Looking for Gluten Free Restaurants Near Acadia? Check this list on some of the most trusted places to go to get a gluten free lobster roll and more.
Whether you're dining gluten-free out of necessity from Celiac Disease (like me) or looking to stick to a diet, everyone deserves delicious food to eat.
On our recent trip to Maine (June 2022), we tried out two restaurants for gluten-free items, one on the "Quiet" side of Mount Desert Island and one in the heart of Bar Harbor. Note: I do have Celiac Disease and did not experience any reactions from either of these restaurants, but always inform your server before ordering of any allergies. The risk of cross-contamination is always there.
This list will also include several other restaurants I scoped out for potential gluten-free items, however, I did not taste-test those myself or confirm the nature of just how gluten-free. (Separate fryers? Gluten-free surface? Etc.)
I'm going to lay out the pros and cons, and give you my honest food reviews. No sponsorships here.
Note: These restaurants are not listed in any particular order of favoritism.
1. Gluten Free Restaurant Near Acadia: Beal's Lobster Pier
Beal's Lobster Pier is located on the "Quiet" side, in Southwest Harbor, of Mount Desert Island. It is the quintessential Maine dockside restaurant experience with lobster traps being pulled up not far from where you're sitting.
- They have an excellent choice of gluten-free options available. Their menu contains two symbols to indicate options available: A single * denotes the item is gluten-free and a double ** denotes the item can be offered gluten-free. Upon a glance at the menu, you'll see that you have the pick of almost everything. Upon a Facebook message to Beal's Lobster Pier's FB page before our visit, Beal's confirmed a cornstarch base for batter and dedicated fryers for gluten-free items. Items denoted "Can be offered gluten-free" become gluten-free when a roll is switched out for a GF alternative, etc.
- Scenic views. If you sit in the back on the narrow deck/pier you'll be able to see views of Southwest Harbor, boats, and nearby mountains. Maybe some seals if you're lucky.
Among the options you have to pick from are cooked whole lobster, a variety of lobster rolls including Classic, Traditional, Garlic Lovahs, and Spicy Buffalo, fried clam rolls, shrimp baskets, chicken tenders, fries, salads, lobster bisque, clam chowder, burgers, lobster tacos, blueberry martini, blueberry margarita. I mean, you name it.
As a gluten-free person with Celiac Disease, this is one of the few places you can go to eat and have fried baskets, lobster rolls, and fries. *drool*
- One thing to note is that Beal's has a very casual set-up. It did throw us a little bit off when first arriving because we thought we would be seated at a table and then order, but you order up front and pay before you eat (as well as a tip). This gave it much more of a cafeteria setting and did kind of rub us the wrong way. How can you pay and tip before you know the quality? Your food is brought to you at a table afterward on a tray - we didn't have any glasses or plates, so again very casual and quite fast-paced.
- It was empty when we arrived (about 30 minutes after they opened) and chilly outside, albeit we did visit early in the season in June. There weren't any people around for there to be laughter in the air, so that was a little bit of a downer. I also recommend bringing a jacket because there was chill from the water, a breeze, and metal seats. If you're visiting in July and August and coming around midday, this shouldn't be a problem, however.
- The prices were high. I mean, too high. (We only ordered lobster rolls and can only speak to this menu item, as most of the food is labeled as "Market" price, including the lobster roll.) This was the kind of high price that made us feel bad afterwards, and we joke to this day that it was the world's most expensive sandwich. We paid $49.99 each. Yes, each. Now, I know that we had COVID, product shortages, and inflation, but overall the price was too high and was on the verge of being tourist-trappy. Especially because we saw signs for lobster rolls ½ the price in Bar Harbor the next day. My fiancé phrased the whole experience as "Get them in, get them out."
Note: We purchased whole, live lobsters from a local Southwest Harbor fisherman for $8 a pound that same week and cooked them ourselves. We paid less than $50 for two nights of lobster dinner, including boiled potatoes and corn. You can read more about it here if you want to make your own lobster roll. How to Cook Lobster the Maine Way
I ordered a "Classic" Beal's Famous gluten-free lobster roll. It came with a bag of chips and a pickle. Drinks separate.
The lobster was perfectly tender, a big chunk of claw meat tossed in a light ratio of mayo and served along with romaine lettuce and a gluten-free hamburger roll. I give the cook and quality of the lobster 10/10. The gluten-free roll, like all gluten-free rolls I've had, was on the dryer side. I'm certain I've bought this exact GF roll from a store. I find the top bun (while photogenic) is just too much bread for a sandwich.
I found myself wishing the lobster had been dressed just a tad more to counteract the dryness of the roll. Unfortunately, most bites were a much more roll-to-lobster ratio. This isn't Beal's fault as they did not make the roll, I'm just giving my honest review. I'm thinking maybe a different form of GF bread would suit it better, maybe a hotdog roll. But, again, I'm also just thankful a restaurant offers a gluten-free lobster roll, to begin with.
