Friday, July 15, 2016

Gluten Free in Times Square

There is a lot to love about Times Square and the surrounding theater district.  The plays are fantastic, the lights and colors are energizing, there are sights and sounds everywhere.

On the other hand, it is a tourist trap, complete with aggressive hawkers shoving flyers in your face or trying to sell you fake tickets.  

In general, it seems like New Yorkers do not think much of the food in the theater district, and even less of the food at Times Square.  However, we had little ones with us, who can't walk very far, are hard to take on the subway, and there were too many of us to fit in a cab.  We needed food near our hotel, which was the Hilton Times Square, (not to be confused with the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square -- that is a different hotel).  The Hilton Times Square is directly next door to Madame Tussauds wax museum.

A few yards from the hotel (40th and 8th) was Schnippers, a burger joint/ quick service restaurant that has a gluten free menu.  You need to ask for it, it is not posted, but it is extensive.  All the burgers and sandwiches can be made with a gluten free bun.  You can add chicken, fish or grilled turkey to a salad (make sure you specify no croutons).  The fish & chips, chicken tenders, and fries are made with a gluten free batter and can be fried in non-glutinated oil (you must ask them to do this, otherwise it will be made in the cross contaminated fryer).  All the shakes and ice cream (except cookies & cream, obviously) are gluten free.  Wow.

I took the advice of several online bloggers who recommended the Schnipper's Chicken Filet, a crunchy fried chicken sandwich that comes with pickles and Schnipper's Sauce.  I was leery of the special sauce, not for gluten reasons, just because I am picky with my sauces, so I skipped it, but that left me with a sandwich that was kind of dry.  

The next day we came back and I had a burger with cheese and tomatoes, and that was a much better choice for me.  Still, while this was pretty decent gluten free burger, I wouldn't have gone back for more.

So why did we come back the next day?  Because the children demanded it.  Little David, who is 4 years old and gluten intolerant was so happy with his chicken fingers that he cried when it was time to leave, sobbing for more chicken!  He and his mother ate there three times over the course of our 4 day trip.  Definitely the perfect choice for a gluten free toddler.

GF Chicken Tenders at Schnippers

Waiting for our meal at Schnippers
We ate at another burger place, The Counter, not far away at 41st and Broadway.  Their website says that the fries are gluten free; however, our server advised us that is not always true.  On this particular occassion, they had been frying something else in the oil, so it was cross contaminated.  Bonus points to the server for knowing that and telling me!

I had a 1/3 pound beef burger on a gluten free bun with garlic aioli, tomatoes, avacado, and cheddar cheese, medium rare.  It was awesome.  One of the best burgers I ever ate.  So yummy.  I also had a milk shake with chocolate and marshmallow fluff, which was good, but probably not worth the calories.
GF at Counter Burger in Times Square

One night we were too tired to go out and brave the crowds, so we ordered pizza from Don Antonio's and had it delivered to the hotel.  It was, as my sister-in-law says, "snooty pizza."  In other words, it was fancy gourmet Neopolitan-style pizza, not your standard Domino's type pizza.  That is perfect for me, but not so much for little David.  In the interest of trying something new and different, I ordered a Montanara Starita -- fried pizza dough topped with tomato sauce, smoked buffalo mozzerella, and basil.  The crust was very rich, due to the saturation of oil, but delicious.  I actually liked it even better the next morning when I ate it cold, with my Starbucks latte.

GF pizza from Don Antonio's

David did better at John's Pizzeria, which offered a thin crust, wood fired, gluten free pizza.  It was also right next door to the theater where Something Rotten is playing, so if you are heading to that theater (St. James), this would be the perfect spot to grab a pre- or post dinner pizza.

While David was eating at John's, I was spending the evening in a more upscale environment.  I took the two older children (13 and 14) to Etcetera, Etcetera, a cute little Italian bistro near 44th and 8th.  We were heading to the theater with a 7 pm curtain time, and arrived at 5:30.  They asked us what time our show was and presented us with the bill at precisely 6:45, so as to give us time to get to the theater.  Perfect!

I had an excellent risotto, with asparagus, peas, and pecorino cheese.  It was supposed to have mushrooms as well, but when I mentioned that I didn't care for mushrooms, the waiter told me he could have them on the side, but insisted that I try one, as these are particularly good mushrooms. I ate the risotto without mushrooms, but I did pass them to my son, who appreciated them.

We had dessert, at the instance of the teenagers, and I was glad we did, because my chocolate pudding with hazelnuts was one of the most insanely delicious things I have ever had.  Wow.

GF Risotto at Etc Etc in NYC
The bottom line is, with some research and a willingness to spend NYC prices, there is delicious GF food to be found in Times Square, without resorting to TGI Friday's or one of the other chain restaurants you can find in any town in the USA.


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