Madrid has plenty of restaurants offering gluten-free food to choose from, and to make any coeliac a happy one.
“From Madrid to Heaven” states a famous saying to describe live in this city. Could “gluten-free (heaven)” be added to such saying?
Let’s find out!
This entry is a more detailed compilation of the information shared at the “Where Have I Eaten” page (where I list, in an organized manner, all the gluten-free places I’ve eaten at around the world) focusing in the gluten-free options that Madrid has to offer.
Considering the wide number of establishments that can cater for a gluten-free diet in Madrid, I created different categories to make your search easier, focusing on what type of food experience you might look for. Is it ice-cream time? Or perhaps you fancy some (gluten-free) chocolate con churros? Maybe you want to try some traditional Spanish delicacies or indulge in heavenly brunch. Whatever you are looking for, I’ve got you covered ;) .
I think that this way of grouping the establishments in different categories is a very useful way to plan your stay in Madrid and see what places you’d like to give a try to eat gluten-free in Madrid.
Some establishments can belong to various categories and therefore, may show up more than once, in different lists. At each group category, the establishments are listed in alphabetical order.
While here in Glutenacious Life I only feature places where I have personally been to —so I can give you a honest opinion of the experience—, as I wanted to create a very complete guide for eating gluten-free in Madrid, and with the purpose of helping you, dear reader, to enjoy your time in Madrid, I have also included an additional list of those places serving gluten-free food that are under my radar (heard good comments about them, or that might have caught my eye), but hadn’t had the chance to go there yet. This list will be updated accordingly.
*For example, at the time of publication, the bakery Celikatessen was in my pending to visit list, but as I had the opportunity to visit it since, it’s now moved up to the main list).
Those places that are dedicated gluten-free have been marked with the letters DGF, to easily identify those places where all the menu is free from gluten, as they only serve gluten-free food.
But this article is not just a mere list of establishments offering gluten-free food in Madrid. It’s more than that. This article is aimed to be your gluten-free travel guide and as such, I have added additional information to help you navigate a Gluten-Free Madrid (an even Spain).
First, you will find a detailed list of all those establishments in Madrid that offer gluten-free food, grouped by categories and listed in alphabetical order. As an extra bonus, from me to you, there’s an extra list of those places under my radar, but I hadn’t had the chance to eat there yet.
Secondly, I have included information about grocery shopping in Madrid, should you want to buy some gluten-free products at the stores. While nowadays most supermarkets in Spain have a “free-from” aisle, I wanted to point out some supermarkets where it is almost guaranteed that you’ll find gluten-free products, hence you can get familiarized with their names. Besides that, I have also added a list of specific gluten-free Spanish brands so you can easily identify them. From my own experience, travelling and living in other countries, I understand the pain of trying to find out information about the gluten-free scenery in a new place and how to know which brands will be safe. Fear no more, I am sure this information will be useful and will ease you shopping experience at a Spanish supermarket ;)
Thirdly, I have also added a reference to gluten-free labels in Spain (and Europe), for you to know what you need to look at when reading labels, so you can be certain that the item is indeed safe for coeliac people. I think it is paramount to understand how the gluten-free labelling of the country you are visiting works, to make sure that you are indeed purchasing a gluten-free product. Gluten-free labels across the world have different symbology, and sometimes, even different levels of maximum gluten allowed (measured in parts per million) to be considered gluten-free. I hope this will help you to familiarise with the gluten-free labels used in Spain and Europe to designate a gluten-free product.
Also, with the goal of helping any coeliac coming to Madrid, no matter where you come from, I have included a note about the current situation in Europe regarding the so called gluten-free beers, as other countries have different regulations on what they consider gluten-free beer.
Lastly, as any good ol’ travel guide, I included some basic gluten-free vocabulary in Spanish, to help you reading labels and also identify yourself as coeliac at the restaurant.
Enjoy a gluten-less Madrid!
A Travel Guide for Coeliacs:
*Note: While in English language there is a difference between cross-contamination (referring to bacteria, virus) and cross-contact (for allergens, gluten), in Spanish such differentiation does not seem to exist; the word “cross-contact” has yet to be heard of, and, consequently, “cross-contamination” is the only concept used by doctors and coeliac associations.
2022 UPDATE: The concept of cross-contact has finally been adopted by the national coeliac association, FACE. It remains to be seen whether this term will be accepted by the population, as at this stage it's been said to feel very strange and even confusing.
Part V: An important note about gluten-free beers in Europe
While in the US there is a distinction between gluten-free beer (made from naturally gluten-free ingredients) and gluten-removed beer (made from gluten-containing ingredients, where the gluten has been removed by a process), this distinction does simple not exist in Europe (I don’t know why).
In Europe any beer can be labelled “gluten-free” as long as they meet the standard of having less that 20 parts per million of gluten (<20ppm), no matter the ingredients used for creating the beer.
Therefore, those beers that are not considered gluten-free, nor safe for coeliac people in the US, for being made from gluten-containing ingredients, are considered safe for coeliac people in Europe, and thus, labelled as “gluten-free”.
Remember: In Europe, gluten-removed beers are considered “gluten-free” and labelled as such (the concept of gluten-removed beers does not exist).
My first piece of advice is to always ask, no fears attached. Just because there is a «gluten-free» word on the menu, it doesn’t necessarily mean nor guarantee that they know what they are doing, what it means to cook gluten-free food, what cross-contact is (and how to avoid it). I do not intend to alarm you, but to ask you to remain vigilant and to proceed with caution, especially in those new places that you are visiting for the first time or don’t have any reference. Talking from first-hand experience, there will be those who jump into the “gluten-free” wagon because it’s the “trendy food” at the moment, without realizing that the health of the coeliac people is, literately, in their hands.
There were times where I decided to leave an establishment, because after the usual questions, their cooking policy didn’t seem trustworthy to me (coeliac / gluten-free cooking requirement). But there was no drama for me, after all, I decided years ago to put my health first, and if I feel that a place is not safe for me to eat there, I won’t eat there and that’s all that there is to be.
Also, be aware that the allergen list is neither a warranty of food being safe. While mandatory for food establishments in the European Union, it only contemplates the ingredients from which the dish is made from (and I’ve experienced how sometimes the staff is not very aware of such ingredients, which is paramount in our case, because we really need to know all what has been used to cook a dish). This means that the allergen list can only be taken as a reference of the main ingredients that have been used because it does not contemplate cross-contamination by gluten (cross-contact). Therefore, even if a food allergens list indicates that a dish does not have gluten/wheat, we should still ask about food manipulation and how cross-contact is handled (or, better said, avoided).
There’s a saying that states “from Madrid, to the sky”. While I leave that to your judgement, what we surely can agree is that there is a wide array of options to eat gluten-free in Madrid —and luckily, those numbers are raising. I hope that this guide will help you to plan your next visit to Madrid (and who knows, in an ever-changing city, you may discover a place of your own!). I would like to remind you that you can also have a look to a curated list of all the places around the world where I have eaten gluten-freein this link.
Thank you note
I would like to thank you, dear readers, all your comments and suggestions. These places have been added to the list, and thank you to your invaluable help, the list is enriched.
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