Dining Out while Gluten Free
By: Megan T.
You have a gluten-free kitchen at home…but do your favorite restaurants?
Luckily, with the demand for gluten-free options on the rise, restaurants are offering more and more gluten-free-friendly dishes on their menus! Dining out today is much easier than it was five years ago. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many asterisks or “GF” notations you can now find on menus throughout the country. Servers are more aware of gluten sensitivities and many chefs will follow the necessary procedures to avoid cross-contamination. Here are a few guidelines to follow when visiting your favorite restaurant to see if they’ve adopted to the new gluten free world and help ensure your meal will indeed be gluten free.
- Find Me Gluten Free (Udi’s employee favorite)
- Gluten Freed
- Gluten Free Restaurant Cards
- Gluten Free Fast Food
- iEatOut Gluten Free & Allergen Free
- Gluten Free Registry
- You can also use Urban Spoon, Foursquare, or Yelp and simply search for “gluten free”
Second, your server is a great resource to inform you about the restaurant’s allergy-friendly menu options and kitchen practices. Here are a few important questions you will want to ask him or her:
- I am gluten-free, can you accommodate me? Not only is this polite, it will also give you a feel for how much your server knows about gluten-free. If they point you to the salad options (which, you notice, have croutons and thick dressings), it may be time to ask a few more questions! If they hand you a dedicated gluten-free menu or “Celiac” menu- you are all set!
- Does your kitchen have a station dedicated to gluten-free preparation? This question is quite revealing- if the answer is “Yes”, chances are, the chef is not only familiar with gluten-free foods, but is actively avoiding cross-contamination. Look for an explanation here; most servers will proudly outline the precautions the restaurant takes. Your server may have to check with the chef, which shows their desire to accommodate you. If your server seems hesitant with an answer you may want to dig a little deeper.
- Are you familiar with cross- contamination? Look for solid answers here. A good server will explain how the chef avoids cross-contamination and the kitchen procedures they abide by.
Although your server should be your main source of information, there are also key words it dish descriptions that often contain gluten and should warrant a red flag:
Marinades, gravy, sauces and dressings also pose potential “gluten traps”. Some restaurants will have separate fryers and certified GF ingredients, sauces, and toppings; just make certain of this before ordering.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you feel comfortable eating at the restaurant. Your gut may tell you something long before you consume your meal. Remember, restaurants are in business to serve and accommodate as much as they possibly can. More often than not, they’ll be more than happy to ensure that your meal safe, delicious, and enjoyable!