TIP: What I say to food servers when ordering gluten free (my gluten free dining verbal blurb or vlurb):
"I apologize in advance for being high maintenance, but it's not by choice. I'm celiac (which rings their alarm bells) and I am very sensitive, so I will get a giant, pregnant, painful belly and become very sick if bread, crumbs, or anything I'm 'allergic' to (I realize celiac is NOT an allergy, but this is the word the general public understands best) touches my plate, so clean gloves, prep area, utensils, and pans are needed for my order. If they make his food, burrito, etc. (referring to my boyfriend, who is not gf), and then touch mine, I'll get sick. Please tell the kitchen staff in person."
**RESTAURANT**METHOD OF GF LABELING***MY FOOD ORDER****MY 2 CENTS**
Some restaurants listed are chains, some I've noted the location. The blue/purple print are clickable LINKS to menus, my realtime food snapshots, or more extensive reviews on the place. I've lived in CA, VA, and GA during my gluten free life, so most listings are from those areas.
******CUPCAKERY AND BAKERY******
SALLY'S BAKERY (Sandy Springs, GA)-all gluten free!!- I like it. They have samples of treats out for you to try before you buy. The CRAW bread is with cinnamon, raisins, almond milk, and walnuts. It's their specialty, and the other two people in the shop with me also bought some. The hamburger buns were mediocre. They aren't pre-cut. The texture is thick, not airy enough, and kind of dry. Mine were in the same bag as the CRAW bread, so they tasted cinnamon-y, which isn't what you want with a burger. Over the holidays, It is worth is to buy the yummy red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting- see pic here. I ordered an apple danish cake thing, which was moist and excellent. I like their cookies and things, but I buy non-frozen or make my own, because there is nothing mind-blowing. I stick to Pure Knead, Rudi, Udi, or Kinnickinnick frozen buns and bread.
BUZZ CAFE (Alexandria, VA)- gf options-brownies, p.b.bombe, cupcakes, etc. Their cupcakes are moist and good on the cake side, but their frosting is high on the sugar, low on the butter, and cocoa powder flavor as opposed to chocolate flavor. Satisfactory cupcake, but the pb bombe and other confections are better choices. Great location- right across the street from Rustico, where they serve GF pizza.
RED VELVET CUPCAKERY (Wash.,D.C.-7TH ST)-one gf/vegan cupcake, the BLACK VELVET. TO DIE FOR. Lightly crisp on the top of the cake, moist, flavorful cake, and buttery, yummy, chocolate, decadent frosting. I savor every morsel. #1 best cupcake EVER! See my full review here.
DUNWOODY BAKERY (Dunwoody, GA)- all gluten free- Not recommended. See full review here.
GIGI'S CUPCAKES-multiple locations in Atlanta area-I don't like their cupcakes. See my full review and pics here. It's unfortunate, because there is one right by my boyfriend's work.
GIGI'S CUPCAKES-multiple locations in Atlanta area-I don't like their cupcakes. See my full review and pics here. It's unfortunate, because there is one right by my boyfriend's work.
*****FAST FOOD and/or BURGERS*****
WENDY'S- Allergen List- I get the chili, baked potato, or Frosty- I think you can get a burger without a bun, but I never do. NO FRIES
CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE-gf menu-We dine here regularly. There is a sportsbar and it is loud and fun there. I eat the salads, burgers with gluten free buns, bbq chicken sandwich, and fish. It's all good. If you feel like indulging, they have an appetizer that's like freshly fried potato chip nachos. See my pics and full review here.
IN N OUT- word of mouth- I get the cheeseburger with no pickles or special sauce, protein-style (wrapped in lettuce), ketchup, mustard, onion, and tomato. Sometimes I bring my own bun.
FARMER BOYS-word of mouth/working with manager-I get the FRIES (double check for designated fryer at your location), and a lettuce-wrapped bacon cheeseburger with no pickles.
FIVE GUYS-word of mouth- I get the FRIES! and the baby burger wrapped in lettuce with grilled mushrooms, onions, etc.
