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Each week, KCUR's Adventure! newsletter brings you a new way to explore the Kansas City region.

At these Kansas City restaurants, eating gluten-free is easy and exciting

Two women, one wearing a yellow dress, one wearing a black dress, stand at a white counter to order at Billie's Grocery.
Billie's Grocery
Kansas City-area restaurants, like Billie's Grocery, have gluten-free options on their menu.

Gluten, a protein mixture found in breads, pasta and other grain-based foods, can cause havoc on the health of people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. It can often be difficult to find gluten-free options while eating out, but not at these great Kansas City restaurants.

This story was first published in KCUR's Adventure newsletter. You can sign up to receive stories like this in your inbox every Tuesday.

Although Kansas City has a large and diverse restaurant scene, navigating eating out can be difficult if you have food restrictions, allergies or intolerances. And that’s especially so if you’re gluten free.

Gluten is a protein mixture that appears naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. For people with celiac disease, consisting of about 1% of the population, eating foods with gluten inflames the lining of the intestine and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients.

Other people may have a gluten sensitivity that doesn’t involve an immune response, but can still cause them discomfort and digestive issues.

Over the last two decades, the gluten-free movement has become much more visible , and started to include subscribers who are neither celiac or gluten-insensitive but adhere for other health reasons. That’s caused some confusion and a backlash over whether it’s just a dietary fad.

But the gluten-free movement has stuck around, and it’s become a lot more common to see “GF” on menus. So if you’re cutting out gluten with your doctor’s recommendation, know or love someone with an allergy or sensitivity, or perhaps you just want to try something new, Kansas City offers an array of restaurants and bakeries that can meet your need with tasty, nutritious and indulgent options.

Billie's Grocery

Interior view of Billie's Grocery, with black stools against a white counter with a large plant on it.
Billie's Grocery
Billie's Grocery, with locations in Midtown and Leawood, offer gluten-free and vegan options.

Located in what was originally the Luzier Cosmetics factory building in Midtown, Billie’s Grocery is recognizable by its big windows, plentiful light and greenery.

Recently, the restaurant expanded to a Leawood location. But both restaurants have an industrial feel with sleek glass cases piled high with gluten-free goodness – lemon curd-topped mini cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies, bars, muffins, pop-tarts and more.

Shelves are lined with cooking supplies like homemade chili oil, gluten-free mixes from Sweet Laurels, a popular grain/gluten-free bakery founded by Laurel Galuicci, and flowers from local vendors like Vetiver Co Floral Design.

Billie's Grocery can be divided into three categories in terms of its main offerings: the bakery, breakfast and brunch, and an all-day menu. Standouts from their bakery include gluten-free cinnamon rolls, which still have all the sweetness and gooeyness of a regular cinnamon roll, and an inventive and decadent raw tiramisu (with ingredients like walnuts, dates, cold processed coffee, almond flour and cacao powder).

For breakfast, you might try the hearty and savory Billie's Bowl, which includes creamed eggs, mushroom, bacon, onion, organic kale, brown rice or quinoa, avocado and a piece of sourdough (you can also get two pieces of gluten-free bread that is toasted and seasoned to perfection).

KCUR's Up To Date recently recommended the Turkish eggs and grilled halloumi, featuring house-made labneh, poached eggs, chili oil roasted tomato and more on a grilled baguette (available gluten-free).

For lunch, the miso salmon burger is delightful on a gluten-free bun, with a bed of wild greens, tomato, pickled onion and an herb mayo. Get it with a side of sweet potato fries for a wide-eyed smile.

A vegan and gluten-free dinner option is the Thai bowl: chilled tamarind rice noodles, organic carrot, noodles, red cabbage, green apple, vegan almond chili sauce, and a spicy nut brittle.

Cafe Gratitude

An orange plate on a wooden table top with two tacos on soft tortillas and a green side salad.
Cafe Gratitude
The menu at Cafe Gratitude is almost entirely gluten-free.

Opened in 2013, Cafe Gratitude boasts a 100% organic and plant-based menu. This means you’ll find a lot of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options.

