Where to eat Gluten Free?

I’ve had some newly diagnosed, paranoid people ask me if I quit eating out once I was diagnosed. No, I did not. We travel a ton and have a pretty hectic schedule during the week. I do tend to frequent restaurants I have been to previously and don’t venture out to try the “newest hot spot” very often. At least, until I have done some research and stopped by to ask questions without my kids in tow. While I’m willing to walk out of a restaurant, my kids are not quite as forgiving once they are hungry.

We are very fortunate to have great options in our area. I recently traveled to the back woods of Tennessee, the land of breaded and fried food. That experience left me in tears and very hungry. Not all cities are as accommodating to our seemingly, trend based diet.

Here are some of my regular spots in the Indy area. There are a variety, including quick pick-up and some fancy. There are more restaurants than you think that can accommodate. Many just don’t want to have a gluten free menu from a liability perspective.

  1. Rice Cooker – Zionsville, IN

They make the food from scratch and have a family member who is gluten free. Both are really handy when you are trying to avoid being poisoned. They know what gluten is, how to cook amazing food that is flavorful and gluten free and I’ve had things there that no other restaurant can make like hot n sour soup, general tsao’s and fried rice with molasses.

2. Mitchell’s Fish Market

Amazing flavorful options on an actual gluten free menu. They even have salads that are offered on the gluten free menu that aren’t on the regular menu. And they have bartenders who are knowledgeable about gluten free alcohol.

3. Ted’s Montana Grill

This is more of a salad place or burger without the bun option here. The big win is they do have dedicated gluten free frier, so if you want some fries, it’s the place to go.

4. Kona Grill 

They have recently revamped the menu to include sushi and select dishes that are more creative than steamed veggies and chicken.

5. Chipotle

Grab a bowl and build it how you want it. They even have wrap your own tacos. You pick the ingredients and corn tortillas and make them as you go.

6. PF Chang’s

If you want to have an experience that is much like everyone else, this is the place to visit. And the fact that they are all over the country helps loads too. They offer a fantastic standard gluten free menu with loads of options and even have gluten free soy sauce on hand. (No more carrying it in my purse, bonus!)

7. Jason’s Deli

This place offers an amazing organic salad bar with loads of options. Naturally, you skip the pasta salad, croutons, crackers and obvious gluten containing options. Their staff is very knowledgeable should you have questions about the ingredients. They also offer baked potatoes which you can fill with scrumptious choices and sub gluten free bread on their sandwiches. Just make sure they know you want it all to be gluten free when you order.

Keep in mind, what they offer is a “gluten sensitive” menu. This means they don’t have dedicated space and they do not accept liability for gluten free.

8. McAlister’s Deli

Salads without croutons, baked potatoes, vegan chili, and more. Stay away from anything with an asian dressing as it will contain either soy sauce or terriaki. Both have wheat ingredients. Ask questions and make sure to let them know you need it gluten free.

9. Zoup

This place rocks in my book. So many options. They change up their offerings each day so it’s not stagnant. They clearly label what is gluten free, vegetarian, low fat and dairy free. They do not offer gluten free bread, maybe some day!

10. Hardee’s

Although they are not as prevalent as McD’s, they are the best fast food restaurant on road trips. I recommend downloading their app so you can map out your stops in advance. All of their meat is 100% meat with no fillers. As well, any sandwich can be low carb-wrapped in lettuce and paper so you can actually eat it in the car.

Be sure to order with regular (non-beer) cheese. They offer Budweiser cheese. Yikes!

11. Maggiano’s

Oh, so good and how often can you say that you went out for Italian with Celiac? Ask for their gluten free pasta and they will make a dish to enjoy there and one to take home too. Although they can’t do ravioli or lasagna, they have loads of options that will satisfy.

12. Cooper’s Hawk

They offer gluten free bread at the tables, desserts that are not just berries or creme brulee and creative, flavorful entrees on an extensive gluten free menu that will actually leave you a bit confused as to what to order.

13. Season’s 52

This is a fancy option for a special occasion, they offer flat bread pizzas, salads, an assortment of entrees and desserts. Be certain to specify gluten free when ordering.

14. Fogo de chao

Another fancy option that I highly recommend if you have the appetite! Worth the price for a fancy – no kids – night out. Loads of options on the salad bar, the bread is Brazilian so it naturally doesn’t have gluten, rather tapioca. However, I always ask when I go in case they change the recipe. They can identify the 2-3 options of meat that are not gluten free and all the others are flavorful, satisfying and filling.

15. Scotty’s Brewhouse  (multiple locations)

Who doesn’t like a place where they give you a hand towel as a napkin? That just screams “great burger” (on a gluten free bun, no less). They have a fun gluten free menu with options for the kids too. No dedicated frier so skip the fries (maybe some day) but there are several other options and they are great about subbing to accommodate.

16. Harry & Izzy’s

This is one of the more creative gluten free menus. Chef Dave put some of his culinary flavor in this menu and it shows. They have pizza, burgers with gluten free buns,  dedicated fryer for fries, creative salads, St Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail and a lot of high end gluten free alcohol options. Check it out!

