The perfect bite: Dining gluten-free, vegan, or nut-free? There are delicious choices available!

– by David Rockower

Love going out to eat but hate navigating menus to find a place that suits everyone’s dietary needs? Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or nut-free, there are plenty of area restaurants that will meet your requirements. If an establishment’s main menu doesn’t list options that meet your needs, it may be worth a phone call. Some restaurants offer alternative menus for those with diet restrictions, but you may have to ask!

Allen Street Grill

- Photo courtesy of The Allen Street Grill

The Allen Street Grill

One of the most popular locations in all of State College, The Allen Street Grill offers diners an iconic view of downtown State College and Penn State University. At first glance, the menu appeals to meat-eaters, but ask for the vegan/vegetarian menu, and you’ll find that there are several main-course options that will appeal to vegetable-forward guests. Their menus are always changing, but you can find vegetarian options like Gemeli pasta with spinach, cherry tomatoes, corn, and arrabiata sauce or vegan options like roasted Yukon potatoes with mushroom ragout and pearl onions.

Ottos 1

- Photo courtesy of Otto's Pub & Brewery

Otto’s Pub & Brewery

Otto’s is not your average brew pub. Yes, they have excellent beer and root beer. Yes, they offer brew-pub food like burgers and fries. But, they also cater to folks with food allergies and restrictions. Those who avoid meat will find vegan burgers, salads topped with tofu, and a tempeh reuben sandwich. Craving wings but don’t want the meat? Try their tofu wings with BBQ or sweet Thai chili sauce. They also offer a vegan soba bowl with buckwheat noodles tossed in stir fry sauce with bell peppers, carrots, green onions, snap peas, and cashews.

Webster’s Bookstore Cafe

Looking for vegan brunch options? Be sure to check out Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, which recently ranked as one of the top places to eat brunch in Pennsylvania on (as if we needed another reason to love Webster’s!)

Webster’s offers their vegan brunch buffet Sundays from 10 am-2 pm. Dishes range from pancakes (with gluten-free options available) to corned bean hash, tofu scramble, spicy vegan chili and fruit crumble (you can check out the full menu here).

Cozy Thai Bistro

- Photo courtesy of Cozy Thai Bistro

Cozy Thai Bistro

Cozy Thai Bistro offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. The staff is extremely flexible when taking special orders. For example, if you’re looking for a vegan dish, ask them to hold the fish sauce. A few of the many dishes that can be made vegan or vegetarian include panang curry with tofu, assorted vegetable stir fry, and their most popular dish, Pad Thai.

Roots Natural Kitchen

Roots Natural Kitchen specializes in creating healthy, personalized bowls for lunch and dinner. Everything on the menu is clearly labeled and lets you know if an item contains peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, dairy, soy, fish, or egg. If you’re gluten-free or have specific allergens, it’s easy to put together a safe and satisfying meal. Build your base with rice or bulgar; add ingredients like beans, veggies, and cheese; choose a dressing; and finish it off with grilled items, like meats or seasoned tofu.

Roots NK

- Photo courtesy of Roots Natural Kitchen

Plaza Mexican

At Plaza Mexican, you can choose from a huge selection of Mexican food with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Though there are sections with specific non-meat options, diners can request substitutions. For example, interested in the steak burrito but don’t eat meat? They will gladly sub their soy meat in place of the steak. Craving a sizzling fajita but can’t have the gluten? Ask for the corn tortillas which are gluten free! One of their pre-made non-meat options is the vegan bowl, which includes soy meat, black beans, white rice, mushrooms, corn, poblano pepper, onion, vegan cheese, topped with guacamole, and pico de gallo. Or try their enchiladas vegetarianas. This dish offers three corn tortillas with steamed yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It’s topped with cheese and includes a side of rice.

Snap Custom Pizza

Snap Custom Pizza takes customization to the next level by making pies for every kind of diet. Their pizzas are totally customizable. Customers can build their own pie by choosing their crust, sauces, and toppings (gluten free/vegan crust and vegan cheese are available). Or, diners may choose to order one of their signature pizzas. If you’re interested in a signature pizza but aren’t sure if it will work for you, check out the detailed list of allergens on their website.

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