Updated October 2021
A gluten free guide to Milton Keynes, is something that I have been meaning to write for a long time. I write travel guides for all over the World, but have never written one for my home town. Now that I have been at home for seven weeks in lockdown it seems like a great time to change this!
I sometimes get asked advice on my Instagram for recommendations on where to eat in Milton Keynes. Those people generally are visiting the shopping centre or Xscape for the Snowdome, areas which tend to be pretty much all chain restaurants. Milton Keynes has five Nandos – yes five!! – and four Pizza Express to give you an idea just how easily you can come across a chain restaurant and why you can get the wrong idea about what living in Milton Keynes is like! Fortunately, I like both Nandos and Pizza Express (Coeliac UK accredited), and both are great for those with coeliac. I wouldn’t mind trading a couple of them in though for some of the chains that we are missing (Honest Burgers, Cote Brasserie, Bills – I’m looking at you!) Therefore, anyone visiting Xscape or Centre MK should have no issue finding some gluten free options nearby, however travelling out of the city centre will lead you to some of the local independent restaurants that can also cater to give you something a little different.
I was trying to decide whether just to list my top few gluten free choices, or to do a more indepth guide. I couldn’t make up my mind so I have written a more indepth guide, but I have identified my top choices with a *. In most of my blog posts I use this to recognise 100% gluten free restaurants, but as far as I know there aren’t any in Milton Keynes so do make sure you check cooking processes in all of these restaurants should you use this guide as restaurants, menus, ingredients and staff do change. I am always as honest as I can be about cross contamination measures and issues in my guides as I know how frustrating it can be to travel to restaurants based on recommendations and to then find that they aren’t safe. I can’t completely prevent this in restaurants with mixed kitchens, but I can be as upfront as possible about my experience. I include chains as well as independents as I have to pick restaurants based on where can safely cater, so as much as I try sadly eating at independents isn’t always an option.
My guide is listed by cuisine, as I find people often decide where to eat based on the type of food they fancy so I really like gluten free guides that allow those with coeliac to also choose where to eat in this way and not just based on where is safe.
If you haven’t ordered from Percys for a long time you may think it doesn’t have many gluten free options as that is definitely what I thought. However, that seems to have changed and the burger I ordered during lockdown was amazing and they also cooked me some safe chips.
I would recommend as a takeaway option that can be delivered, but do order in good time as they can be pretty busy and slow at getting the orders out!
Browns, a Coeliac U.K. accredited restaurant that is part of the Mitchell and Butler group like Miller and Carter and often goes under the radar when thinking about where to eat in Milton Keynes. It’s recently been refurbished and I can wait to properly try out the gluten free menu!
Turtle Bay is a restaurant I’ve eaten at several times with gluten free marked on the menu and amazing 2 for 1 cocktails. It has an awesome vibe, and deserves to be recognised for how well they look after me when I visit – even when that visit is part of an event, which are notoriously bad at providing coeliac safe gluten free options!
I have eaten at this restaurant a few times over the years and they make a great Chinese, which is rare in the gluten free world. I have not had any issues here myself, but as I know someone who got glutened here it has put me off recommending it with total confidence, so do take care with your order.
My local Chinese in Emerson Valley also does gluten free options, their menu is well labelled for lots of the top allergens. I have eaten here successfully, but it does depend on who takes my order for how confident I have felt with their processes. I definitely feel more confident going in and ordering in person rather than other the phone. Note – this is a takeaway only.
Many rave about St Mary’s Chinese, including their gluten free offerings which I was really excited about as its local to me.
Whilst I did manage to eat for here and the food was excellent, I did find it stressful as I wasn’t really given any clear information easily on their cross contamination measures, but instead just kept being told they serve coeliacs all the time. This doesn’t put my mind at ease as I know everyone has different levels of measures that make them feel safe. If you’re also nervous, and strict, over what you eat I would avoid the weekend when giving this place a try so they have more time to talk you through their processes.
My favourite for crepes is brunch at French Affaire. My partner is not so keen as he can’t understand why you would go for brunch which serves eggs benedict on a crepe rather than an English muffin, but I was completely sold and the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous so definitely one for a catch up with the girls. They confirmed to me that they use separate utensils and griddle for the gluten free crepes.
