The only Guide to Gluten Free Whitstable you will ever need. Researched, checked, tasted and written by a local with Coeliac who loves to eat!
DON’T LOSE THIS Guide… PIN IT FOR LATER…
Why this is the ‘Ultimate Guide’ to Gluten Free Whitstable
This is the Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Whitstable. Why? Because it has been put together by someone who needs, knows and loves gluten free food… With key knowledge and a tenacity to ask all the questions on your behalf… And who wants to make eating gluten free in Whitstable as easy as possible for anyone who needs to know. In short…
- I am a Whitstable local…
- A foodie…
- From a gluten free family with two people who are Coeliac (Celiac)
- Whenever we eat out, I ask loads of questions to know what risks there might be from Cross Contamination
- And… we love to eat out!
You’ll need no other gluten free guide to eat your way around Whitstable. Forget anything you may have read that tells you it’s hard to find gluten free food here… It’s simply not true. Either they have never been here, or they didn’t ask!
Where is Whitstable?
For those who don’t know it… Whitstable is a small seaside (estuary) town on the North Kent coast, famed for its very local oysters. It is situated about 6 miles north of Canterbury, east of Faversham and West of Herne Bay and Margate. Easily accessible by both road and rail (less than 1½ hours from London stations), it has become increasingly popular as a destination for short breaks, holidays and day trips. Indeed, in 2021, it won the i news ‘Seaside Location of the Year’ award.
Whitstable beach and town…
Whitstable (which spreads east into Tankerton) has a long pebble beach bordered with pretty beach huts. On windy days, it is a favourite for kite surfers. And when the weather is warm, it’s perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding and a quick cooling dip. Just remember to bring some beach shoes… Pebbles can be tough on the soles.
The town itself is full of character. From old Fisherman’s Huts (that are now rented as accommodation)… to beach-side pubs and eateries. It has a high street packed with locally-run independent shops… With everything from unique grocers, butchers, bakers, off-licences, sellers of cheese, spices and sweets… To shops selling art and artisan crafts, gifts and clothes.
At one end of the town (part way between Whitstable and Tankerton) is the still-working harbour. This is often the navigational hub for visitors and a place to board small boats or the Greta (Thames Sailing Barge) for sea trips. But with its small fish market (currently closed due to a devastating fire in 2022), a recently added community space (the South Quay Shed) and a huddle of huts selling artisan products, seafood and famous Whitstable Native Oysters, it is also a must see visit in itself.
Carry on East along the seafront, past the Hotel Continental and a longer stretch of pebble beach awaits, flanked by the Tankerton Slopes… Tankerton is perfect for lazing in the sun, dipping in the sea, picnics and kite flying. And if you love a bike ride, cycle along the coast on the sea wall… Keep going and you will eventually reach Margate and beyond! You can even hire a bike to take you there.
What makes Whitstable town unique for foodies (gluten free or not)?
I LOVE Whitstable. It’s been my home for over 20 years. And for more than 10 of those, we’ve been Coeliac. During that time, the town has grown and changed a lot. But still… There are cafés and restaurants that have been here longer than me… Of course, there are some that have come and gone. However, newbie eateries are always ready to fill the space, as Whitstable becomes increasingly popular.
One of the things you’ll love about Whitstable is that most of our restaurants, cafés and bars are entirely independent. While there are a couple of ‘chains’ (Zizzi, Prezzo, Costa and Weatherspoons) accessible in the main town, the community has largely ensured dominance for independents… We like it that way!
If you want to know about Gluten Free Food in Whitstable… Ask a local!
All of this makes Whitstable a unique and very special place. But it may also leave you scratching your head on how best to find or book the best gluten free food and restaurants when you visit.
So, in writing my Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Whitstable, I’ve done the leg-work for you… Literally! Not only have I taken ALL my local knowledge and experience of eating here, but I’ve walked the streets from door to door… And re-asked the questions in a post-lockdown era, to see who can, can’t, might or won’t be able to provide Coeliacs and gluten-avoiders with a good, safe meal or snack.
How the Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Whitstable works and a disclaimer for restaurants
Before giving a detailed run-down on gluten free food found here, I want to add a little clarity… Not only for this Guide and gluten free eating in Whitstable, but for restaurants in general.
Listings in the Guide to Gluten Free Whitstable
Please READ THIS: As a Coeliac who eats in Whitstable regularly…
- I have only made CLEAR recommendations (designated by a star ✶) for eateries that I absolutely trust and eat in as a Coeliac.
- Where a venue does offer defined gluten free food, but (at this time) I have not been at least 99% reassured that every effort is made to avoid cross-contamination, they may still be included in the list. The lack of reassurance is indicated by no star. These venues have nonetheless been included for those who are gluten-intolerant or avoiding, but without a health-diagnosis that requires extreme caution.
- Where a venue has not been included at all, it is because I really, really wouldn’t trust their gluten free awareness and feel they are not at all safe. Or, they have clearly stated they cannot cater gluten free.
Although this is a Gluten Free guide to Whitstable, most of the venues with a designated star (★) showed very good awareness of allergies and intolerance generally and most were able to offer the possibility of dairy free and in some cases, Vegan eating. However… This guide does not seek to cover all bases, and if additional food requirements are needed, then phone ahead and ask. (Where possible phone and website details are provided.)
