If you don’t have an On The Border near you, I feel bad for you.
First off, it is delicious Mexican food. From the chips to the sizzling fajitas, everything tastes pretty authentic (Tex-Mex authentic, that is).
Better yet, they have gluten free options! And they are actually good about it. They do not just say it is gluten free, it actually is gluten free and very safe. The waiters are always educated and informed about allergies and intolerances and know what you can and can’t have. They also always assure to tell the chef so there is no cross contamination.
I seriously love this restaurant. If PF Changs did not exist, it would definitely be my favorite. (P.S. look out for a future post about P.F. Changs!) I have never had a problem with their food. It is one of the only restaurants I feel safe eating at. They even have gluten free mixed drink options which is a plus.
Now that I’m writing about it… I’m craving it. Better go now and get some! Talk to you soon!
Hey all! I know firsthand finding good gluten free restaurants is hard. It takes a while to find good ones that you can continuously go to and not have problems with. We all know it is a struggle and a journey to find your favorites, which we all have. I’ve even made a google map of my own favorites, which is below. Check it out and maybe you’ll see one that you have never tried!
Within the past few months, there has been a lot of talk in the gluten free community about Uno Chicago Grill and their gluten free menu. Other gluten free people I know were saying good things about it, and it received positive press. Hearing so many good things made me want to check it out myself. I just happened to be at the Deptford Mall recently, and there is an Uno’s close by, so I decided to stop by and try it. This was probably one of the worst decisions I have made in a while. I am still paying for it days later.
Even though it was a spur of the moment decision, I did do my research before going to the restaurant. I looked at the menu online, and their nutritional information. It did say on the website that the company cannot guarantee that everything gluten free will really be gluten free due to cross contamination. This should have been my first sign.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a friendly hostess and quickly seated. The staff was very nice and my waiter did know a lot about the gluten free foods. I informed him of my gluten allergy and he assured me everything would turn out okay. After looking at the menu, I decided on the gluten free veggie pizza. I was very excited to eat it seeing as how I haven’t really had pizza from a restaurant for the past four years.
The pizza arrived quickly and looked pretty appetizing. However, it was a little cold and had onions on it, which I told my waiter to leave off. And when I bit into it, I was not impressed. It was way too doughy and lacked taste. I could have made a better gluten free pizza by the frozen dough you can buy at the supermarket. Even though I was unimpressed by the pizza, I was not to mad about it. I had a good time out with friends and tried something new. However, right after I left I started to feel sick.
When a person with Celiac Disease or a gluten allergy consumes gluten, his or hers body goes crazy. It rejects the gluten, which can cause many things to happen, including many gross symptoms that I will spare you the details of. After i left the restaurant, I started experiencing some symptoms, so I automatically knew that the pizza I ate was not completely gluten free. It also takes days, and sometimes even weeks, for these symptoms to wear off. So here I am, days later, still sick. I think it is safe to say I was very disappointed with my Uno’s experience and will not be returning in the future.
Outback Steakhouse is probably one of my favorite restaurants of all time. My family and I used to go there quite frequently when I was younger. We would always start off with the delicious pumpernickel bread and Bloomin Onion, which was my absolute favorite part of going there. However, when I went gluten free we stopped eating there completely. My parents and the rest of my family felt it wouldn’t be fair for me to go and sit and watch them eat the things I missed most, while I waited for my plain grilled chicken and vegetables.
But that all changed about two years ago, when we discovered that Outback had a gluten free menu. Their gluten free menu has actually been around for more than two years but I had just not known about it. I was a little skeptical to try it, thinking it would just be very bland like other restaurants, but I was way off. The first item I tried on the gluten free menu was the Alice Springs Chicken, which was grilled chicken with cheese, bacon, and onions on top. It was amazing. After that, I was hooked.
The menu also has other numerous appetizing gluten free dishes, including Grilled Porkchops, Babyback Ribs, many different types of steaks, and my personal favorite- Filet and Lobster Tail. I only recently tried the filet and lobster a few weeks ago when my boyfriend took me to Outback for our anniversary. I usually don’t order things so decadent, but since it was a special occasion, I splurged a little. Anyone who has ever had lobster knows how tasty it is, and paired with the steak made it even better. The flavor on the two things was so obvious and mouth-watering, I could not believe it was gluten free.
I have yet to try everything on Outback’s gluten free menu, but I am pretty close. I enjoy everything I eat there and look forward to trying everything else. If any of my readers know any other gluten free restaurants I should try, let me know!
Take it from someone who is gluten free but loves dining out- it is hard! Just living a gluten free lifestyle in general is tough, from managing what you can and cannot eat, to where to buy your food, and who to trust to cook it is all a lot to handle. But throw in going to an unfamiliar restaurant and trusting a stranger to cook you food that could potentially make you sick is a very uneasy feeling. However, being gluten free does not mean you have to stop doing things you love, like going out to eat. It just means you have to know what you’re dealing with and prepare before hand.
There are a few things I would recommend doing before venturing out to a restaurant to eat a gluten free meal. The first thing I would do is to get familiar with the menu of the restaurant you plan to attend. This of course means making sure the restaurant has a gluten free menu to begin with. Yes, there are some places that do not but you can find gluten free options, but it makes the dining experience a lot easier if they do. A few of my personal favorites, On The Border and PF Chang’s have amazing gluten free menus. PF Chang’s in particular is my favorite restaurant, and according to a general manager of the Martlon, N.J. location, George Terston, the gluten free menu has been around for about five years. This is a good amount of time to get established and perfect everything, and it shows in their food. Because it has been around so long, people trust it. “You have to have a blind faith the first time you come to the restaurant and after you have had that one good experience, you feel more confidant,” says Terston about PF Changs.
Once you have gotten familiar with the menu, and maybe even talked to an employee about it, I would suggest getting further info about how the restaurant prepares their food. A big issue with eating out gluten free is cross contamination. Restaurants nowadays are very aware of this. Many restaurants, like On The Border, zones everything by allergy to make sure nothing mixes. “Here we have different colors for allergies for cutting boards, knives, everything that we cook with to make sure nothing happens. We even do spot checks throughout the day to make sure everything is perfect,” says Brian Sheghnessy, a general manager at On The Border in Mount Laurel, N.J. If a restaurant is that specific with everything, I would say it is pretty trustworthy.
The final thing I would suggest is to be careful, but have fun! Try not to stress too much about everything. Eating out, even while being gluten free, should still be enjoyable. If you prepare ahead of time, your dining experience should be as normal as it can be.