French Affaire also has an evening menu that I am yet to try, although they do not serve their crepes in the evening. The restaurant isn’t very big so booking is also advised. At least it is bigger than their sister restaurant Greek Affaire that I was gutted to learn that although they can make gluten free options they will not offer any kind of cross contamination guarantee due to the small size of the kitchen. Possibly one to try though if you can handle cross contamination.
Fish and Chips
On Sundays Fish n Chick’n does coeliac safe fish and chips, and the menu includes battered sausages and curry sauce. It is my local fish and chip shop and one of my absolute favourite places to eat in MK. This is 100% my takeaway of choice on a Sunday. It is also the fish and chip shop in Milton Keynes that I feel safest at as the chain are accredited by Coeliac UK.
I recently tried Moore’s fish and chips when they opened a branch in Oxley Park but they can also be found in Ashland’s and Newton Leys.
The Oxley Park branch offers gluten free fish and chips on a Sunday (annoying that it’s on the same day as nearby Fish n Chick’n) The fish and chips were good, but I felt safer at Fish n Chickn and Moore’s missed the halloumi out of our order – an issue when your friend is veggie and we picked it up just before they closed! It may have been first week disorganisation so I will perhaps give them another go sometime.
Across the other side of Milton Keynes, Walnut Tree Fish and Chips serves up gluten free fish and chips daily. They do prefer it if you call ahead so that they can prepare your order for you but is the place to go if you desire fish and chips on any day other than a Sunday! They also have a variety of vegan options and try and cater for everyone. It’s the place to go for anything a bit different – I had battered parsnips on my last visit!
I have also read online reviews that suggest Napoli and Tasty Mk do gluten free fish and chips. I live in west Milton Keynes I haven’t tried either of these but they could be worth a try if you are in these areas looking for a takeaway.
Indian restaurants can be great options for gluten free as so many of the ingredients can be naturally gluten free. However, I personally no longer order things like chicken tikka items that may have had ingredients cooked in the tandoor with the naan breads and I get really nervous about cross contamination being accommodated.
I have ordered takeaway for collection from Purple Mango relatively easily and it was quite good. There were definitely different levels of understanding from staff working on that night so make sure you feel confident with who is serving you that they understand your needs, and double check if they have safe poppadoms on the day.
I have mixed feelings on Namji – a new restaurant in Xscape getting rave reviews and for the food I can see why. The food was awesome and the paneer starter I had was incredible.
In terms of allergen orders, there were lots of things that made me nervous and I only really persevered on that fact that many Indian dishes are naturally gluten free. I had messaged in advance and was told that I could order gluten free, at my own risk and just to ask on the night. Disclaimers are becoming more and more common in restaurants but how they are phrased makes such a difference. I also prefer to have a gluten free menu to get an idea of what choices I have and as a guide not to rely on one persons knowledge of ingredients but restaurants aren’t required to do this so it’s a personal preference.
On the night, our order was taken by the owner which helped and was told that I could basically have everything except bread items made gluten free. They use an allergen area in the kitchen to prepare the order and had the disclaimer reiterated that they couldn’t guarantee the food was safe for insurance purposes.
All the dishes were brought out together with nothing highlighted as gluten free and no real reassurance of what was mine or safe to eat. Poppadoms were also given to the table with no indication on whether they were gluten free either. The restaurant was really busy and I didn’t want to keep flagging someone down to ask questions. These things make it difficult to recommend it confidently for those with allergies but it’s worth trying (and maybe avoid weekends if you get nervous eating out) as the food and vibe of the restaurant were both awesome!
Kakori (Newport Pagnell) has also been recommended to me so is on the list to try.
For Indonesian and Asian takeaway I recently managed to finally try Cindy’s Kitchen Friday night takeaways as she confirmed that cross contamination measures are taken for the gluten free dishes on the menu and that she doesn’t use may contain ingredients.
It was worth the effort of going to collect from Cindys as the food was amazing. Just look at that chicken satay! I highly recommend following to keep an eye out for takeaway nights with gluten free options.
Nonnas is absolutely incredible. The restaurant is so pretty and the food fabulous. They recommend gluten free pasta over pizza if you’re coeliac as a safer option, and the salmon pasta I had was amazing. This is a must visit restaurant in the Milton Keynes area!