CHIC-FIL-A-gf menu- I get the grilled chicken wrapped in lettuce with tomato (pretty good, for fast food standards), and waffle fries (soft and awesome!). I get the condiments indiv. wrapped from the self-service area and put on mayo, bbq, etc. My stomach is sensitive to the side items I've tried.
YEAH! BURGER (Atlanta-Virginia Highlands & West End on Howell Mill)-gf menu-I recommend this place. GF onion rings, fries, buns, hot dogs, etc. The West End location grills the buns and has better service. The buns fall apart, but who cares? Good food, diner atmosphere. I also found a coupon when I checked in on my cell phone on Facebook and Foursquare. Full review here with pics.
FARM BURGER(Buckhead & Decatur, GA)-gf notations on regular menu- I like the Pure Knead gf bun. It is not chalky at all. Soft bun that tastes good and only falls apart when it gets saturated by the gooey toppings I ordered to be slopped on it. Here is another reviewer's take. My pic here.
ARBY'S-allergen list-I get meat with no bun.
BURGER KING-allergen list-I only drink the amazing Frozen Coke (if they have it blended right). I got cc here once in 2008, and I have not eaten here since. Fries are gf if the fryer is designated.
SONIC-allergen list-I choose not to eat here since I prefer other burgers.
See also (below): Moe's Southwest, Jason's Deli, Chipotle
EGG HARBOR CAFE-Sandy Springs, GA- GF menu-My vote for best gf breakfast menu! Offers gf pancakes (not listed on menu), chiquaquilles (tortilla/egg dish), lettuce wrap club, frittatas, omelettes, scrambles, skillets, Eggs Benedict, grits, salads, and what I chose: Geneva Rosti-baked omelet with hash browns inside. Great menu, great food, and the service was...impeccable! They leave a mini coffee pot and water carafe on your table so you don't have to wait for refills. I bring my own gf bread to eat with their homemade jam.
DENNY'S-allergen list- I order the build-your-own breakfast with 4 choices, any of these: sausage, bacon, eggs, yogurt, fruit, hash browns. Attentive servers are helpful. I think they're used to the high-maintence senior crowd who can't have sugar or cholesterol or salt.
SILVER DINER- Healthier Selections Menu- GF Van's Waffles n sausage- Once I ate here with great results, and the second time (at a different location) I got very sick. So, it's risky.
ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE-gf notations on reg menu-Some of the franchises serve gluten free pancakes. I get the HALF order of gf pancakes with lingonberries. I think the banana pancakes that my bf makes at home are better, but theirs are good
(RANDOM)DINERS-No gf menu--aka "making do"-I will often eat at random diners as long as I trust the server is listening to my needs. I tell them about my "allergy", cc, and order an omelet or eggs to be cooked in a clean pan, with clean utensils. Sometimes I'll order hash browns or grits, after much interrogation. Bacon, I have to ask if they set it on bread to drain the grease. Fruit, juice, or yogurt round-out the meal. Remember, celiacs HATE IHOP with a passion- they even put gluteny pancake batter in their EGGS-not recommended! My full review and pictures here.
see also: Whole Foods (omelet maker-person)
LITTLE AZIO'S-gf pizza crust and pasta options on regular menu-I had the gf pizza -$2 upcharge. It cost $11 and was the size of a large dinner plate. The quality and freshness of the toppings is amazing! Yum! The crunchy, rolled edge of the crust is great and the texture of the crust is neither crumbly, nor gummy. The flavor of the crust has room for improvement- needs olive oil n spices, but it is a great, uncrumbly vehicle for toppings! I visited the East Atlanta location in a trendy, little shopping block. Inside Azio's is a casual, contemporary atmosphere. You order at the counter.
Z PIZZA-gf notations on reg menu-gf crust and toppings- I get the California plus pepperoni. Organic veggies are good, but I always add salt, naughty me. The crust is thin, yet crispy. Above average gf pizza.
