New York Today: Gluten-Free Nightlife

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No gluten guilt here. Credit Harrison Hill/The New York Times

Good morning.

A customer walked into a south Brooklyn bar and asked the bartender, “Do you have any gluten-free beer?”

He stared blankly. She wondered if she had come to the right place. Yelp reviewers rated the bar as one of Brooklyn’s best stops for gluten-free beer.

“We have cider?” he suggested.

This is the life of a gluten-intolerant person in New York.

For night owls who can tolerate gluten, an evening out might include happy hour draft specials, dumplings or a $1 slice, none of which are easy options for those who are allergic to wheat or have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, which means consuming gluten can result in damage to the small intestine.

Despite these risks, New York is one of the best places to live without gluten, said Jessica Hanson, organizer of the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup group.ù

You just need to know where to look, so we’re here to help.

The “Find Me Gluten Free” app can be helpful for preliminary research, but because levels of intolerance can vary and restaurants aren’t always consistent with allergen precautions, consumers should call and verify kitchen standards. For example, ask if bread is cooked in a separate oven or if a gluten-free dish has a designated prep area. These concerns can exist at bars, too.

Glasses should go through a dishwasher, or at least get washed twice in a sink, said Leah Moss, a Brooklyn bartender who has celiac disease. Ms. Moss suggested asking bartenders upfront if they can double-wash the glass, and then tipping them extra.

Gluten-free drinks usually cost more, but “you’re paying for the extra safety precaution,” Ms. Hanson said.

There are bars — like Spritzenhaus 33 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and South in South Slope, Brooklyn — that serve gluten-free beers at no extra charge. Bartenders at both bars said they had noticed an uptick in gluten-free requests over the last couple of years.

“People are finally realizing those stomach aches are preventable,” said Michael Evans, who has been bartending for six years.

If you’re looking for late-night eats, taco trucks, Thai or Indian are good options. Most other late-night Asian places are out of the question because soy sauce contains a wheat filler. Sorry.

If you’re fine with gluten, you can help friends who aren’t by researching places and being flexible if those don’t work out.

By  Jonathan Wolfe – nytimes.com