De Roka is a beautiful restaurant at The Hub serving Turkish cuisine and cocktails. All the meats when I visited were gluten free (but contained milk) and they knew that soy sauce wasn’t safe so I had to have some substitutions. I had to rely on staff knowledge so the experience may be different depending on who serves you but my experience was a good one and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal here.
A new fusion Italian and Turkish restaurant receiving rave reviews in Milton Keynes.
The owner is coeliac so there are plenty of gluten free options too! I’m slightly wary as I had to request a gluten free fryer for food to be safe, which they did and have continued to improve their coeliac knowledge and gluten free options but shows to always ask questions even when someone has allergies themselves as they may not be as strict as you, or newly diagnosed and learning.
The food deserves its praise and it’s a great addition to MK, and I love that I can also try out a menu full of fried food! They’ve also added gluten free roasts including yorskshire puddings to their Sunday menu that I need to try.
The Greedy Italian, Fenny Stratford
I was so excited by this find when we visited for a friends birthday as they could do the fried fish basket gluten free, and in a separate fryer. The coeliac dream!
I also ordered a pasta dish for the main, topped with additional meatballs that were totally unnecessary and I nearly had to be rolled out the restaurant but it was worth every single mouthful!
Mexican restaurants and decent tacos are lacking in MK. However, over the Valentines Day weekend I ordered a Mexican Platter from Mrs Taco. They were really helpful in helping me with the ingredients – I had the Mexican snacks removed from mine as they were a ‘may contain’ for gluten and the chicken had to be adapted as the sauce contained wheat. As the platters were advertised as gluten free this highlights the importance of always checking that what you are ordering is coeliac safe!
The platter was delicious, just maybe a bit pricy for £28 making it a very occasional treat rather than something we’d order often for lazy dinners.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had about gluten free pizza in Milton Keynes – because as a general rule there are plenty of places that offer gluten free pizza, but not safely! Literally menu after menu with gluten free pizza on tells you it’s not safe for those with coeliac!
As we’ve all turned to takeaways in lockdown this has been even more frustrating, and to be honest when I can’t be bothered with all the drama I just order from Pizza Hut as you can order gluten free pizzas hassle free, for £5 and as they’re rectangular there’s none of the worry when it turns up about whether you’ve actually been delivered a gluten free pizza! Thank you Pizza Hut for gluten free pizzas at a time when Dominoes has removed them from their menus! (Top tips – always add extra cheese to your pizza, and in my experience the delivery from the Bletchley branch is so much better than Westcroft if you have a choice of branch, cheesier and hotter it was ten times better. Amazing really considering I live closer to Westcroft so you would think theirs would be delivered hotter!)
Update – gluten free pizzas are available again at Dominoes who are now using a Schar base.
However, if you aren’t requiring a delivery then A Pizza This is my number one choice for gluten free pizza in Milton Keynes. I can not tell you the level of excitement when I found out that the owners of this pizza van are coeliac and gluten intolerant so they understand the importance of cross contamination and use separate area and utensils for preparation.
I would recommend reserving a gluten free base in advance to avoid disappointment as the pizza is amazing!
D Pizza Guy has also been recommended to me for excellent gluten free pizzas. However, these are cooked on the same pizza stones as normal pizzas so I don’t feel safe despite it being cleaned due to their porous material.
I would really love it if some places in MK made gluten free options safe for those with coeliac by purchasing a cheap additional pizza stone or things like toasters for the gluten free options.
One of my favourite pub recommendations in Milton Keynes is The Cross Keys, which is also an independent. They can do about 80% of their menu gluten free with separate preparation and storage areas and a gluten free fryer.Their food was amazing with lots of gluten free choices, that I was able to enjoy in their beer garden. It’s a must visit pub in MK for me – I now need to try their roast dinners as apparently with notice that also do gluten free Yorkshire puddings!
Update – the menu for gluten free has definitely been reduced and I was disappointed with the lack of options on my last visit post covid as even things like burgers that are easy to adapt didn’t have a gluten free option available. Fingers crossed this improves again soon! What I did have was delicious though and safely prepared.