UNO CHICAGO GRILLE-gf menu-I've been there frequently and had the gf pizza. It's average. The crust is a bit dry for me and I need to dip it in marinara. I hate watching everyone else get the deep dish, when the gf crust is bland and weird texture. I've had the stuffed chicken thing and it was amazing, but they brought it with a gluteny breadstick and I had to send it back, and my bf was finished eating by the time the new one came. I usually go here when family is visiting and we're out all day and I'm not going to eat a Lara Bar while everyone's getting pizza.
BJ's BREWERY(California)-gf menu-Above average gf pizza. Plus they have potatoes, soup, salmon, and REDBRIDGE BEER. I love it. They now offer a gluten free pizookie dessert fresh-baked cookie!
PIZZA FUSION-(California, Florida, etc.)-gf notations on reg menu-gf crust-ordered pepperoni and veggies on my pizza. Was good. Seemed quite pricey. Fantastic cake-like gluten free brownie. Here is my full review with pictures. Order at the counter, very casual, similar to a fast-food atmosphere.
LOU MALNATI'S PIZZA (Chicago)-gf notations on reg menu-gf crust-The crust is flattened sausage in lieu of bread. Too much meat for me, but they will ship it to you. Again, I hate seeing everyone else dig in to the deep dish.Sad.
QUATTRO FROMAGGIO (Alexandria, VA)-gf notations on reg menu-gf crust-Ordered pepperoni and veggie toppings. Got sick. Do not recommend. Workers do not seem trained in cc.
MELLOW MUSHROOM (Atlanta)-gf pizza crust-They were out of crusts, so I went to the other location and the pizza was good, but I got sick, but I was traveling and eating lots of stuff I'm not used to, so I have no idea what made me sick. Clueless servers.
BLUE MOON PIZZA (Atlanta area)- gf notations on menu- they have gf appetizers! The pizza is good, by gf standards (the texture of a rice crust is NEVER going to compare to gluteny flour crust), the toppings and cheese are high quality, and they have gf Green's and Redbridge beer. I dine here frequently. My full review is here.
BUCKHEAD PIZZA: gf pizza crust available on reg menu-multiple locations in Atlanta area-I like the gf pizza here. The crust is not too thin and doesn't get too mushy. They serve gluten free Redbridge beer. It tends to take a long time and be busy and loud there, sports bar-like. One time I got a burned pizza that took almost an hour. Some locations have entertainment at night. They also have a gf flat bread that is the same pizza dough. My photo here.
GOOD GRUB SUBS-Alpharetta, GA-non-gf items marked on reg menu- I like their sandwiches. They use a large size of Udi bread and offer Udi cookies and stuff. They also have a gluten free hoagie bread. The bread can be a bit dry and crumbly, but it is good as gluten free bread goes. The toppings are great. I think they use Boar's Head, but not sure. Mufaletta gluten free? Yep! Wide variety of sandwiches here! My pic here.
JASON'S DELI-gf menu (online menu is incomplete)-I got the baked potato with bbq pork, which was tasty. I tried a soup, which was very average. I've had sandwiches (giant) (the bread is wrapped and comes with its own clean plastic knife so cc risk is minimized) that come with potato chips. There are salad bar options, but I steer clear, due to my cross-contamination hallucinations. Free frozen yogurt-like dessert that is good. My full review with photos here.
SUBWAY-allergen list- I have them change gloves, get new, untouched spinach, get the greek salad with vinegar and oil
PANERA BREAD-gf tags on reg menu-I got some sort of soup. I hated it there because everyone else is eating rolls,breadbowls,pastries, and really filling meals, while I've got soup and an apple. Plus, since it's bakery-like, it just feels like flour is in the air. I'm weird like that.
WHOLE FOODS-tags on foods-I eat stuff from the salad bar area and fish area if it looks uncontaminated. The ingredients are all listed on the card describing the food. They often have an omelet maker-person for breakfast, too!
see also: fast food; Chili's Soup&Salad Express Lunch, Chipotle (below)
BONEFISH GRILL-gf menu-I like it here. I get the steamed mussels with white wine sauce, any fish or shrimp or lobster, the Florida Cobb salad, and the brownie. I got sick once when I had the butter sauce-too rich for me? This place is ubiquitous, so often available when traveling.
