Best Gluten-Free Restaurants
One of my favorite dining memories happened at Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe over pancakes. I was taking my friend, who suffers from celiac disease, out for breakfast. I didn’t tell her where we were going ahead of time. Not knowing about Jewel’s, she walked in with trepidation. A glass case filled with delicious looking baked treats suggested I had been inconsiderate of her needs. She probably felt an attack coming on just from looking. We walked to the counter, and my friend said, “I have celiac disease, do you have a separate gluten-free restaurant menu?” The server responded that everything is gluten-free and there aren’t even gluten goods in the bakery and restaurant. My friend jumped. To be able to eat without any worry whatsoever was a rarity. After her first bite of “The Best Pancakes You’ve Ever Laid Eyes On,” she began to cry. She hadn’t been able to experience pancakes like this in almost a decade since her diagnosis. Fluffy, light, rich pancakes – without the searing pain. To see the joy she was able to have from pancakes is something I’ll never forget.
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Most of us are lucky enough to live without dietary restrictions. We may choose to exclude certain items from our diet, but consuming them won’t land us in the Emergency Room. When we hear “vegan restaurant” or “gluten-free bakery,” we don’t think, “thank goodness I can finally eat in peace.” A lot of us think – and I’m just being honest here – “Mmm, plants/cardboard.” But what about our friends with celiac disease? Or our friends who have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance? We should all be able to enjoy a great meal together. Then there are those who insist their dish be prepared gluten-free while simultaneously asking for additional (regular) bread. These people are not our friends. They are the worst people ever, and I promise you, they exist. Don’t take them out to eat – but the friends from the first two categories, take them to these awesome gluten-free restaurants where the food is so good, you won’t even realize you’re eating gluten-free.
Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe
After the story above, this should be no surprise. Owner/Chef Julie Moreno and her staff have built quite the reputation among the gluten-free community. They don’t hide that they’re a gluten-free restaurant, but first-timers unaware of their specialty are often shocked that they are eating gluten-free. That’s when you know you’re in a good spot.
For more info visit jewelsgfcafe.com
They’re not an exclusively gluten-free restaurant, but Tryst Café offers extensive gluten-free options on all their menus. They go to great lengths to avoid cross-contamination in their kitchen. When asking people who eat gluten-free where their favorite places are, you will often hear Tryst come up.
For more info visit dev.trystcafe.com
Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen
If you haven’t been to Picazzo’s in awhile, it’s time to give them another visit. Back in the day, I visited Picazzo’s short-lived Surprise location multiple times and was always underwhelmed. Man, have they stepped their game up since then. I recently went and tried multiple items from every section of the menu. Home runs galore. Everything from quinoa bowls to lasagna – and, of course, pizza.
For more info visit picazzos.com
These are our favorite places to bring friends who avoid gluten, but let’s hear from you. If you don’t have gluten in your diet, where do you bring your friends who do? What restaurant best caters to your dietary restrictions? Let us know in the comments.
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Find Tony Pontecorvo online at @disguyyy