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Monday, June 17, 2024

The Legal Nomads Gluten Free Guide to Ottawa (2023)

I have now spent two years in the National Capital Region, with one year in Aylmer in Quebec, and one year in Ottawa. While this gluten free guide focuses primarily on Ottawa, I’ve included a few spots ‘across the river’ on the Quebec side, as there are some celiac-friendly treats there that aren’t to be missed.

As with the other celiac guides on this site, this list will be a living tree where I plan to add new spots as I stumble across them. With a year in Ottawa under my belt, though, I was ready to put together the best of the gluten free eats I’ve found so far. After all, there are other spots in town that I’ve yet to try!

My 2023 gluten free guide to Ottawa

I’m dividing this post into two main sections: dedicated gluten free facilities in Ottawa, and then the restaurants and stalls that aren’t 100% GF but that can safely accommodate celiacs.

There are many restaurants that offer gluten free options, but not all protect against cross-contact. Some are not even aware that those risks need to be addressed for celiac customers. While yes, sometimes you’ll see a celiac say “oh I’m not that sensitive” and claim they are ok with using shared fryers, the reality of this autoimmune disease is that even if asymptomatic ingesting gluten will harm the body eventually. It’s not a risk celiacs can take.

While Ottawa has far less celiac-safe spots as Montreal, it does have a slew of wonderful bakeries, food trucks, and more for gluten free diners to enjoy. I do wish that Canada was generally as accommodating as some other countries like the United Kingdom, where thanks to changes in their food regulations, allergens are almost always clearly marked on menus and restaurants can often easily accomodate the needs of celiacs. Hopefully one day.

Still, you won’t go hungry here and while our selection may be slimmer than Toronto, Montreal, or New York, what you will get is still delicious.

Note: As I’ve received some emails since publishing this guide asking about how people got on this list / asking why x or y spot isn’t on the list, I want to reiterate: everything in this guide was paid for by me, none of it was sponsored, and the list was cobbled together from my own research. If you’re new to Legal Nomads please see my About Page for details about sponsorships and collabs; I don’t do either. Nothing wrong with those who do, of course! But the site was started in 2008, and instead of doing press trips and sponsored content, I made money creating products my readers asked for like celiac translation cards in multiple languages, and maps of food. Now that I’m disabled, my Patreon is also what helps support me.

Let’s get to it!

Dedicated (100%) gluten-free restaurants, stalls, and bakeries in Ottawa

Strawberry Blonde Bakery (main location in Westboro, at 111 Richmond Rd, Ottawa, ON K1Z 6V9 Canada). This vegan, nut-free, kosher, and gluten-free bakery now has two locations in Ottawa, and plenty of treats to choose from. They do custom cakes as well; see below for the one my brother and his wife got for me. They’ve also got a fun seasonal menu that rotates based on holidays, and year-round staples of different cookies, cupcakes and mini-cupcakes, brownies, nanaimo bars and more. They ship nationwide, and deliver within the Ottawa area. You can find them on Instagram here

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Me a few years ago with my absolutely fabulous gluten-free, soy-free, vegan birthday cake from Strawberry Blonde. It was a chocolate cake with vanilla icing, decorated (of course) with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references because I was turning 42.

Gutsies (2297 St Joseph Blvd, Orléans, ON K1C 1E7 Canada) This shop and bakery has brought in some of the incredible gluten free goods from Montreal and Toronto, and sells them alongside local fare and their own delicious baked goods and soups/meals at their store. They have fresh bread, pastries, and muffins/treats, as well as a relatively large dry goods section and quite a few freezers that house hard to find items in Ottawa. I am a big fan of their chicken soup with basmati rice, free of additives that anger my mast cells. Natasha, who founded Gutsies after her daughter Maya was diagnosed with celiac disease, was even kind enough to package the soups in smaller containers so that it wasn’t heavy for me to lift with my spinal CSF leak.

