If you’re ever in New York City, make sure to take a trip to the little Manhattan neighborhood north of Houston Street known as NoHo. Tucked away on Lafayette in between 4th Street and Astor Place is Colors, a 100% gluten-free restaurant.
This is the gluten-free foodie’s dream come true: a night out enjoying a wonderful meal with friends and family without having to worry about cross-contamination or limited gluten-free options on the menu. Eating at Colors is like being at a gluten-free party that was especially thrown for you.
In fact, I found out about Colors from my brother, John, who has Celiac disease and who had gone to a Christmas party that was being hosted there. He had no idea that the restaurant was completely gluten-free. When he first looked at the menu and saw food options like “pork and bacon meatballs,” he was afraid he would not be able to eat any of the food. But the bartender assured him there wasn’t a trace of wheat in the entire kitchen.
Of course, John told me that I needed to visit Colors too, so we went on a quiet Friday evening this January. The decor is elegantly modern with a hip, relaxed ambience.
The story behind Colors is quite intriguing. Colors is a non-profit restaurant owned by the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United. ROC was formed shortly after 9/11 to help restaurant workers who had worked at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center and were displaced by the tragedy.
ROC-NY established the Colors Hospitality Opportunities for Workers (C.H.O.W.) Institute to provide their members with free professional development classes. The classes are held at Colors during the daytime, and all servers are graduates of the program. Colors prides itself in paying all of their workers a sustainable, living wage. I was quite impressed by how warm, friendly, and attentive all of the servers were when I dined there.
The 100% gluten-free menu was introduced in 2014, though I do need to note that the bar, along with its selection of gluten-free beers, does offer several decidedly not gluten-free ales. However, aside from that, everything is safe for the gluten-free diner.
The menu changes often, depending on what food is in season. All of the food is locally sourced, and the chef Aaron Stein uses only non-GMO products. When I visited, there were six appetizers and six entrees to choose from (including vegetarian options) as well as several very tantalizing sounding desserts. As we scanned the menu, the server brought us a small bowl of complimentary potato chips to munch on.
My brother and I first ordered an appetizer. We had a difficult time choosing between the crispy chicken wings, bacon chowder, and pork and bacon meatballs, but we finally settled on the meatballs. Covered in a tomato puttanesca sauce, they were so savory that we ate them up before remembering to take a picture. Meatballs are usually off limits when dining out because they are made with bread crumbs. Colors proves that tasty meatballs can be made sans wheat.
For an entree, I decided to try their signature dish, the boneless Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Pommes Puree.
I asked the secret behind this tender chicken beautifully flavored with spiced honey. Several different gluten-free flours are mixed together to achieve a mouthwatering, moist, crispy crust.
My brother ordered the Roasted Pork Tenderloin Cassoulet with Cannellini Beans, Bacon, and Sausage. He let me take a small bite. It was as delicious as it looks.
For dessert, we shared the Strawberry Shortbread Ice Cream. The experience of being able to eat shortbread at a restaurant with no worries was absolutely worth it. Also, I now have a craving for shortbread and may have to try to recreate this recipe at home.
Colors has recently started offering a Sunday brunch that boasts such tempting food items as banana pancakes, French crepes, and eggs Benedict. I think I could get used to this.
All told, it was a delicious, satisfying meal. I definitely recommend Colors to my gluten-free friends who live in the City or will be visiting soon, and I hope to return again soon so that I can try more of the food on the menu. I hope more restaurants will follow Color’s example of serving up locally sourced, non GMO, gluten-free food!
- By The Way Bakery: A Must-Visit Gluten Free Bakery in Manhattan - November 14, 2015
- Is Your Lipstick Gluten-Free? - October 9, 2015
- How To Make Coconut Whipped Cream - May 14, 2015
- Sardines on Cauliflower Toast with Gremolata - April 15, 2015
- Gluten Free Dining at Colors Restaurant, NYC - January 28, 2015
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Dorit Sasson says
I’m a former New Yawker and I obviously never heard of this place and I really enjoyed reading this especially since I used to live not too far away from here. (In Greenwich Village) Cool! Glad you were able to find an accommodating place for all your food needs! Sounds absolutely delish!
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Dorit! 🙂 That is neat that you lived nearby. The restaurant has been open since 2006 but the gluten-free menu is part of a recent makeover. If you ever return to visit your old neighborhood, you might enjoy checking it out.
Carrie Ann Tripp (@CarrieAnnTripp) says
Wow. Restaurant is beautiful, food looks great, and everyone’s dietary needs could be met! New York is one of few places I haven’t been on the East Coast, but I’ll be adding Colors to my NY list! Thank you for sharing!
You definitely need to visit, Carrie Ann! There are so many unique places, like Colors, in the City.
GiGi Eats says
Buttermilk Fried Chicken that is GLUTEN FREE… AT A RESTAURANT! Wow, I am so impressed I almost fainted!!
It was amazing. I could hardly believe it myself. 🙂