Disclaimer on the Guide’s information and Gluten Free Whitstable recommendations
Information shared in this post is as up to date as possible. However, venues can close or change their menu and suppliers without warning. Thus, it remains important to ALWAYS double check before booking and again before ordering. This is particularly significant for foods that are fried. ‘Shared’ fryers are a common source of misunderstanding and cross-contamination. A safe chef will know the requirements and be happy to advise.
I also appreciate that new venues open without my noticing and may not be included in the list. With this in mind, I make a concerted effort to update, check out and amend details on a regular basis. If you come across a restaurant/café that is not listed and 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.
Why most restaurants can’t guarantee 100% gluten free food
One of the things that is often complained about in gluten free and Coeliac Facebook Groups is that (even when gluten free food is offered) restaurants ‘can’t guarantee no cross-contamination’. So, why is that?
While I understand the complaint, it’s important to remember that restaurants are working kitchens that prepare food for lots of people. Some will be gluten free, others dairy free, nut free or vegan and still others have a different range of allergies and intolerance. The lucky ones can eat anything with no risk at all.
But… in an era of better understood risk and legal negligence, it will be an exceptionally rare venue that completely guarantees safety from cross-contamination. Unless a venue is 100% gluten free, it is expected and accepted that any order will usually come with a degree of warning… That while every attempt is made to ensure food is safe, ‘food is prepared in a kitchen where flour and other allergens are used’.
Ultimately, in Whitstable as elsewhere, the risks are for you to balance based on your own assessment of trust and risk… And the likely impact for you personally should a gluten accident happen.
Gluten Free Whitstable – The usual rules apply…
Regardless of recommendations made in this guide, when seeking gluten free food in Whitstable, the usual rules of checking apply. If you aren’t confident about the best way to manage enquiries at restaurants to get information or reassurance about gluten free safety, I recommend reading my Page on Living with Coeliac Disease: Eating Out – Restaurants and Fast Food. It 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.
Used this Whitstable guide?
I hope you find this guide helpful. If you do use it, please let me know by leaving a comment below. Even better, tag me with your yummy foodie photos from visiting the town. You can always find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
And also… If you find anywhere that I haven’t mentioned that you feel should be included in the guide, please tell me… It’s possible that they have ‘upped their game’ since I published, that they are new, or that I inadvertently missed them when I walked the streets.
Happy eating and enjoy my home town. It’s great to have you here!
Gluten Free Whitstable – The Guide to Local Gluten Free Food
Venues have been included where possible with phone numbers and web-addresses. Please check for opening times/days, which may vary seasonally. Note that particularly since Covid, many venues have started to offer takeaway in addition to sit-in meals, so ask locally. See above for an explanation of venues that have been included. A single ★ indicates a venue with very good understanding of food safety and that I trust to eat in as a Coeliac. Two stars ★★ indicates a 100% gluten free venue.
In addition, I have included a photograph of the outside of nearly every venue to make them easier to find. Many cafes and restaurants also have outside seating areas, so check websites and ask!
The Gluten Free Whitstable Guide to Fish and Chips and Seafood
I’m ashamed to say that for a seaside town, Whitstable struggles to provide easily-accessible gluten free fish AND chips. Chips are relatively easy, but the double combo is harder to come by. For this reason, the Guide offers the Whitstable low-down and then suggests the nearest alternatives in Herne Bay.
The Lobster Shack (East Quay Venue) – Beach Bar/Fish Restaurant ★
The East Quay, Whitstable Harbour, Whitstable CT5 1AB
01227 771923 – www.thelobstershack.co.uk
The Lobster Shack is a local Fish Restaurant serving fish and chips, lobster, prawns, mussels, shellfish, salads, etc. Gluten free bread is usually available. And staff can provide a full allergen menu as required.
The restaurant uses SEPARATE FRYERS and can offer GLUTEN FREE FISH AND CHIPS (pictured above) – It’s currently the only venue in Whitstable that can. However, while they do have tables on the beach front, the fish and chips are not currently available to take away.
If you’re making a special trip (and I can vouch that the fish and gluten free batter are crisp, light and very fresh) phone ahead to confirm availability… On rare occasions the gluten free fryer is unavailable due to maintenance, etc.
Clive’s Plaice (Harbour Market ) ★
Beach Hut in the Central Block, Whitstable Harbour Market
As of summer 2023, Whitstable Harbour Market has a new and rather amazing gluten free fish AND chips option… Clive’s Plaice! And it’s centrally placed in the Harbour itself.
Having stumbled on this gem quite unexpectedly, I can report that fish and chips can be made with gluten free batter and cooked in a separate fryer. After a long chat with ‘Clive’, I am assured that the food is prepared safely with a good understanding of Coeliac safety. This tiny little beach hut can also offer gluten free scampi… And all the Paella is gluten free too!
I’ve personally tested the fish and chips and can confirm that they were absolutely fabulous!
The Oyster Shed (Harbour – Blue Hut near the ‘stage’)
South Quay, The Harbour, Whitstable CT5 1AB
01227 772677 – No website
Updated 11.7.22 – Sells chips and some seafood (not fish); mussels (seasonal); oysters. No longer uses a separate fryer… Therefore, their chips and fried foods are NOT safe for Coeliacs.
Keith’s Coffee Hut (hut near fisherman huts, between harbour and town on seafront)
3-4 Sea Wall, Whitstable CT5 1BX
07872 578909 – www.facebook.com/pages/Keith’s Coffee Hut
Sells chips and some seafood (not fish). Uses a SEPARATE FRYER for chips.
