I read gluten free options in Queenstown for hours before even contemplating where to eat. Needless to say, despite tons of “gluten free” options, there are few “celiac” friendly options. So while I ate safely at each place listed below, be sure to read the review carefully. It’ll include directions on how to eat safely at each spot!
Despite the problems at restaurants, grocery stores in New Zealand are so easy to navigate with superb gluten free labeling laws. So, no matter where you eat, I highly encourage you to travel to South Island. From jumping off the third longest commercial bungy in the world to kayaking through Milford Sound, it’s a spot you won’t want to miss!
Despite hearing of celiacs who have eaten here, I knew that the chance of this fast food joint would be the spot for me was pretty slim. So yes, they do have gluten free buns, but the kitchen is a cross-contact nightmare. And, while the burgers are a “must-do” in Queenstown. I’ve heard from many Americans that they’re really not the juicy burgers that we’re expecting, so I’d hold off on this spot.
Now, it is true that they have a separate french fry frier. Therefore, the fryer itself is 100% gluten free. It’s right behind the cash register and on the opposite side from the grill with the burger buns. I don’t personally believe in it enough to recommend it to others. However, I watched my french fries be prepared, ate them, and wasn’t sick. They were pretty good too!
May the odds be in your favor at this joint.
P.S: You’ll feel like a pain asking about allergens because the fast paced nature of this joint is part of its charm for all the other diners.
Sombreros was a good spot. They advertise gluten free food, and it’s on their menu. The owner was helpful at recommending locations around town. I felt very comfortable eating here, but I arrived at opening hour and was the only patron. If I came later in the day when it was busier, I’m not sure I would have felt the same level of comfort.
Now for the food, the best part about this spot was that I took the recommendation of the owner. You may recall that I used to have a bean phobia, but this meal was by far the highest quantity of beans I’ve ever tried in my life. AND, IT WAS AMAZING!
First, the taco shell is both gluten and dairy free. It’s made on site and holds together very well. (They add a little bit of spice on top too.) Then came the taco fillings. I was most impressed by the depth of flavors as I took a bite. They all blended together perfectly for a rich taste that would even impress a meat-lover.
Overall, I had a pretty good experience here. I was able to speak to the owner about all the ingredients. Note this meal is dairy free too! And, free of my other allergens. 🙂 I’m just a bit hesitant to recommend this spot during busier hours because I haven’t seen the restaurant in action. But, if you can get there when it’s opening, definitely stop on by.
Now, this spot was by far the safest celiac friendly meal I ate in Queenstown, BUT YOU CANNOT EAT OFF THE GLUTEN FREE MENU. Did you read that? Basically, I went in and mentioned that I had celiac disease and they brought me over to an allergen chart. Some of the items marked gluten free on their menu actually contain soy sauce. It’s only meant for a low gluten diet. Along those same lines, don’t order anything fried!
Now, you can see that I found this slightly annoying. However, restaurant itself did a great job of going through the menu with me to see what allergens were in which dishes. They discussed the preparation of all my dishes. Basically, everything is done right here EXCEPT for the gluten free menu.
And, all the food was delicious. I thought it was a little pricy, but still good! I began with the ceviche, which was a great appetizer for one. They told me they were meant to be shared, but I really could eat it all on my own. Next came the pork loin.
My entrée was absolutely delicious. It was well seasoned, with the perfect balance of flavor. I knew there was no gluten (or other allergens) being prepared by my food. And, I knew precisely what was inside the dish. I guess I’m used to american sized portions, but I expected a bit more. (I swear the portion is smaller than it looks in the picture!)
So, overall, this place is very celiac aware, HOWEVER do NOT order off their gluten free menu. Hopefully, I wrote that enough times.
So that’s a wrap. South Island definitely isn’t as great as the well prepared gluten free fish and chips at The Fishmonger’s Wife or the Lime Room, a 100% gluten free restaurant, on North Island. However, I still had a good trip. Go forth and take my warnings, or cook your own food. Might I recommend the cabins in the Wanaka YHA if you want to cook your own meals. 🙂