A mouth-watering confusion of native Latin American Indian, Spanish, Portuguese and African influences, Las Iguanas is an adventure. You’ll discover new tastes, and fall in love with new favourites – and feel the warmth and welcome of South America. I hadn’t heard of Las Iguanas until I moved to Newcastle and once I discovered they offer a wide selection of gluten free options I knew I had to visit! I have eaten there four times now, with my most recent trip being to their new restaurant located down on the quayside. Every time I walk into one of their restaurants I feel instantly happy as the colourful mix of furniture and quirky decorations creates a great atmosphere. Their new quayside location is ideal to sit outside under the parasols enjoying their fruity cocktails and watch the river Tyne in the sun, which exactly what my friend and me did when we dined there. On each of my visits the servers are always more than happy to help when I tell them I’m gluten intolerant. Las Iguanas offers a separate gluten free menu for diners however on their lunchtime deal menu, they have small symbols next to dishes that can be cooked gluten free on request. Their crayfish salad is so light, but filling and definitely a great choice if you can fit it in during lunch. The blazing bird is also a gorgeous dish of spicy chicken marinated with a fiery sauce (I chose honey peri-peri), served with slaw and salad. I did originally opt for fries as my side, however after checking with the kitchen the waiter said they couldn’t be sure they were gluten free so salad it was! Both of these dishes are from their lunchtime menu, which offers main courses from as little as £6, with the choice to add a starter for an extra £2.95, an ideal option if you’re looking for lunch on a budget1
On my first visit to Las Iguanas as I read through the menu, I noticed they offered gluten free nachos on request so I knew I had to get them for a starter! Crispy corn tortilla chips with melted cheese, topped with pico de gallo, jalapeños, salsa, soured cream & guacamole, they were everything I had hoped they would! As a main course I decided to give their triple tacos a try…three corn & wheat lightly charred tortillas. So far I have had the chipotle chicken, soured cream & pink pickled onion option as well as their garlicky mushroom, chill, thyme and cheese tacos, which have both been fabulous! Just be sure to specify with the server that you want the gluten free tacos when you’re ordering!
Las Iguanas also offer great deals on their drinks menu with ‘HAPPY HOUR’ all day, everyday on 25 of their cocktails and coolers. They give diners the chance to get 2 for 1 on these drinks; the only drawback is that when you buy one glass, you get the same free, so be sure that you’ll like the drink you go for otherwise you’ll be stuck with 2 drinks that you aren’t fond of! These cocktails are priced at £7.95, which I think is more than reasonable for the simple fact you get 2 for the price of 1! While their coolers are £3.30, which again two fruit filled drinks for this price is amazing! Las Iguanas is well worth a visit if you’re in Newcastle as both of their restaurants (Greys Street and Quayside) are well furnished and their servers can’t do enough for you. Their food is of a high quality and always filling, and for such great prices you can afford to really treat yourself especially with their lunchtime menu, which runs daily until 6:30pm.
Often referred to as ‘yarn bombing’ or ‘yarn storming’, and involving colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn, is something that is celebrated each summer in my hometown of Saltburn. In previous years the Saltburn Yarn Stormers have displayed themes including the World Cup, the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and Alice in Wonderland. This year however they celebrated all things Yorkshire! The identity of the yarn bombers is a total mystery but each year they decorate over 40 meters along the famous Saltburn pier railings with their beautiful creations. I was lucky to move home from university just in time to catch their fabulous new display, so I grabbed my camera and headed down to the pier to find it covered with knitted figures, landmarks and phrases linked to the much-loved county.
Although it was a typical cold British day at the seaside, the pier was still filled with people of all ages eager to get a glimpse of these wonderful knitted designs! The creations include pots of famous Yorkshire tea and cakes, Wallace and his loyal dog, Gromit and common Yorkshire phrases such as “bloomin ‘eck” and “it’ll be reet.” I also spotted a nod to the Yorkshire sport of ‘Welly Wanging’ which sees competitors hurl a Wellington boot as far as possible, along with a small knitted tribute to David Hockney, sat with his easel- who often painted the Yorkshire countryside. The Saltburn yarnbombing always brings the community together each summer as its something everyone can enjoy, I know that I definitely look forward to it each year!