The Forge (hut near fisherman huts, between harbour and town on seafront)
1 Sea Wall, Whitstable CT5 1BX
07895 930504 – www.facebook.com/pages/The Forge
A popular hut selling coffee, oysters, etc. Can offer lobster (but not fish).
Updated 11.7.22 – No longer uses a separate fryer… Therefore, their chips are NOT safe for Coeliacs.
VC Jones Fish and Chips ★
25 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AH
01227 272703 – www.vcjones.co.uk
VC Jones is an extremely popular fish and chip shop that sells trustworthy gluten free chips (cooked in a SEPARATE FRYER). Unfortunately however, they cannot do gluten free batter. Sometimes, they can offer alternative, micro-steamed fish (without batter) as well as mushy peas.
NONE of the Fish and Chips in Tankerton are safe for Coeliacs
Ossies Fish Bar
205 Tankerton Rd, Whitstable CT5 2AT
Although they have gluten free batter, there is no separate fryer. Therefore, their fish and chips are NOT safe for Coeliacs
Herne Bay (nearest Alternatives)
Herne Bay Fish Bar ★
68 Canterbury Rd, Herne Bay CT6 5SB
01227 368656 – www.hernebayfishbar.co.uk
Herne Bay Fish Bar is superb. It offers Coeliac-safe gluten free Fish AND Chips (SEPARATE FRYER) and safely prepared fish with gluten free batter at no extra cost. This is our 1st ‘go to’ fish and chips choice, both because the food is fantastic and for food-safety reassurance. It is at the far end of Herne Bay, however is more than worth the visit. They also offer gluten free Calamari, cod bites and even battered halloumi!
Shakey Shakey Fish and Chips (Previously known as Britannia) ★
174 High St, Herne Bay CT6 5AJ
01227 639712 – No website
Shakey Shakey is centrally positioned on Herne Bay High Street, a very short walk from the beach. This is our 2nd ‘go to’ for safe gluten free Fish AND Chips (SEPARATE FRYER and safely prepared fish with gluten free batter at slightly extra cost). They have a good understanding of Coeliac and are very friendly and accommodating. Plus… they even have their own ‘secret’ salt and herb/spice mix (known as ‘Shakey Shakey’), which is so good, we buy to keep in our home larder. Just be sure to ask for the gluten free version.
Makcari’s Fish and Chips ★
54, Central Parade, Herne Bay, Kent CT6 5JG
01227 374977 – http://www.makcaris.com/restaurants/herne-bay-on-the-corner/
Right on the seafront, Makcari’s is probably the most ‘convenient’ option for safe gluten free Fish AND Chips if visiting Herne Bay beach. They have a SEPARATE FRYER and offer gluten free battered fish at slightly extra cost. But given the two amazing alternative choices for gluten free fish and chips listed above, they are not usually my first choice… I have had both great and ‘greasy’ experiences eating from here.
The Gluten Free Whitstable Guide to Restaurants – The full-on eating experience
Whitstable is well-served by restaurants that can cater for Coeliacs and gluten-avoiders. Most venues are independent and food is cooked fresh to order (with menus that vary according to available local produce). Thus, they can usually offer flexibility to tweak ingredients and dishes to meet dietary need. If in doubt… ask!
Harbour Garden (Harbour) and Burger Buoys ★
South Quay, The Harbour, Whitstable CT5 1AB
01227 271199 – www.harbourgardencafe.co.uk
The Harbour Garden is one of my absolute favourites for gluten free food in Whitstable. And it has the added bonus of beautiful views across the harbour while dining. Eating can be seasonally ‘al fresco’, although there is a smaller covered (and heated) area at the back of the restaurant.
The menu is varied and the quality of food fabulous, yet relatively inexpensive. Even better, the menu is well-marked for gluten free/dairy free/vegan options. They offer lots of well-cooked seafood, lobsters, burgers, anti-pasti platters, etc. But especially exciting is that chips are double cooked AND gluten-safe (SEPARATE FRYER)! Although they can’t do gluten free battered fish, they can do gluten free buns for their incredible burgers.
Royal Native Oyster Stores – Whitstable Oyster Company – Fish Restaurant ★
Horsebridge Rd, Whitstable CT5 1BU (seafront near the town)
01227 276856 – www.whitstableoystercompany.com
If you fancy something extra special, the Royal Native Oyster Stores is a superb (if more expensive) fish restaurant. Their menu changes more or less daily and everything is cooked fresh to order, so they are very flexible to adapting dishes. Staff have a good knowledge of gluten free food-safety and cross-contamination. However, the restaurant can’t provide anything with batter or chips, due to using a combined fryer.
Pearson’s Arms – Gastro Pub ★
Horsebridge Rd, Whitstable CT5 1BT (seafront near the town)
01227 773133 – www.pearsonsarmswhitstable.co.uk
Restaurant & Bar Food – The Pearson’s Arms offers mid-priced, varied restaurant food with a seasonal menu and local ingredients. There is some flexibility to vary ingredients on discussion, as many dishes are cooked to order. Indeed, my gluten free experience there has been fantastic. The food has been superb and the chef completely reassuring about safety. And… the views are fabulous! Try and get an upstairs table by a window.
Samphire Bistro ★
4 High St, Whitstable CT5 1BQ
01227 770075 – www.samphirewhitstable.co.uk
Samphire is another Whitstable favourite for brunch, lunch and dinner. While its pricing is in the mid to more expensive bracket, the menu is a delicious and varied collection of fresh-cooked bistro food.
