Dining out Gluten Free in Melbourne

So if you haven’t gathered by now I like to eat but in general I eat out a lot. When I first started working in our family restaurant I was 12 and had zero experience and an empty bank account so I took the first job that was on offer which was dish pigging (washing dishes) and food prepping, not glamorous nor inspiring but I had to start somewhere. It didn’t take long before my chit chatting became a distraction to my co-workers so I went out the front to make coffees, serve tables and converse with customers. By age 17 I was the day floor manager and knew my way around a 200 seat venue, I knew my wines, oysters, mediterranean flavours, 5 ways you could cook polenta, what temperature kangaroo is best served at and the secret ingredient to a caesar dressing that made mention in The Age Good Food guide year after year. So let’s just say I appreciate good food, wine, service and great coffee. I went on to work in many other restaurants, kitchens and cafes, from fine dining to laid back and have since enjoyed experimenting with food at home.

Here is a guide to my reviews of each place
GGF- Generous Gluten Free Options
C- Coffee, Coffee, Coffee
A- Skip the soft stuff, go straight for the adult drinks (booze)
K- Kid friendly
LK- Leave the kids at home
B- Breakfast
L- Lunch
D- Dinner

Since having a bub some of my home cooked meals haven’t been as interesting as they were previously, though I am slowly gearing up my enthusiasm for cooking again I still struggle to manage my time between baby, housework, social occasions, travel, cooking and anything else that pops up. Since I enjoy dining out so much I decided to take a snap shot of places I’ve eaten at over the last year and put together the best gluten free locations I have found. Melbourne is a city that prides itself on good food and coffee so whether you are a local looking for a good gluten free meal or visiting from out of town I hope my guide will assist you when looking for the GF options in some of Melbourne’s burbs. Please note not all suburbs have been covered, with a bub I tend to stick to the burbs easier to get to from my west Melbourne location. Sorry if I have missed some pearlers on the other side, I hope to make it there soon!

CITY- Melbourne

Brooks of Melbourne
George Parade, Melbourne
Brooks offer a fine dining experience without the epic price tag. Their meals are carefully created to not only be delicious but also a piece of art, mention you are gluten free when you book/arrive and they will plan a menu suitable for you, plus their GF bread is worth requesting. You can order a degustation menu or pick some dishes to share from the menu.

31 Flinders Ln, Melbourne /248 Swan St, Richmond /144 Chapel St, Windsor
Located in three burbs around Melbourne Fonda is great for simple, clean Mexican. It has a decent array of GF options and quick, friendly service. Besides a few steps to climb with a pram in the city restaurant I would say they are all child friendly, I also prefer the standard of meals that come out of the city restaurant.

Izakaya Den
114 Russell St, Melbourne
Japanese in creative and clean form. Down in the basement is where you will find a hub of city folk enjoying some sake and sharing plates. Leave the kids at home for this one, the stairs to get in will deter anyone with a pram.

Kinfolk Cafe
673 Bourke St, Melbourne
I stumbled across this little nook when needing a good coffee and a guaranteed seat for my weekly catchups with my country living dad. Situated across the road from Southern Cross station in a beautiful old Melbourne building is a cafe that will warm your soul with 100% of all profits going to development projects and over 45 volunteers working at the cafe. Besides the warm fuzzy feeling of putting your money to a good cause the coffee is great and their ever changing menu is fresh, using native and seasonal produce. The soup and salad combination is a winner using flavours that suit the season and change daily.

but LK/L/D
11 Collins Pl, Melbourne
Hands down the best Mexican food in town and with a menu that offers nearly entirely gluten free options you can relish in knowing you can eat just about everything! This place is Kid friendly but PLEASE leave the kids at home, besides a massive set of stairs to enter the venue and an average wait time of 45mins if you go there and don’t have the chance to try some of their fine tequila you are wasting an opportunity. Get a sitter and plan a lunch with tequila tasting.

NORTH- Brunswick, Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Northcote, North Melbourne.

Albert Street Food and Wine Store
382 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
They know their wines and beers and for that I would recommend leaving the kids at home and enjoying a meal with friends. The menu isn’t extensive for GF but their food is delicious, though a tad pricey given what you get.

Auction Rooms
103-107 Errol St, North Melbourne
If you have the time to wait for a table you wont be let down by the coffee, ambience and fresh food. Their menu has changes regularly however if they have the quinoa hash available be sure to get it and keep an eye out for their baked eggs and feta!

