If like me, you have found yourself out and about with nothing to eat due to the unfortunate affliction of a gluten-free lifestyle, occasionally forced to subsist on a chocolate bar and a bag of crisps because you haven’t mapped out your safe foods in town, look no further than this handy guide to gluten-free Oxford.
Snacks and Cafes
You’re looking for an atmospheric place to study or arranging an afternoon Tinder date, but you’re not sure if you’ll find something sweet to pair with your coffee. Here’s the inside scoop on where to go.
Brownie fans, look no further than this well kept secret. Perfectly gooey and endlessly chocolatey, these brownies come in flavours like salted caramel, raspberry, peanut butter, and occasionally other combos. Bring your laptop or lover to their Jericho location for bright and cheerful ambiance. Barefoot supplies multiple cafes around the city with these GF delights—find them at Turl Street Kitchen, Branca Food, and more.
You’ll find this chic hangout on Turl Street opposite Lincoln College. The coffee is as good as its GF and vegan treats. There is usually a gluten-free brownie or an interesting energy bite (i.e. a ball of nuts and other mysteries non-wheat sweetness), but if that doesn’t strike your fancy the Italian hot chocolate is like drinking a hot cup of liquid cake that is sure to satisfy your cravings.
In all four seasons, ice cream is always a good idea. For a treat that is gluten-free by default, you have your pick of three locations: Little Clarendon Street (near St. Giles area), Cowley Road, and St Aldates (across from Christ Church). Grab a scoop or two of their unique flavour combinations that change daily, or kill two birds with one stone by ordering a ‘Mad Cow’ which is filter coffee with melted ice cream in it, or an affogato which is ice cream with an espresso shot poured over it. “What’s the difference?” you ask. Don’t ask me, find out for yourself. Just be sure to ask your server which flavour choices are gluten-friendly.
Whether you’re hungover or brunching, these brekkie options are sure to keep your social life and gut in good shape.
Wait, Spoons in the morning?! Yes, my friend. Enjoy a cooked gluten free breakfast on the cheap for roughly £4.
If you’re new to the GF game, meet your new best friend Leon. Get out your Bod card for 10% off egg pots and breakfast boxes. Depending on how severe your gluten intolerance is, the porridge may or may not be ideal as they don’t seem to use gluten-free oats. Lunchtime Leon hack: Order the kids GF chicken nugget meal instead of ordering fries and nuggets separately, it’s cheaper and they add peas which lets you pretend you are healthy.
Speaking of porridge, Leon has porridge pots hot and ready for easy fuelling in the morning. They are clear about labelling which products use gluten-free oats meaning you’re able to get what you need in a hurry. Other options include hard-boiled eggs and fruit. Don’t forget to bring along your keep cup for 49p filter coffee.
Your midday meal can either be an uneventful refuelling effort or stressful if you haven’t brought a packed lunch or studied the menus online before picking a place with your friends.
This cozy little café near St. John’s college is a great place for lunch. Their jacket potato and salad options make for an easy bite to eat when you still want a café vibe.
The Organic Deli Café
In Friars Entry near Tesco, you’ll find this gem of a café. Their ‘Goodness Bowls’ allow for a hot and nutritious lunch. The ‘Grainy Days’ or ‘Buddha’ bowls look enticing and may even be Instagram worthy.
When all else fails, look no further than Boots. When allergies are concerned, sometimes it’s best to stick with a reliable favourite. I personally think the Boots Meal Deal is highly underrated, especially with the availability of GF sandwiches, GF pasta, and sushi (safe if you don’t use the soy sauce) options plus a wide range of GF snacks that Tesco and Sainsbury’s simply don’t have. Depending on where you live, COOP is often an acceptable runner up as far as gluten-free meal deals are concerned.
“Where can you eat?” “I don’t know, let’s just cook.” This is probably my least favourite conversation and often makes me feel like a buzzkill, so instead of agreeing to go out and just eating chips (that were probably fried in cross-contaminated oil) here are suggestions that are sure to please everyone.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Craving a burger without the belly bloat? Go bunless at GBK to avoid Friday night FOMO and rack up those rewards and put that 25% student discount to good use. The fries don’t seem to be safe but their other sides make up for it.
The White Rabbit
This local Oxford pizza pub is favourite for everyone, even your gluten-challenged friends. For an extra £2.45 you can have any pizza on its own gluten-free crust.
The Rickety Press
This Jericho hotspot may be tucked away but it’s worth the visit. For a great pub vibe this is my top pick for GF food and drinks. They do both GF buns (for £1 extra) for their array of burgers and falafel bowls. I seem to recall that their chips are fried in chip-only oil but it’s worth double checking with the staff.
Image credit: Pixabay