The ‘where locals eat’ Guide to Gluten Free Canterbury. Researched, checked, tasted and written by a Coeliac who loves to eat!
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About my ‘ultimate guide’ to Gluten Free Canterbury
This is the Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Canterbury… It’s been put together to make gluten free and Coeliac eating in the city as easy as possible… for locals and visitors alike. It aims to share all the best places to eat from quick bites and treats to leisurely meals.
I have lived in or near Canterbury for over 30 years. And as someone who needs and loves gluten free food, I’ve done (and continue to do) the research on your behalf. The guide itself remains a work in progress… because while I’ve eaten at many venues in the town, there is always more to devour. New eateries are popping up all the time. So little by little, the guide will grow, to add new discoveries while continuing to share old favourites.
Regardless, you’ll need no other gluten free guide to eat your way around Canterbury. But should you make a new discovery and eat somewhere that’s not listed, let me know! Because if there’s great gluten free food to be had, I want to try it!
Where is Canterbury?
Canterbury is situated in East Kent in the South East corner of England, about 55 miles southeast of London. It is located about 6 miles inland from the coastal towns of both Whitstable and Herne Bay and about 8 miles from Faversham. With two universities, it has a large student population and welcomes tourists from all over the world. It can be reached by road or rail (about 1 hour by train from London and just under 30 minutes from Dover).
Built around the River Stour, Canterbury is a medieval city, originally set within defensive city walls, some of which still remain. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is dominated by Canterbury Cathedral in its centre which remains the seat of the head of the Church of England (the Archbishop of Canterbury).
Unsurprisingly, Canterbury is rich in history and is a fascinating place to visit. I’ve listed some of the key tourist spots at the bottom of the post. Or for more inspiration, head over to Visit Canterbury for ideas and events.
How to use my Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Canterbury
All the venues listed in this guide are places I’ve checked out as able to offer gluten free food. As a Coeliac, I ask questions about food preparation and try to assess the risk (as far as possible) for potential Cross Contamination. As such, I have only included venues that I personally feel safe to eat at as a Coeliac (Celiac). Venues that are either 100% gluten free or have received Coeliac UK accreditation have been marked with a star ★.
The guide is specifically focussed on finding great gluten free food in Canterbury. While many venues will also be able to offer dairy free and vegan menu choices, the guide does not seek to cover all bases. Thus, if additional dietary requirements are needed, phone ahead and ask. (Where possible phone and website details are provided.)
Disclaimer on the Guide’s information and Gluten Free Canterbury recommendations
The venues listed in my Gluten Free Canterbury guide are based on personal experience and on detailed research for our eating out as a Coeliac family.
While information shared is as up-to-date as possible, be aware that venues may change their menu, suppliers or ownership without warning. Equally, venues listed may have closed without my being aware. As such, it remains important to ALWAYS double-check a venue’s status and Coeliac-safety before booking or ordering.
If you visit a restaurant/café that is not listed, but that offers great safe gluten free food, please let me know. Equally… If you go somewhere from the list that does not come up to scratch or that you feel is less safe than written, please let me know that too. Either way… I need to re-visit and check them out to update details.
Disclaimer on behalf of restaurants: Why most restaurants can’t guarantee 100% gluten free food
One of the things that is often complained about in the Coeliac community is that (even when gluten free food is offered) restaurants ‘can’t guarantee there is no cross-contamination’. So, why is that?
I do understand the complaint, but it’s important to remember that restaurants are working kitchens preparing food for lots of people. Some of those people will be gluten free. Others dairy free or vegan. And still others will have a range of allergies and intolerances to cater for (or none at all).
Nonetheless (and however safe a restaurant is in reality), it is exceptionally rare for a venue to completely guarantee safety from cross-contamination. We live in a world of better-understood risk and negligence. And while owners want to protect us, they also need to protect themselves. Thus… Unless a venue is 100% gluten free, it is expected and accepted that any menu will usually come with a degree of warning and disclaimer of risk… This is not there to offend us. It’s a simple reality of the legal position that they need to make clear the customer has a responsibility in making a choice to eat there.