The frozen pizza dough that they sell is among the best I’ve ever tried in 20 years of celiac-ing, and if you get there early enough they may even have some pain au chocolat and croissants left from La Marquise Sans Gluten in Montreal for you to eat as you head home. (If not, they have them frozen for you to make at home, instead.) Oh, and don’t miss one of their own banana chocolate muffins, if that flavour is to your taste. They’re decadent. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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Inside Gutsies’ location in Orleans

2 Sprinkles (formerly 5 Cupcakes) (Online and at markets) Previously 5 Cupcakes, this family-owned gluten free bakery recently went through a rebrand and is now 2 Sprinkles. I’m a big fan of their namesake sprinkle donuts, below, which are baked not fried. They’ve also got chocolate brownies, pizza buns, cookies, crispy calzones, and amazing breads with flavours like herb garlic and onion cheese. Their menu will be expanding as the new iteration of the bakery unfolds, but look for their cupcakes when they do come back as they were fab. If you order online, you can pick up for free at Lansdowne farmers markets weekly, but they also offer delivery within the Ottawa area. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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Sprinkle donuts from 2 Sprinkles

Voila Gluten-Free Bakeree (4055 Carling Ave #2, Kanata, ON K2K 2A4 Canada) Lovely family-owned bakery that makes baked goods not only for celiacs, but also for those who avoid dairy, eggs, peanuts, nuts and tree nuts. They focus on using natural sweeteners, and try to aim for low sodium and low sugar. Bagels, bread, savoury and sweet pies, tarts, muffins, cupcakes, and much more on offer. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

Spring Chips (55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3 Canada) Amazing “potato tornado” spirals, similar to the ones I would enjoy in Thailand back when I was living there a decade ago. Spring Chips is another family-owned stall, and over the course of my potato-filled adventures, I’ve had a chance to meet both dad and son who run the stall in shifts. Really delicious, a sweet family, and they make their own seasoning (gluten free!) to top their freshly fried potato spirals. They’re at the Christmas market at Lansdowne, but also at Byward market, and the CFL games at TD stadium, as well as some festivals. You can find them on Facebook here, and Instagram here.

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Yes, I am truly that happy to be eating a potato tornado.

Farang Thai (Online and at markets) As the name suggests, this spot is run by a non-Thai person—farang means foreigner in Thai. Don’t let that stop you, though, because their food is very tasty, the co-owner is celiac, and he and his partner has been to Thailand many times to keep researching and improving on his recipes. The satay chicken is a fave, but they’ve also got one of my preferred beverages, a sweet pandan leaf tea. They are usually at 613 Flea market in Lansdowne, but you can check their events page for when they’re attending and for any other pop ups they have going on. They also do frozen meals if you’re here for a while. All items are 100% GF! You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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© 2023 Farang Thai

Chicha Canada (Markets in and around Ottawa) Chicha, a naturally-gluten drink from South America, comes in many forms. It can be made from corn, rice, quinoa, cassava, and more—though corn is the most common and well known version. It can be fermented into alcohol, or enjoyed as a creamy, delicious drink in the summer heat. Traditionally an indigenous drink, chicha has been consumed in the Andes for thousands of years. In some countries like Colombia, it was villainized following colonization, but is finally making a comeback.

It’s the non-alcoholic rice-based version from Venezuela that Chicha Canada’s Fernando Gonzalez makes and serves in compostable cups or glass mason jars. He’s got rotating flavours, and the consistency is akin to a thicker horchata, a rice-based drink from Mexico. His stall is a newcomer at the markets, and the entire menu is gluten free—even the Oreo version below (he uses gluten free Oreos!). Chicha is also dairy free. It’s quite a treat, and even the plain version is sugary enough to enjoy on its own. Add the maple syrup or Oreos and you’ve got something to satisfy even the sweetest of sweet tooths. You can find CC on Instagram and Facebook too, where he shares which markets he’ll be at in Ottawa.

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GF oreos and a thick creamy ‘milk’shake made from rice. Can’t go wrong!