85 High St, Northcote
Organic, clean and fresh this place makes you feel good after a meal. Try a green juice, don’t skip their coffee (it’s very good) and try one of their eggs benedict… the ham hock is a winner!

106 Smith St, Collingwood
Various other locations, check their website
Across a number of locations Huxtaburger offers GF buns and a decent burger. Burgers oozing with ingredients are great for a lunch stop, quick dinner or to soak up a boozy night.

224A Gertrude St. Fitzroy /162 Greville St. Prahran
Whether you head to Gertrude or Greville st, Ladro knows how to make a decent pizza and as close to the real thing as it gets! A personal favourite is the JLo I would have to say the atmosphere of the Gertrude St. restaurant is better than Greville but it’s absolutely worth a visit if you want some very good pizza and vino.

Martha Rays
85 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
I’ve seen these guys run down the street when I’ve ordered a gluten free sandwich before and for me that’s a serious commitment to please. You cannot, I repeat, you cannot go past The Reuben sandwich! It is perfect and never let’s me down. Martha Rays is a small little haunt but they have never frowned at me arriving with a pram and craming it into a corner. This is my MUST HAVE Melbourne sandwich! 

69 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Fitzroy has some great hidden spots and Sonido is one of them. Offering a generous gluten free menu you can’t go past the fresh South American juices like Lulo and Feijoa and to eat please please try the Ropa Vieja- Beef Arepa. It’s a rustic bopping little place that you could almost miss when walking past and be sure to try one of their baked goods, their GF banana bread is delicious!

Stagger Lees
276 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
I love this place, it was recenty named the best new café for 2014. It’s in Fitzroy which is my side of town and I find myself there every few weeks. They are run by the guys from Proud Mary and have the same coffee. A very simple menu with some great dishes, a few specifically are gluten free and many are adaptable. The team have been accommodating with prams but don’t offer high chairs. Stopping by for food or a coffee they are a serious hot spot for Melbourne.

BAYSIDEAlbert Park, Brighton, Elwood, Middle Park, Ripponlea, Port Melbourne, St Kilda, South Melbourne.

Acland St. Cantina
2 Acland St, St Kilda
Strong flavours, good drinks and happy staff make this a great place to wander sans kids and enjoy some drinks and share some plates.

Chez Dre
285-287 Coventry St, South Melbourne
As long as you don’t mind staring at the display of gluten filled baked goods then you will find a few very good options on the menu that are gluten free. Whipped feta and avocado was high on my list post pregnancy and never disappoints with some seeded gluten free bread as well as the truffle, mushrooms and polenta dish. Great coffee and a few sweet treats that are GF, a big venue that is normaly accommodating with prams and bubs.

Cowderoy Dairy
14 Cowderoy St, St Kilda West
This place is completely family friendly, overlooking a park and play equipment you can grab a takeaway or perch on the decking and watch the kids run a muck. The food selection is generous with daily specials many of which made gluten free. Prams, toddlers, dogs sharing their owners meals, this place is relaxed and so are the staff. Perfect for a sunny day or a slow Sunday brunch.

253 Coventry St, South Melbourne
If the weather is fine take a seat outside and watch the South Melbourne crowd stride by. It’s a case of choosing whatever has been prepared for the day at Gas. They always have a number of GF options to select from and their coffee is great. There isn’t much room for a pram indoors but if the weather is good take a seat outside.

Hawk and Hunter
8/10 Glen Eira Ave, Ripponlea
This little spot opposite the train station has wonderful coffee and some good omelette options, staff are friendly and during the week you can find a seat and peacefully read the papers.

Kettle Black
50 Albert Rd, South Melbourne
The suave new project by the Top Paddock crew is a delight on the senses. The design and décor are pretty spot on and match their creative and beautiful dishes. Friendly staff that even on a busy Saturday were happy to seat us with a pram and delighted to suggest gluten free options that resulted in me ordering Titake Ocean Trout on a raw kale and pickled seaweed salad with two poached eggs. I was also wrapt to hear they are licensed so a few cheeky Friday afternoon knock offs might be in order.

