Like many of you, our family has been trying to support both independent local restaurants -- as well as our favorite restaurant chains -- during the pandemic. Obviously, as in most areas of the country, we don't have the option of dining out restaurants right now. But after a couple weeks of exclusively cooking at home, we longed for some of our favorite restaurant dishes and felt the risk of virus "contamination" from takeout food was low, based on the reports we were hearing.
While we are still preparing most of our dinners ourselves, as we've always done, we try to get takeout 1-2 times per week in order to give business to all the places we know and love -- and who have served our gluten free community so well over the years. We want to do what we can to help them stay in business during these challenging times. Restaurant ownership is a tough business, even without a pandemic to navigate around!
Perhaps some of you have been shying away from takeout if you deem it too risky. That's certainly an individual decision, and I encourage you to stick to what's within your comfort zone. Perhaps another way to support your favorite restaurants is to purchase a gift card for yourself or a friend or family member to use once restrictions on restaurants eventually start to ease. Many restaurants are promoting gift cards right now and even have great deals in which you get a $100 gift card for $80, for example.
In the meantime, if you are looking for gluten-free friendly restaurants chains that are currently offering takeout or delivery, here is a list. I've kept the list to national or regional chains in order to be relevant to most of you. Please always check online (or call) your local restaurant to make sure that particular location is, indeed, open and offering food for takeout and/or delivery. With some chains, it varies based on individual markets. Also, some restaurants are offering a more limited menu than is typical, so verify that your gluten free favorites are available -- and prepared safely by someone who is aware of the nuances of gluten free food prep.
BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse -- The thing to order here is their Gluten Free Thin Crust Pizza. It is hands-down my favorite gluten free pizza. There are also some other really good GF selections under their "Enlightened Entrees" section of the Allergen and Gluten Free Selections Menu (scroll down). I'd highly recommend their Peruvian Quinoa Bowls and Cauliflower and Quinoa Power Bowls, both which give you a choice of topping with various proteins. And don't miss your chance to order a gluten free Pizookie, their signature WARM, chocolate chip cookie dessert!
Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano -- Even though they are calling it a "limited" Gluten Free Menu right now, it's still better than most GF menus even in the best of times! You have your choice of gluten free pizzas, pasta, salads, and Classic Italian Entrees. One of my personal favorites is the Baked Penne Al Forno: Gluten free pasta with shrimp, grilled chicken, caramelized onions, crispy pancetta, Italian cheeses, and lobster cream sauce -- delicious and NOT something I typically would make at home!
Bonefish Grill -- First find your location and then Download the Menu for current availability. A large number of their typical menu items -- seafood, steaks and amazing chicken dishes -- are gluten free, but you'll need to call since they don't appear to have their Gluten Free selections posted right now -- or at least that I can find. The items on their posted menu that are gluten free include many types of grilled fish, steaks, and Lily's Chicken. I love their Lily's Chicken -- it's topped with goat cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts and a lemon basil sauce...by no means a boring entree! They also have Family Bundles.
Burger 21 -- This is one of our quick "go to" restaurants in typical times, as our boys love their burgers and fries. They have gluten free buns (check availability), and the fries are GF as well. Their many GF entree salads are also quite good. Enter a zip code on the home page for locations near you. Then when you select a location and click "order online," you'll see a "Gluten Friendly" tab listing your choices.
Burtons Grill -- Only 10 of their 17 restaurants are currently open for takeout, and unfortunately that doesn't include the one closest to us. Nevertheless, they are one of our favorite GF-friendly chains. After all, where else can you get gluten free calamari?! Check availability, of course, but it's a good sign this location's menu has a big teal box on the bottom saying all items can be made gluten free! Burton's, you are awesome! (You'll just have to hold off on ordering the calamari until you can dine in at some time in the future, as fried calamari -- GF or not -- is not part of their menu offerings right now.) I recommend the risotto, crab cakes (shown below), and pastas.
California Pizza Kitchen -- Offering "contactless curbside pickup," this is a great time to try their amazing cauliflower crust gluten free pizzas. Go to this page to customize your menu for gluten free/no gluten ingredients, and you'll see that, in addition to the certified gluten free pizzas, they have other options like Cedar Plank Salmon (shown below) that contain no gluten or wheat ingredients...plus entree salads, a power bowl, and a couple entrees.