Gluten free restaurants in Ottawa, by cuisine:

These are spots that are not 100% gluten free, but knowledgeable about celiac disease and cross-contact. With the case of The Souvlaki Shack, it’s 95% gluten free, and amazing.

Mediterranean and Italian

The Greek Souvlaki Shack (258 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1X4, Canada). When I called to confirm what was gluten free here, the woman I spoke with confirmed that the owner makes all the gluten free pita himself, and that almost everything on the menu was safe for celiacs—including the fried calamari. What a treat! This spot has no website or social media to speak of, but they are on UberEats if you wanted to check the menu before stopping in. The gyros with gluten free pita brought me back to the many Saturdays I used to get Marathon souvlaki with my grandpa pre-celiac diagnosis, and every single thing I’ve tried from there was delicious. A word of advice: get some extra tzatziki on the side to dip your french fries in for extra oomph. The spinach pie (spanakopita) is not gluten free, nor are the other items made with phyllo. But everything else is, and with a dedicated fryer you won’t have trouble finding something you love. Be sure to mention celiac when you order.

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Photo of the gluten free gyro with lamb, and the fries with feta. Fryer is safe for celiacs! Photo from my friend Elizabeth.

La Dolce Vita (180 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON, K1R 7P9, Canada). This restaurant is Gluten Free Certified from the GFFP (The Gluten-Free Food Program), meaning all of their gluten free options — AND THERE ARE SO MANY — are celiac-safe. If you want Italian food, this is a great bet. I’ve also put it in the “pizza” section below, but in addition to pizzas you can opt for pastas, entrees, lasagna, gnocchi and more. Full GF menu for you to drool over, here. You can find them on Instagram here.

Ottavio (56A Gréber, Gatineau, QC J8T 3P8, Canada) Ottavio is over in Gatineau on the Quebec side of the river, but its menu is clearly marked for multiple allergens and it’s among the safer places to grab a meal if you have a car and a picky family who needs some variety to choose from. You can find them on Instagram here.

Aroma Meze (239 Nepean Street, Ottawa, ON, K2P 0B7, Canada) Many gluten-free options, absolutely delicious, and a thoughtful menu divided by seasons, and celiac friends say this is a great spot for a sit-down meal. As mentioned, I cannot sit down or go to restaurants, so I have not yet tried it. But it came so heavily recommended that I wanted to include it. There is also gluten free poutine with a dedicated fryer for the french fries, as well as GF pitas. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.


Social Thai (399 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1Y3, Canada) This spot is knowledgeable about celiac disease, can accommodate many dishes and make them gluten free, and is a fave for local celiacs. You can find them on Instagram here.

Siam Bistro (1268 Wellington Street West, Ottawa, ON K1Y 3A5, Canada) this was the first Thai place I tried in Ottawa, and it was delicious. They’re aware of cross-contact, can explain what is gluten free for celiacs, and have plenty of traditional Thai dishes to choose from. You can find them on Instagram here.

Talay Thai (511 Bank St. Ottawa, ON K2P 1Z5, Canada) Their menu items are marked for gluten (using a green heart, a nice change!), and knowledgeable about cross contact. Ensure you mention celiac disease / gluten allergy, so they know to take extra precaution. Pad thai, fried rice, yellow curry, and some appetizers: all gluten free. Red curries / green curries are not. You can find them on Instagram here.

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Pad thai, ©2023 Talay Thai

Green Papaya (256 Preston St Ottawa, ON, K1R 7R5 Canada). This Thai restaurant has a few outposts to choose from but I’ve only eaten at the Preston street franchise. They were able to accommodate my celiac needs, and aware of CC risks. You can find them on Facebook here.