Living away at university for the year has really made me appreciate my time at home whenever I return, especially with my house so close to both the beach and the countryside- it’s so easy to get sucked into the hustle and bustle of Newcastle and forget how peaceful it is back at home! If you’re ever in the area or simply want a day trip out but unsure of where to go, then Saltburn is just an hours drive or train ride from Newcastle and with a fabulous beach and a wonderful old Victorian pier and cliff lift, it’d be a shame not to visit!
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited away for the night to Whitby with my aunty, uncle and cousins, who had rented a revamped fisherman’s cottage in the heart of the old town. I caught the train from Middlesborough, and although I have always visited Whitby since I was little, it was my first time travelling there by rail which is something I’d really recommend as you pass through the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside!
Thankfully the typical British summertime rain held off and we were able to enjoy a few hours of sunshine as we explored the gorgeous sights and hidden treasures that Whitby has to offer! From the atmospheric Abbey towering over winding cobbled streets to the windswept beach which inspired Bram Stoker’s world famous “Dracula”, Whitby is not your traditional coastal town.
The first stop was the ‘Cranberry Swamp’ for some lunch- a small cafe that my aunty had found before I arrived as they offered gluten free options! Just a 2 minute walk up the road from the cottage, this was the perfect place to grab a bite to eat! Turning the corner, the cafe instantly stood out from the other shops with its deep purple exterior and wooden sign hanging above the door, the interior was also just as quirky with exposed hanging bulbs and bold colours splashed on the walls. The menu was very varied and great for gluten free diners, even I struggled with what to chose but eventually settled on a classic burger with onion relish severed in a gluten free bun with a side of sweet potato fries and salad. While my cousin ordered a toasted BLT sandwich on white bread which looked fabulous! The food defiantly didn’t disappoint and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful! Although fish and chips is the typical choice for lunch when you’re in Whitby, I really recommend breaking with tradition and heading to the Cranberry Swamp as this reasonably priced little cafe offers a wonderful dinning experience, no matter of your dietary requirements!
After a gorgeous lunch, I spent the day walking in the sunshine through the old cobbled streets and down to the working fishing harbour, marvelling at the colourful fishing boats and the hundreds of lobster fresh from the catch! You won’t find yourself struggling for things to see or do in this historic seaside town, from tackling the 199 steps up to the Abbey (something I didn’t attempt) to feeling like a child again at the classic seaside amusements with the 2p slots as well as being able to take in the picturesque views, it’s an ideal place for a weekend getaway! Whitby also plays host to Goth Weekend, a unique event that happens twice a year celebrating all things Gothic!
After an early start in order to pack up the cottage, we had a last walk through the town before heading home. As it was their last night in Whitby I was able to get a lift home with my family in their car, instead of getting the train back. We decided to drive home over the North Yorkshire Moors, where we stopped off for lunch. My aunty spotted a small cafe as we drove through the village of Castleton, called the Old Chapel Tearoom, which had once been a Methodist Church, however after renovations is now a clean and inviting tearoom offering a varied menu. Although they were dog friendly in the main dining area, we chose to sit outside in the sun. The staff were lovely and couldn’t have been more attentive, even bringing the dog a small bowl of water! I ordered myself a jacket potato with a generous helping of tuna mayonnaise and a side salad, while everyone else chose sandwiches and lasagne which all looked delicious too!
It was so lovely to get away to Whitby for the night with my aunty, uncle and cousins especially now that I live away for university its always good to catch up with the family whilst I am at home! I’m thankful that the weather held out for us and we were able to make the most of the sun in our idyllic seaside setting! It is always nice to be able to unwind for a couple of days and switch off from the chaos of everyday life and where better to get lost in the beauty and history of a place than Whitby.