Carrabba's Italian Grill -- Carrabbas has been promoting their takeout, delivery, and gift cards heavily. We never have a bad meal at Carrabbas. We are planning to order from here soon, but it looks like we will have to call our local restaurant to speak to someone about what gluten free items are currently available. They typically have many meat/seafood entrees as well gluten free pasta for the GF crowd, but I am not finding a link to those anywhere on the site right now.
Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurants -- Both carryout and delivery are now available at this more upscale eatery. If you're a wine club member, you can also pick up your wine! Even their "limited" carryout menu is full of plenty of good gluten free choices, all clearly marked with a "GF" symbol. I recommend the Mexican Drunken Shrimp appetizer, either of the chopped entree salads, Ellie's Chicken Piccata, and the Braised Short Rib Risotto. Be sure to put them on your Bucket List when dining in is a option, as they have TONS of other amazing GF choices.
Glory Days Grill -- Another "local" favorite of ours, with locations offering an extensive GF Menu in VA, MD, NC, and WV. Here you can order plenty of GF fare for curbside pickup or delivery. Once you choose your location, you will see many GF tabs on the left of the menu: for GF Wings, Apps, and Salads....GF Burgers and Sandwiches...and GF Entrees. This is your go-to place for delicious (and gluten free) sports bar faves like ribs, burgers, fries, nachos, wings, and more...all that can be made gluten free!
Not Your Average Joe's -- This is another one of our all-time favorite gluten free friendly restaurant chains. Although they have been closed since March 18, they are currently working to re-open some of their restaurants for takeout and delivery. Check their website for updates.
Outback Steakhouse -- Yes, they are open for takeout (and delivery in some locations). You'll have to look at the Gluten Free Menu first -- and then call or put special instructions in your order -- as GF items are not marked on their current takeout menu (although many of their items are always GF).
PF Chang's -- We got takeout from PF Chang's a couple weeks ago, and despite our closest location being 25 minutes from our home, the food traveled well and was as tasty as ever. (They also offer free delivery on all orders, dependent on location, but I always just prefer to do pickup). It appears they are offering all their usual gluten free items (click tab on the left) including appetizers, soups, noodles, rice, and entrees. I was thrilled to see they even allow you to specifically choose the GF version of the item when ordering, so that no extra instruction is necessary. We stuck with our favorite Mongolian Beef and Chicken Fried Rice.
Picazzo's Healthy Italian Kitchen -- For those of you living in Arizona, you are SO lucky to have Picazzo's, with all 5 locations now offering takeout and delivery. Picazzo's has always been the gold standard of gluten free fare and healthy fare...all wrapped up in an amazing depth and breadth of dining choices. You'll find small bites, salads, soups, pizza, pasta, quinoa bowls, skillet baked dishes, and comfort food..all gluten free! Most ingredients are also organic and locally sourced.
Pie Five Pizza Company -- This fast-growing pizza chain has not one, but TWO, types of healthy gluten free crust to choose from (both are delicious!). Almost all toppings -- and salad ingredients -- are gluten free. For more specifics about their varieties of pizza and the precautions they take in preparing gluten free orders, see this page on our Blog. Also know that not every one of their locations is open right now, so check their website for the location closest to you.
Seasons 52 -- Curbside pick up and delivery is available, and this restaurant makes a nice treat. Since all menu searches (including gluten-free) seem to direct website visitors to the temporary takeout menu right now, you'll have to inquire about the gluten free status of items. I was thrilled to see that their Caramelized Grilled Sea Scallops served over mascarpone risotto is on there. It's gluten free and one of my all-time favorite dishes.
I realize that this list is by no means exhaustive. I have tried to include places with multiple locations across at least several states. If you know of others that you'd like to recommend to our Blog followers, PLEASE leave a quick comment below. It's up to all of us to get the word out and help these restaurants who have been by our side as a gluten free community. It's a fight for survival for restaurants right now. We have come so far getting restaurants to serve us safely that I'd hate to see ANY of these great partners close as a result of this tragic and unpredictable pandemic we find ourselves in right now.
Stay safe and stay well, everyone!