Let’s work together to make gluten-free dining a better experience for restaurants and guests!
P.F Chang’s, Carrabba’s, Shake Shack and Outback are all restaurants that are known to have gluten free menus. I’m happy there are places like this when you get in a pinch and need a safety net while traveling, or for anyone who simply likes these spots. But, I’m more of a small, quiet corner type of girl. Authentic. Just like my peeps—I want the real deal!
There are two places that have been in my neighborhood for 20 years—just like me—which are my premium picks. They’re simple, and serve fresh, quality food. One is a little Mexican Restaurant, Señor Burrito, with all my favorite waitresses. Especially Gloria. She runs the place to perfection! There’s also an Italian Restaurant Renzo’s Cafe where I can get it to go, or eat in-house.
The people add to the ambiance and make these places special. The food takes ‘em up a notch.
Jamie and Paulo at Renzo’s know our order by heart. They have the best vegetable soup and gluten free choices—and they get it right. Señor Burrito has straight-up steak or chicken with gluten-free sauces. It’s a wonderful place for chicken soup with big chunks of avocados. And if you want corn tortillas, you know you’re safe there. Mmmmmm!
These places are easy to navigate and I feel at home when I’m there, but dining out is a rocky road for a lot of people with Celiac.
There is a way of asking questions at unfamiliar places that get us the answers we need to make the right choices. It really is an art. Learn your audience—or your waiter. It’s a bit of a juggling act to decide if you should go somewhere new because you want to feel good all the time—not just sometimes. I’m pretty much nailing it on the feeling good part because I’m a purist. And careful as heck. But I’m 14 years in, so I can handle it: Grilled Salmon no sauce please! Ribeyes or Shrimp, all grilled. No breading anywhere, on anything. Please don’t flour my fish, thank you! Sometimes if a place isn’t crowded, they might make calamari with cornstarch instead of flour. Sometimes they are excited to cook for us if not SUPER slammed. They get it.
Questions to ask:
Is the fish in the fish tacos breaded?
Is there soy sauce in your marinade? (Soy sauce has wheat in it.)
Are the tortillas flour or corn?
Does the ice cream have wheat or modified food starch?
(Good ice creams don’t. Large containers shipped from some far away land most often do. Ice cream is not a safe food, unless you have an amazing waiter who can check labels. And I always tip accordingly if I ask a waiter to check a label for anything.)
Are the french fries made fresh or from real potatoes? No outside coating?
Remember, plain is best.
A salad with chicken or steak on it—no croutons—is a winning combination.
Sweet potatoes are a good choice. So is fresh fruit. Corn on the cob, edamame… Easy!
Two eggs over-however you love ‘em!
Cheeseburgers (no bun—but ask if they used a marinade!)
Plain coffee is safe, but iced tea isn’t always gluten free. Barley in tea is common. It’s tricky.
Believe me I understand. I empathize with this gluten-free maze. We’re all dealing with the Political Correctness issues where folks don’t know if I’m truly Celiac, or just Gluten Free Cool.
That brings me back to the places I love to go. Because they know my name. And my food game. There’s no one to blame. It’s life. It’s just my food has to be the same. I’m not looking for fame. I don’t want to be a pain. Just need food that’s plain. Thanks for listening to me explain. I’ll be back again. I’m glad I came. I feel real good… And that’s my aim! 🙂