Although I love to bake and like to cook...I really like going out to eat. It is one of my favorite things to do. When I found out I was gluten intolerant, eating out was so daunting to me that I didn't think I could jump the hurdle of gluten free dining! I thought I would never enjoy eating out again.
It still is a pain sometimes, but I have found some places I can get some good things at. The hardest part for me is having to tell the server I am gluten intolerant and need a gluten free entree. I found that when asking what might be gluten free or what ingredients are in a dish, they have no idea. A lot of servers have no idea what gluten even is, let alone what is safe to eat when gluten intolerant. It is, to me, both frustrating and embarrassing to ask, and get their "deer in the headlights" look. I drive my family crazy trying to decide where to go that will suit me, and then continue to drive them crazy once there, asking questions of what is in this dish and in that dish and then after they tell me what an item contains...I ask the ultimate question, "Are you sure that's what's in there?" That question usually makes the server have to go ask the cook (which tells me they weren't really sure in the first place). So now, I've driven my family, the server, the cook...and come to think of it, myself...crazy.
So I found, for my peace of mind, researching ahead of time (when possible) is the best solution for me. A good source on line I have found is Adam Bryant's Gluten Free Guide HQ. He lists a lot of popular restaurants and what gluten free offerings they have. So I thought I would share with you some of my favorite places and what I get there. I am only listing what I like to eat at these places, although there are many other choices at most of these places. There are also many more restaurants that offer gluten free fare for the gluten intolerant, but this is a short list of my finds. Hopefully some of these places are close to you too and a fit for your needs.
FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS
1. Pick Up Stix - I really like the Pad Thai. It is so good I had to go back and ask again after starting to eat it if it was really gluten free! They have other gluten free options too and were very good at looking things up for me that are gluten free on their menu.
2. Chipotle - I love getting the burrito bowl at Chipotle. I am not much of a spicy food eater, so I always get the carnitas, as it is the only non spicy meat they have. Their chips and guacamole and rice and beans are also safe and so yummy!
3. Panera Bread - I get their Asian salad (minus the wontons). I miss having their delicious bread on the side, but the bag of chips helps.
4. Chick- Fil-A - I love that I can eat the waffle fries here, as they are cooked in a dedicated fryer (at least they are at mine. Check with your local Chick-Fil-A to make sure). I can't eat fries at all restaurants, as they usually share a fryer with other breaded and fried items, and that is a bummer to me. I love their dipping sauce and salads. They also offer grilled chicken and grilled chicken nuggets that are safe and tasty.
5. IN-N-Out Burger - Once again, the fries are safe here, a big plus. You can order the burgers "protein style" and they will wrap it in lettuce (I have to admit, though, I do miss the bun, but at least eating the burger this way is an option). The shakes are safe too! Woo hoo!
SIT DOWN DINING
1. Red Robin - They make gluten free buns for their burgers and their french fires are safe. The bun is really good. They also have sweet potato fries which are gluten free and my personal favorite.
2. Islands - I love that they have a separate gluten free menu and they are so accommodating to food allergies. The first time I asked for the gluten free menu the manager came to my table to reassure me she would personally make sure all my food was made properly with no cross contamination. I love their veggie tacos. So good. Of course, my all time joy...their amazing fries are also gluten free and fried in a dedicated fryer...I would go there just for the fries (are you getting the idea that I like french fries)!
3. P.F. Changs - P.F. Changs really goes out of their way to assure their gluten free dishes are protected. They even serve gluten free entrees on a special plate. Just tell your waiter you are gluten intolerant. I love their lemon fish or chicken. They even have a gluten free chocolate dessert.
4. B.J.s - Pretty good gluten free pizza. They have a separate menu too, which I love. They even have a gluten free pazookie (cookie pizza) which is good.
5. California Pizza Kitchen - Another good gluten free pizza here and their menu is marked with what is gluten free. I had their Roasted Veggie Salad this weekend and it was sooo good.
Well, this is just a few of the places and dishes I have tried. I may list some more, if I find this was helpful to you all. Please comment on any good places you have been and what you found that was good!
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