Despite having not tried the roast at The Cross Keys, I have tried it at their sister pub The Plough. I didn’t book in advance to see if they also can do gluten free Yorkshire puddings but I got served a good sized roast. I just found the huge piece of pork really dry so would perhaps order a different meat next time as you don’t get much gravy compared to the jugs given with the normal roasts!
Overlooking The Grand Union Canal, one of my favourite pubs in Milton Keynes has always been The Navigation Inn with lots of gluten free options on the menu. It’s also a great place to get a gluten free brunch.
However, on my last visit the staff weren’t very reassuring about their cross contamination measures and I didn’t really enjoy the meal as a result. I have decided to include them as they have emailed me since as I sent them my feedback confirming that they can cater and I have had plenty of good meals prior to that. A good reminder to always check for yourselves that you are happy and feel safe at a restaurant as menus and staff do change.
A sister pub to The Navigation Inn, the Betsey Wynn in Swanbourne also has lots of gluten free options on the breakfast and main menus. I recently visited with family and had a gluten free pasta dish which was really tasty (but not served very hot).
My local pub in Tattenhoe has always had an excellent gluten free menu that is worth a try. It is part of the McMullens chain and I have found the gluten free meals that are safe to be nothing special – good pub food, but sometimes that’s all you want! (Double check the fries are safe as they can be a shared fryer). They do however have gluten free cheesecake on the dessert menu though which I can highly recommend and makes the visit worthwhile! They also have lots of outdoor seating.
Update – cheesecake is no longer on the menu. Devastated!
Another local McMullens pub to me where I’ve been able to get a nice meal is The Old Beams in Shenley. With a bit of effort regarding their cross contamination measures and what was safe for coeliacs from the non gluten menu I managed to get a roast and they had some great gluten free desserts.
A pub that has separate gluten free fryers is always going to be a winner! I recently visited with friends for my birthday, opting for calamari to start and pork belly for the main meal. I would definitely recommend, such a great pub and I really enjoyed my meal here.
A pretty thatched pub with a beer garden makes this a great spot in the summer. Pricier than your average pub, I was looking forward to trying here. However, whilst they have separate fryer for gluten free fish and chips, perhaps they just have a fryer for chips as opposed to gluten free products as I was pretty disappointed when my GFA beer battered fish and chips, came with no batter with no heads up that this was the case! It was made even worse as Paul had ordered the normal fish and chips so I could see exactly what I was missing!
However, saying that the pub is lovely, the food good and they could cater!
The Chester Arms just outside of MK is absolutely amazing for gluten free (and dairy free/vegan). It absolutely is now one of my top recommendations for anyone eating out with dietary requirements.
I have eaten the roast there and wasn’t that keen on it (and it didn’t include Yorkshire puddings which I was hoping it would) so I would advise the Monday to Saturday menus which includes things like fish and chips and insane starters.
Punjabi Street Food
As street food vendor of the year 2017 Saf’s Kitchen is well known in Milton Keynes to be amazing! Follow her on social media to find out all the latest events, curry nights and specials such as afternoon tea, burgers and bbq boxes.
However, do be careful if you are coeliac as some of the options that are advertised as gluten free and eaten widely through some of the gluten free community in MK contain may contain ingredients such as the sev that comes on many dishes. I personally choose not to eat this but have managed to order from Saf without sev, and Saf took lots if care with my order and also cooked it in a clean wok. However, finding out that the gluten free options aren’t what I consider to be gluten free puts me off ordering more frequently.
Prior to lockdown I had a meal at Ole Tapas Bar and it was excellent, and I regularly recommended them for gluten free in Milton Keynes on Instagram.
However, during lockdown I had a poor takeaway experience with them where the meal felt overpriced (its definitely one for eating in where you also get the vibe of the restaurant) and items they’d said they could do gluten free for me actually weren’t as they fried them with gluten containing food.
They’ve since reached out to say they now have a dedicated gluten free fryer and more gluten free options as a result so i really need to go back and I’m so grateful that they took the feedback on board and have gone out of their way to help cater more safely for those with coeliac.
Sayan Sri is a small Sri Lankan takeaway that I discovered through Blogger Sophie etc, and are available on Just Eat. They mark what contains gluten on the menu, and I checked my order with them – they were really responsive on Instagram and so helpful. The dosa balls are fried in a separate pan so I was able to have them but the deep fried paneer cooked in a shared fryer weren’t safe so do double check your order (they said with notice they could also have done the paneer safely).
