Gluten Free Restaurants
Dining Out at Gluten Free Restaurants
While there are no completely gluten free restaurants, there are many eateries across the U.S. that are making a concerted effort to create a safe eating environment for people with gluten intolerance. Many of these restaurants provide a separate allergen menu, a gluten free section on their regular menu, or clear labeling for menu items that don’t contain gluten.
According to AllergyEats.com, the top five most gluten-free-friendly chains are (click for menus):
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Outback Steakhouse
- P.F. Chang’s (click gluten free tab)
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
- Romano’s Macaroni Grill
For seafood, the Bonefish Grill made the top ten list, and the Mellow Mushroom is a favorite for gluten free pizza. These are just a few of the dozens of restaurant chains and fast food franchises that now have gluten free options.
Challenges of Eating Out Gluten Free
It’s important to understand that restaurants rely on their suppliers to provide accurate information about each ingredient—including any cross-contact with wheat. Contamination can also occur in the restaurant kitchen if utensils, preparation surfaces, and other items are not cleaned after contact with gluten. Also, menu items and ingredients can change at any time.
There are a number of common issues celiac diners run into at restaurants. For example, corn chips at a Tex-Mex restaurant are probably not gluten free if they are fried in oil that is used to fry flautas, sopapillas, and other items that contain wheat. Coatings, marinades, salad dressings, and sauces (particularly soy sauce) often contain gluten as an additive. Imitation meats including fake bacon bits and crabmeat are also unsafe.
Double-checking the menu and asking questions about food preparation is always a good idea. Bringing along gluten-free restaurant cards for the server to read or take to the chef can make it easier for them to identify safe menu items.