My "Top 12" Favorite Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurant Chains
September 09, 2014
I tried to narrow my choices for gluten-free friendly CHAIN restaurants to just 10, but with so many chains now offering great gluten free selections, it was too hard to do. So here are my 12 Favorites.Some are our family's regular go-to chains with locations around the Washington DC area where we live...while others are regional chains outside our area that we were thrilled to discover on various trips.
Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano – I love that Biaggi’s is located in mid-sized cities where there may not be quite the same range of gluten free choices of a “Big City” like New York City or Boston…but where diners are sophisticated and want a restaurant that understands their gluten free needs and desire for high-quality food. We've been to the ones in Salt Lake City (now closed) and Maple Grove, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis. You’ll find a huge Gluten Free Menu here, including many wonderful GF pasta choices. Here's a photo of a seasonal Caprese Salad they offered over the summer.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse – What could be better than meeting up with friends or co-workers at a place that offers gluten free pizza, gluten free beer, and even a giant deep-dish gluten free chocolate chip cookie – served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream?! Okay, so it’s not how you want to eat every day, but it’s great for a splurge! Plus, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse does have healthier options on their Gluten Free Menu, but it’s hard to resist their delicious gluten free pizza “pies” and Pizookie (shown below)!
Bonefish Grill – If it’s seafood you love, check to see if there’s a Bonefish Grill near you (or maybe where you have plans to travel). You won’t be disappointed with the range of preparations available to gluten free diners looking to enjoy fresh fish. Other top choices on their Gluten Free Menu include Lilly’s Chicken (shown below) and Mussels Josephine. Save room for the flourless Macadamia Nut Brownie for dessert (sharing recommended!)
Burton’s Grill – One of our favorite places to eat when we’re in the Boston area – and they have other locations in CT, NH, VA, and SC. Burton's Grill makes sure gluten free diners never feel left out, whether it’s offering gluten free buns for their burgers and sandwiches or creating a to-die-for gluten free fried calamari (shown below). Entrees, appetizers, salads, fish, gluten free pasta, and desserts…you name it, they have it on their Gluten Free Menu.
California Pizza Kitchen – I give this large national chain special props for pulling their gluten free pizzas when they didn’t get it right – and then relaunching them a couple years later after going through rigorous training with the Gluten Intolerance Group. In addition to eliminating virtually any opportunity for cross contamination when preparing GF pizzas, California Pizza Kitchen nailed the recipe. They are, simply, delicious (don't the three varieties shown below just make your mouth water?!). Other gluten free choices on the menu give you options if you or a fellow GF diner isn’t in the mood for pizza (but trust me, this is the place to be “in the mood for pizza!”
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse – This is a particularly unique restaurant, although these “Brazilian steakhouses” are becoming more popular. At Chima, you’ll have your choice of many gluten free fresh-grilled meats, hand-carved at your table and a huge “salad” bar to accompany all that protein. The salad bar (shown below, but the photo I took does NOT do it justice!) is one of the most beautiful around, loaded with wonderful sides and salads, almost all of which are gluten free. Even their rolls, made using tapioca flour and cheese, are gluten free – and delicious.
Glory Days Grill -- This is a chain -- with locations throughout the Washington DC area suburbs -- that our family frequents about once a month. Top picks from Glory Days Grill's Gluten Free Menu include ribs, steaks, entree salads, and buffalo wings (with many different gluten free BBQ sauces to choose from). They now offer gluten free buns for their burgers and sandwiches, and they even have a dedicated fryer for their fries, making them gluten free as well. Save room for their gluten free chocolate torte (shown here) for dessert. It's like eating a chocolate truffle...and perfect for sharing.
Legal Seafoods – This was one of the first restaurant chains to cater to gluten free clientele, and they remain a favorite of the gluten free community. At Legal Seafoods, you’ll find plenty of gluten free seafood choices on their menu, including fried options and even a gluten free version of clam chowder. They even use gluten free croutons on some of their salads and offer warm, gluten free rolls before your meal!
Outback – This is another restaurant chain I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, because they have always done right by the gluten free community. Like Legal Seafoods, Outback Steakhouse was among the first restaurant chains to offer a Gluten Free Menu, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on much here. Although they have yet to figure out a way to make a gluten free version of their Bloomin’ Onion, their GF Menu, which includes gluten free Baby Back Ribs (shown below) is almost as extensive as their regular menu. And they have a chocolate "Thunder From Down Under" gluten free (and decadent) dessert that’s worth a visit!
Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen – This is another trailblazer in the restaurant world, albeit on a smaller scale. With 5 locations in Arizona, the menu at Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen incorporates local, organic, natural, preservative-free food, almost all of which is gluten free. In fact, they just switched to a brand of fresh, gluten free, non-GMO pasta for ALL their restaurant’s pasta offerings (shown below). Their commitment to quality shows in their food, and customers are raving fans of this popular Arizona chain. Other must-try items include their large range of gluten free pizzas with traditional and innovative toppings.
P.F. Chang’s – This just may be the gluten free community’s favorite restaurant chain. It’s not easy to find places that offer gluten free Asian menus, and P.F. Chang’s own Gluten Free Menu is a cut above the ordinary. You’ll find some standbys like the Chicken Lettuce Wraps appetizer, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and Mongolian Beef…but you’ll also discover new favorites like Singapore Street Noodles , Ginger Chicken with Broccoli, and Shaking Beef (shown here).
Travinia Italian Kitchen – Last but not least, this is a chain that’s expanding…and one to watch. It’s an Italian restaurant with innovative offerings, in addition to favorite Italian classics. Travinia Italian Kitchen offers an extensive range of gluten free options, clearly marked with a “GF” on their regular menu. Try any one of their gluten free pastas…or two of my other personal favorites, Sinatra Chicken and Pine Nut Encrusted Salmon (shown below). If you’re an oenophile, you’ll appreciate their impressive wine list and half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesday nights.
You can link directly to the Gluten Free Menus of these restaurant chains -- and many others -- on this page of our website, GlutenFreeTravelSite. I'd love to know YOUR favorite gluten-free friendly restaurant chain(s), so please do take a moment to share your thoughts by submitting a COMMENT below.