LEGAL SEAFOOD-celiac menu-I like that they bring you GF ROLLS. They are on the dry side, but I still like them. I put packets of butter on them. I like the calamari-fun to have "breaded" food. I did not like the styrofoam-like "seafood chips" (picture here) that came with the crab dip. The dip was tasty, but heavy on the cream cheese. The gf clam chowder is a broth and leaves something to be desired. I did not like the "scrod", the breadcrumbs on it were chalky. The salads come with gf croutons, which is cool. The sides are boring rice or veg and I haven't tried the chocolate mousse.
P.F. CHANG'S -EXTENSIVE gf menu!- Singapore street NOODLES!, lemon scallops, fried rice, brown rice, some spicy beef thing, egg drop soup, snap peas, chocolate dome dessert, chocolate mousse- I like all of the above. I'm never disappointed here, and I feel "normal" since I can eat food that has sauces and I'm not oogling what everyone else has like I do when mine is a dry piece of fish or meat and a veg. I'm not crazy about their gf soy sauce here (salty), so I'm not big on the gf lettuce wraps. I'd rather use tamari. Actually I do feel "left out" when the server mesmerizes people with the gluteny sauce-swirling bit at the beginning. Well-trained servers. Update: I now ask for the gf posticker sauce instead of soy sauce. I also hate their new lobster dish.
LAVENDER BISTRO (Lawrenceville, GA)-gf menu-I thought the place was modern and elegant. The server was funny, knowledgeable and on-point. I ordered orange chicken, which was delightfully breaded, and had a thick sauce with strawberries and mango, but a bit too sweet. I still enjoyed it. The calamari was very good- similar to the gluten version in most places. The fact that most dishes contain MSG was alarming. It was a fun event socializing with others without worrying about after-effects, cross-contamination, ordering miscommunication,etc. The price was reasonable as well. For pic and restaurant link, look here.
*****MEXICAN/SOUTHWEST*****ROSA MEXICANO-gf lunch menu, gf dinner menu-This place is a tried-and-true favorite found in many cities, great while traveling, although somewhat of a tourist trap. The staff is knowledgeable, the food is upscale-ish, the tableside-prepared guacamole is fabulous (just be first to spoon some before the others contaminate it with their gluteny corn chips). If you feel like troubling the kitchen, they will sometimes fry you some corn chips in a pan, since the fryer is not designated. I've had most things on the menu and it is all tasty.
TIN LIZZY'S CANTINA-gf menu-Sandy Springs, GA-chain- This place is loud and sportsbar-like with inside and patio seating. They served Tostitos chips in an unopened bag as a gluten free alternative to the "regular" chips. I ordered pulled pork skillet, see photo here. It was flavorful, spicy, filling, but I'd leave off the pickled jalapenos next time. The food was good and I'll be back.
CHILI'S-gf menu -see date on menu, it changes frequently-I've been ticked off there because I went in to get bbq ribs I always got, but they had changed the menu the week before and didn't have the gf sauce anymore. They will usually print out the gf menu for you. I usually go there for the Lunch Bottomless Soup and Salad with coworkers. I like the chili lime soup. I did get glutened once (but I ate there often), as their staff are hit n miss. Cheap, easy for groups to agree upon, easy for lunch.
MOE'S SOUTHWEST-(Georgia)-allergen list-I had the pork rice bowl and the dressing that comes with it is excellent. I did ask the preparer to use new gloves and a clean spoon and to take food from the untouched, back area of the bins to prepare mine. And...I felt fine after eating there- which is a great thing when you're driving in a car with 2 other officers, visiting parolees at their houses. The cool Coca Cola machine that you get to fill up your own soda with is fun, too! Sprite Zero is my hero!
CHIPOTLE-allergen list-I choose not to eat here for cc issues, including double-dipping of utensils used on flour tortillas into the same toppings used for all meals.
