put one together myself!
It was my first time to Boston and I have fallen in love with this city. In many ways it’s like Austin – it’s on the water, there’s a great alternative feel to the town, and there’s a lot of students which keeps the city feeling so youthful. What I love about Boston is the diversity of people, the depth of passion for the Red Sox (it truly is a part of Bostonian heritage), the pockets of the city – like the Italian North End and Cambridge, efficient and easy public transportation, the ease and ability to walk everywhere, and I could go on and on. It’s a really special place and one I’ll definitely be coming back to. Like Austin, I was pleased to find the restaurants in Boston to be very health conscious and allergy friendly. Read on for my Boston food experiences.
STOP 1: Bertucci’s
There are 3 Bertucci’s locations in Boston and after leaving the airport, my friend and I were hungry and didn’t put much time into picking a good spot. Everyone there was very nice and accommodating to my food allergies but the food was absolutely tasteless. With all the great Italian food in Boston, I don’t recommend this one!
STOP 2: Flour Bakery + Cafe in Cambridge
What a treat to find!! Every time I googled gluten-free, this place would pop up. I thought it was so odd since it’s named “Flour” – clearly not gluten-free, but called anyway to ask if they have gluten-free desserts. They DO! They had several: a chocolate layered cake that looked very rich, different types of meringues and macaroons, and my very favorite – a dacquoise. I had never heard of this delicacy and it is so good! This one had layers alternating between hazelnut meringue, almond meringue, and chocolate cream. It was surrounded in a thin layer of chocolate with hazelnuts and sliced almonds on top. Perfection!
I went back several times for this delicious treat and eventually had to cut myself off. But, please if you ever go to Boston and you love dessert, go to Flour Bakery + Cafe!
STOP 3: Cafe Luna in Cambridge
This spot was close to our hotel and when walking around looking around for a breakfast spot, we found Cafe Luna. We both ordered a Smoked Salmon and Avocado Omelet (pepper crusted smoked salmon with avocado, tomato and chive cream cheese). Because I have a dairy allergy I had mine without the cream cheese. In all honesty, I’ve never been a huge omelet fan but as omelets go, this was very tasty. Again, everyone here was very accommodating to my allergies. On our last morning we went back. I ordered the same omelet which seemed to taste even better than the first time and my friend ordered a grilled spicy black bean burrito that looked fantastic. Thumbs up to Cafe Luna!
STOP 4: Piccola Venezia in the North End
We stopped here for a bite to eat with a glass of wine. I had a bowel of mussels and my friend had a salad. I let the server know that I have a gluten allergy and to not bring any bread with the mussels and bread came with the mussels (a serious pet peeve of mine). So, I had to send it back and have them remake it. I don’t know if the first bowl of mussels was better than the second or if the chef was just angry I sent the first bowel back. I’ve been a mussel fanatic my whole life and never have I had so many broken shells end up in my mouth. It’s not very pleasant biting into shell after shell. It was like the chef hurled each mussel individually into the pot determined to break them. Needless to say, I don’t recommend Piccola Venezia.
STOP 5: Pomodoro in the North End (I can’t find a website for this place! And it’s been there over 20 years! But, check out the raving reviews here.
We stopped here after our first glass of wine and what a treat!! This place is tiny and easy to miss, squeezing about 8 tables into their charming space. Every bit of our experience here was delightful. Spending a great deal of my childhood in Italy, this place reminded me very much of somewhere we would have gone in Taormina, my dad’s childhood home. Because we had already eaten before, we only ordered entrees and wine but both were fantastic. I had a vegetable risotto with chicken and my friend had spaghetti with marinara sauce (he was keeping his diet simple in preparation for racing the Boston Marathon). One of my favorite dishes is risotto and I order it at every opportunity I have. This was hands down the best risotto I’ve ever had. A nice ending to the meal? Complimentary Tiramisu! My only complaint? I can’t bring this place back to Austin!
Our last evening found us back at Pomodoro where we ordered a delightful antipasto spread filled with good cheese, olives, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, and a white bean salad. We both ordered the same entrees but this time I topped my vegetable risotto with a piece of grilled salmon. I will miss you, Pomodoro.
STOP 5: Life Alive: Urban Oasis and Organic Cafe in Cambridge
Once I found Life Alive, I went every day and sometimes twice a day! This place has all gluten-free foods, raw food, healthy smoothies, and fresh juices. Places like this are gems for me and such a treat to find! Again, a wonderful surprise just blocks away from where we stayed. Some things I had… a smoothie with Blueberries, Bananas, Strawberries, Dates, Flax, and almond milk… a smoothie with Strawberries, Bananas, Dates, Flax, Coconut Oil, and almond milk… a juice with cucumber, celery, greens, lemon, and aloe. Yumm!!
They also sell my favorite gluten-free cookies that are impossible to find! Lovely Liz Cookies. They had SO many flavors and two new ones that I tried are: Oatmeal Raisin and Snickerdoodle. Both were delicious.
STOP 6: Fenway ParkThere are times I feel very thankful that gluten-free is “trendy” and being at the Red Sox game was one of those instances. Fenway Park now serves gluten-free beer, pizza, sandwiches, sushi, and more. Pretty awesome and very progressive!
STOP 7: The Friendly Toast in Cambridge
In searching for a gluten-free brunch, we came across this spot that has all kinds of gluten-free pancakes! It was exciting to find but I felt the food was a bit sub-par. We ordered a lot: a blueberry gluten-free pancake, sunny side up eggs over black beans with roasted potatoes, a side of fruit, and scrambled eggs with avocado, black beans, and roasted corn salsa. On Sunday this place opened up 3 hours before other brunch spots which probably makes it really popular but I really don’t have any desire to go back. Best part? The fruit was very fresh and they gave us a really nice portion of it.
STOP 8: Aragosta Bar + Bistro
The night before the marathon, my friend wanted to find a good Italian spot. Since the north end was packed with other marathon runners looking to do the same thing, we found an Italian restaurant, Aragosta Bar + Bistro, right on the water underneath a hotel. It was really good food and they were great with my food allergies but in wanting a hearty Italian meal, I left feeling like it was something from a healthy spa restaurant. It was really good but not what I was in the mood for. I’d probably go back but only when in the mood for something light. Again, my friend had a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce and I had a beet salad and roasted organic chicken with broccoli and green beans. Everything was very good and very healthy.
STOP 11: Clear Conscience Cafe in Cambridge
This was a darling cafe we stumbled across that was attached to a grocery store co-op (can you tell I was in heaven?!). It was the only coffee shop I could find serving both organic coffee and rice milk – and it was GOOD! I went there several times and had an iced rice milk latte and my friend enjoyed their regular lattes.
STOP 10: Modern Pastry in the North End
On our last night, we stumbled across a bakery in the North End with a long line out the front door with a sign advertising gluten + dairy free Whoopie Pies! Wahoo!! I absolutely waited in line for that and it was SO worth it! In fact, I plan on having them ship me some more! Thankfully two of my newest favorite desserts are too far away to make impulsive eating decisions about..
And back I return to life in Austin. I suppose vacations must end, indulgent eating can’t go on day after day, and workouts must resume. Said as I nibble on my last whoopee pie..