Woodman’s of Essex – Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Fried Seafood
Summer has unofficially begun! For us, nothing says “IT’S SUMMER” like a trip to Woodman’s restaurant in Essex, Massachusetts for the best fried seafood in the country! It’s a beautiful day in southern New England, and my mom is here visiting from the West Coast. She really wanted fish and chips, so off we went to Woodman’s.
I love this place. When you go gluten free, one of the first things you notice is a lack of gluten free fried foods. Well, gluttons like me notice these things immediately. But Woodman’s can make your fried seafood dreams come true. Most of their menu can be made gluten free. They can even make many items dairy free for those with a milk allergy!
This ain’t no fancy sit-down restaurant with tablecloths and waiters. You wait in a fast-moving but long line of hungry people to order your food at a counter. Then you order drinks at a separate counter, and then find a picnic table at which to eat, inside or outside. You can even get beer, wine and other adult beverages there – cheers! They call your order number when it’s ready, and you receive your food served on disposable plates in a low-sided cardboard box. Perfect.
Woodman’s has been around for over 100 years and they really know what they are doing. I love that everyone who works there knows what menu items are gluten free and which are safe for food allergies. They even make sure to separate out the food allergy or gluten free items from everything else in your order so there are no mistakes. The french fries are just fried in lard in a separate fryer, so they are top 8 allergen free and seed free. Although the gluten-filled and gluten-free battered foods contain milk, they will make your order dairy free upon request. During a previous visit, I asked about other allergens, but that was a while ago and you should always ask about allergens before placing your order, every time. If memory serves, when I asked previously, I was told that nothing on the menu contains tree nuts. I don’t remember whether I asked if their battered menu items contain egg, because my son’s egg allergy developed later. Please make sure you tell them about all of your allergies before ordering – they are very friendly and allergy-aware. You can find their menu here, which is chock-full of fried deliciousness. Woodman’s gluten free items are listed right on the main menu. They even have more kid-friendly items, such as hot dogs, grilled cheese and chicken fingers. (Again, check with them about allergens!)
My mom and I each got the fish and chips platter. Hers came with onion rings as well as fries. The onion rings are not gluten free (sniff), so the gluten free version comes with either all fries, or fries with coleslaw. My dairy allergic son only wanted some of my french fries (“chips”), so we had my fish and chips come separately from each other, to avoid any cross-contamination of milk from my fried fish. (He’s not into seafood unless it comes in stick form, so we brought his food in a Thermos.)
Everything was SO delicious that all three of us spontaneously broke out into happy dances while chewing. Woodman’s gluten free seafood is second to none. That’s why it’s on the list of My Favorite Gluten Free Restaurants. If you’re anywhere at all in this general area, I highly recommend a trip to Woodman’s. They have won all kinds of awards, and their food has been called “The Best Seafood in America.” I’m not going to argue with that!
And if you’re taking in a Red Sox game, be sure to check out my Fenway Park Gluten Free Guide for all you can eat and drink at the stadium!