Unfortunately, many Vietnamese spots are now using soy sauce in their meat marinades, and some of my old haunts are no longer safe. Here are two I still dine at:

Authentic Vietnamese Pho House (3 locations, all outside Ottawa city center) Don’t miss their bánh hỏi, a DIY platter with rice wrappers and grilled meat and herbs with pickled veggies, hủ tiếu, phở (the phở tái nạm sách is my fave as I love beef tripe!) NOTE: the is menu marked “gluten friendly” so this is not a celiac-driven dining experience, but many dishes from Vietnam are naturally gluten free (as I detail in my Saigon food guide). You must tell them that you are celiac, so they cook the bánh phở noodles in separate water to the egg noodles, for the soups. Bun noodles are cooked in advance separately, and safe. Also double check the marinade for the meats. You can find them on Facebook here.

La Maison Pho (Aylmer) (4 Rue Belmont Aylmer, QC J9H 6J5, Canada) knowledgeable about celiac, gluten free items clearly marked on their take-out menu in store, including their summer rolls /gỏi cuốn (chicken is not marinated in any soy sauce), phở, rice vermicelli dishes (bún thịt nướng) and more. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.


T.F.T – that food truck (2160 St. Joseph Blvd, Ottawa, ON, Canada). Coming from Montreal, I have some strong opinions about poutine. On the Ottawa side, That Food Truck (T.F.T) is easily the best poutine I’ve tried. They use St. Albert’s curds and have a great gravy, and the fries are perfectly crispy while still being tender inside. They have a dedicated fryer, and most of their menu can be made gluten free so if you crave grilled chicken sandwiches, burgers, or onion rings, all are possible here. If you’re in Ottawa without wheels, they’re on Uber Eats too. If you do have wheels, they’re across the street from Gutsies. You know what to do. You can find them on Facebook here.

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To add to the goodness, this is properly LAYERED poutine, where there’s also cheese under some of the fries. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. ©2023 TFT

Patate Lou Lou (29 Chemin Eardley Aylmer, QC J9H 4J9, Canada). Across the river is my favourite poutine in the area, at Patate Lou Lou. Unfortunately it’s not that accessible if you don’t have wheels, so it’s under # 2 here on the guide. You’ll need to ask for their gluten free gravy, which also comes with St Albert’s curds. They have dedicated fryers for the fries, and also a vegan sauce option. You can find them on Facebook here.

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Patate LouLou’s medium poutine, with gluten free gravy.

The Great Canadian Poutinerie (multiple locations) People in Ottawa also swear by The Great Canadian Poutinerie, but I am honestly not the biggest fan of the gravy. Still, if you’re not a poutine purist like me and want to try many different options (like Philly cheesesteak poutine or sweet Sriracha poutine), this is your best bet. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here


YKO Chicken BBQ (the location at 263 Dalhousie Street Ottawa, ON K1N 7E3 Canada) There are two outposts of YKO chicken, I have only tried the one at 263 Dalhousie and while they may be similar taste-wise, I have only tried the .com one! The co-owner, Ramata, is not only familiar with celiac disease, but trains her staff in cross-contact and was very responsive when I asked questions about preparation and contamination. The other outpost is run by her family.

The chicken is fantastic, smokey and tender and juicy inside, and the side dishes are all gluten free as well—and delicious. Pretty much everything is safe on the menu, except the beignets. But since the beignets are made on a stovetop, the other items that are fried like french fries are ok for us celiac to enjoy. I usually opt for a half-chicken with sides to have leftovers for the next day. Do not miss the plantains, please. They are a perfectly sweet accompaniment to your chicken. You can find them on Instagram here.

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Screenshotted from YKO Chicken’s website


Pizza Nerds (2 locations). For those who want to try pizza at a spot that isn’t dedicated, this is a good option. They’ve got inventive flavours, a delicious cauliflower crust, and knowledge of celiac disease. They keep these pizzas in a separate area and cook them on a pan so that the pizza does not touch the surface of the oven. I tried their Queen Elizabeth goat cheese and basil pizza, though I asked for no sauce due to my mast cell issues. They were able to accommodate, and really nice about it to. You can find them on Instagram here.

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I got the spicy honey on the side since this was take out. Very tasty!

