For those who are unfamiliar with my story, I have been gluten and dairy intolerant for a little over five years now. Since discovering this, I am always on the hunt for restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops etc that have gluten and dairy free options that are made in-house and with quality ingredients.
I had the pleasure of visiting WHOS Gluten Free in Jersey City, NJ this past Sunday and let me say they did not disappoint! Owners Steph and Shelly were super welcoming and helpful in answering all my questions and sharing their stories as well. The interior is super comfy, chic and reminds me of cafes I've
visited in Soho NYC.
This cafe offers salads, juices, smoothies, teas, coffee, pizza and baked goodies so there is definitely something for everyone and they even have some vegan options!
I got there right when they opened so I had my pick of a few goodies to try and review, which I'm sharing with you today!
So let's start with the cookies (of course)!
The first I tried was their sesame cookie. It has a a great nutty flavor with a hint of sesame and small sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Texture was crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. I love new flavors and sesame is one I don't have very often so it was a nice change of pace. If you're not used to sesame, try this cookie with an open mind. It is not super sweet by any stretch and would pair well with an herbal tea or even a nice white wine (21 + of course).
The second cookie I tried was the chocolate chip. The flavor was sweet with a hint of bitterness from the dark chocolate chunks (not chips) which gave it a good balance. The texture was soft and chewy similar to the sesame cookie. This would pair nicely with coffee or plant based milk.
Next up was the oatmeal craisin. Oatmeal cookies were a staple in my childhood and are still one of my faves to date so I went into this one with high expectations. I am happy to report I was not disappointed! Texture was soft and slightly chewy with a hint of sweetness from the dried cranberries which played nicely with the subtleness of the oats. What I appreciated about this cookie was that it wasn't super sweet. I've noticed many bakeries, especially those attempting to be gluten free, overcompensate with way too much sugar, but WHOS definitely hit the mark with this one.
Fourth was the almond butter sandwich cookie. Texture was super flaky and crispy, which was a nice change of pace. It was a bit sweet for my taste, but the almond butter flavor did come through nonetheless. One thing I would say is I was looking for more almond butter. I am a self-proclaimed nut butter fanatic so please keep that in mind.
Final cookie was the nutella sandwich. Texture was the same as the almond butter cookie, flaky and crispy. Flavor was a bit sweet for me, but sugar isn't something that I eat frequently, so I'm a bit sensitive to it. There definitely was a good amount of nutella which I can always appreciate.
Now for a bit of savory! I also grabbed a vegan/GF margharita pizza just to ensure my taste buds were well rounded lol. The crust was crispy on the perimeter and soft/chewy closer to the center. It was also topped with fresh tomato sauce, basil and Daiya vegan mozzarella. To be fair, I took the pizza home and did not try it right away, but it wasn't my favorite. I love the crust, but the cheese left something to be desired. I'm also not a fan of Daiya as a brand due to their laundry list of ingredients and soy base. I'd recommend maybe using a "cleaner" brand of vegan cheese, such as Kite Hill. Its a bit more expensive, but could make a huge difference in taste and quality.
Now, I've saved the best for last....their Everything BAGEL! I have been searching high and low for a fresh, NEVER FROZEN gluten free bagel and WHOS is where I found it. The outside was crispy with plenty of onion and poppy seed just like you would find at any bagel shop. The dough inside was soft, slightly chewy and super doughy. I spread a bit of Kite Hill vegan cream cheese and homemade strawberry jam on top, which was just heavenly. I will definitely be back to buy a few more of these in the near future!
All in all, I would give WHOS an 6 out of 10 rating. Their passion and hard work really shines through in their food and their mission. I love that they are also spreading education regarding gluten and healthy eating to the local community, which is something very close to my heart and practice.