Such statements are usually worded along the lines that while every attempt is made to ensure it is safe, ‘food is prepared in a kitchen where flour and other allergens are used’. This statement does NOT necessarily mean the restaurant is automatically unsafe, or that you shouldn’t eat there.
Ultimately, when eating gluten free in Canterbury as elsewhere, the risks are for you to balance based on your own assessment of the venue, as well as the likely impact for you personally should a gluten accident happen.
Judgement should be based on discussions with restaurant staff and an assessment of the trust you place in them…
Gluten Free Canterbury – The usual rules apply…
When seeking out gluten free food in Canterbury, the usual rules of checking apply (regardless of any venue recommendations I have made). This starts by ALWAYS telling restaurant staff you are Coeliac when booking and ordering.
If you aren’t confident about how to manage enquiries at restaurants to get information or reassurance about gluten free safety, it is worth reading my Page on Living with Coeliac Disease: Eating Out – Restaurants and Fast Food. This offers lots of advice and tips on things to look out for and questions to ask when choosing a restaurant and ordering gluten free food.
Have you used my Guide to Gluten Free Canterbury?
If you use my guide to gluten free Canterbury and find it helpful, please let me know with a comment at the bottom or by message on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest). It would also be great if you could recommend it to other people too… Friends, Facebook groups, etc.
Either way, I hope you love Canterbury… and happy eating x
Gluten Free Canterbury – the local guide to eating out
Oscar & Bentleys ★
10 Guildhall Street, Canterbury CT1 2JQ
01227 454544 – www.oscar-bentleys.co.uk
Oscar & Bentleys is a 100% gluten free bistro restaurant in the heart of Canterbury City Centre. The menu is varied and is changed seasonally, but there are always classics such as safe gluten free fish and chips, salt and pepper calamari and burgers to be had. The menu has plenty of veggie and vegan options too. And for the little ones, there is also a kid’s portion menu!
It’s a must for Coeliacs visiting the town. And while there are often tables available, it’s worth booking ahead to save the risk of disappointment.
Café Des Amis (Mexican)
95 St. Dunstans St, Canterbury CT2 8AA
01227 464390 – www.cafedez.com
Café Des Amis is probably my all-time favourite Canterbury restaurant. I’ve been eating here for nearly 40 years (pre and post-Coeliac). It’s independent, unique and should be on any guide to gluten free Canterbury.
This is not ‘Tex-Mex’! It’s modern Mexican cuisine that has its roots in the Aztec, Spanish and French colonial cultures. And it’s amazing… with food (meat, fish and veggie) and an ambience to match! There are plenty of naturally gluten free options on the menu, with the restaurant also able to offer traditional gluten free corn tortillas for gluten free fajitas. If you’re not sure, ask the staff who are always helpful.
Bills ★ (National Chain Restaurant)
5 Rose Ln, Canterbury CT1 2SJ (located in Whitefriars)
Bills is a well-known restaurant chain serving contemporary European food. Open for breakfast through to dinner, it has a varied menu to suit the time of day as well as your mood. It also offers designated gluten free menus throughout the day.
Bills has accreditation from Coeliac UK.
Côte Brasserie ★ (National Chain Restaurant)
2 Longmarket, Canterbury CT1 2JS
Another Coeliac UK-accredited venue, we love Côte Brasserie, which is a modern, French brasserie chain serving traditional and regional dishes.
They offer an extensive (and rather yummy) separate gluten free menu and cook safe frites. Plus they have several desserts on offer too! I’ve always felt well cared for at Côte and the food is good. Another perfect gluten free Canterbury venue!
Cosy Club (National Chain Restaurant)
20-21 St Margaret’s St, Canterbury CT1 2TH
01227 387046 – https://cosyclub.co.uk/
Cosy Club is a UK chain restaurant that is open from breakfast through to dinner with menus to fit any time of the day. The food is varied, with extensive gluten free options (and a separate menu) as well as vegan and other choices for dietary need.
Again, we LOVE this place for the variety of dishes that are available. Plus they are super-reassuring. They explained to us that they would prepare our gluten free dishes in a separate allergen area and would take extra care so that it would be as safe as possible.
If you’ve never eaten at Cosy Club, I definitely recommend it both for great food and gluten free choice. They have some great dessert options too.