AUSTIN GRILL- chain-gf menu-We ate at the Alexandria, VA, location. We never went back. I had the ribs, which they brought out with the bread touching the other food and so I kept the plate until they re-made the whole thing. So, by the time it was done, I had watched my party eat and had to make them wait to watch me eat. It was mediocre and not worth the inherent risk eating out gluten free.
*****ITALIAN*****(see also: Pizza)
Ironically, Italian food is often easier to navigate than most cuisines, due to the ubiquitous beef carpaccio, caprese salad (tomato n mozzerella with basil and v and o), simple meat that's only marinated in olive oil and herbs, and seafood. Many offer gf pasta now!
PETER'S OF DUNWOODY-gf pasta, accommodations-Juicy, flavorful food. Just close your eyes to the terrible nineties decor and be prepared for the senior citizen crowd. I ordered the caprese salad, a word-of-mouth unbreaded chicken parmesan over gluten free pasta, and brought my own Against the Grain gluten free baguette. Nice meal, ugly atmosphere. No wait on a Friday night, though! Picture and full review here.
OLIVE GARDEN-gf menu-I always get the pasta (penne?) and it's fine. We get the salad, which is a splurge for me with all that oil. We get a side of croutons for my "bread boy"companion. They've been out of the pasta twice. The servers are usually clueless. They sometimes have Redbridge beer, but I'd rather drink calories from those fruity soda drinks they have. yum
OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY-gf menu-I get the pasta with mushroom or meat sauce and sausage added in and the salad with the creamy pesto dressing that's really flavorful! I've also had the chicken that was divine, and I'm not very big on chicken. The spumoni ice cream is quite nice. Excellent service.
CARRABA'S ITALIAN GRILL-gf menu-It's the worst menu-just their regular options ordered WITHOUT any sauce, topping, etc. Who wants a plain, "dry" chunk o chicken while you watch your friends eat lasagna? Would it kill them to keep some mango chutney or something uncontaminated for a topping?
FIGO PASTA-gf notations on regular menu-gf pasta-I wrote a lengthy review on this place and my computer froze and it didn't save. Will try again soon. They are rumored to have a gluten free meatball, but they didn't have it when I asked for it. Maybe I should've said I was a blogger? Kidding. I don't particularly recommend the joint, but it's not terrible. The Sandy Springs location is next door to a Gigi's Cupcakes and is quite small. Unable to locate my photo.
*****AMERICAN & "OTHER" ******
SUGO-Greek & Italian-gf menu-Winner for BEST GF MEATBALL in our book. It has fig in it, and it is AMAZING. This place is in a strip mall, but it has valet. It's an amalgamation of all sorts. It was instantly our favorite place in Atlanta, but unfortunately, since then the service and food have been hit-and-miss. Consistency should be the goal here. The restaurant group also owns Double Zero, Iberian Pig, and I think one more, all of which offer gluten free menus.
FOUR SEASONS BREWERY-gf offerings on regular menu-They brew their own gluten free microbrew beer (ok, a little fruity for my taste) and Mondays are supposed to be oriented toward gluten free diners. Back in 2010, Mondays had a totally gluten free menu and gf fried fish and chips, and the gf pizza was more traditional as seen here. That is what we expected when I dined here with my gluten free dinner club, but it was not like that. We got the special Monday paper menu, but it is no longer totally gf. No fish n chips, no designated fryer, just basic naturally gf items like fish tacos on corn tortillas, sturgeon and potatoes, and gf pizza- now made with a bluish gf crust as reviewed here. The gf offerings do come with sauces and spices, unlike some places that call regular items gluten free only by removing the flavor.
MELTING POT(fondue-Swiss)-gf menu- While the food is simple and tasty enough, there are so many things that we can't dip into the fondue pot, that your companions will always need their own pot, and frankly, I've only been there once because the entire time I was afraid my bf was going to get carried away in conversation and inadvertently dip into my pot with his sauce and bread-contaminated stick. Plus, I shot daggers at him when they offered the dessert part. I mean, all I'd get is fruit (which they served me in previous course) and he'd get rice krispie treats, brownies, marshmallows, biscotti, and a bunch of other stuff. He didn't DARE order dessert in front of me.