La Dolce Vita – (see above, under Italian)

Johnny Farina (216 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L7 Canada). Despite the name, Johnny Farina does have gluten free pizza (and pasta) options, staff are knowledgeable about celiac and will cook and serve/cut pizzas with separate utensils if informed of having the condition. Not my favourite GF pizza in town (that would be Pizza Nerds!) but tasty and lots of non-pizza options for everyone else. You can find them on Instagram here.

Pizza Stay Gold (360 Elgin St., Ottawa, ON, K2P 1M8, Canada—Google maps lists it as 380, but their own site says otherwise) I’m a thin crust kind of lady, but if deeper dish pizza piques your fancy, Pizza Stay Gold’s gluten free options are decadent and delicious. This spot started up during the pandemic and has become popular. It serves Detroit-style pizza, meaning that it’s square and with a large high crust —not the pies we’re used to here, but a fun change if you want it! Fryer is shared with the chicken breaded items so do not opt for anything fried here. But the GF pizzas are prepared in a separate area, with their own cutting boards, utensils, and pans, and cooked separately. You can find them on Instagram here.


Thali Ottawa (136 O’Connor St, Ottawa ON K2P 2G7 Canada). Thali serves truly amazing food, and though it is not cheap it remains one of the best Indian spots I’ve tried in town. Items that have gluten are clearly marked on the menu; the rest is ours to enjoy. When I ate there the pappadum and pakora were safe too, as nothing with gluten was fried in their fryer, but it’s always good to confirm. Their sister restaurant Coconut Lagoon is another option if you prefer the menu there, or want something extra decadent like butter lobster masala. Both menus are the brainchild of Chef Joe Thottungal, who has done a wonderful job of bringing his visions to life. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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© 2023 Thali Ottawa

Taj Indian Cuisine (3009 Carling Ave. Ottawa, ON K2B 7Y6). They serve vegan, halal, vegetarian and gluten free options, and are a recommendation from the Ottawa Celiac Association. When ordering, make sure you mention you’re celiac! They have a copious menu, but always confirm fried products are gluten free too as shared fryer status may change. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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© 2023 Taj Indian Cuisine. Chicken biryani

East India Company (210 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON, K2P 0J4 Canada). This restaurant has an extensive menu and generous portions of biryani, some of which have paneer (a rarity in that dish), as well as their mains. Unlike many Indian restaurants in the city these days, their mains come with rice on the side. Their menu for their downtown Ottawa location clearly marks for gluten, but as with Coconut Lagoon and Thali, please note that the wheat symbol denotes UNSAFE dishes—there’s no line through that wheat. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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© 2023 East India Company

Sona Indian Kitchen (1183 Hunt Club Rd Unit 104, Ottawa, ON K1V 8S4). A relative newcomer to Ottawa, this restaurant opened in 2023. The restaurant is very aware of cross-contact issues, and can substitute as required. Note that while the menu is very clearly marked for gluten free items, their fryer is shared and not safe for celiacs. Sadly you’ll need to skip those poppadoms. They’re on Facebook here.

Indian Punjabi Clay Oven (4055 Carling Ave, Kanata, ON, K2K 2A4 Canada). Further afield, but a great option if you have a car. This spot is another one recommended by the local celiac association, as they are very familiar with cross-contact and what it means to be strictly gluten free. I’ve had paneer dishes and chicken biryani to great success, but their menu has many more options for you to enjoy. You ca find them on Instagram here.

Latin American and Mexican Food

La Casita Nica (740 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1S 3V4 Canada). Nicaraguan-style tamales (nacatamales), pupusas, and other corn-based options, located in the La Chingadera Mexican supermarket on Bank street. Having spent years living in Mexico, it was fun to try a very different take on the tamale. Their pork nacatamal has bitter orange in the corn masa, and potato and hard boiled egg inside the neatly-wrapped package, alongside the meat. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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Vegetarian Nicaraguan-style tamales (nacatamales).