I have visited this restaurant twice now, and its fast becoming a favourite of mine! The Mak brothers -Yen and Andrew- have created a new look restaurant in Newcastle’s Chinatown, The Landmark. Having many years of experience and history in their hometown, they pride themselves on exceptional attention to detail and hospitality, and above all serving great oriental cuisine. It was Johnny who initially suggested that we give the Landmark a go after hearing good reviews about their gluten free options, and after not having Chinese food since my diagnosis, I was more than happy to give it a try! The Restaurant itself is split level so as well as the bar reception area there are relaxing and intimate dining booths, leading down into the main restaurant where there are further booths and large round banqueting tables. Once seated the server said we are welcome to help ourselves to the gluten free prawn crackers on the table while we looked over the menus. There isn’t a separate gluten free menu however the staff were more than happy to advise me on what sauces and dishes I could eat from the main menu, seeming very knowledgeable about the gluten free options and the way the food is cooked. On my first visit to The Landmark I decided to try the King Prawns Deep Fried with Garlic and Spiced Salt for a starter followed by Stir Fried Chicken in a Satay Sauce, which were both gorgeous, I thought the prawns and chicken were cooked perfectly!
When we visited a second time, I decided to just have a main course as we found on our previous visit that we were far too full after having a starter as well! This time I went for Stir Fried King Prawns with Mushroom and Bamboo Shoots, which again didn’t disappoint! On both visits we also had egg fried rice and chips for the table, so we could take a bit of what we wanted to go along with our meals. The food here is simply stunning, it’s definitely some of the nicest gluten free food that I’ve ever eaten and Johnny always clears his plate too!
I can’t praise this restaurant enough for their attention to gluten free dining, with small details such as the prawn crackers being gluten free to the knowledge of the waiting staff just makes the overall dining experience at the Landmark so memorable and as a customer you feel really valued. Whether your diet is gluten free or not, I definitely recommend that you head down to China Town and as The Landmark is well worth a visit! The Mak brothers have managed to create something so special here and I honestly don’t think that I’ve enjoyed oriental food as much as I do when I dine at their restaurant!
After my first trip to the wonderful Pitcher and Piano in Newcastle, I knew I had to give their breakfast menu a try before I moved home for the summer! So I dragged Johnny out of bed and we headed down to the Quayside for some gorgeous food to wake us up! Since my previous visit, the restaurant has had a total makeover with summery green plants and quirky geometric designs now the main focus. Once we were seated, we both ordered some fruit juices; I went with the mango and passion fruit flavour of the Cracker Drinks Co Juice while Johnny picked the smooth orange flavour of the Eager Fruit Juices. The staff were very helpful when I told them I was gluten free, and after reading the breakfast menu I was pleased to see a little side note stating ‘we’re happy to say that all our breakfast butties can be served in a baguette carefully made using ingredients that don’t contain any gluten or wheat’. In the end I decided on the ‘P&P Breakfast’ made up of bacon, Cumberland sausage, fried egg, hash brown, grilled flat mushroom, baked beans, half a grilled tomato and toast, however the sausage and toast wasn’t gluten free so Johnny ended up eating them for me alongside his ‘Big Breakfast’.
We both really enjoyed our visit to the Pitcher & Piano and their breakfasts are well worth getting up early for! Although the food and drink came to around twenty pound for the two of us which as a student I feel is a little pricey, the Quayside setting and staff make for a great dinning experience. I’ll definitely be back to give their gluten free breakfast bun a try!