The Veg Box Café
17A Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HG
01227 456654 – https://thevegboxcafe.co.uk/
I LOVE the Veg Box Café. It’s been a bit of a ‘go to’ for a healthy lunch for years! A local independent Canterbury restaurant, they use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients which are made into nutritious and vibrant dishes. The largely plant-based/vegan buddha bowls, soups, salads and daily specials are packed with flavour as well as goodness. And much of the menu is naturally gluten free (including some cakes and desserts).
Ask the staff if you’re unsure and let them know you’re Coeliac.
Pho ★ (National Chain Restaurant)
45 Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HW
Pho is AMAZING! This Coeliac UK-accredited Vietnamese street food restaurant has a menu that’s almost completely gluten free. The staff are clear about what is/is not safe and will advise accordingly.
Although Pho is a growing national chain, it maintains an authentic Asian ambience… busy and bustling, yet offering time to relax with friends over bowls and plates of yumminess. It’s a new gluten free Canterbury venue and we’re so pleased they’re here.
Seafarer Fish and Chips
34 Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HA
Located just to the right of the main Cathedral gate, Seafarer offers traditional gluten free fish and chips in the heart of the city. They use separate fryers and have gluten free batter for gluten free customers. (I’ll be honest… I’ve not eaten here (yet!), but I did question them about their preparation and frying methods to decide if they were appropriate for me as a Coeliac. I’m happy that they know what they are doing.
Pizza Express ★ (National Chain Restaurant)
4 Best Ln, Canterbury CT1 2JB
The nationally well-known Pizza Express is a bit of an old favourite and is also accredited by Coeliac UK. They offer a wide range of gluten free pizzas with a clearly marked menu. There are also a few starters, salads and mains and a couple of desserts that are safe as well.
The Canterbury restaurant is a particularly nice space that is set by the river on a quiet side road off from the main high street. In the summer, it also has a courtyard at the front of the restaurant for outside eating.
Prezzo ★ (National Chain Restaurant)
28 High St, Canterbury CT1 2AZ
Prezzo is a national chain Italian restaurant with a casual feel, that is accredited by Coeliac UK. The Canterbury venue is in the large open space of an old historic building on the central high street.
They have a well-marked menu with lots of gluten free options, including pizza and pasta, risotto and other mains.
Pizza Hut ★ (National Chain Restaurant)
39 High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2RY
01227 451049 – https://www.pizzahut.co.uk/
Pizza Hut is a well-known international pizza chain that is partially-accredited by Coeliac UK. They provide individual gluten free pizzas (accredited). But they also have a salad bar, which is NOT covered by Coeliac UK’s accreditation (some items on the bar are not Coeliac safe (including the bacon bits and crispy onions), thus there is a significant cross-contamination risk).
To be honest, it seems a little strange to me that Coeliac UK would ‘partially’ accredit a restaurant. But hey! The pizzas served in Pizza Hut are actually pretty good (even if you do have to watch your friends at the self-serve salad bar piling their plates high). Confusion or not, they deserve a spot in my gluten free Canterbury guide.
Ask Italian (National Chain Restaurant)
24 High St, Canterbury CT1 2AY
Ask is a national chain, modern Italian restaurant that is able to cater gluten free. They can provide gluten free pizza bases, pasta and have a number of other non-gluten mains on the menu. In addition, there are a few dessert options.
The ASK in Canterbury is in a lovely old building set by the river. In summer there is additionally a back courtyard with tables for eating as well.
Zizzi (National Chain Restaurant)
53 St Peter’s St, Canterbury CT1 2BE
01227 634012 – https://www.zizzi.co.uk/
Another modern Italian chain restaurant. Zizzi’s are able to serve gluten free pizza and pasta and other main dishes, with a few dessert options too.
George & Dragon (Bunning & Price) ★ (National Chain Gastro Pub)
King St, Fordwich, Canterbury CT2 0DB
01227 710661 – https://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/georgeanddragon/
I LOVE this place. Okay… So you’ll need a car, bus or taxi for this one, but it’s worth the journey! The George & Dragon is a Coeliac UK accredited (small chain) gastro pub that is located in the exceptionally small ‘town’ of Fordwich… A short distance from Canterbury main city.