Seasonal menus are cooked to order. Better still, much of it is naturally gluten free or can be tweaked for dietary needs. Staff are knowledgeable and able to advise. The menu changes according to available (often local) ingredients. Importantly, it also includes some yummy gluten free desserts.
Harbour Street Tapas ★
48 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AQ
01227 273373 – www.harbourstreettapas.com
Located with great views of Harbour Street, the fabulous, independent Harbour Street Tapas is another favourite of mine… Perfect for social eating and sharing small plates. Again, the staff are clued up and mark the day’s menu when asked for gluten free availability. And importantly, there’s plenty that is safe to eat… including the Patatas Bravas. Seating is available both downstairs and up, with a lovely atmosphere.
Birdies Bistro Restaurant ★
41 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AH
01227 265337 – www.facebook.com/birdies41/
Birdies is a family-run French Bistro – It is also a Whitstable institution, having been around for decades. The current owners took over in 1993 and serve a regularly changing, varied menu (although mainly fish and seafood). Importantly, they seek to use local and fresh produce wherever possible. Gluten free desserts are also available.
Although prices are in the mid to more expensive range, staff are well-versed in safe eating and understand cross-contamination. Because food is cooked fresh, it may be tweaked to safe ingredients if needed.
Sale & Pepé – Pasta & Pizza ★
15 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AQ
01227 908084 – www.salepepewhitstable.co.uk
Sale & Pepé is a lovely family-run Italian restaurant. And it does fabulous food! It offers delicious FULL-SIZE gluten free pizza (with uniquely paired toppings), at slightly extra cost. Importantly, gluten free pizzas are prepared as safely as possible on foil packaging and separated from wheat versions. Or… choose gluten free pasta and risotto. Sadly, safe desserts appear to be less available.
Also offers takeaway pizza.
Elliotts at No. 1 Harbour Street
1 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AG
01227 276608 – www.facebook.com/no1harbourstreet
Elliotts has recently changed its name and needs an up to date visit by myself to clarify current gluten free availability and safety. It’s on my list!
Head to Elliotts for their Café, Brunch and Lunch. They offer great food, prepared well, with lots of gluten free options. Food is cooked fresh to order, so they are able to tweak for dietary need. They have a good understanding of Coeliac-friendly food preparation and work well as a team to ensure safety. ALL their cakes are currently gluten free and stored in individual glass ‘domes’. Additionally, gluten free bread is usually available.
Wheeler’s Oyster Bar
8 High St, Whitstable CT5 1BQ
01227 273311 – http://www.wheelersoysterbar.com/
‘Almost’ as old as Whitstable, Wheeler’s was founded in 1856. It serves traditional fish and seafood, shellfish, lobsters, crab and Whitstable Native Oysters, which are all locally sourced. Although difficult to get a table, it has a small, intimate restaurant at the back and also counter service for take-outs. Some dishes are naturally gluten free and they can also offer gluten free crab cakes with notice. As with many good Whitstable restaurants, the menu is fresh and seasonal. However, booking for the restaurant is essential.
A La Turka
13 High Street Whitstable CT5 1AP
01227 467735 – ala-turka.co.uk
A La Turka is a Turkish restaurant serving mezé and Mediterranean food. It has 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 are fried in oil that is not safe for Coeliacs. Having said that, the chef was consulted when I asked for our order to be allergen-verified and anything that was a risk was clearly identified and flagged.
As a result, I felt safe ordering and eating there (as indeed I have in other A La Turka restaurants in Kent) and there was no negative impact. While I would have no qualms about eating there again, I have not ‘starred’ the venue on account of the inaccurate information on the chips.
28 Harbour Street, Whitstable, CT5 1AH
01227 638458 – https://www.facebook.com/RuLusDeliKitchen/
RuLu’s is a recent addition to the Whitstable eating scene. A cosy restaurant-deli, it offers fresh-cooked food. As with many great Whitstable venues, the menu changes dependent on available (local) ingredients. Although I haven’t managed to eat there yet, I did have a chat with the chef-owner, who was reassuring about gluten-safety and willing to negotiate some menu/ingredient tweaks where helpful. Some gluten free cakes and sweet treats are also usually on offer.
Farm & Harper – Restaurant and Café ★
25 High St, Whitstable CT5 1AP
01227 264091 – Farm & Harper Facebook
I love Farm and Harper. It’s a friendly venue, offering breakfast and lunch (with occasional additional dinner events) at a good price. The menu is marked for allergens, however they will also substitute ingredients to make other dishes safe, if they can. When ordering, the chef will advise what can be altered/offered. Gluten free bread and burger buns are available, which means that menu items ‘on toast’ and burgers can also be prepared gluten free. And they usually have gluten free cake too. I gather they have also recently started offering takeaway… So, grab lunch and head to the beach.
Around The Clock (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) ★
56a High St, Whitstable CT5 1BB
01227 277255 – facebook.com/Around-The-Clock-Whitstable
Around The Clock serves traditional British breakfast, café-style snacks and meals. It offers flexibility and even has a separate freezer area for gluten free bread, etc to avoid cross-contamination. Furthermore, they are able to provide gluten free bread and some cake (a different offer each week, locally home-baked). The sausages, etc are also gluten free for breakfasts.
