As some of you may remember, each January we tally the prior year's gluten-free dining and travel reviews submitted to our website, GlutenFreeTravelSite. We then name the location with the most reviews from the prior year the "World's Most Celiac-Friendly Destination."
In 2009, when we first started the contest, the winner came as no surprise: New York. As most of us know -- whether we've visited the Big Apple or not -- New York City is fast to embrace food trends, although using that word sometimes makes me shudder, since we all know that gluten-free diets are not a choice -- and a lot more than a "trend" -- for many of us. Nonetheless, New York City was among the first cities to give gluten-free diners dozens of safe restaurant options. Many of these restaurants are NON-chain restaurants...independent, neighborhood restaurants who may have initially been motivated to create gluten-free choices (and safe practices) for a family member, employee, or regular customer who was suddenly diagnosed with Celiac.
In the contest's second year, Florida was bestowed with the honor, due to the Disney theme parks and resorts -- and the surrounding Orlando area -- emerging as a gluten-free diner's magical paradise. And indeed, the numerous glowing reviews submitted to our site attest to that fact. Just about every restaurant in each of Disney's hotels, resorts, and parks has gluten-free options, and lists are even available to guests in advance on their trip, by contacting the Special Dietary Needs Department (more information on this, along with the contact names and numbers can be found on our site's Resources page).
Last year, Washington, DC emerged as the front-runner, thanks to the numerous reviews submitted by members of a very active local Celiac support group: DC Celiacs. Their members seem to have frequented all the "gluten-free friendly" hot spots, and most got rave reviews. (To search the reviews in these -- or any other city or state -- visit our Search Reviews page.
Will the East Coast continue to earn bragging rights? Or will this year's winner, announced in early January, be a state west of the Mississippi? California shows some potential, but we'd love to get even more reviews from that state's many diverse towns and cities. Do YOU have some reviews to share from YOUR state -- or perhaps a destination where you've traveled (and enjoyed a wide range of "GF friendly" dining establishments)? If so, please submit your reviews soon (how about taking a few minutes right now?) to make sure they're factored into our tally to select our next WINNING DESTINATION!
If your review is particularly helpful or has wide appeal, we may even select it to showcase as our Featured Review of the month -- and offer you a choice of two great prizes: a set of four different Triumph Dining restaurant cards, or a gift certificate to a restaurant with a Gluten Free Menu!
Best of all, you'll know your feedback is helping so many others looking for gluten-free dining and travel guidance. Thanks so much for all your contributions and feedback!