The modern British menu offers varied, seasonally-inspired food, much of which is gluten free. Whether starters, light bites, mains or desserts, you’ll feel spoiled for choice. And yes… They prepare gluten free dishes (including delicious chips) in a dedicated area with dedicated equipment to keep us safe.
The pub-restaurant itself has a lovely cosy feel and in the summer, a large garden seating area for eating. It has to be on your gluten free Canterbury wish list!
Nando’s (National Chain Restaurant and takeaway)
46 St Peter’s St, Canterbury CT1 2BG
01227 766261 – https://www.nandos.co.uk/restaurants/canterbury
Gotta love a cheeky Nando’s right? It’s a bit of a national passion… And the good news is that they love us gluten free folk (as long as you love their chicken).
For anyone not in the know, Nando’s is a national Afro-Portuguese chain restaurant, famed for its yummy PERi PERi chicken dishes and Spicy Rice. If you’re coeliac/have allergies, the manager is asked to take your order and it’s prepared under specific protocols so that you are as safe as possible. Located at the bottom end of town (towards the Westgate Towers), it’s one of my ‘go to’ gluten free Canterbury favourites!
Wildwood (Pizza Pasta Grill) Restaurant (National Chain Restaurant)
2-3 St Peter’s St, Canterbury CT1 2AT
01227 379810 – https://wildwoodrestaurants.co.uk/
The Wildwood Restaurant in Canterbury is super-cosy and set down near the river. There are plenty of non-gluten options on the menu, including pizza and pasta. Staff are able to modify dishes to make them safer where possible.
I’ve eaten here a few times now and have always been happy with my experience.
Burgate Coffee House (Coffee, Cakes, Sandwiches – Eat in or Take Away)
43 Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HW
01227 764946 – https://www.facebook.com/burgate.coffee/
I was SO excited when I found The Burgate Coffee House. It’s most definitely another of my absolute favourite places to grab a quick bite or chat over a cosy coffee with friends. This small independent venue which is located close to the Cathedral entrance is easy to miss as it’s not well-marked. But once you’ve found it, you’ll appreciate why it’s a gem.
In addition to great coffee, they offer amazing gluten free sandwich options… served on locally-sourced bakery gluten free bread (toasted as preferred). But there’s also cake to be had… with lots of gluten free (and many also vegan) options.
Teastones (Tea Shop)
3-4 Sun St, Canterbury CT1 2HX
07736 245583 – https://teastones.co.uk/
Teastones has become one of my favourite tea shops to take a break, have a cuppa and watch the world go by for a bit. As a Tea Merchant, they serve (and sell in packs) the biggest variety of teas in town, with names to make you smile! My favourite is definitely the Apple Crumble Tea (with apple and cinnamon), closely followed by Flu Funk Herbal (with ginger and lemongrass).
But why stop at tea? Teastones usually have gluten free cake on offer as well. It’s locally baked and is kept on separate domed cake stands to protect from cross-contamination.
Las Iguanas (National Chain Restaurant)
Unit 3 & 5 Longmarket, Canterbury CT1 2JS
01227 937072 – https://www.iguanas.co.uk/restaurants/canterbury/canterbury/
Las Iguanas is a Latin American restaurant and cocktail bar that is popular particularly with students from brunch to dinner. They serve a range of Latin American dishes from Tacos and Nachos… to Gambas, Chillis and Brazilian curries. The menu is well-marked for allergens and is relatively cheap and cheerful. Let the server know you are Coeliac and food will be prepared with care (and served with an allergen flag).
Wagamama (National Chain Restaurant)
7-9 Longmarket, Canterbury CT1 2JS
01227 454307 – https://www.wagamama.com/restaurants/canterbury/canterbury
Wagamama is a well-known and loved restaurant chain serving Japanese and Asian-inspired food at ‘canteen-style’ seating. Although not a huge offering, they do have some gluten free dishes that are prepared with good awareness of allergy safety, if you let staff know you have a health issue.
Café No. 35 (Café-Restaurant)
35 St Margaret’s Street, Canterbury CT1 2TG
01227 637300 – https://www.no35canterbury.co.uk/
No. 35 is a friendly independent café-restaurant offering all-day breakfast, lunch and cakes with marked gluten free options. Staff were helpful and able to discuss dietary needs.