Castellum Pizzeria (restaurant eating) ★
27A Oxford St, Whitstable CT5 1DB
01227 941352 – www.castellumpizzeria.com
Castellum is an Independent Italian Pizzeria in Whitstable sharing delicious and unique pizzas and other traditional Italian food. They offer excellent Italian gluten free pizza bases (commercially supplied), which they place on foil to protect them both in preparation and baking. Pizza toppings are prepared in a separate area and they take steps to avoid cross-contamination as far as they can. I have eaten Castellum Pizzas (both at the restaurant and as takeaway) many times and they are absolutely delicious.
The menu is marked for gluten free options (although the chef may also tweak other dishes to make them safe for you too).
Also offers takeaway pizza.
Street Kings Smoke Shack ★
49 Oxford Street, Whitstable CT51DB
01227 949677 – https://skbbq.co.uk/
The Smoke Shack serves authentic BBQ and Caribbean fusion food. If you’re a meat-lover, then this is your place. The authentically slow-smoked and exceptionally tender meats rubbed with home-mixed spices are divine! All the meats, fries and coleslaws are gluten free. Desserts (so far) are not. However, I challenge anyone who can fit in dessert after the mains, which are substantial and very tasty.
The chef is knowledgable about gluten safety and happy to advise and reassure. The only items on the savoury menu that are not gluten free are the buns and mac n cheese. Food is safely prepared.
Opening times are limited to Thursday to Sunday night and Friday to Sunday lunch.
Thirty Nine (Restaurant & Café) ★
39 Oxford St, Whitstable CT5 1DB
01227 772770 – https://www.facebook.com/thirtyninewhitstable/
Thirty Nine is a gluten free Whitstable gem. An independent restaurant and café, it serves brunch, lunch and dinner. They also have special events advertised via social media.
The menu is varied and many dishes are already gluten free or optional gluten free. Even better, they are keen to make their menu as accessible as possible to the gluten free community. And every visit brings a new gluten free surprise. Missing Panko breadcrumbs? Here they’re gluten free!
The chef is very food safety aware and the kitchen is managed to avoid cross-contamination to a high standard. The restaurant space is beautifully open and I have been super-impressed with both the food and ethos.
Zizzi Italian Restaurant (chain) ★
Sea St, Whitstable CT5 1BU
01227 504858 – www.zizzi.co.uk
The Zizzi in Whitstable is perfectly situated near the beach for eat-in or takeaway. It has a dedicated (if predictable) gluten free menu, including pizza, pasta and some desserts. See website for details.
The Sportsman (at Seasalter) ★
Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, CT5 4BP (on the road between Whitstable and Faversham)
01227 273370 – www.thesportsmanseasalter.co.uk
The Sportsman offers top-end (Michelin starred) food in an understated and very relaxed restaurant (a 17th Century Inn on the Thames Estuary). It is situated about 4 miles outside Whitstable centre, on the back road to Faversham.
Using fresh and local ingredients (including produce home-grown on-site), its seasonal menu is well-deserving of its Michelin Star. The price tag is not cheap, but is more than worth it and not by any means unreasonable for the quality of food served. The menu is specifically a 5-course tasting menu, from which you make your choices (plus lots of incredible ‘snacks’ in between courses). It’s a culinary and foodies’ delight full of incredible surprises!
They cater well for Coeliacs and gluten avoiders. But they are unable to cater dairy free.
Booking well ahead is essential. This is an exceptionally popular venue to which people travel from far and wide. In addition to their Michelin star, they have also been placed at number 5 in the 2022 Good Food Guide list of the UK’s top 20 ‘most exciting restaurants’.
The Hotel Continental – Restaurant & Bar Food ★
(Far end of Whitstable towards Tankerton on seafront)
29 Beach Walk, Whitstable CT5 2BP
01227 280280 – www.hotelcontinental.co.uk
The Hotel Continental is an excellent mid-to-higher priced restaurant with a varied menu (fish, meat and vegetarian). It offers both a full restaurant menu and bar food (including fabulous Moules). The hotel uses lots of locally-sourced and fresh ingredients. Food is fresh-cooked to order and therefore there is lots of flexibility to cater for allergies and intolerance. Helpfully, they are able to provide a hand-marked menu for gluten free and staff are knowledgable. Gluten Free bread and buns are available for burgers. Furthermore, they can usually offer some gluten free desserts.
Gluten Free Tankerton (further up the beach from Whitstable)
The Marine Hotel & restaurant ★
32-33 Marine Parade, Tankerton, Whitstable CT5 2BE
01227 272672 – www.marinewhitstable.co.uk
The Marine Hotel overlooks Tankerton Slopes. It serves both restaurant and bar food. It uses lots of local and sustainably-sourced ingredients. Because food is fresh-cooked to order, there is lots of flexibility to cater for allergies and intolerances. The menu is varied and changes seasonally and according to available ingredients. Staff are trained regularly in food safety and cross contamination.
Chips are gluten free – SEPARATE FRYER (although they can’t do gluten free batter or pasta). Nonetheless, they are able to provide gluten free bread, breakfast sausages, gravy, sauces, etc.
They try to ensure the availability of gluten free dessert.
Mucini Italian Restaurant ★
1-3 St Annes Rd, Whitstable CT5 2DN
01227 277726 – www.mucini.co.uk
I love Mucini’s. It’s a fabulous mid-priced family-run Italian restaurant, cooking authentic Italian dishes and using locally-sourced ingredients where possible. Everything is fresh-cooked to order and so they are able to sub ingredients where needed. Gluten free pasta is available… But this is also a restaurant that offers plenty of traditional Italian meat, fish and vegetable dishes too. There are a couple of gluten free desserts on the menu and the restaurant makes their own gelato. Check the website as offerings and hours vary depending on the day.
