When you’re eating gluten AND gum free, it’s important to know where you can eat. Not every restaurant will actually be supportive of your dietary restrictions, and I’ve found some that are downright awful about it.
Then there are restaurants where you can ask all you want, but no one will really be able to tell you what’s in the food. Or you can make an assumption that the corn chips really are just corn, and not fried in the same oil as your neighbor’s chimichanga, but you can’t tell for certain.
It’s hard. Going out to dinner with friends can feel like a full-time job. So I wanted to make a list of restaurants I’ve found that are gluten- and gum-free friendly, where I can eat without the fear of getting sick or the feeling that I’m a lesser person than my gluten-eating friends. I don’t eat out very often, so I haven’t been able to really find a lot of great places, yet, but I’ll be updating it when I find restaurants worth sharing!
- Chik-Fil-A – While I might not be able to have any more of their golden fried chicken strips (tear!), they actually publish a gluten free menu to give out. And they’re knowledgeable about what’s on it. Surprisingly their grilled chicken tastes really good, and they’ll make a lettuce wrap without a second thought. Their french fries are cooked in a completely separate fryer than their chicken. In fact, the girl I asked about it was horrified that anyone would actually cook both in the same oil. Their dressings are all pre-packaged (as are their sauces), so if you’re sensitive to gums I’d avoid them. But it’s nice to know that I can get decent gluten free food in a pinch. And their fries are yum!
- Chocolat – I can’t speak for any of their savory food as I haven’t yet come for a full meal. But their gluten free sweet options were plentiful (macaroons, flourless chocolate cake, creme brûlée, etc.) and they have a beautiful gelato bar featuring a totally gum-free ice cream experience (actually way better than ice cream, and yes I asked that they check with the chef for me and it was verified that they don’t use any gum). They have a ton of flavors too!
- Joe’s Crab Shack – We were coming back from a busy weekend day and we were starving. My husband suggested fish for dinner, and I asked why not crab… After all, we’ve been going here for years for their incredibly messy but well-cooked crab buckets. As we were sitting down and staring at our menus, I realized how excellent this restaurant is for those of us who need to eat gluten free. Instead of having to order off a special menu, just point to a steampot. May I suggest the snow crab with garlic herbs?
- Outback Steakhouse – Most steakhouses are good choices for GF eaters. After all, how hard is it to make a steak and potatoes without wheat (I always check though because some people dredge their steaks in flour!)? Anyway, I loved that Outback actually published a very well-thought out GF menu AND encouraged their guests to bring their own GF bread if they wanted to. I still bring my own dressing if I go here, but it made me feel much better that the waitress understood the menu she was bringing out to me, and didn’t blink an eyelash as I asked for my salad dry. Server education goes a long way, people! 🙂
- Pho Fusion – There are a ton of pho places in Clairemont, but this has to be my favorite. Their food is always fresh, fast, and high-quality. We always get the chicken pho, which comes with a pleasantly spicy ginger sauce on the side (I dump it in the bowl and ask for more!), but they also have hand-wrapped-to-order spring rolls. Almost all their food is naturally gluten free, but if you have a question about something, the owners are incredibly nice and attentive.
- Poway Sushi – This is the only sushi place I know of that actually has a gluten free menu. And tamari sauce available to their patrons (in place of soy sauce, which contains wheat). They’ll gladly make rolls with lump crab (since a lot of imitation krab contains gluten too). And their food? To die for. Also? They get it. They have a Gluten Free page on their website. And a disclaimer about cross-contamination. They don’t have a dedicated gluten free fryer, so if you’re quite sensitive, I’d stay away from the fried items. But they say it up front. And they have lots of choices. I love it!
- Urban Plates – Organic farm-to-table cuisine served in a cafeteria-style modern rustic setting. They offer a ton of gluten free lunch/dinner options that don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself. They also have a quite-tasty chocolate chip pecan cookie that’s made without gums (I had the cashier check with the chef!) and a flourless chocolate cake. Oh yes, and since their salad dressings are made from scratch on-site, they are also gum-free! Relatively reasonably priced entrees are all $10, with mix-and-match sides. Now if they’d only add some gluten-and-gum-free bread to their menu!
- Z Pizza – Also an incredibly vegan- and allergy-friendly restaurant, Z Pizza is the only place I know of where I can get a take-out pizza with gluten free crust that I can actually eat. And it’s amaaaaaaazing. Seriously. Slightly sweet, super crisp and light, and completely gum-free! Oh yeah, and you can pick up a piece and not have it fall apart. AND they cook their GF pizzas in their own pan and cut them with separate utensils. Love it! Their stuff isn’t cheap, but it’s all organic and all incredibly tasty. They also publish all their ingredients online – which makes doing my homework very easy! My husband (who doesn’t need to eat gluten free) LOVES their GF crust. Also, they make at least SOME of their salad dressings in-house. I’ve been served one that was surely xanthan-laden (luckily I’ve been an on-the-side girl since childhood!), and was a bit gun-shy, but was talking to the manager of the location near USD and he said that they usually make their dressings from scratch. I’d definitely check with the chef when you’re ordering, though, to be sure, if you’re sensitive to gums like me, especially since the La Jolla location uses a big bottle of ready-made gum-laden dressing (you know I asked to see it!).