Hello again after a long hiatus from posting. Now that our world has "opened up" to dining out again after the worst of the pandemic, I hope to regale you with more dining and travel profiles. This summer, our family didn't do any big trips. However, our younger son (who was diagnosed with Celiac over 17 years ago before he was even two years old and is the inspiration behind my Blog) made many trips down to Harrisonburg, Virginia from our home in northern Virginia. His girlfriend lives down there, and she and her family were always so gracious about finding spots where Ryan could safely eat. So here is the post I begged him to write, complete with all his recommendations. And please, if you know of any gluten free folks in Harrisonburg -- especially students at James Madison University -- send them a link to this post! Now I'll turn you over to Ryan...
This summer I spent a good amount of time down in Harrisonburg, Virginia visiting my girlfriend. While there, she and I found a surprisingly large selection of gluten free friendly restaurants. While Harrisonburg is a small city, they offer all of the major chains that obviously have gluten free options, but the small locally owned restaurants were what really blew me away with their catering to those like me with Celiac. Each restaurant was knowledgeable about gluten free and had multiple gluten free options, not just one dish that could be made gluten free. Whether you’re going down to Harrisonburg to visit or attend James Madison University or to explore or hike the surrounding area of the Shenandoah mountains, you’ll be taken care of at almost all of the popular restaurants in the area. I’ve detailed the restaurants that I particularly enjoyed, and I've also provided a link to the menus when possible.
The Little Grill: The Little Grill is a Harrisonburg brunch staple, and it has a wide variety of gluten free options, ranging from bowls, buckwheat pancakes, and other entrees. I got the potato boat, which was home fries covered in vegetables, cheese, sour cream, and egg, and it was delicious. Be prepared for a wait, especially on weekends.
Heritage Bakery and Cafe: Located right on main street, Heritage Bakery (shown above) is a great place for breakfast, as it offers gluten free Belgian waffles and a wide selection of gluten free baked goods that changes day to day. Each morning they post their selection on their Instagram story, and this would be the best place to view their menu. They do keep their baked goods in the same display window as gluten containing pastries, but I didn’t have any issues with their food.
Grilled Cheese Mania: Grilled Cheese Mania offers a wide selection of grilled cheese sandwiches at their restaurant. I ordered the “Jersey Boy” with Egg, Turner Ham, and Cheese, which was fantastic. They take Celiac concerns very seriously and have a gluten free menu filled with various gluten free options, including gluten free brownies. They have a great outdoor seating area with corn hole and picnic tables, and it's also a great place to grab food to eat on a hike in the surrounding area.
Vito's Italian Kitchen: Vito’s is your typical Italian restaurant, but it also offers both gluten free pasta and pizza options. While the menu is rather limited, their pizzas are some of the best I’ve ever had (they offer a 12” pie). They also have gluten free pasta available, and their Burrata (make sure to indicate gluten free) is great.
Capital Ale House: Capital Ale House is located in the center of downtown Harrisonburg and has an amazing selection for those who are gluten free, including burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and other great entrees. While their fries are fried in a contaminated fryer (so avoid those), their side salad is fantastic. They also offer a selection of gluten free ciders to enjoy with your meal.
The Cracked Pillar: Located south of Harrisonburg in Bridgewater, The Cracked Pillar is another nice location for a gluten free meal, with gluten free burgers and a flourless chocolate cake. On summer weekends, their outdoor seating includes live music as well. The restaurant is located on a cute small-town main street. Overall, it's a fun place to visit on a Saturday or a Friday night with your family or a date.
BoBoKo Indonesian Cafe: BoBoKo is a small Indonesian restaurant with an abundance of gluten free options. They have all gluten free dishes marked on their menu and can make almost all of the dishes gluten free with some adjustments. There are only 4-5 tables in the restaurant though, so make sure to book a reservation, as they don’t take walk-ins. I got the Beef Rendang, and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in the Harrisonburg area. I can't wait to go back!
Mashita: Mashita is a Korean restaurant in Harrisonburg that offers a wide selection of gluten free entrees. I find that it's rare to come across a Korean restaurant that takes so many precautions for gluten free, so this is a location you have to visit for lunch or dinner. I got the Mashita bibimbap with pork, which was delicious. Make sure to mention to your server that you are gluten free, as they will take special precautions and give you the gluten free sauces that use gluten free soy sauce as a base.
I hope you found these recommendations useful and that you enjoy dining safely gluten free in Harrisonburg!