Cafe Gratitude stands out on Southwest Boulevard, partially because of its bright blue color, but also because of the large banner proclaiming "NOW OPEN (your hearts).” Inside, the store displays plants galore and art from local artists.

You’ll note the creative dish titles, including “I Am Humble,” a nicely spiced bowl with Indian curried lentils, brown rice, spinach, roasted sweet potatoes and served with a side of cooling coconut mint chutney and tangy-sweet tamarind sauce.

Another favorite is “I Am Fulfilled,” a play on macaroni and cheese that uses gluten-free rice noodles and a Brazil nut and cashew cheese. What's great about this dish is that you can add your favorite mix-ins like spinach, mushrooms or pickled jalapenos.

While Cafe Gratitude is almost entirely gluten-free and is mindful of allergens, their burgers typically come with a whole-wheat bun, their wraps contain a whole-grain wrap, and toasts are typically served with toasted ciabatta bread. But fear not, these all can be substituted for gluten-free options!

KCUR’s Up To Date ranks Cafe Gratitude with some of the best vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in the city.

One particular dish that also checks the gluten-free box is “I Am Flourishing” – two mushroom tacos filled with brown rice, coconut bacon (which is also flavored with maple syrup, coconut aminos as a soy sauce alternative, and liquid smoke), onions, and a house-made cashew cheese.

True Food Kitchen

Interior view of True Food Kitchen, with green benches, white chairs and pine-topped tables.
True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen's menu is allergy friendly and can accommodate many different diets.

A vegetarian-friendly chain founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen has occupied the old Plaza III Steakhouse at 4749 Pennsylvania Avenue since 2019. The restaurant has an interior of earthy greens, yellows and light wood, with unique light fixtures stretching the span of the space.

True Food Kitchen is allergy-friendly and can accommodate diets like gluten-free, paleo, vegan and vegetarian. You'll see those notations marked on their menu, which is rotated on a seasonal basis.

Some standouts are a burrito bowl with anasazi bean – a legume related to a kidney bean – quinoa and brown rice, cotija cheese, salsa verde and fresh avocado, all covered in a creamy and spicy Peruvian pepper sauce.

Their vegan double cheeseburger may make you question all the veggie burgers you’ve loved before, with a patty made from portobello mushroom, beet and walnut. It’s served with lettuce, tomato, vegan cheese and pickled onion, and you can easily add a gluten-free bun.

Might we suggest dessert? Try a generous slice of squash pie. It’s blended with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and made with a gluten-free crust made of buckwheat flour. Each bite is comforting, and can alleviate some of the winter blues.

Enjoy Pure Food + Drink

A white bowl on a wood table fulled with kimchi fried rice and topped with a sunny-side up egg.
Kris S.
Enjoy Pure Food + Drink's menu chances seasonally, and includes many gluten-free options.

It's hard not to feel at ease when you enter Enjoy Pure Food + Drink , where the high-ceiling space is brightened with plants, light green pillows, and beautiful jewel-colored juices.

From small plates to desserts, Enjoy Pure Food + Drink has a little bit of everything to accommodate a gluten-free diner. Their menu is seasonal, so there's always something new to try.

One of the noteworthy items is kimchi fried rice, with carrots, peas, cilantro, onions and a sunny-side-up egg. Their winter menu also features “Terra Bella,” a vegan and gluten-free lasagna with roasted zucchini, eggplant, marinara and cashew cheese. It hits all the notes of a traditional lasagna, but with healthy alternatives that don’t leave you feeling quite as heavy.

KCUR’s Up To Date, which called Enjoy Pure Food + Drink one of its favorite healthy dining options in Kansas City, recommended the “Take on the World” bowl: red and white quinoa, avocado, kale, broccoli, shredded beet and a zingy ginger-miso dressing.

Seven Swans Crêperie

Exterior view of Seven Swans Creperie's front window.
Sonia Khosla
KCUR 89.3
Many options at Seven Swans Crêperie can be made gluten-free.

You’ll find Seven Swans Crêperie on Washington and West 18th Street in a red brick building lined with blue and green trim. Like their name implies, Seven Swans specializes in crêpes, a French dish that resembles a thin pancake, and they have both sweet and savory varieties.

