Finding gluten-free pasta in New York City is not exactly a difficult feat, but finding a restaurant that’s 100 percent gluten-free, nice enough for a date, and in one of the city’s burgeoning fitness neighborhoods, is a little harder.
Colors—a new restaurant in Noho—is one of New York City’s very few entirely gluten-free restaurants. While Pure Food and Wine switched over to a gluten-free menu in 2012, and restaurants like Del Posto, offer gluten-free options on the menu, they kind of constitute the entire fine dining, gluten-free restaurants scene in the city—even though the demand and trend in gluten-free eating is increasing.
Colt Taylor is the executive chef behind Colors and the former executive chef of date night-favorite One if by Land, Two if By Sea. When Taylor found out he had Celiac Disease about a year ago, he went on a healthy journey, losing 100 pounds in one year by cutting gluten and processed foods out of his diet.
It was around the same time that he teamed up with several other chefs and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) to re-open Colors (which originally opened in 2006 by displaced works from the World Trade Center and had been closed for a few years).
“There’s this whole backlash in the industry and chefs saying ‘Oh, this gluten-free thing is a fad,” says Taylor. “But all of this mass-produced stuff—wheat, soy, corn—are not good for you.”
Whether you have a dietary restriction like Celiac Disease, you choose not to eat gluten, or you have a gluten-free best friend who has a birthday coming up—here’s what you need to know about New York City’s newest GF destination.
The focus of the menu is comfort food. Colors does dishes like fried chicken and fish-and-chips the gluten-free way, with a flour substitute made of tapioca, brown rice flour, white rice flour, and potato starch that Taylor developed.
While we’re not advocating that you eat fried chicken every day of your life, it’s good to know it’s here for you gluten-free style versus never being able to eat the dish again. “Comfort food is wonderful, but gluten-free eaters don’t get to enjoy these,” Taylor says.
Healthier, veggie-focused and seafood dishes also punctuate menu, including Roasted Whole Branzino with fennel, Roasted Pear Salad, and a slightly spicy Tuna Crudo. Taylor also says he doesn’t let GMOs in his kitchen—and Colors tries to use locally sourced produce whenever they can (brownie points!).
The Space and Location
Colors is right next to the new Barry’s Bootcamp (perfect for post-class dinners?) and a few blocks away from SoulCycle Noho. The restaurant is pretty new and still picking up steam, so for the moment there’s blessedly no hour-long wait.
The atmosphere, in addition to the location, is also really nice. Etched mirrors and inspirational quotes line the walls, while industrial-style fans and columns provide a cool, funky American vibe.
There’s a feel-good mission with the taste-good dishes here. Colors is owned by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), an organization which aims to improve the conditions for restaurant workers (like enforcing minimum wage, as opposed to workers relying on tips and getting paid sub minimum wage).
The restaurant is closed during the day for training, so restaurant workers who are on welfare or are victims of abuse can take cooking classes or customer service training, Taylor explains. All of Colors’ employees are graduates of the program—and the service was awesome, by the way.
A chalkboard next to the restaurant’s bar, with a quote by Albert Einstein, sums up that mentality nicely, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” —Molly Gallagher
For more information, visit www.colorsrestaurantnyc.com