Jo Jo’s (Meze, Meat and Fish Restaurant) ★
2 Herne Bay Rd, Whitstable CT5 2LQ
01227 274591 – www.jojosrestaurant.co.uk
Jo Jo’s comes with a deserving reputation and with varied hours of opening – Thursday to Sunday. They also have a cocktail and tapas bar, grabbing seats on a first come first served basis (although in hotter weather, it’s easy to spill out onto the terrace).
It’s an extremely popular (mid-priced) restaurant serving Mediterranean Mezé, fish, meats, cheese, salads, soups etc (tapas-style eating). They cook with good-quality local, free-range and sustainable ingredients. Thus the menu changes according to ingredient availability.
The menu is marked for allergens, although staff will also advise on what can be changed for dietary need. They have home-made gluten free bread and a SEPARATE FRYER, so most things on the menu are safe or accessible. That includes battered calamari… Super-succulent and delicious!
Book a table on-line up to one month in advance. Seriously… book as early as possible for Jo Jo’s. Tables are hard to grab, especially in the summer months.
A Selection of Jo Jo’s Meze
Wheatsheaf Pub – Hungry Horse
Swalecliffe – Herne Bay Rd, Whitstable CT5 2LU (Far end of Tankerton)
01227 792310 – www.hungryhorse.co.uk/pubs/kent/wheatsheaf
Standard ‘Hungry Horse’ traditional chain pub-style menu. They have a clear and easy-to-read ‘no gluten containing menu’ with ‘disclaimer’. And can offer gluten free bread for sandwiches.
Their chips and batter are NOT safe for Coeliacs.
The Gluten Free Whitstable Guide to Take-Aways (no dedicated sit in option)
Like any town, Whitstable has a number of takeaway-only restaurants. I have listed the fish and chip restaurants separately at the top of this gluten free guide. There are no safe traditional Chinese or Thai restaurants currently in the town.
Please note that since the Covid situation, many venues shared in this post above as ‘restaurants’ also now offer a take away service as well as eat in. Ask locally at venues direct as the situation may be subject to change.
Indian Takeaways and Restaurants
There are many Indian takeaways and restaurants in Whitstable. In general, most Indian restaurants offer relatively safe food, as (apart from the breads) dishes naturally contain largely gluten free ingredients.
I have eaten safely at a number of the local venues over the years. However, I have not specifically listed ‘safe’ Indian restaurants and takeaways, but advise you to check individual restaurants for menus and awareness of cross-contamination etc on an individual basis.
Whitstable Take-Aways & Bakeries
76 High St, Whitstable CT5 1AZ
01227 771883 – www.nomadpizzawhitstable.co.uk
Nomad Pizza is one of my favourite takeaways in Whitstable. Unique pizzas which are freshly topped using local ingredients (including local cheeses and hams). The gluten free bases (at slightly extra cost) come from Italy and toppings at Nomad are all gluten free too. The garlic butter topped gluten free pizza base is a ‘must addition’ to any takeaway… Because it’s crisp, lightly charred and exceptionally good.
Staff are aware of cross-contamination issues. Gluten free pizzas are prepared in a cleaned-down area and baked on a dedicated metal grill over direct heat for full crispiness and characteristic ‘charred’ edges.
Note: the venue does use semolina on site, so there may be some risk of cross-contamination from stray particles. But we eat pizza from here regularly.
Please Sir (Burgers) ★
41 High Street, Whitstable CT5 1AP
07361 833425 – pleasesir.co.uk
Please Sir is a unique and local ‘burger joint’ that serves the most incredible award-winning burgers. They use 100% rump steak for the patties, which means the burgers themselves are not only gluten free, but seriously flavoursome and good quality.
The proviso is this… At the moment, if you’re gluten free, you need to bring your own bun. That however, is no hardship as Please Sir is located opposite a Sainsbury’s local and a short distance from a couple of Co-ops… all of which have well-stocked gluten free sections! And it’s ABSOLUTELY worth the effort!
Your burger will then be prepared safely in a cleaned down area… with appropriately gluten free add-ins. Sadly, the crispy onions are not safe, but the staff will happily sub with freshly caramelised onions instead.
And the fries are INCREDIBLE! Super-crisp and cooked safely in Coeliac-safe oil!
63 High St, Whitstable CT5 1AP
01227 772060 – www.facebook.com/Hubbards-Bakery
Hubbards is a local family bakery. Gluten free cake is often available (1 option on week days and 2 to 3 at weekends) – Cakes are home-baked and made off-premises and staff use separate ‘gluten free’ serving equipment. They are stored on the top shelf of the main cabinet, but near normal cakes, so there will be some risk of cross-contamination.
Gluten Free Whitstable in The South Quay Shed (Harbour)
The South Quay Shed is a relatively new addition to Whitstable and the food scene. But it’s there to be explored. It’s a gorgeously light ‘industrial’ warehouse space, which has been converted into a contemporary two-level indoor community seating area, surrounded by small food, drink, arts and crafts shops. It’s perfect for browsing and chilling and it has the most amazing views across the harbour from its seating upstairs… whatever the weather! Open all year round, well into the evening, it’s a perfect social spot to meet up with friends and grab a coffee (I recommend Hat Hats). It also has a bar!