It may be hard to believe that you can feel full off of eating crêpes, Seven Swans may prove you wrong. Try the vegan forest, a savory crêpe with a tofu scramble, roasted mushrooms, parmesan cream sauce and fresh spinach.

Looking for something sweet? Try “Clean,” a crêpe filled with lemon curd with a whisper of lavender, topped with fresh blueberries and a heaping pile of whipped cream. The finishing touch? A dusting of powdered sugar, like the gentlest snowfall.

Seven Swans offers gluten-free crêpe batter for an upcharge of $2. However, be careful to note that their location is not celiac-certified.

Caffetteria Modern Cafe + Marketplace

A robust mixed green salad on a white plate.
Sonia Khosla
KCUR 89.3
Caffetteria Modern Cafe + Marketplace

Don’t be fooled by the name: Caffetteria is nothing like the school cafeteria you may remember. There’s kombucha on tap and tables with books, candles, cards, journals, snacks and trinkets. Their seasonal dishes are fit for a variety of diets including gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free.

Long gone are the days of limp salads or cold, questionable pizza. Instead, Caffetteria has dishes filled with life, like the rocket salad: arugula (known as “rocket” in England and other countries), shredded cabbage, creamy avocado, sweet corn and dates, tangy goat cheese and hickory smoked almonds, and served with a champagne honey vinaigrette.

The oven-fired pizza is available in a gluten-free crust (for a $3 upcharge), a crispy golden masterpiece that holds its own against any typical pizza. Try the fungi, with roasted mushrooms, shaved fennel, fontina, mozzarella, parmesan cheese and topped with truffle oil and arugula.

Besides American mainstays like pizza and salad, Caffetteria’s menu travels the world. Try the chicken larb bowl that’s served with a mix of veggies, served with rice and romaine lettuce, and gets a savory umami flavor with a touch of lime and fish sauce.


Two women seated across from each other smile as they each hold up a taco.
Gabrielle Torline
Unforked offeres gluten-free options.

Normally people with gluten sensitivities or allergies fear or just avoid fast food, because of gluten contamination or the lack of options. But Unforked, with locations at Crown Center and Westwood, offers gluten-free dishes that aren’t an afterthought. (Note: They may not be fully celiac-friendly, so it may be good to ask.)

In the mood for tacos? Try the BFF, a chicken taco with salsa verde, spied black bean puree and queso fresco. They also have a hot chicken sandwich (you can order mild or medium if you like) with a Manchego apple slaw, which is available gluten-free and on a GF bun.

It takes a lot of willpower to go to Unforked and not get ice cream. Their menu offers gluten-free options, so you can indulge in concretes, milkshakes and sundaes without worry.

Look for the strawberry banana chunk concrete, which uses Sheridan’s vanilla frozen custard blended with chunks of fresh strawberries and bananas. We might also suggest the mango pecan sundae — creamy vanilla custard swirled with chunks of fresh, juicy mango, crowned with a delightful scattering of roasted pecans, and topped with maraschino cherries.

If you're feeling adventurous, try inventing your own concrete combination.

More gluten free options

These restaurants are just a starting point for gluten-free options in Kansas City.

KCUR's Up to Date recommended the Littlest Bake Shop, which offers vegan and gluten-free brunch, lunch and bakery items that rotate weekly. Try one of their tofu scrambles which resembles a traditional breakfast scramble, but without any animal products or gluten.

Sure, Jack Stack BBQ is known best for its extensive meat menu, but they also boast a selection of vegetarian and gluten-free options that go beyond coleslaw and a house salad.

At their multiple locations around town, most of their traditional barbecue is gluten-free (sans the “fire-kissed wings” and roundup). Most importantly, you can enjoy their iconic “Poor Russ” sandwich, with chopped beef and pork burnt ends, on a gluten-free bun.

A Kansas City native, Sonia is a style blogger and communications professional. She has written for Made in KC Explore and the K-State Collegian where one of her articles was published in "America Now: Short Readings from Recent Periodicals 12th Edition." Currently, she maintains the style blog jemappellechanel.com where she muses about regenerative fashion, timeless style and self-discovery.
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