If you’re willing to drive a little bit out of Boston (or if you live outside of Boston!), Cafe Paprika in Norwood is well worth a visit. It’s a bit of hidden gem – it’s right on Washington Street, which is full of shops and restaurants, but it has a relatively small entryway and is situated right by the bigger, more noticeable Conrad’s Steakhouse. The inside is quaint and well-decorated with a Mediterranean vibe – which is perfect, since they serve up the best (in my opinion) Mediterranean food in the area!
If you visit Cafe Paprika’s website, they don’t offer any information about gluten free dining. In fact, until I posted about them myself on Find Me Gluten Free, there really was no way to know that they had gluten free options at all. However, my parents went there for dinner a few years back, and in conversation with the owner, they discovered that he actually follows a gluten free diet himself! Despite the lack of gluten free menu labels, almost everything on the menu can be made gluten free. The restaurant is a bit of a one-man show, so the owner is (in my experience) the one who takes your order. He is wonderful about answering any questions you may have on gluten-free modifications, and is happy to offer suggestions if you are new to Mediterranean food or just don’t know what sounds the tastiest.
As soon as I told the owner that I was gluten free and had Celiac disease, he suggested their signature wings as an appetizer. I like wings, but I don’t typically order them when I go out to eat (there are just usually other menu items that I prefer). I decided to take his advice anyway, and I was so happy that I did! The wings are tossed with olive oil, garlic, lemon, and Mediterranean herbs, and they are among the best wings I’ve ever had. If you go here, even if you aren’t the world’s biggest wings person, you need to get these wings!
For our entrees, I ordered the Mrouzia Almond Chicken, which is a slow braised chiocken leg with caramelized onions, raisins, Moroccan spices, and roasted almonds service over rice. Make sure you mention that you are gluten free, because there is also an option to get this meal with couscous. Dan (@guywithamap) ordered the Lamb Royal, which is a tender lamb shank cooked with saffron and Morcoccan spices, topped with apricots and roasted sesame seeds over rice. Both of our meals were amazing – the meat was cooked perfectly, and the seasonings and flavors were spot on. You are served enough food that you certainly won’t leave hungry, but the food is just so good that you still feel light when you’re done eating it.
Finally, after feasting on our appetizer and entrée, we felt ready to get the check and leave. Just as we were about to ask for the check, the owner mentioned that he had a gluten-free chocolate cake that we had to try. Obviously, neither of us knows how to say no to chocolate cake, so we ordered that and a Moroccan coffee to finish off the meal. As full as we were, this was a great decision – the cake was rich and chocolatey, and it paired perfectly with the Moroccan coffee (I highly recommend ordering them together!)
Overall, this meal was outstanding from start to finish. It’s one of best dining experiences I’ve had since being diagnosed – I loved how the food was either naturally gluten free or could easily be modified, how knowledgeable the owner seemed, and the fact that there were appetizer and dessert options. I don’t know about you, but I end up feeling spoiled any time there are options other than entrees on a menu If you find yourself in Norwood (or if you don’t – it’s worth a drive), you must check out Cafe Paprika – don’t be put off by the lack of menu labelling; they know what they are talking about!