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 is almost guaranteed that you’ll find gluten-free products, so you can get familiarised with their names JBesides that, I have also added a list of specific gluten-free Spanish brandsso 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),so you 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:
Glutenacious piece of advise
To conclude this first part, I’d like to add a personal suggestion, and that is to check the webpage of the regional coeliac associations, as they update the information about which establishments are assessed by them (things can change). In Madrid’s case, there are two coeliac associations operating: Madrid Sin Gluten (under the umbrella of FACE) and Asociación de Celiacos y Sensibles al Gluten (independent).
In Spain, there are many restaurants that are assessed by the coeliac associations. They normally display a credential that certifies it by the entrance. The agreement is renewed yearly, so there might be restaurants that decided to part ways or new restaurants that wanted to be part of it; that’s why I suggest to always check with the corresponding coeliac association.
How does it work? With the large amount of coeliac associations that are operating in Spain, it might be confusing at first, so let me explain you.
On a general level, each provincia has its own coeliac association (normally the name corresponds to the name of the region). They are in charge of assessing and crediting the restaurants within their area. For example, a restaurant in Sevilla will be assessed by the Sevilla coeliac association, a restaurant located in Tenerife would be assessed by the coeliac association of Tenerife, and so on. There can be cases where establishments can have different credentials, if there is more than one coeliac association, like Madrid.
Then, there is FACE (while its strict translated name is Federation of Coeliac Associations, you’d see that here in the blog I normally call them the “Spanish coeliac association, to simplify things), which is the umbrella for all the regional associations. FACE assesses chains or restaurants that operate nation-wide, such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, VIPS, Foster Hollywood… etc.
Part II: Grocery time — Buying Gluten-Free Products in Madrid (and Spain)
This is a general list of those stores and supermarkets where you can find gluten-free items, in Madrid and in many cases, also elsewhere in Spain:
*Some stores carry their own gluten-free brand (a private brand that sometimes can be cheaper). I have indicated the name besides, in the brackets.
- Alcampo ("Auchan Sin Gluten")
- Carrefour ("Carrefour No gluten!")
- El Corte Inglés, Supercor, Hipercor (Special Line Sin Gluten) (Madrid: I highly suggest paying a visit to the El Corte Inglés located in calle Princesa, the dedicated area (at ground level) is one of the biggest ones I’ve seen, both in quantity and variety of brands to choose from)
- Eroski (Eroski Sin Gluten)
- Maná Sin Gluten:store specialized in gluten-free products
- Mercadona (The only shop where is possible to buy Beiker, Schäer’s private brand)
Besides the usual supermarkets, there are some stores specialized in gluten-free products, such as:
Spanish (dedicated) gluten-free brands
One of the most easily to be-found brands is Schäer, the international famous brand. But there are also a big number of Spanish brands that exclusively elaborate gluten-free products. I would like to help you out, easing your shopping experience, by sharing some of their names below:
- Beiker (Schäer’s private brand, only available in Mercadona supermarket)
- La Santiña
- Mdalen (magdalenas – similar to muffins)
- Pastas Gallo (while it is a “regular” pasta brand, they have a dedicated Factory where they exclusively elaborate gluten-free pasta)
Part III: Gluten-Free Labelling in Spain (and Europe)
At the moment, the only treatment for coeliac disease (and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity - NCGS) is a strict gluten-free diet.
Those products made specifically for the coeliac population (for example, bread, pasta, flour, cookies, pizzas, pastries…) must be clearly identified and labelled as “gluten-free”.
Being an avid traveler, and having lived in different countries abroad, I perfectly understand the panic when you first go to a supermarket in a different country, the fear to be able to identify a dedicated gluten-free product. This feeling intensifies when the language is different; not only there is a language barrier, but every country has their own gluten-free label (and sometimes, even different standards to the ones in your home country, for labelling gluten-free products).
But fear not; this is why I have created this webpage, and this specific article about Spain: to help you navigate the gluten-free life and be the helping hand in your travels.
In Spain, there are two official labels that certify that a product is free from gluten:
- Marca de Garantía «Controlado por FACE» (literal translation: FACE warranty brand “controlled by FACE”): this green label certifies that the product has under 10 particles per million of gluten (<10ppm)
This gluten-free label is used in Spain and is regulated by the Spanish coeliac association (FACE). However, you might see Spanish products with this label in other European countries.
*Important note: Starting in January 2020, the Spanish coeliac association gluten-free labelling will be integrated in the European License System (ELS, explained below). Therefore, this specific label from the Spanish coeliac association will cease existing, and from this date onwards, gluten-free products in Spain will only have the ELS label (the crossed-grain symbol). As an additional piece of information, there won’t be any label certifying <10ppm, as the ESL certifies <20ppm.
- European License System or Crossed Grain Symbol: this gluten-free certification is licensed by the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS, the umbrella organization for European national coeliac societies) and is used to certify gluten-free products along Europe (country members of the European Union plus Switzerland, Norway, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina). This license certifies that the maximum level of gluten is 20ppm ( <20ppm).
- Other “sin gluten” labels: It is possible to find products that, while no having any of the official gluten-free logos mentioned before (crossed-grain symbol and FACE warranty symbol), display a “sin gluten” (“gluten-free” in Spanish) wording (or even logo). This is very common in supermarkets like Mercadona or Lidl, where they have their own gluten-free logo. In this regard, the term “gluten-free” is covered by EU legislation, under Regulation 828/2014 and therefore, products labelled gluten-free must comply with this regulation, that establishes that a product labelled as “gluten-free” cannot contain more than 20ppm of gluten (certifies <20ppm).
Part IV: Basic Gluten Vocabulary — How to say gluten-free in Spanish
Below you can find the essential vocabulary that I think can be helpful to know:
I’m coeliac: Soy celiaco(m); soy celiaca(f)
May contain traces of gluten/wheat: Puede contener trazas de gluten/trigo
Cross-contact (cross-contamination): contaminación cruzada
*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.
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).
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