Casa Mexico (226 Preston St. Ottawa, ON K1R 7R2, Canada) La Casa Mexico’s new Preston street location has the same gluten free menu options as their other spots further afield. There’s a reason I loved living in Oaxaca so much: many dishes were naturally gluten free, and amazing. Corn tortillas abound here, as do slow-cooked favorites like barbacoa and tacos al pastor. Missing are the prices from Mexico, of course, but that is expected. You can find them on Instagram here.

Gooneys Sandwichworks (360 Laurier Ave W, Ottawa, ON K1P 1C8, Canada) Delicious gluten free arepas with a variety of fillings on their menu, and freezers with gluten free empanadas. You can choose from all-day breakfast arepas, or the less eggs more meat and cheese options on their lunch and dinner menus. They are on Instagram here and Facebook here.

La Cabana (848-B Merivale Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1Z 5Z4, Canada). La Cabana’s speciality is pupusas, a savoury flatbread from El Salvador made with masa (corn) or rice flour that resembles the arepa. It’s El Salvador’s national dish, and a delicious one at that—I used to eat this a lot in Montreal when I was first diagnosed many years ago since there were less GF options back then. It’s naturally gluten free, and so tasty. La Cabana’s pupusas are GF as well, something clearly marked on their menu. You can ask for a rice flour option if you prefer, though their primary pupusa is the traditional masa (corn) flour base. You can also find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

La Fiesta Latina (565 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K1R 5K2) They grabbed a great domain name too! Most of the menu is gluten-free, and tacos and tortillas are 100% masa harina and not flour. Knowledgeable about celiac disease. You can find them on Instagram here.

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©2023 Fiesta Latina

Chamos Grill (511 Lacolle Way, Orléans, ON K4A 5B6, Canada) is a Venezuelan restaurant that offers many different gluten free corn-based options, from arepas, empanadas, and tacos to hearty main dishes from a cross-section of Latin American countries. Very aware of cross-contact/celiac needs; if you order delivery your bag will have a gluten free sticker on it to show that they treated your meal differently to the rest. This spot was started by a Syrian-Venezuelan couple who offered take out arepas and empanadas during the pandemic. In 2023, they expanded their menu and their space into something more; it’s also a bar and event space.

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©2023 Chamos Grill. Pic is of their mini arepas platter.

Gluten free baked goods (for 100% GF bakeries, see above)

Little Jo Berry’s (1305 Wellington St. W, Ottawa, ON, K1Y 3B1, Canada) LJB is not a dedicated facility, but their gluten free items are baked in a separate part of the kitchen, one that is cleaned and verified for cross-contamination. As they’re not 100% GF, they can’t guarantee safety, but I am very sensitive and have not had issues at this bakery. Their gluten free donuts were my birthday “cake” last year, and amazing. They sometimes make extravagant treats like this gluten free terrarium, with matcha and chocolate sponge cake, gummies, mint, chocolate mousse, and more: You can find them on Instagram here.

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Little Jo Berry’s gluten free terrarium. Pretty and delicious.

Rocket Scone This scone company is a big hit for celiacs and non-celiacs alike. The bulk of their offerings are with gluten, but they do make a sweet and a savoury gluten free option each week. The owner’s husband is celiac and she makes the GF scones at home, careful to avoid any cross-contact. And the GF scones are a different shape to the regular ones to avoid mistakes. Available at different farmers markets in the city in Carp, Westboro, Lansdowne, and Orleans; their Instagram feed is where they post the week’s scones and their current location. I’m a big fan of their amaretto poached pear, but you truly can’t go wrong.


Kiko Sushi (349B Preston st, Ottawa, ON, K1S 1V6 Canada) Knowledge about cross contact abounds, and they have a wide gluten free selection as well. Their rice is perfectly seasoned and the fish is fresh. You can find them on Instagram here.