After our day of exploring Newcastle, I booked us a table at Zizzi as I was keen to try out their gluten free menu before I moved home for the summer! So we hurried back to my flat, got changed and set back off into town. Zizzi is located just down from Monument on Greys Street, and the interior is just as stunning as the building it sits in. We were seated downstairs at the back of the restaurant next to the big open plan kitchen so we could see the chefs working which was exciting! The servers couldn’t have been more helpful when I asked for the gluten free menu and what they would recommend to try. I knew I had to have a pizza so I went with their new ‘Non Gluten’ Polpette, which contained; lamb & red pepper meatballs, anchovies, fior di latte & smoked mozzarella, spinach, olives, sunblush tomatoes, crushed chillies, roasted garlic cloves & smoked garlic oil. I also ordered myself their new pink G&T cocktail, a mix of Bombay Sapphire & tonic with strawberry purée, mint, cucumber & fresh raspberries! While Johnny chose their Pollo Prosciutto – chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto ham & sage with a white wine sauce, Tuscan potatoes & green beans which looked just as nice as my pizza when they both arrived.
Although it was a typical doughy/stretchy gluten free pizza base, I still found myself enjoying it! The flavours were really nice too, however after awhile I did begin to find it a little too spicy and couldn’t finish it all, so I would recommend choosing a different pizza if you aren’t a big fan of spicy foods.
The staff and atmosphere made for a great evening, and the fabulous cocktails topped it off! With Zizzi restaurants up and down the country, there’s no excuse not to give their ‘Non Gluten’ menu a go.
I’d only had the opportunity to visit Newcastle a handful of times before I moved here last September for university, however it’s quickly become my favourite city in the UK! Steeped in beautiful architecture and with a rich culture for the arts, it’s hard not to fall in love with Newcastle. Unfortunately I felt that I hadn’t really got the chance to properly make the most of my time in this gorgeous city due to the amount of coursework and deadlines I faced. So with my first year complete I took advantage of having a Geordie for a boyfriend and made him my personal guide for the day! I’d seen photos of the graffiti tribute to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust on instagram and knew that this would be the first stop on our day out! Located in Gateshead, just behind the beautiful mirrored Sage building, it was breathtaking to see this wonderful piece in person. The photos really do not do it justice -it’s such a fitting tribute to Bowie’s memory.
Since we were near the Quayside, it was only right that we visited the Baltic art gallery and check out the stunning views of the Tyne and Millennium bridges on the viewing platform! The Quayside is an area along the banks of the River Tyne, which was once an industrial area and busy commercial dockside, while the Newcastle side of the quay also hosted a regular street market, that still runs every Sunday. I got a chance to visit the market a few weeks ago and it’s definitely worth getting out of bed on a Sunday for, I even spied some gluten free food stalls! TripAdvisor lists visiting the Quayside as the second best thing to do on a day out in Newcastle and I couldn’t agree with that more, as there’s always something going on here especially on a sunny day, cocktails by the river are a must! Although it wasn’t the sunniest day on our visit, I still managed to get some great shots of these iconic bridges when we got to the top of the Baltic!
I feel so privileged to be able to say that I live in such a beautiful city, even more so after my day of exploring. The historic buildings, the cobbled streets, the people and of course the night life -the list is endless, there is nothing I don’t love about Newcastle! I’ll be sad to leave when I move home for the summer, but I know that come September I will be back to create more memories and discover more of the fantastic hidden gems that Newcastle has to offer!
With my dad up in Newcastle for the day visiting me, I took the opportunity to try out the Pitcher and Piano, as he had offered to pay for lunch! We sat in the seated area outside to begin with in order to make the most of the rare sunny weather and ordered some strawberry cocktails. The views along the quayside were gorgeous, especially with the sun bouncing off the mirrored sides of the Sage. After moving inside the restaurant to order food, I was instantly struck by the stunning interior design. We were seated in the most comfy chairs, under an enormous golden framed mirror.
I explained to our waiter that I was gluten intolerant and he was more than happy to help, showing me what my options on the menu were. When he told me that they offer gluten free baguettes I knew that I had to order myself one of their sandwiches. In the end I settled on the P&P Club Sandwich and once it arrived I knew I’d made the right choice!
