Grand Rapids may be my most favorite city in Michigan. Not only does it have amazing sights, but the number of restaurants with gluten free dining options is astounding. From savory to sweet, Grand Rapids can’t be beat!
Where is Grand Rapids?
For those unfamiliar with the city, Grand Rapids is located about 35 miles east of Lake Michigan. The Grand River flows through the downtown area, which naturally separates it into east and west sections. Interstate 196 and US 131 also intersect downtown, which separate the city into north and south sections. Grand Rapids is north of Kalamazoo, east of Muskegon and west of Lansing. Grand Rapids is home to Gerald R Ford International airport.
What is Grand Rapids Famous For?
Grand Rapids is popular for so many reasons. Home to furniture manufacturering and Meijer stores, it has a vibrant economy and is also rich in arts and culture. Every year people visit the ArtPrize competition and LaughFest, in honor of the late Gilda Radner. It’s also known as “Beer City,” and will soon be getting its own dedicated gluten free brewery, Brewery Nyx.
What Attractions Should I Visit?
With so many great places, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I always recommend John Ball Zoo, with or without kids. Frederik Meijer Gardens on East Beltline is also a “must visit” location. Both the indoor and outside attractions are amazing. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is one of my favorites, and I still need to visit the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum. Don’t miss the Grand Rapids Childrens’s Museum, also located downtown!
Love baseball? Catch a West Michigan White Caps minor league game. They offer gluten free concessions, too! Visit Van Andel Arena for Griffins hockey, and music concerts. Make sure to add Fulton Street Farmers Market and the Downtown Market to your itinerary, also. I love Bridge Street Market and Harvest Health for delicious gluten free groceries. Visit Experience Grand Rapids for more tourist informatoin.
Why Does Grand Rapids Offer So Many Gluten Free Options?
At one point, there was a strong and active Celiac Disease Support Group in the area. They helped educate physicians, hospital systems, grocery stores and restaurants on gluten free dining. Support group leaders visited restaurants to inspect their facilities and teach them how to minimize the risk of cross contact. The city also had a gluten free food fair.
While the group and the fair no longer exist, the prelimary work they did made a lasting impact. Area restaurants realized that the more they accommodated those with dining restrictions, the more people would frequent their business. In addition, as awareness of Celiac Disease continues to grow, so do available dining options.
Where Should I Eat?
I developed the list below with the help from those in the former support group. In full disclosure, I have not eaten at all of these locations. I placed an asterisk at restaurants where I have personally dined. In addition, please remember that food preparation methods can change, so ALWAYS ask questions before ordering. This list is not exhaustive, but compiled with the help of those who know to ask questions about cross contact, including shared fryers, etc.
Another comment in regards to “where.” I grew up in Lansing, and not Grand Rapids. In assigning eateries to areas, I started with the downtown area, and grouped them into areas, due to their geographic location to the downtown area. I embedded a map of these Grand Rapids gluten free dining suggestions, which you can use to get online directions.
Grand Rapids Gluten Free Restaurant Suggestions
Downtown Grand Rapids
Northeast Grand Rapids
Anna’s House– Plainfield* website (Dedicated GF prep space)
Frosty Boy* (Plainfield location ONLY. NOT Cascade) website
Herb and Fire Pizzeria* website
Lucy’s Cafe website
The Melting Pot (GFCO Certified) website
Mitten Brewing Company* website
East (East Hills/ Eastmont/ East Town)
The Electric Cheetah website
The Green Well website
Maru Sushi website
Matchbox Diner website
Noco Provisions website
Terra Grand Rapids website
Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop website
Wealthy Street Bakery / Hall Street Bakery* (Separate Dedicated GF Kitchen) website
Southeast (East Beltline)
Anna’s House* (Dedicated Gluten Free Prep Station) website
Buddy’s Pizza* website
The Cheesecake Factory website
Cooper’s Hawk Winery website
Core Life Eatery website
Papa Chops (Dedicated Gluten Free) website
Condado Tacos (my review)
Other Grand Rapids Suggestions
I’ve mentioned Grand Rapids many other times on my blog. Check out my list of Michigan Gluten Free Bakers, local Cider Mills which offer gluten free donuts, and area coffee shops that serve baked goods from Kind Crumbs and Rise Authentic Baking. For more activity suggestions, visit From Michigan With Love’s list of Fun Things to do in Greater Grand Rapids.
Your turn! What’s your favorite place to eat, shop and play in Grand Rapids? With so much to see, I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. What places would you recommend to visitors and tourists? Leave suggestions in the comments below.
Looking for dining recommendations in other cities? Visit my post on dining gluten free in Michigan.