Mart 130
107A Canterbury Rd, Middle Park
Located in a quant setting, a renovated tram stop overlooking Albert Park and tennis courts. For years I have enjoyed a quite coffee and eggs there. I used to be a huge fan of their eggs benedict but don’t eat it as much these days, not because it isn’t good, just my tastes have changed. More recently I had a great egg and hash combo. They offer GF bread as well as Fruit toast and excellent coffee. Wait for a seat on the weekend or stop by midweek and you’re likely to find a spot straight away.

St Ali
12-18 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne
They do a salad and sandwich pretty well and their coffee rivals the best of them. The place is always crammed so fitting a pram in can be difficult and for some of the staff  it appears to be an inconvenience so where possible go sans pram.

Wayside Inn
446 City Rd, South Melbourne
Fresh seafood and a daily rotisserie makes this new pub in South Melbourne a top spot for a long lunch or group dinner. It’s not really the kind of place you would walk passed so make sure you keep it in mind when you are visiting the South Melbourne market.

SOUTH EAST- Armadale, South Yarra, Prahran, Windsor, Caulfield, Hawthorn, Richmond, Balaclava, Elsternwick, Hawksburn.

Axil Coffee Roasters
322 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn
Hawthorn is an old haunt of mine from back in my uni days, if only there was a decent coffee to be found ten years ago. Axil caters well for the young, the mums and the trendy corporate types of Hawthorn. They are normally packed and sometimes squeezing a pram in can be difficult but the staff are pretty accommodating. Coffee is great, breakfast has a few gluten free options whereas lunch has a few less. They make pastries onsite and normally set aside at least one or two gluten free options.

Bistro Gitan
52 Toorak Rd W, South Yarra
I often find French food is a dangerous often for those with intolerances, however the team at Bistro Gitan were very accommodating and wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out. I just can’t go past a charcuterie plate and it is done well here. A lovely comination of cured meat, pate and terrine. The staff had kindly supplied me with freshly toasted gluten free bread and even offered alternatives such as potatoes and crisps. This really isn’t a place to bring a bub, enjoy a wine over lunch or make a night of it!

169 Domain Rd, South Yarra
Be it dinner or a ‘ladies who lunch’ catch up (think Real Housewives of Melbourne!!), the Bot offers fine dining in a hip park view part of Melbourne. Mention you are GF and watch the options flow in. The team made a special effort when I was pregnant and GF to accommodate my needs without making me feel like a pest!

Coin Laundry
61 Armadale St, Armadale
I used to visit this place more often so I can’t say I have been more than once in the last year and in that time they have changed hands. The corn fritters I had some time back were pretty tasty, the team are trendy and the place is always busy. Not much room for a pram unless you are happy sitting outside.

Feast of Merit
117 Swan St, Richmond
This sustainable restaurant offers delicious hearty food. Full of hipsters and trendsetters with decent coffee and nourishing dishes you will find breakfast and lunch offers a number of gluten free choices.

Jacques Reymond now Woodland House
78 Williams Rd, Prahran
Sadly the restaurant no longer has chef Reymond there, however I don’t doubt the standard of food is still very high. A degustation menu is recommended to get the best of what the restaurant can offer. The verdict is out since it changed hands at the end of 2013, I am yet to return so I can’t be certain the menu will reflect as good an experience for those GF.

Oscar Cooper
160 Greville Street, Prahran
Another of my old local work lunch locations, this place is great for a cheeky jug of pimms on a warm sunny day sitting outside. I could never go past their house cured salmon sandwich on GF bread, fresh and tasty.


1/32 Bendigo St, Richmond
Richmond’s newest café has those whom love a paleo diet lining up. The staff are friendly and with the majority of the menu being gluten free you can enjoy choosing your dish without concern, they top if off with good coffee. The place is small so expect to wait for a pram friendly spot.

St Edmonds
154 Greville St, Prahran
This Prahran hangout is so hip it doesn’t realise that a few extra GF options would have me returning more often. I’d often opt for the soup or a salad to suit GF, the coffee is good.

Tall Timber
60 Commercial Rd, Prahran
This used to be one of my local work lunch spots offering great coffee and vibe, I know longer work in the area but still pay a visit now and then. There isn’t the biggest lunch selection for us GF’s but the Salmon salad is a seriously good option. Breakfast is great, some of the more creative options weren’t GF when I was there last but I do know they were working on some new additions. A simple egg and bacon on GF toast is good and so is their coffee.