Rad Burger ★
Located in the South Quay Shed, Whitstable Harbour.
Rad Burger sells incredible burgers. They can be made safely gluten free and come in a perfectly soft gluten free brioche bun. Juicy and meaty, these burgers are to die for and (I think) one of the best burgers you’ll find in Whitstable. Plus they are take away, so you can eat them in The Shed, harbour or take them to the beach!
Rad Burger also sells the most amazing Rosemary Fries. Although they are not always gluten free. BUT… it is always worth asking when you visit. On the two occasions I have eaten there (both different days), the oil had just been changed and the fries were safe! I guess you never know unless you ask xx
Sooshi Sushi ★
Located in the South Quay Shed, Whitstable Harbour.
Sooshi Sushi sells (you guessed it)… Sushi! But it also sells fabulous poke bowls, sashimi, etc. Sadly the ramen bowls are not currently gluten free, but the owners are trying to source noodles that are inclusive.
The Sushi is pre-packaged and labelled for allergens. Poke bowls are safe and are served with (optional) Coeliac-safe shoyu sauce, pickled ginger, etc.
Pork & Co ★
Located just in front of the South Quay Shed, Whitstable Harbour
Pork & Co is a local, independent family-run takeaway hut selling lots of meaty treats. All the pork is hand-reared, free range and local. Although not everything is gluten free and there are no gluten free buns, there are still plenty of safe options, including the chips which are fried separately. Having tried it, I can confirm that the pulled pork is superb and beautifully seasoned.
And if the weather’s bad, you can take your stash into the South Quay Shed and eat undercover!
Harbour Garden Café ★
Next to the South Quay Shed – Whitstable Harbour
Although I’ve already covered the Harbour Garden Café above as a main restaurant eating venue, I’m adding it again here… As they now also do some hatch-served ‘takeaway’ food and drink. It’s not their full menu, but if you want to grab something tasty to eat on the beach or in the harbour, it’s well worth it. They have a SEPARATE FRYER for chips and I can vouch that their Loaded Crab Fries are incredible!
138 Tankerton Rd, Tankerton, Whitstable CT5 2AN
01227 264431 – www.dominos.co.uk/storefulfilment/whitstable
Standard Domino’s gluten free pizza menu (see website) – Gluten free pizza uses standard Schär bases. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the Schär bases, but at least you know what you’re getting. Domino’s is accredited by Coeliac UK (although I have previously been ‘glutened’ at this takeaway (pre-covid)).
I honestly recommend using one of the independents in Whitstable instead – Either Nomad, Castellum or Sale and Pepé – All of which offer take away options.
The Gluten Free Whitstable Guide to Light Lunch, Cafés, Pubs and Snacks
If looking for a lighter gluten free food option (snacks, coffee, cakes, light lunches etc), Whitstable still caters well. Again, as many venues are locally owned and run, there is often greater flexibility to alter ingredients and to be accessible to those with dietary need. As with restaurants, many will vary what’s on offer dependent on supply.
In addition to the listings below, please note that No. 1 Harbour Street, Farm & Harper, Around the Clock, The Harbour Garden Cafe and the Hotel Continental also offer tea/coffee and cake/snacks. See above listings for details.
The Kitchen @ Whitstable
26 High St, Whitstable CT5 1BQ
(Coffee, snacks and cakes). The Kitchen is a relatively new venue and is looking to explore more gluten free options. Currently, they have a small selection of gluten free savoury snack options and cakes available. Although cabinets are spotlessly clean, gluten free cakes are nonetheless displayed with other non-gluten free items. As such, there is some risk of cross-contamination.
The Cheese Box (British Cheese Specialist) ★
60 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AG
01227 273711 – www.thecheesebox.co.uk
The Cheese Box is a Whitstable gem… The most incredible selection of British cheeses ever! They even create cheese wedding cakes. Check the website or phone for information on cheese & wine tasting evenings. Gluten free crackers and sourdough bread are available for these. However, it’s best to request in advance.
Tudor Restaurant & Tearooms ★
29 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AH
01227 273167 – www.tudortearooms.co.uk
English tea rooms, coffee, light lunches, snacks
The Tudor Tea Rooms has been in Whitstable for over 30 years. A popular traditional and authentic tea room that is family run. It has a quaint exterior and décor, and is popular with locals and visitors. Apparently, it was a favourite haunt of Peter Cushing when he lived in the town.
As an eating venue, the menu is varied and offers a number of gluten free options. If you are seeking lunch, the chips are safe (fried in SEPARATE FRYER) and they will grill fish for gluten-avoiders. Their fish pie is now made with cornflour so that we can eat it… And they offer Jackets, salads, omelettes, etc too. Gluten free bread is usually available and for those with a sweet tooth, they offer safe gluten free cake and ice cream. With good notice, they are able to provide gluten free afternoon tea.
Tea & Times – Café & Sandwich Bar ★
36A High St, Whitstable CT5 1BQ
01227 262639 – www.facebook.com/teaandtimes
Another Whitstable institution, Tea and Times has been serving coffee with newspapers for decades. The coffee is good and the hot chocolate even better… But this little gem also caters with fresh-made gluten free sandwiches and some cakes as well.
They use designated clean gluten free food boards and cake servers and although the bread is standard gluten free, they are willing to toast for sandwiches as preferred.