Sushi Haru Haru (181 Rue Principale, Gatineau, QC, J9H 6J9 Canada). One of the best rated sushi spots in the area, this was my go-to when I lived in Aylmer, Quebec. Very fresh fish, a lovely Korean family who owns the spot and who were happy to accommodate my additional food restrictions over and above celiac. Gluten free soy sauce is available, the rice vinegar they use is gluten free, and they make their own spicy sauce and it too is gluten free. The Korean food options are not gluten free, but if you’ve got some non-celiacs in your midst, they may enjoy those offerings. I usually got their salmon sashimi combo, below, but all of their sushi is fantastic.

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Always fresh and delicious at Haru Haru! If only they delivered to Ottawa.

Ten Fish (1149-B Bank St., Ottawa, ON K1S 3X4 Canada) A very cute family-owned sushi shop not far from Lansdowne and the Whole Foods. Self pick-up menu on their website here that marks out which of the maki rolls are gluten free—see the hover over the rolls. They have gluten free soy sauce available for those who need it, and their spicy sauce is also gluten free. I usually stick to their sashimi or nigiri.

J:Unique Kitchen (381 Cooper St, Ottawa, ON, K2P 0P8 Canada) Very knowledgeable about celiac and cross contact, and tasty sushi. Expensive but their fish quality shows you why. It’s billed as “Vancouver style sushi” in Ottawa, but you can find your usual faves here either way. They are on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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Sashimi combo, ©2023 J:Unique Kitchen

Pubs and Diners

Little Mac’s (991 Wellington St W, Ottawa, ON, K1Y 2Y1, Canada). Fried /southern food, from the titled mac and cheese, to fried chicken, waffles, ribs, french fries, and more. Also milkshakes! While the menu doesn’t disclose that it is gluten free, it is almost entirely gluten free—a celiac’s cholesterol paradise. The only thing not gluten free is that they have regular buns, but you can ask for the GF bun when you order. They prepare the wheat buns on a separate griddle to the rest of the (GF) menu. Make sure you communicate that you are celiac when you go or reserve. You can find them on Instagram here.

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All gluten free! Photo from Elizabeth.

Wilf & Ada’s (510 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1Z4 Canada) This used to be a breakfast-only spot, but it was revamped a decade ago to offer a brunch menu that includes favourites like avocado eggs, mariposa duck (under their “eggs benny” section, made with Hollandaise sauce), and typical breakfast staples. Most of their menu can be made gluten free, staff is knowledgeable about celiac restrictions and needs, and their dishes are crafted with a focus on local farms for their ingredients. They’re on Instagram here.

Ice Cream

Yes, in my family ice cream is a cuisine type—and occasionally a meal.

The Merry Dairy (102 Fairmont Avenue -corner of Gladstone, Ottawa, ON, K1Y 1X6 Canada) They are knowledgeable about celiac disease, and serve the most amazing ice cream. My brother is rightfully obsessed with this spot, and he made sure I was too when I moved to the area. When I’ve gone in person and mention that I have celiac, they open a new tub of ice cream and get a new clean scoop to ensure no cross contact. The gluten free housemade waffle cones are among the best I’ve ever had, and their flavours rotate with the season. Honey lavender, fresh mint (made via neighbourhood mint exchange, where locals bring fresh mint and get ice cream credit) and salted caramel are among my picks But honestly, there’s nothing bad here. The scooping menu and pint info are clearly marked for gluten free, soy free, and vegan options. Note that their colourful waffle cones are not housemade nor gluten free, so make sure you ask which one to get. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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My puny arm with a massive gluten free waffle cone and fresh mint ice cream from Merry Dairy

Moo Shu Ice Cream (477 Bank St. Ottawa, ON K2P 1Z2 Canada) Another incredible ice cream spot, with inventive flavours and clearly-marked gluten free options, as well as gluten free waffle cones. Flavours change monthly. Don’t miss lime leaf and mint (I’m predictable I know), or Hong Kong milk tea — both are amazing. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

Cassis Home-Made Gelato and Sorbet (No official page but it is located at 68 Principale St, Gatineau, Quebec J9H 3M6, Canada) Open 12-9pm on weekends and 2pm-8pm on weekdays. No gluten free cones, but gelato itself is predominantly gluten free and they have used a new scoop when I mention I am celiac. Their mojito, black sesame, and yuza flavours are all fantastic, as well as all the others.