The food was delicious but pretty spicy so be careful with what you order if you can’t handle heat! I loved the devilled chicken wings and dosa balls, and there was so much flavour in the rice that I’m not sure it was worth the extra cost to add the paneer! Paul had the biryani, but would have preferred a more saucy curry but they only have a limited small menu. They are a small business who were incredible helpful, and prepare allergen orders in a separate area of the kitchen so they are a takeaway I’d recommend!
Check out my new blog post on gluten free sweet treats in Milton Keynes here.
I have eaten at Thai Modern many times over the years and have never had any problems with their gluten free dishes, although on a couple of occasions it has been hard work getting my needs to be understood regarding cross contamination and that is the only reason I haven’t starred it as a top choice. The food is delicious though, gluten free options are marked and the restaurant is located fairly near the shopping centre so can be a good option for those less able to travel further out.
Pin Petch Thai in Newport Pagnell has amazing food, but their service on the night we visited was shocking. It was really really slow, and they were pretty abrupt to my questions about gluten free. We persevered as I had emailed the restaurant in advance to have the manager reply that they understand the need for strict gluten free preparation with separate areas used in the kitchen, and the email response from the manager showed a great understanding. The staff serving on the night did not, they were abrupt and basically said that they had served gluten free people before and they were not sick and didn’t confirm the cross contamination measures that the manager had stated in the email. As you know if you’re coeliac just because someone that is gluten free has eaten there before is not the reassurance that the restaurant may be hoping to achieve from the statement as that is no guarantee that the person either reported that they were sick, or that they get as ill from cross contamination. I ate here with a large group of friends and it was ok in the end, but I didn’t relax and enjoy the meal. They also forgot to cook 3/6 of our tables main meals so it wasn’t just a problem due to my gluten free requirements, their service on that particular night wasn’t great all round. The restaurant gets good reviews though so if you want to try it I would perhaps suggest a quieter night when the staff are not so stretched. They do have a clear vegan menu though so anyone needing dairy free or vegan should find this menu a great help.
Banana Tree is a chain worth mentioning as they have both a gluten free and a coeliac safe menu. This is reassuring that they take cross contamination measures and check for may contain ingredients and the pad Thai is amazing. Do make it very clear which menu you’re ordering off though as despite saying I was coeliac I later confused staff by requesting a ‘gluten free pad Thai’ which meant it came as the gluten free option with the crackers that I couldn’t eat, rather than as the coeliac option without them and the meal had to be recooked.
Coeliac UK accredited Miller and Carter has some of the best food and service in Milton Keynes at both branches.
We visited The Olive Tree as it was rated number one restaurant in Milton Keynes and they said that they could easily cater for my gluten free needs. We found the restaurant to be utterly chaotic, with the table not ready on a Saturday night 45 minutes after our booking time, with lots of people all in the entrance complaining about the same issue. The management were blaming diners overstaying their allocated booking time, but when we looked at our booking they had only allocated us 45 minutes for a Saturday night and it is not a fast food restaurant and therefore clearly not enough time. Hopefully this issue has now been resolved as the food was good, and most importantly they have a gluten free sticky toffee pudding on the dessert menu!
There are several Turkish restaurants in Milton Keynes now so I will add in some new reviews when I get a chance to try some of them out!
I absolutely love Vietnamese food after travelling in the country, and Pho in London (also branches in Cambridge and Oxford) is one of my favourite chain restaurants as they have a vast gluten free (and vegan) menu and are accredited by Coeliac U.K.
I had definitely been craving Vietnamese cuisine so I ordered takeaway from Cafe Sen once they started labelling gluten free on their menus as they also changed their processes to be able to keep gluten free orders in a separate part of the kitchen. I loved that I was finally able to get a Pho delivered in MK!
Beyond Milton Keynes
Ok, I think this is one of my favourite places that I have eaten at in the Mk area, technically in Bedfordshire but Woburn is close enough to MK to have to be included in this guide.
The staff were amazing, totally clued up on both allergens and covid-19 measures and the roast dinner was fabulous. The desserts say everything you need to know as we shared a blackcurrant soufflé, a creme brûlée and a sticky toffee pudding. What an absolute dream of a menu that they were all gluten free! A bit pricier than some Sunday dinners but 100% worth every penny!
