Having been on holiday to Zante this summer, I discovered that eating safely gluten free there as a coeliac is completely doable. I was so relieved!
The hospitality of the local people really blew me away. Staff in restaurants and cafes were so kind and helpful, answering my various questions and talking me through how dishes were prepared.
Of course, many of the Greek classics such as gyros and pastitsio are off limits. And you also need to be aware that other classics such as moussaka nearly always contain wheat flour in the white sauce. However, once you focus on what you CAN have, rather than what you can’t have, you’ll find there are plenty of delicious gluten free dishes to enjoy.
In this guide I share some general tips about how to visit Zante as a coeliac. Then specific restaurant recommendations that I had a good experience eating at, or that were recommended to me by followers.
If you have any extra tips or any updates, please get in touch! You can email me at email@example.com or contant me on social media @myglutenfreeguide.
General Tips for Eating Gluten Free in Zante
1) Take a Greek Language Coeliac Restaurant Card
You can find it here. These are a lifesaver when you are dining out in a county where you don’t speak the language. This card explains in Greek which foods we coeliac cannot eat and also cover cross contamination measures.
It’s quite seriously worded and it worked really well in Zante. A few places even told me they found it really helpful and it helped them fully understand my requirements.
I printed out a few paper copies (to save having to give my phone to the restaurant staff), then they can take the copy to the chef for reference.
2) Don’t Asssume “GF” Means Coeliac Safe
If a menu is marked up with”GF” to show the gluten free options, you still need to give them your restaurant card. Then staff know to take the cross contamination precautions to help ensure your meal is coeliac safe.
3) Ask Questions
At every restaurant we visited I found English was well spoken, so I asked staff which options were safe for me. Often they would suggest I chose a couple of dishes I liked the look of, then they would talk me through how they were prepared/the ingredients. People were so lovely and helpful, and knowledgeable. It really put me at ease!
Questions I would typically ask:
- are the potatoes cooked in a dedicated fryer?
- Is the souvalki cooked on the same grill as pitta?
- Is any flour used in the sauce?
- Which dish is the safest option for me?
It might seem embarrassing or make you feel awkward at first, but it gets easier with experience and it’s better than having your holiday ruined by being glutened.
4) Don’t Assume a Dish is Gluten Free
Don’t assume a dish is gluten free just because you can’t see an obvious source of gluten. Moussaka in Greece nearly always has bechamel sauce thickened with wheat flour, so it’s off limits for coeliacs. However, I was often able to enjoy other specialties such as lamb kleftico.
Try to focus on the delicious things you can eat. Rather than getting in a grump because you can’t have a particular dish (we’ve all been there!).
5) Enjoy The Naturally Gluten Free Options (and Dedicated Fryers!)
I find in Greece that I end up eating a lot of fish/meat, potatoes/chips and salad type meals. Lots of Greek dishes are naturally gluten free. Usually there are no sneaky marinades containing gluten to contend with, but again I always give them my card to play it safe.
In most of the restaurants we visited, I found the chips were cooked in a dedicated fryer, so I ate a lottttt of them over the course of the holiday! Of course there’s always lovely fresh Greek salad, garlicky green beans, stews, grilled meat and fish to enjoy too.
I was only offered gluten free bread in one restaurant, so if you really need gf bread with your meal best take some with you. But the amount of potatoes and chips on offer always kept me happily full. And you can get some as a starter to go with the mezze and dips :).
6) Consider Self Catering and Take Some Supplies from Home
It helps to be prepared when you are coeliac, just in case. Having self catering accommodation means you can have easy breakfast at home.
Or make yourself a safe lunchtime picnic too if you fancy spending all day on the beach. Which, to be honest, we prefer doing as my kids just wanted to play all day.
Then you can dine out as and when you want. Rather than constantly stressing about finding the next safe gluten free spot. That said, we went out 6 evenings out of 7 and I had a positive experience every time :).
Gluten Free Friendly Restaurants on Zante
Here are a selection of restaurants you might want to try when you visit Zante. A few we visited personally, and others were recommended to me by coeliac readers.
We stayed close to Alykanas for the first 5 nights, so ate here a few times and spent time at the beach. We really liked the small beach close to Oasis Studios and Apartments (and parked there). It wasn’t as crowded as the main beach and was lovely and shallow for the kids.
It’s a nice sized resort – not too busy, but plenty of restaurants to enjoy in the evenings. We went to:
- Mantalena – it doesn’t look like much from the outside but I think this is my top pick. The staff were lovely, and the waitress talked me through all the ingredients and cooking processes for the dishes I wanted. They were super reassuring and read my greek coeliac card, before saying they could definitely make me safe food. Hearty, taverna style food, relaxed setting, parking outside and nice kids playground out back. I enjoyed lamb kleftico – slow cooked lamb in a pot with potatoes, peppers, courgette and aubergine, feta on top, plus an incredible tomato green beans side dish.