Also, I wish there had been a little more lobster. Honestly, I found myself wondering if my fiancé's roll had more lobster just because you can only pile so much on a hamburger bun vs an open-faced brioche roll. I seemed to go through my lobster faster than his and was left with a roll towards the end. I would be interested in learning if the oz. of lobster were the same per sandwich.
To give a final rating, I have to bring back up the high price as it weighed heavily in my decision. I wouldn't have felt so bad about the price if more had come with the lobster roll. For $49.99, I wish some gluten-free fries had been included to bulk up our meal and/or a side of coleslaw or something. It left us a tad hungry (after a full morning of ascending Cadillac Mountain) and wallet sore.
I rate Beal's Lobster Pier 5/10, or maybe ⅗. It's a difficult one because I wanted to love them. I'm thankful for their great gluten-free efforts, but I just couldn't get rid of the feeling of being taken advantage of. Overall, I still think Beal's has a ton of potential and it has a ton of great gluten-free options. While we did not return to try out any more items as intended, I would suggest trying out a fried basket that is hopefully more reasonable in price and made-to-order.
Also, I highly recommend reading their Google reviews before deciding if you want to try Beal's. Specifically, filter and read their lowest ratings. My fiancée and I found some to be very, very accurate. Some recent reviews say "too far from their roots", "awful overpriced twice as much as other restaurants", "price is exorbitant", "MOST overpriced lobster roll on the island", "anything affordable on the menu was conveniently sold out."
Clearly, Beal's has an issue of being far from affordable.
2. Gluten Free Restaurant Near Acadia: Geddy's
Geddy's is located in the heart of Bar Harbor on Main St. with ocean-side Agamont Park across the street as well as the Shore Path and Town Beach. It's convenient to all of Bar Harbor's shopping - Heck, Geddy's even has its own store underneath the restaurant called Geddy's Down-Under. My fiancée bought his first dad-humor pun T-shirt there.
They also have a really nice moody bar scene in the middle of the restaurant. A perfect place to get a drink.
- Geddy's is a convenient, fun place to be. The first thing you'll notice upon entering is its collection of signage, nautical décor, and neon lights. I love the atmosphere. We visited this restaurant twice; once on a sunny day and once while it was pouring down rain. Both times it was the perfect place to sit down, relax around company, and have a drink and a bite to eat. With nearly 3,000 Google reviews and a 4.⅘ star average, you know this is the place in Bar Harbor to be. Plus, there's a light-up moose on the roof. I mean, come on, we're talking iconic here.
- This one is kind of a pro/con dual. Geddy's has a wide array of gluten-free options available. Now, the funny thing about Geddy's is you might not even know that! Their menu doesn't denote what's gluten-free and what isn't, except for a dessert that says "Gluten Free".
However, walking by I saw a sign that said, "All fried food is gluten-free!" This being a bold claim, I came in with questions. Through word of mouth by the server, I learned that one of the owners has Celiac Disease. They bread their fried food with corn starch and have dedicated gluten-free fryers, as well as gluten-free pizza crust and roll options.
It seems to me that Geddy's may take the very smart approach of not overly advertising their gluten free-ness, so that normal folk don't feel affected by it. (I take that same approach with my blog.) For instance, this place was lively with people, all eating gluten free fried food and not even noticing it. The only unfortunate thing about not advertising it on the menu is it can be confusing, as a gluten free person, to order. I strongly recommend explaining to your server about your situation to learn which menu items are safe. At the time of our visit, there were only two things on the menu I could not have, a pasta dish and chowder.
Among the gluten free options at Geddy's are fries, fish and chips, lobster roll, wood-fired pizza, steamed seafood such as clams and mussels, and a flourless chocolate torte.
- To be honest, I have absolutely no cons to mention for Geddy's, besides what I stated earlier about the menu needing to more clearly denote what is gluten free and what isn't.
- If I had to come up with a con it would just be that I wouldn't want to sit in the front room due to a large painting on the wall lacking clothes. We asked to sit in the back (there's plenty of fun, happening spaces to sit). I realize that comes down to taste in "art" and it's more of a personal opinion, but I was glad I knew about that ahead of time. Just throwing it out there for families who may have similar dining wishes.
Since we loved Geddy's so much, we came back a second time. On the first visit, I ordered a wood-fired gluten-free pepperoni pizza. The crust was thin and crispy, yet perfectly chewy. The cheese was perfectly melty and the pepperonis were addicting. I found the pizza to be just the right amount of grease, indulgent but not sickening. I ate about half the pizza and took the rest home for the next day's lunch. It cost $19 for a GF pizza, a fair price for such a tasty meal with leftovers.
On the second visit to Geddy's, I felt confident to dig into something I've never once been able to order gluten-free from a restaurant - Housemade Fish and Chips.