Top Paddock
658 Church St, Richmond
Voted Melbourne’s best café again this year Top Paddock does tick a lot of boxes. The day after they were awarded The Age Good Food Guide prize I went in ordered breakfast asking the waitress for their best gluten free option, I was served up the brocollini, almonds, snow peas, avocado and poached egg on toast and I loved the unique blend on offer for a breakfast dish. Really excellent coffee and good food. I haven’t attempted to arrive with a pram as space is tight and I note they don’t offer high chairs so be sure to wait if you are coming along with kids to find a table that fits everyone. 

480 Bridge Rd, Richmond
Get there early and prepare to line up but the place is large so can accommodate lots of hungry hunters. You won’t wait long for a seat and since their opening they have continued to improve on service and options. Coffee is great and there is a bit of a family friendly area near the kitchen so they welcome prams and toddlers.

WEST- Essendon, Footscray, Yarraville, Moonee Ponds, Kensington, Flemington, Pascoe Vale, Ascot Vale, Newport, North Essendon, Seddon, South Melbourne, Spotswood, West Footscray, West Melbourne, Williamstown.

Brother Nancy
182 Essex St, West Footscray
This new local for WeFo is kicking goals in its first few weeks by stocking Proud Mary coffee for all the early morning mum’s on their walk to school as well as offering a small but interesting selection of breakfast and lunch delights. With a french chef spinning out some twists on a few favourites they have a few notable gluten free options on the menu and hopefully more to come. I sat down for the chicken and quinoa dish which was surprisingly tasty, a creamy combination of flavours mixed through the quinoa and a crisp seared chicken breast dressed with citrus. I look forward to seeing the Nancy crew grow and maybe throw in a few more GF options both sweet and savoury.

Cupcakes by Paolo
28C Ashley St, West Footscray
85 Victoria Ave, Albert Park
A bakery both in Footscray and Albert Park. Stop in for a quick coffee and drool at the cupcakes. If you ring in advance you can make sure you arrive to a selection of GF options. They do sell out so I would always advise calling before making the trip.

Footscray Milking Station
35 Bunbury St, Footscray
The corn fritters drew me to this place. They do a raging weekend trade and have cheerful staff and good coffee, plenty of outdoor seating and great for local (Footscray) families.

Le Chien
5 Gamon St, Seddon
Another great local option Le Chien is family friendly and does breakfast and café style food really well, oh and they have decent coffee. Try the crushed peas, chilli, mint and poached egg on GF toast.

638 Barkly St, West Footscray
I have a soft spot for this place, located close to home the team always have big smiles on their faces for all the mums and groups that stop by. Kids roam about freely, but keep an eye on them as the home wares shop adjoining is a danger zone for inquisitive hands. The Almond milk coffees are new and worth a sample, supporting the Almond Milk Co. There are a few things I can’t go passed; the Pod Breakfast salad (sadly they make it a soup in winter but hold out for summer), baked ‘shrooms with truffle and their chicken sandwich for lunch.

Seddon Deadly Sins
148 Victoria St, Seddon
If you are out West and in my local area there are some real gems that all the hip kids seem to flock to. Seddon Deadly Sins has been a regular stomping ground in Seddon for years with great coffee, friendly staff and the fact they do eggs pretty damn well! They have daily delivery of baked goods and a few options GF that are worth considering also.

The Cornershop Yarraville
9 Ballarat St, Yarraville
It’s a little place that does a buzzing trade. There isn’t much room inside for a pram or roaming free toddlers but the food is great and the GF bread is excellent!

The Station Hotel Footscray
59 Napier St, Footscray
Great steak, there really isn’t much more that needs to be said besides their desserts are also worth a nudge.

West 48
48 Essex St, Footscray
In the early days when we were looking to buy a house in the west I was feeling a little ‘so so’ about the area, that was until I sat down between auctions at West 48. One hour later, two very good AllPress coffees and that was it, I had decided that West Footscray was going to be my new home, so off we went to buy a house. A place that serves a decent breakfast, excellent coffee and buzzes every day of the week swooned me. The every growing number of hipsters in West Footscray make their daily stop by and I couldn’t be more pleased to be in walking distance. On my first visit I was pre baby but I was surrounded by bubs, prams etc. the space is small so prams are better suited to the outdoor seats. I have since gone on many occasions with a pram and will happily sit outside even on a colder day to get a cup of decent coffee. Their breakfast menu and a few sweets are gluten free and most dishes can be adapted.