- Paradosiako Taverna – a bit fancier, but still kid friendly – it was a real mix of couples on dates and families having dinner. The menu is marked to show gf choices (including pasta), but speak to staff as there are more gf options available. I had kokkinisto zakynthou, a local beef stew and it was DELICIOUS. As usual, I have them my coeliac card to be safe.
- Asteria Taverna – on the beachfront, I’ll admit we had low expectations when we walked in but it turned out great. The staff were lovely, spoke excellent English, and chatted through options with me. I had grilled seabream and chips cooked in dedicated fryer. They also confirmed no pitta or bread was cooked on the grill with the fish.
- Fishalida – we didn’t eat here but I spoke to staff and they said they can cater for gluten free customers, and gluten free options are marked on the menu. They have a cool-looking restaurant and are also beachfront with sunbeds, so it would be a good beach lunch spot.
- Fidelio – recommended by a reader.
- Bekiris Family Restaurant – recommended by a reader.
We merely passed through Argassi, no time to stop for lunch. Here are a couple of places that may be worth trying for gluten free:
We did not stay in Kalamaki, but a few followers had and these were the recommendations sent to me:
- Ellie’s Place
- The Family Restaurant
- The Vintage
Only one recommendation for Laganas was sent to me, so please do let me know if you visit and find any gems:
- Avli Taverna – book ahead for this restaurant, which has a beautiful outdoor terrace section. Even though they were so busy when we visited, the staff went out of their way to keep me safe. They offered to cook me some chips in clean oil in fresh pan to avoid cross contamination and were very knowledgable about ingredients in all dishes. I had a delicious slow cooked lamb shank with veggies, feta and chips. Bonus if you’ve kids – there’s a small play area tucked safely at the back of the terrace area.
- Wine & Roses – lovely owners, one had a coeliac friend so was well aware of gluten free dietary requirements. They were especially helpful at recommending which choices would be extra safe for me. Good classic taverna food.
Other restaurants recommended by followers, which we did not visit:
- The Halfway House
- Benikos Greek Gourmet Taverna
- Barracuda Beach Bar
We didn’t make it this far North, however I received two recommendations for this area:
- The Old Windmill – recommended by a follower as having plenty of gluten free choices.
- The Deli & Kitchen by the Peligoni Club – sells gluten free bread, as well as other gluten free options.
- Avli – Yard of Taste – beautiful restaurant, with refined cooking, cool interiors and serious cocktails. The team there were all wonderful. They read my coeliac card, confirmed they could cater for me, talked me through the options easily. The lovely chef-owner came out to chat to me, to reassure me she would avoid any cross contamin and to let me know she had gf bread and pasta. I enjoyed a fab trio of dips with gf bread, amazing passion fruit ceviche, quinoa lentil mango avo salad with fried potatoes. More refined cooking that other spots we ate at, definitely worth a visit. I was impressed (and felt really safe).
- Paradosiako – we visited their sister restaurant in Alykes and they catered very well for me as a coeliac.
- Spartakos Taverna – a reader recommendation.
- Piero’s Gelateria Italiana – a Greek follower recommended this spot, but we didn’t get a chance to pop in. She said to give then a call the day ahead and they will prepare coeliac safe ice cream.
Finding Gluten Free Products in Supermarkets on Zante
Greece is Subject to EU Allergen Laws, so you can rest assured that in supermarkets that allergens will be marked on packaging.
I found most products had ingredients listed in English as well as Greek. However, when only in Greek I used the Google Translate app to translate them to English. It’s really handy to have on your phone as you simply scan or take a picture of the label.
AB Vasilopoulos supermarket is the large supermarket I visited – they had a wide range of Schar gluten free bread, Barilla gluten free pasta, plus Greek gluten free brands. Crunch biscuit chocolate. It took me a while to find what I needed, as there was no gluten free section. Products were scattered around or in the health food section – look out for the crossed grain symbol.
Lidl also have a range of gluten free products, I was told by Greek followers.
Smaller supermarkets and grocery stores in resorts nearly always had gluten free biscuits and crackers, plus occasionally gluten free bread from the range pictured below.
Zante Hotels that Cater For Gluten Free Guests
We self catered for most of our stay, but for the last two nights stayed in a little family-owned B&B called Lofos Solis. They did a wonderful gluten free breakfast for me (pancakes and toast) – I gave them my gluten free Greek coeliac card when we arrived the day before.
Other Zante hotels that mention being able to cater for gluten free guests (online, in reviews or when I made a direct enquiry):
- Arkadia Hotel – Kypseli
- Altura Hotel – Tsilivi
- Olea All Suite Hotel – Tsilivi
- Windmill Hotel – Argassi
- White Olive Premium Hotel – Laganas
That’s all on gluten free Zante for now. For more travel inspiration, check out some of my other gluten free guides:
Happy holidays! Laura xxx
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