The Gluten-Free Eater’s Guide to Restaurants in the Greater D.C. Area

Gluten-free diets: We’ve all heard of them, but not everyone understands them. It’s a dietary approach that offers incredible benefits for some, including improved health, weight loss, and increased energy.

The primary requirement is cutting out all forms of gluten, a protein found in couscous, spelt, kamut, oat, millet, barley, wheat, rye, and triticale (a wheat and rye mixture). This guide will explain the benefits of this diet and highlight some gluten-free restaurants in the Greater Washington, D.C., area.

Reasons for a Gluten-Free Diet

Right foods for gluten free diet

The majority of people who follow a gluten-free diet have Celiac Disease, in which gluten is treated as a foreign object and attacked by the immune system, causing damage to the small intestines. This diet helps manage the symptoms of the disease, which include:

  • Sharp stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Skin rashes
  • Bloating 
  • Anemia
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Muscle cramps
  • Gas
  • Foul-smelling stool
  • Joint pain
  • Missed menstrual cycles

Another reason people eat this way is because of a gluten allergy, such as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The symptoms are the same as Celiac Disease, although not typically as severe. 

The most recent excitement about this diet is weight loss. Some people lose weight because the diet cuts out bread, pasta, and grains, which are typically highly processed and can be fattening.

Top Gluten-Free Restaurants in D.C.

Gluten Free Restaurants

There are plenty of places in the Greater D.C. area to hop on the gluten-free train and enjoy a good meal without scouring the menu for acceptable choices. They are all 100% dedicated gluten-free. You’ll find dishes ranging from Japanese yakitori to Mexican pineapple chicken and Indian crepes. 

Visit any of these spots if you’re guilty of thinking of gluten-free restaurants as serving bland, flavorless food. They will change your mind for good.

The Little Beet

495 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
202-800-8100

The chef at The Little Beet is always perfect – because it’s you. You mix your own bowl of greens, proteins, toppings, and sauces to create a tasty meal. Anything you choose is not only safe but delicious and packed with nutrition. The casual fast-food atmosphere makes it easy to pop in anytime for a quick bite or a full meal. The dishes and ingredients rotate with the seasons, so they’re always at the peak of freshness. 

Try a combination of greens, veggies, and gluten-free grains with proteins like salmon, braised pork, or beet falafel. Top it with seeds, pickled ginger or onions, or almonds, and feel your tastebuds celebrate. 

DC Dosa

1309 5th St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
202-804-5556

DC Dosa is a food stall in Union Market that is exclusively gluten-free Indian food. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line for a while; it’s that popular. The menu concentrates on the dosa, a crepe made of fermented lentils, rice flour, and Indian spices. It’s fried on a griddle as you watch and filled with delectable extras like roasted eggplant, cauliflower, curried potatoes, and peas. 

Ordering is as easy as choosing your type of dosa, adding one of the three vegetable fillings, topping it off with one of their flavorful chutneys, and digging into an excellent gluten-free meal that’s both nutritious and filling in addition to tasty. 

Chaia

3207 Grace St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20007
202-333-5222

You don’t know anything about tacos until you’ve been to Chaia. These gluten-free tacos are made entirely of veggies, as is everything here. There is no meat, gluten, or nuts in any dish. Some of their tastiest taco combos are the braised mushroom with feta cheese and habanero salsa and the roasted butternut squash with goat cheese and chipotle yogurt. 

Their imaginative and flavor-packed tacos aren’t the only dish served here. They also serve rice dishes, soups, desserts, and drinks such as kombucha, wine, and hibiscus tea, a local favorite.

Seoul Spice

4600 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016
202-792-8879

Seoul Spice is a Chipotle-style eatery with a Korean flourish. Everything they offer is gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, and served with farm-to-table veggies, meat, tofu, homemade sauces, and traditional Korean flavors.

Seoul Spice is the place to be when you want gluten-free food with a kick. Try the bibimbap bowls, tacos, salads, or the Korean-style sushi burrito for something healthy but not short on flavor. Choose a combo of delights or pick a signature Seoul Spice combination, such as the Klassic with bulgogi beef, bean sprouts, carrots, and kale, or the Spicy Fireball with pickle relish and kimchi. 

The Happy Tart

2307A Mt Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301
571-395-8280

There is no better way to satisfy the gluten-free sweet tooth than by visiting The Happy Tart, just outside D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. Popular favorites like macaroons, cake pops, cookies, eclairs, and sweet crepes are all gluten-free and come in a wide array of flavors, including cinnamon, apple, and Nutella. 

The sweets aren’t the only treat at The Happy Tart. They also serve a variety of savory crepes, such as Thai coconut chicken. There are also many surprise options not ordinarily available for a gluten-free diet, such as biscuits and gravy, pizza, quiche, lasagna, French toast, and pot pies.

O Earth Creamery + Bakehouse

6204 Georgia Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20011
720-785-4747

This bakery is another gluten-free addition to Union Market as well as the Palisades Farmers Market. The O Creamery motto is to be kind to the universe, so they deal in small batches of specially created recipes so people with allergies and sensitivities can enjoy the sweeter side of life. Local favorites include caramel apple tarts, chocolate ginger scones, sourdough bread, and vegan quiche. 

It’s a good bet that any of these places will fulfill what you’ve been craving and probably provide a couple of new favorites. Eating gluten-free is an effective naturopathic treatment for Celiac Disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and it might also help you lose weight. It is a simple diet to start, although getting some professional help can keep you motivated long term. 

Gluten Free Bakery

Get Professional Answers to Your Questions About Gluten-Free Eating

Dr. Karen Threlkel is a naturopathic doctor specializing in women’s health issues. She provides a holistic approach to medicine that encompasses the mind-body-spirit and natural-focused remedies for treating both symptoms and underlying conditions. 

Contact Dr. Threlkel to schedule a consultation for more information about gluten-free eating or to learn more about natural remedies or treatments.

About The Author:

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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