17. Which wich

This is a great alternative lunch place, as they give the option for any of their sandwiches to become a lettuce wrap or a salad. Their convenient bag based order system ensures that your order will end up exactly as you have requested and you don’t have to create the awkward atmosphere of yelling all of your unique requests in a busy shop.

18. Divvy 

This place is cozy and quaint. Bonus for parents who are leaving their kids at home, no kids are allowed so you won’t have to dine with other peoples kids on your night of reprieve. Or if you don’t have them, you will continue to be well rested and not have to eat with my kids.

Everything on their menu is clearly marked if gluten free or vegan. One menu. One labeling system. No awkward requests for special menus. Love it. Not to mention the locally sourced, creative menu items and fantastic out-of-the-box desserts.

19. Tuscanos Brazilian Grill

Much like Fogo de chao but a lower price point and inviting family dining atmosphere. Nearly everything is gluten free (except the Brazilian bread is not) and the staff is VERY knowledgeable.

20. Chili’s

Sit down at the table and log onto the little computer tablet for access to the allergy reference menu. I go there for the baked potato soup. No dedicated frier for chips, fries or anything else. No gluten free buns. Just go there for unlimited soup and salad. 😉

21. Authentic Mexican Food (by many names)

Most food made with corn (masa) flour. However, be careful. Many seasonings contain wheat and it’s hard to communicate to find out if their brand has it. As well, some enchilada sauce contains wheat. (Locally, I like La Hacienda and Los Toros)

22. Chinese Restaurants (by many names)

They can make any dish with white sauce (i.e. Moo goo gai pan). It’s gluten free. When in doubt just say “white sauce.” Since it’s often hard to communicate gluten, stay away from anything breaded, fried, with brown sauce (soy sauce) and opt for rice noodles, usually mei fun on the menus.

23. Jimmy John’s

Much like Which wich, they will allow you to order any of their sandwiches as wraps. Bonus is the freaky fast delivery and online ordering system.

A lot of places claim to be gluten free but all they do is leave off the bun. Most don’t even have dedicated fryers for french fries. There is a big difference between, “can I eat anything?” and “am I going to enjoy my gluten free meal.”

There are a lot of restaurants that pop up on the apps like “Find me Gluten Free”. Many are on there because they have great marketing departments, not gluten free food. Use caution. Ask questions. Read the reviews, I find these to be super helpful. If you are celiac or allergic, TELL THEM! I always stress the fact that I am not on a fad diet and I get sick if I eat it. This helps them to understand the severity and most servers will be either scared or responsive and get a manager/chef to talk with you.

For more options, check out (and download) the FIND ME GLUTEN FREE app.

Do you have favorites that aren’t listed? Please comment below and share with us.


Look kids, Big Ben and a Bakery

Regardless of what low calorie, sugar free, celery based, clean living, I-hope-to-poop-again-someday diet that I decide to go on, I have trouble passing up a bakery if they pass my allergy free muster.

Of all the adventures my family and I have been on, the one scouting for the best gluten free donut shop was my favorite! Most cities are lucky to have one within a hundred mile radius. Chicago has about a dozen within the city limits. After visiting them all and taking a sampling, we landed on Do-rite as our donut home of choice. Now, every time we visit we buy a dozen (or two) and freeze them. Yes, it’s worth $29.95. Yes, I will pay for delivery to my hotel. Download their app, it makes it that much easier.

From the halls of hotels in Nevada to the shores of Maui, we find our countries allergy free baked goods in the air, on land and sea; first to find and right our tummies, and to find their bathrooms clean. We are proud to claim the title of eating allergy free. (Maybe not as noble as the Marines, but our plight is fought and won with much determination.)

Yes, we eat out. Yes, we eat when we travel. I’m not that big fan of a protein/granola bars and my son is allergic to peanut butter so when we venture out, we tend to use the “Find me Gluten Free” app. It has been pretty reliable if you take into consideration the reviews of patrons and I know there are others breaking into the market like “Gluten Free World” app. The more resources we have, the better so log on, download them, use them and make sure to give feedback for others.

My key items I look for when traveling are #1 exclusive gluten free, this way I know they didn’t take chicken and rake the sauce off to create a menu therefore it’s more likely yummy. #2 vegan offerings because my little man needs dairy and egg free too. #3 is it open? Duh! This may seem like a no-brainer but I wish I had a pair of Louboutin’s for every shop I’ve gone to that had a three-day-a-week schedule with weekends and full moons off. #4 What is the star rating? And read comments since some people think that the wait staff needs to be “impressive” for it to be worth eating there. (what does that mean, anyway?) #5 does it have a “safe for celiac” rating?

Don’t be afraid to eat out with allergies. Just don’t be afraid to ask questions. And be confident enough to let the server, manager and cook (if necessary) know that you are not on a fad diet and this is necessary for your health. There are so many amazing restaurants, bakeries and pastry shops out there just waiting for you. Be safe but be adventurous!