Fish and chips were my go-to restaurant order before I knew I had Celiac Disease, so this one was special. Boy, were they good. The Fish and Chips came with a little side of coleslaw and house-made tartar sauce. The fish was perfectly crispy, steaming hot, flaky, and tender. The tartar sauce was slightly different than the typical kind we have here in Maryland, but it was delicious. It had the perfect amount of tang to complement the fish. The fries were crispy and soft and steamy on the inside, paired with good old-fashioned ketchup.
Honestly, if I had to pick whether the pizza or the fish and chips was better, I don't know which I would choose. Both items were 10/10 delicious comfort food, perfect for busy exploring days. Both meals combined from Geddy's (including an alcoholic drink) was cheaper than one meal at Beal's.
Geddy's gets a 10/10 from me. My fiancée wishes we had saved the money we spent at Beal's and just went to Geddy's. We could have visited several more times during our two week trip. Lesson learned.
The following restaurants/eateries I did not visit and taste-test the food.
Always inform your server of your allergies, confirm whether or not menu items are safe, and discuss to what extent cross-contamination occurs.
3. Gluten Free Restaurant Near Acadia: Milagro Coffee and Espresso
Milagro Coffee and Espresso is located on the "Quiet" side in Southwest Harbor, near Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Park and the Wendell Gilley Museum of art. It's a quaint café just off of Main Street, serving high-quality fair trade coffee, espresso, and teas. Tip: Stray away from any drinks that may contain added flavors with hidden ingredients. They have a lot of Ghirardelli espressos, and I am unsure if those contain gluten.
From looking at their Google listing photos, I spotted a small case of gluten-free baked goods at a very reasonable price. Some of the items included lemon ginger scones, chocolate coconut macaroon, blueberry banana muffin, banana pecan muffin, and a black bean espresso brownie. It looks like there may be a few non-gluten-free items in the case, however. This makes it unsafe for those with celiac disease, but okay for others with only gluten sensitivities or diet choices.
This café has a small space to eat inside as well as tables outside. It was always popping whenever we drove by, as we were staying in a VBRO just down the road.
4. Gluten Free Restaurant Near Acadia: West Street Cafe
West Street Café is located in Bar Harbor at the corner of West St/ and Rodick St.
It has downstairs and upstairs seating, which gives a unique perspective of the shopping scene down West St., views of Bar Harbor (the actual body of water), and the cliffs of Bar Island to the North. The dining atmosphere is modern booth and table seating with accents of black metal and hanging plants. There's also a little bar.
Their menu denotes whether items are gluten-free or not by the symbol: (GF*). However, it remains a little unclear to me if you need to specify if some items are GF. For example, specifying that you will be substituting a GF roll for the sandwiches marked (GF*). Also, some items that I thought would be gluten-free aren't marked (such as steamed whole lobster and New York strip.) It's worth an ask.
Of the options marked are House salad, Kale & Caprese, Shrimp Cocktail, Steamed Mussels, Lobster Roll, Crabmeat Roll, Black Angus Burger, and Beyond Burger. A good selection, but maybe not quite as exciting as some of the other restaurants on this list.
5. Gluten Free Restaurant Near Acadia: Side Street Cafe
Side Street Café is located in Bar Harbor off of Rodick St and close to the Village Green. It has a happening bar, indoor tables, and an outdoor covered and uncovered (with umbrellas) deck. You'll recognize this place by the deck with black umbrellas and usually a horde of people, especially in the evening hours. They have a food menu, bar menu, an "annex" drink menu, and an "annex late night menu (9-10 PM)".
On their Food Menu, they denote gluten-free options by the symbol: *. The following statement can also be found: "* SYMBOL indicates items that can be made gluten-free. Some gluten-free options are available at an extra charge."
Substitute prices as of the Summer '22 season are as follows: $1.25 gluten free bread/bun and $1.50 gluten free pasta.
Among the gluten-free options are Chips and Queso, Roasted Crab Dip, Side Street Nachos, Bangin' Shrimp, Pub Fries for One, Jon's Fries, and Lobster Stew. BBQ Chicken Salad, Lobster Caesar Salad, Blackened Salmon Salad, Haddock Reuben sandwich, B.L.A.T. sandwich, Lobster Melt, Lobster Roll, a variety of burgers, MDI Fish Tacos, and BBQ Ribs. For dessert, a Gluten Free Brownie.
Probably the most exciting thing (in my opinion) about Side Street Café is you can Create Your Own Mac & Cheese. Yes, even as a gluten-free person. They also have a Seafood Mac, Buffalo Chicken Mac, Lobster Mac, and a ½ Rack of ribs and a Mac combo.
Seriously, this place has so many gluten free options I can't even list them all here.
I'm pretty bummed I didn't get to try this place out. It's the first thing on my Maine to-do list when we return.
As you can see, there are many gluten-free options on Mount Desert Island. So many in fact that you won't ever have time to try them all.
There is something for everyone.