Hugo’s Restaurant

8041 Santa Monica Boulevard | West Hollywood, CA 90069

Hugo's LA Gluten-Free Sandwich

As my dear friend K makes her way back across the country on a plane to her new home of Los Angeles right now, I will finally post my review of a delicious meal we shared when I went to visit her back in June. I apologize for the delay and am so thankful that Hugo’s was so awesome as to promptly send me their June specials list. I can now accurately relay their yummy ingredients!

I was not expecting to like LA when I arrived. The last time I’d been there, at the tender age of 18, I didn’t like it at all. Now, at 23, it was vibrant, fun and exciting and very wonderful to see my best friend in her new home. One afternoon during my stay, she took me to brunch at Hugo’s for some gluten-free brunch.

I’m not a huge breakfast person. At all, really. I’d eat dinners for every meal if it were socially acceptable. So despite there being rather enticing Fresh Peach and Cherry Gluten-Free Pancakes listed on the menu, I was searching for something more savory.

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Babycakes NYC Gluten-Free Cupcakes

248 Broome Street (between Orchard & Ludlow) | New York City, NY 10002

Happy birthday… to me! Over the weekend I visited friends in New York, and in honor of my 23rd, my best friend K took me out for a special treat. We traversed through lower Manhattan on a surprise journey to… Babycakes!

Babycakes is an adorable little bakery that specializes in treats for people with food sensitivities. Using organic, natural and health-conscious products (like agave nectar over white sugar or artificial sweeteners), they endeavor to make guilty pleasures a little less guilty and more accessible to people with restrictive diets. And so for me, Babycakes made it possible for my friend and I to enjoy cupcakes for my birthday!

I ordered a gluten-free chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and K ordered the gluten-free pumpkin cupcake. The chocolate cupcake was just okay, it didn’t taste exactly like chocolate, there was something a bit off. I prefer Betty Crocker’s mix. The pumpkin cupcake, however, was excellent. Fluffy, tasty, and not a taste betraying it’s composition being utterly unlike most cupcakes — made without gluten, dairy, soy and eggs.

While my own order was a bit less than spectacular, the novelty of a pink and white bakery specializing in gluten-free baked goods was more than enough to make up for it. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and the place was packed the whole time we were there. I will definitely head back to try their cookies next time I am in New York. And if you find yourself in LA, you too can enjoy these gluten-free treats — Babycakes will be opening another location there soon.

Friedman’s Lunch

Chelsea Market
75 Ninth Ave
New York, NY 10011

It is often said that New York City has something for everyone. Despite this fact, I have never really liked New York all that much. When I recently went to visit one of my best friends from high school, an impeccable hostess, she was determined to show me once and for all that New York had something even for me. With Google as her guide, K searched for somewhere to take me that was gluten-free friendly as well as up to her standards of refined taste, and excitedly informed me of her plans when I arrived. So, on my second day in the city, we set off on the subway to Chelsea. What she had found was a charming little place located in Chelsea Market, Friedman’s Lunch, and as the name suggests, it was a perfect place for the midday meal.

According to the Friedman’s website, the restaurant caters to the gf lifestyle because one of the owners, Vanessa Phillips, was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue while still a teenager and follows a gluten-free diet. Many of the items on the menu can be prepared gluten-free, including the egg dishes, salads, most plates and most sandwiches. The latter had me really excited. Eating a sandwich in public! Like a normal person! It was such a treat, especially against the beautiful backdrop of Friedman’s modern/rustic style and clean look  with quick service and great company!

I ordered the Roasted Turkey & Melted Brie sandwich, with sliced green apple and honey mustard. The menu said “on a baguette” which had my hopes raised high (I’d had gf baguettes while studying abroad in England, fancy that!), however, Friedman’s gf sandwiches were served on gf sandwich bread, much like the kind you can pick up at Wholefoods. The bread was slightly disappointing, but I was eating it in a restaurant (!), and the sandwich was delicious. The pricing was not outrageous for New York, though the gf bread cost an additional $2.00 (ah, the price we must pay for normalcy!).
The idea of eating a sandwich that had not been made by me or someone related to me in my kitchen was more thrilling than I would have thought. I was a bit let down by the rather typical bread, but the ambiance, tasty innards and good service give Friedman’s four stars.