Another fish and chip shop that can cater is Deep Blue and I used to go there occasionally before Fish n Chick’n made fish and chips much more accessible to me due to their location. However, if you are on the other side of Milton Keynes to me, or in Woburn Sands they serve gluten free options on a Monday. They also have a couple of small tables, whereas all the other fish and chips shops are just takeaways which can be less convenient if you are visiting the town.
For waffles, and fish and chips in a restaurant setting rather than takeaway head out to Cod and Waffle in Leighton Buzzard just outside Milton Keynes. The owner is coeliac so I have had many brunches/lunches there of fish and chips, battered halloumi burger and chips, battered tofu and chips, savoury and sweet waffles. We have also held gluten free meet ups there as its such a great place with plenty of options on the menu that includes dairyfree and vegan options. Definitely a must visit if you are in the area and have dietary requirements!
Definitely not the cheapest option, and another place where there isn’t a gluten free menu and you have to rely on finding a clued up staff member *sigh* but wow this place is amazing. Anywhere that has coeliac safe gluten free fried chicken on the menu has me sold. Highly recommend the trip!
A Spanish inspired menu of tapas, with so many gluten free options. If you are in or near Towcester for any reason I would highly recommend a break at Bar Encore. I absolutely can not wait to return!
The Wheatsheaf, Dallington – Northampton
100% gluten free pub that has recently opened and I have on my list to try!
Leon – Roadchef, Northampton services north bound.
Did you know you don’t need to be in London to eat gluten Free chicken nuggets and waffle fries on the go? Leon also have a branch on the northbound services at Northampton! They are also due to open branches very soon in both Central Milton Keynes and at Roadchef, Watford Gap for anyone travelling Southbound!
The Lounges – Rushden Lakes, Bicester, Northampton, Bedford and Peterborough
The Lounges are well known for being amazing for those with dietary requirements but unfortunately seem to be everywhere except Milton
The Quirk Space has loads of vegan options, but I’ve also been told they can cater if you’re coeliac so it’s a place I’ve been meaning to try out!
A bit of a strange place but despite its appearance of being a very gluteney cafe they made me a safe toasted sandwich that was the dream! I need to go back to try out more! Their chips were also gluten free and fried on their own.
An Italian baker that bakes gluten free treats and makes homemade pasta and ravioli for collection, Paolos Pasticceria is worth being on your radar if you live in the area! 100% gluten free and some of the things made are a real novelty for those with coeliac.
Restaurants to Avoid
- TGIs at the Theatre District made me so ill, despite the manager taking my order. I will never return!
- Neds Noodle Bar – one to watch out for if you’re coeliac. They heavily promote gluten free options and state on social media that they are coeliac safe. I disagree, they reluctantly changed their gloves for me but the servers around them put their hands in the normal noodles before the rice noodles so they’ve all been touched anyway and all the toppings were the same and handled by everyone that I didn’t feel they were safe at all if you need your food to be free from cross contamination.
Milton Keynes Food Bloggers
For anyone based in or near Milton Keynes, then please do follow local blogger Sophie. She blogs about Milton Keynes and all the local independent restaurants and businesses. She is worth the follow to stay in touch with what is going on in the town, as well as new restaurant openings. Of course, I have to check them all out for gluten free options and cross contamination measures but she helps me discover so many more places more quickly from her posts.Locally on instagram I also follow:
@lifewithmylittleduck – Milton Keynes
@Nonscentsatno10 – Leighton Buzzard
@thegf_gf – Marston Moretaine
@loubou_uk – Milton Keynes and runs Gluten Free in Milton Keynes Facebook Page
@kt_glutenfree – Bedford
@ab.glutenfree – Northampton
@Bittersweetlifeofacoeliac – Peterborough (also the city that I grew up in so feel free to get in touch for recommendations as I often eat out there)
You can also follow my local hashtag
#thesightseeingcoeliacmiltonkeynes for all my up to date reviews and finds.
If you have any gluten free recommendations for any type of meal or cuisine in Milton Keynes then please do comment below as I am always on the search for new places to try out! I try to find local small independent businesses to support but I also fully support chains providing coeliac safe options so happy to hear all of your suggestions!