A La Turka
15 St. Dunstans St, Canterbury CT2 8AF
01227 639102 – https://ala-turka.co.uk/canterbury-westgate
A La Turka is a local Turkish restaurant serving mezé and Mediterranean food, with a number of restaurants located across East Kent. The food is fresh, colourful and tasty and the restaurants offer an authentic Turkish feel.
Although A La Turka does not have a dedicated gluten free menu, they do have allergen listings that you can cross-check against the main menu. Be aware that the chips were labelled gluten free on the allergen menu, but at the time we visited, were fried in oil that was not safe for Coeliacs. So carefully check that your order is verified with the chef and has been taken down correctly.
Gluten Free Canterbury – Ingredients & Supplies
1-3 Iron Bar Ln, Canterbury CT1 2HN
01227 458941 – https://canterbury-wholefoods.co.uk/
Just in case you’re staying in Canterbury longer-term either as a student or new resident, I feel it’s important to point you in the direction of my local supply for gluten free ingredients.
From nuts, dried fruit, dairy free and coconut products… to gluten free flours, psyllium and other basics, I usually head to Canterbury Wholefoods when I need something in a hurry. This plant-based treasure trove is a must-visit if you’re staying around!
Canterbury is a short distance from the lovely coastal town of Whitstable which is packed with gluten free-friendly eateries, most of which are independent. Check out my extensive separate Gluten Free Whitstable guide for loads of recommendations.
Baddlesmere – The Red Lion Gastro-Pub/Restaurant ★ 100% GF
Ashford Road, Baddlesmere, Faversham, ME13 0NX (located on the A251 between Faversham and Ashford)
01233 740309 – www.redlionbadlesmere.com
The Red Lion is a 100% Gluten Free gastro-pub/restaurant, accredited by Coeliac UK. Situated on the A251 at Baddlesmere, they serve great food with a seasonal menu. It’s a Coeliac heaven. And yes… the desserts need a special mention. Whether tarts or cheesecake, pancakes or bread and butter pudding. They’re all Coeliac safe!
Things to do in Canterbury and nearby (other than eat gluten free food)
Canterbury City Centre
- Canterbury Cathedral
- Beaney Museum (The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge)
- Take a brief river tour on a punt
- St Augustine’s Abbey
- Canterbury Roman Museum
- St Martin’s Church (oldest church in the English-speaking world still in use)
- Stroll along the Stour from the Westgate Gardens
- Take in the theatre (Marlowe Theatre & Gulbenkian Theatre)
- Watch a film – Curzon Cinema
- Chill by the river and in the gardens (Dane John; Westgate; Greyfriars; Abbots Mill Garden (my favourite))
Heading out of town
- Cycle from Canterbury to Whitstable along the Crab and Winkle Way (original train route… Uphill to start)
- Walk in Blean Woods nature reserve (starting a short way from the centre up the hill and near the university)
- Go visit Wildwood Trust (on the road to Herne Bay) – Wildlife conservation zoo
- Visit Howletts Wildlife Park (Zoo) – Aspinall Foundation
- Or Port Lympne Wildlife Park – Aspinall Foundation
- Visit Herne Bay
- Walk along the coast at the Reculver Towers
- Goodnestone Park House and Gardens
- Visit Margate and its many attractions
- The beaches at Botany Bay and Broadstairs
- Dover Castle and the White Cliffs (National Trust)
- The ancient market own of Faversham and its lovely Creek
Make your own Gluten Free Food? Check out out massive Gluten Free Recipe Index.
Shared with local love
MORE GLUTEN FREE GUIDE INSPIRATION FOR SHORT BREAKS AND TRAVEL
If you found this Gluten Free Whitstable Guide helpful, why not check out our other Gluten Free Travel Guides…
- Gluten Free Whitstable – The ULTIMATE guide
- Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Budapest
- Gluten Free Rye (Sussex)
- Gluten Free Gloucester, UK
- Pignoulet Pilates Retreat, Gascony France
- A Love of Egypt
- Cruising on the Sapphire Princess
- Gluten Free Barcelona
If you are new to travelling gluten free, then head over to my post on Travel Tips & Planning for help and advice.