Stalls and Food Trucks Outside of Town: Stittsville

Jimmy’s Waffle World (5862 Hazeldean Road, Stittsville, ON, Canada, K2S 0N9) – almost entirely gluten free, with savoury and sweet waffles alike, and poutine and fries from a safe fryer. They even have a waffle poutine. Follow it up with a soft ice cream dessert (with gluten free cone, to boot). You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

The Original Souvlaki Food Truck (1619 Stittsville Main Street, Stittsville, ON, Canada; formerly Greek Wagon Ottawa) There are many gluten free options in the form of platters, salads, and fries—including gluten free gravy for poutine and a safe fryer. You can find them on Instagram here.

Smokin R&Rs BBQ (1441 Stittsville Main St. Stittsville, ON, ) slow-cooked meat, poutines, sandwiches, briskets, and more. Much of the menu is gluten free, with a safe fryer. The mac & cheese, sadly, is not for celiacs. You can find them on Instagram here and Facebook here.

Even further afield

A brief note about spots that are out of town but available if timing allows:

The Bean Sprout GF is a lovely family-owned business in Toronto that makes gluten free, nut free Chinese food, including stir fries, dumplings, spring rolls, egg rolls, steamed buns, and much more. They also offer menus for soy free, corn free, and egg free items, if you need them. All items are delivered frozen, with cooking directions on their site. While they’re based out of town, they do pop ups here in Ottawa every few months. You can follow them on Instagram or check their site for the next pop up in the area. I’m a big fan of their chicken dumplings, which are great steamed but also do well in an air fryer. For the soy free menu, they use coconut aminos as a substitute. I stock up whenever they’re in town!

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Beansprout GF’s chicken dumplings

Riz Gluten Free is also Toronto-based, but occasionally does Ottawa pop ups, and are also sold at a variety of shops in town (at Gutsies, Voila, etc). They have wonton soups, dumplings, curries, and stir fries all gluten free and dairy free.

And finally, not a pop up but a spot I highly recommend if you travel to the Gatineau Hills: a B&B called La Violette in Wakefield, Quebec that I stayed at for my brother’s wedding last year. It’s such a pretty area, the bed and breakfast has two cozy and comfortable rooms, and you’d be remiss not to stay there for the breakfasts alone. Natalie, who runs the B&B and cooks the breakfasts, was able to make safe and delicious gluten free meals for me and tailor them to my additional food restrictions. It’s often booked out, but if you’re in the area and want a night somewhere special, I highly recommend it.

Shops in Ottawa with naturally GF products or GF specialty items

I thought I’d add some detail about where I buy products as a celiac, for those sticking around a little longer.

What to do in Ottawa

Most of my time here has been spent in bed, as my spinal leak persists. While I’ve had a chance to see some of the fun festivals—Tulip festival, poutine festival, and more—in the years before I moved here, my radius now is quite small. So I wanted to share some posts from others who’ve experienced more in the city than I have, and resources for people who want to visit:

As many of you know, I am disabled now with a spinal CSF Leak, a condition I’ve been suffering from since 2017. As a result, I cannot drive around stuffing my face as I used to when I traveled the world. Presently, I also can’t go to a local spot and eat outside, because my standing / sitting time is very slim; most of my time is spent in bed.

I want to give a big thanks to Christopher and Elizabeth for being my food angels. Elizabeth is a local celiac who brought over treats, suggested new spots, and sent over some of the photos below. Christopher patiently drove to celiac spots around the region with no grumbling at all, bringing over food since I can’t go and get things myself. I love living in Ottawa, but none of the Quebec spots deliver here.

So without the generosity of my food friends, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this guide.

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