OUTBACK-gf menu-I always get the 9 oz steak and sweet potato. I got glutened by the veggies before and it wasn't a good thing. The veg has to be unseasoned. I like the chocolate brownie dessert, although it's rich and not cake-y, which is my preference. Luckily, the location in Roswell, Georgia, offers extensive gluten free options, like FRIED foods- including gluten free onion blossom, which is a rare experience in gf dining out.
FOGO DE CHAO (Brazilian)-manager will tour you thru buffet for gf options- I went to one in Chicago when they had plates off a menu, but now they have a buffet (cross-contamination an issue as they have tabouleh and other glutenous items) and men who tour the tables offering skewered meats. Fried plantains are great. Tasty. Pricey. Must try the Brazilian drink, Caipirinha, like a Brazilian mojito.
GLORY DAYS (Falls Church, VA)-gf menu-I get the honey bbq sauce with wings or ribs and mashed potatoes and Redbridge beer. It's great! It's very rowdy and sportsbar-like with TVs everywhere, good for football season.
BUFFALO WILD WINGS-allergen list-One had a designated fryer, but the other one did not. I get the wings with bones in. (Boneless are not gf) I get Honey BBQ sauce Pretty good. Fun to play trivia game there. Loud, dark, sportsbar atmosphere.
TED'S MONTANA GRILL- gf menu- I really like their food. Fresh and tasty. I get the bison steak or the prime rib (no au jus) and sweet potato, mashed or slaw. They have funny earth-friendly straws to sip.
D.B.A. Barbecue (Atlanta- Virginia Highlands)-word of mouth-I thought I was gonna watch everyone else eat because we were visiting for the weekend and my bf's friends were dying to take us here, and whadya know? The waitress spouts off that all the sauces and meats are gf. So I ate bbq and slaw. Y-U-M!!!! I have gone back for special occasions (bbq upsets Seth's acid reflux- so we avoid it on a regular basis), and never had an issue. Great service. Down-home atmosphere. I tried the Texas corn and it was gross, but I LOVE their PULLED PORK!
SEASONS 52-gf menu-They have tons of menus: garlic free, low sodium, etc. So, I didn't feel 'weird'. It was pricey and the portions seemed small to me. I had pork medallions, which was small, but good. Another time, all I could eat was a mediocre salad for a high price.
CHADWICK'S (DC/VA)-unofficial gf menu-The one I went to didn't have a desig. fryer, so no wings for me. I dined here frequently and got the cobb salad and sub in shrimp instead of chic. Honey Mustard dressing.
THE LIGHT HORSE (Alexandria,VA)-gf notations on reg menu-kind of expensive, but tasty, upscale, rich food and they do have Redbridge beer and Woodchuck Cider. I've been back.
ATLANTA BRAVES TURNER FIELD-Atlanta- GF booth in Section 106-They offer gluten free Redbridge beer, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs on gf buns, as well as gf snacks and baked goods. However, they run out of hot dogs every time, although it's usually after I get mine! For pics and full review see here.
MIMI'S CAFE-gf menu- Atlanta Perimeter Mall area-I don't eat here much (my bf doesn't like it), but when I do, I get the gf meatloaf or a salad. They have often made mistakes on my order, in CA and in GA, but I haven't been back since 2011, so the service could be better now. I also have a hard time staring at the ubiquitous gluteny bread baskets, since they offer my favorite, pumpernickel, which is hard to find gluten free.
IBERIAN PIG-Decatur, GA-gluten free menu-Spanish cuisine-I had the meat and cheese plate that is served on a wooden cutting board and I got sick. I didn't even think about the cc from the wooden board. I was probably drinking sangria and chatting away or something. Anyway, the I don't recall what I ordered, but it was tasty. The restaurant was loud and crowded. It's in the charming, little downtown area of Decatur. It's part of the same restaurant group as Double Zero, Sugo, etc. (all with gf menus).