Thirty Nine (Restaurant & Café) ★
39 Oxford St, Whitstable CT5 1DB
01227 772770 – https://www.facebook.com/thirtyninewhitstable/
Already mentioned under restaurants above, Thirty Nine is an independent café-restaurant that also serves delicious light lunches, coffee and cake. Many dishes on the menu are already gluten free or optional gluten free and when I visited, all the counter cakes were safe. They are keen to make the venue as inclusive as possible.
The kitchen is managed to avoid cross-contamination to a high standard, with good gluten-safe awareness. I was genuinely impressed with both the food and the ethos. Well worth a visit.
BluePrint Coffee & Books
4 Oxford St, Whitstable CT5 1DD
Speciality coffee roasters, espresso bar and book seller – Blueprint is a contemporary, small and friendly speciality coffee shop offering fresh-ground coffee (eat in and take away). It has a good range of gluten free cakes which are hand-baked off premises.
Gilbert’s Café Deli ★
19 Oxford St, Whitstable CT5 1DB (opposite the ‘Peter Cushing’)
01227 273189 – www.facebook.com/GilbertsofWhitstable
Gilbert’s Deli offers eat in (small seating area) or take-away light lunches/snacks (including gluten free tortilla, sandwiches, rolls, deli boxes, etc).
They have a good understanding of cross contamination and safe food preparation. And they use cleaned and separate equipment, butter, etc for gluten free safety. Friendly and helpful.
21a Oxford St, Whitstable CT5 1DB
01227 938396 – www.garageroasted.co.uk
Garage Coffee is a cosy coffee shop selling fresh roasted coffee. They do sell a small selection of gluten free cakes to go with coffee. However these were displayed (when I visited) alongside standard cakes. As such, while they will use separate tongs to serve, there is a risk of cross-contamination from close crumbs.
Honey Kanes Sweet Shop
23 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AH
01227 282202 – www.whitstablesweetshop.co.uk
Honey Kanes is a traditional British sweet shop loved by kids and adults alike. Lots of pick and mix, traditional and retro sweets. Has a gluten free sweet menu. However, if the sweets are not of the wrapped variety, they are unable to guarantee 100% safety for Coeliacs.
The Beach Café ★
3 Beach Walk, Whitstable CT5 2BP (situated between Whitstable & Tankerton)
01227 282167 – www.facebook.com/thebeachcafewhitstable
The Beach Café is a friendly café near to the Hotel Continental and Tankerton beach front serving traditional café food, including Full English Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch. Currently open 9am to 2 pm.
They have gluten free bread available with which they can make safe gluten free sandwiches and toast (with a dedicated gluten free toaster). Plus, they also serve full English breakfast. The sausages and hash browns are gluten free and food is prepared in a separate safe area. Safe chips are available (using a safe SEPARATE FRYER)
The Bubble Café ★
Seafront – towards Tankerton beyond the Hotel Continental
Beach Walk, Whitstable CT5 2BP
01227 634748 – www.thebubblewhitstable.co.uk
The Bubble Café is in a great setting, high up and over-looking the sea. It has a small kitchen that prepares gluten free and non-gluten free food. However, they have a very good understanding of cross contamination and plenty of gluten free offerings. Gluten free food that requires grilling is done on separate parchment to keep safe and food preparation follows strict guidelines. The fried food is not safe for Coeliacs.
Excellent gluten-safe breakfast menu, including gluten free overnight oats. Gluten free bread is available for sandwiches, etc. They also offer salads and mezé, plus a selection of gluten free cakes.
Orangery Tearooms in Whitstable Castle
15 Tower Hill, Whitstable CT5 2BW
01227 281726 – www.whitstablecastle.co.uk/food-&-drink
The Castle Gardens (which are often used for craft fairs and community events) are beautiful in themselves and well worth a visit. They also have a lovely enclosed and quite unique sea-themed play area for young children. The Orangery Tearooms and café serves snacks, sandwiches and ‘afternoon teas’, with some gluten free bread/sandwiches and cakes available. Gluten free scones and afternoon tea is available with notice. Chips, sausages etc not safe for Coeliacs, but they can offer jacket potatoes and are willing to sub items where needed. But…
Despite the staff seeming to be verbally aware of food safety, it was of some concern that the ‘dedicated’ serving utensils were all lying on the shelf together surrounded by crumbs. The serving area seemed a little chaotic. As such, I felt that it would not be safe for me to eat there as a Coeliac.
Tower Tea Gardens Café Hut
Tower Hill, Whitstable (far end beyond the Hotel Continental)
No web site (but the hut is under the same ownership as the castle Orangery café above)
Serves tea and coffee from a hut in the Tea Gardens with a beautiful sea view. It also offers some gluten free cakes, but these were not labelled when I visited and the server seemed unsure what was safe or not. Thus… Not safe for Coeliacs. However… Even if you bring your own picnic, this little garden has to be one of my favourite views in Whitstable.
Café Eighty Nine and Dolcé Ice Cream ★
93 Tankerton Rd, Whitstable CT5 2AJ
01227 272133 – www.caffeeightynine.com
Breakfast, sandwiches, paninis snacks, cakes, scones, waffles and ice cream – Café Eighty Nine (and its sister ice cream parlour next door – Dolcé Ice Cream) is a lovely little café in Tankerton. Nearly everything on the menu can be made safely gluten free – Including gluten free scones, paninis, sandwiches, sausages, waffles and ice cream cones.
They are very Coeliac aware and knowledgeable re cross-contamination safety. They use clean boards, butter and a separate preparation area etc.