The sandwich was filled with grilled chicken breast, maple-glazed bacon, smashed avocado, tomato, baby gem lettuce and rapeseed mayo and was served with a side of skinny fries. Although the baguette was a bit dry which is what I’ve come to expect from most gluten free bread products, the overall sandwich was great and the fries were some of the nicest I’ve had it awhile! My dad chose the beer battered fish and chips, it looked gorgeous but unfortunately the batter wasn’t gluten free.I’d definitely recommend the Pitcher and Piano to anyone with a gluten intolerance as there is so much choice on the menu and the staff are more than happy to help meet your needs. Although the cocktails are a bit pricey, they are well worth it and with restaurants up and down the country there is no excuse not to give it a try!
It was England’s first match in the Euro’s last night so where better to watch it than Nancy’s Bordello. Sitting just outside the main city centre, this bar is a real hidden gem and a prefect place to escape the busy hustle and bustle of Newcastle. Although I had been to Nancy’s for cocktails before, I hadn’t eaten there as I was worried they wouldn’t have any gluten free options for me, so I emailed ahead before my visit and was told they offer gluten free buns so I could try one of their burgers! Unfortunately when I arrived they were out of buns, so I chose a big bowl of cheesy hand cut chips instead! Johnny got a burger, and I have to admit I was very jealous that I couldn’t eat one too! At least I was able to enjoy their fun cocktails and mojitos whilst we watched the football in this magical setting!
If you are ever wanting a quiet drink in a quirky bar then Nancy’s is the place to go, and now I know that they offer gluten free options I’ll definitely be spending more time here! The interior of the bar is gorgeous, it’s so well decorated with feature lights around each table and their background music never disappoints. They offer great student discount too so remember to bring your student card in order to take advantage of these offers!
The Fat Hippo Underground is without a doubt my favourite place to eat in Newcastle! After discovering they offered a wide selection of burgers on their separate gluten free menu, I paid them a visit with Johnny and I instantly fell in love with the place. Hidden away on a small side street just down from the Theatre Royal, keep your eyes open for a red neon hippo above the main doorway. Once through the door you instantly get a feel for the place with their quirky typography on the wall, directing you down into the underground restaurant. I usually book online in advance just to be sure that we’ll get seated and there is also an option to specify that I’ll require a gluten free menu before I visit!
The ‘naughty slushes’ at the Fat Hippo are as naughty and boozy as they sound! My favorite is the Berry Smash, a mixture of vodka and passoa with a dash of grenadine all blitzed with ice and served in a quirky little teacup! You’ll be spoilt for choice with the burger options on the gluten free menu, however I’m a creature of habit so can only recommend the ‘Born Slippy’ burger, as that is the only one I’ve tried aha! The burger consists of two 4oz patty, topped with pulled pork ribs, cheese, jalapeños and chilli jam served in a retro tray with a side of mind blowing triple fried hand cut chips and salad…ALL GLUTEN FREE!
johnny swears by their signature burger the ‘Fat Hippo’ which is built up of two 4oz patty, topped with streaky bacon, chorizo, cheese, onion rings and fat hippo sauce…however this isn’t available on the gluten free menu so you’ll just have to take his word for it! Whenever someone comes to visit and asks where to go for food, this place is always my first suggestion and so far everyone I have taken has left feeling full and with a smile on their face! Just looking at the pictures as I type this is making my mouth water at the thought of their burgers!
Even the gluten free buns, which are normally dry and inedible, are superb here! Every time I sit down to eat I fall in love with these unforgettable burgers all over again! I can not rate the Fat Hippo high enough and would strongly recommend it to anyone, gluten intolerant or not, as they are simply the best burgers I’ve ever eaten and it is definitely a place to stop for food if you’re fed up of bland chain restaurants. They are also in Jesmond and Durham, although I haven’t been myself yet, I expect they’d have the same stunning food and amazing service as they offer in Newcastle.