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Studying Abroad with Food Allergies in Alicante, Spain

February 09, 2024
by Paige Bily
a table with food on it

Finding Gluten-Free Food in Alicante, Spain

When deciding to study abroad, one of my biggest fears was not finding gluten-free food options. If that’s the case for you, don’t worry too much. Everything depends on the place, but in my experience studying abroad in Alicante, Spain, most restaurants are very knowledgeable about allergies and dietary restrictions abroad. There are also lots of options to choose from in the supermarkets, too.  

In my study abroad experience, being gluten-free and traveling abroad, Alicante doesn’t have the most options when comparing it with other larger cities (like Madrid’s food scene). I found multiple of my go-to places in the city center of Alicante such as a pizza tavern and a vegan and gluten-free bakery.  

a tray of food

Dining hall meal with gluten-free options.

This is a typical meal that is offered at a dining hall on campus. There are multiple options to choose from, but these were the ones they offered that were gluten-free. Mixed veggies, fish, rice, salad, and pudding for dessert.  

What to know

When it came to eating authentic Spanish food abroad, I didn’t have the most luck. There are select places that make their paella gluten-free, and others that don’t. Before I talk about all the food I found, it’s important to know that restaurants don’t just pay attention to gluten allergies. Most places offer a legend with all allergies and the emblems next to all their foods they offer, stating what each food contains. Although a lot of places may not carry gluten-free substitutes, it’s easy to pick out the foods that are gluten-free versus those containing gluten. 

Where to go

La Taverna Dell'Artista

2 pizzas on a table

Gluten-free pizza from La Taverna Dell'Artista.

In Alicante, my favorite place to go for a homemade gluten-free pizza was La Taverna Dell’Artista and they offered almost everything gluten-free. The pizza crust is handmade and fired. This pizza has cheese and ham on it, which is different from what I normally get. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, so I was very nervous about not finding much in Spain.

Pizza on a table

I found so many delicious places throughout the city, one was a small little town outside of Alicante called Altea.  

One of the first questions we got asked when we arrived was if anyone had a gluten allergy. I’ve had great pizza along with a Spanish version of a chicken parmesan, which was also gluten-free! At my favorite gluten-free restaurant in Alicante, they offer many things gluten-free such as this chicken parmesan with a Spanish twist. 

a plate with food on it at a table

A chicken breast with gluten-free breading, cheese, and sauce, and topped with Spanish ham.

Vegan Bombon

There are also a few cafés around the city that offer select items that are gluten-free and one, Vegan Bombon, that's completely gluten-free and vegan.  

A store front with a gluten-free sign

Vegan Bombon is an amazing gluten-free bakery with various pastries, desserts, and savory items in downtown Alicante, near the port.   

El Cookie

A group of cinnamon rolls on a white plate

Gluten-free cinnamon rolls at El Cookie.

El Cookie is a café in the city center of Alicante that offers a few gluten-free options. Every third week of the month they make more of their products gluten-free when they get their shipment of flour. This café is also unique because they hold events such as a language exchange and trivia nights every week, where you can win a coupon for their goodies.  

What to try

Caprese Salads

One of the popular dishes I always saw on the menus were caprese salads, which contain tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil. This is generally a safe option for people with gluten allergies due to the minimal contact with other foods that'd potentially contaminate it.

A table with food on it

A popular dish in Alicante is a caprese salad. 

Fried Cheese

Another interesting dish I tried at my first Spanish restaurant, is fried cheese which reminds me of being at the Iowa State Fair back in the U.S. Sangria is also very easy to find in Spain. 

A table with food on itFried cheese with tomato sauce and lettuce. 


One of Spain's most popular dishes, paella, can sometimes be made gluten-free too. The CEA CAPA students had the opportunity to attend a workshop where we learned how to make seafood paella and it was gluten-free too.  

A pan of food on a table

One of Spain’s most popular dishes, paella. 

What to make

I also liked to get creative in my apartment kitchen and made foods that reminded me of back home, but with a Spanish twist. One of my favorites is open-faced tacos. I found gluten-free tortillas at the supermarket and put meat, cheese, salsa, and avocado on them to make tacos. I made a lot of pasta, too, because it's super easy and there are lots of alternatives to mix it up every day. El Corte Inglés, a supermarket up the street from my apartment, also has whole sections of gluten-free food and there’s no problem finding what you need.   

A plate of tacos on a table

Homemade tacos with meat, cheese, salsa, and avocado.

Paige Bily was a Fall '24 Content Creator and studied abroad in Alicante, Spain.

Paige Bily is the Content Creator - Photographer in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at St. Ambrose University.
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