Gluten Free Dining

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... Read more →


Our family is lucky to have some good options in the Washington, DC metro area when it comes to gluten free dining. Whether we're venturing into DC for a show, game, or a day at museums -- or staying closer to home out in the Virginia suburbs -- there are a good number restaurant chains, as well as many independent restaurants, that "get it" when it comes to preparing delicious and safe gluten free meals. Not Your Average Joe's is one such restaurant chain (with locations in 8 states) that we've relied on over the years. We hadn't been there for a while, so we chose it for my mom's birthday celebration last weekend. The challenge is always finding someplace that pleases adults and teenagers...and where our son can have some interesting choices from a well-thought-out gluten free menu. Not Your Average Joe's, as the name would suggest, meets those criteria. Nothing is average or bland here. Their menu is huge, and you'll find there are tons of gluten free options, listed under their "Fit-For-You" part of the menu, which denotes gluten free, vegetarian, kept, paleo, vegan, and "Signature Joe" items. (When you click on their Menu page, you first... Read more →


It has been quite a ride over the past 12 years serving the gluten free community. When I first launched GlutenFreeTravelSite back in April 2008, "Celiac" and "gluten free" weren't yet household terms. Many people weren't even aware of what they meant...not to mention how someone avoiding gluten would be able to dine out, travel, and attend social events involving food. That's why I launched the website, just a few short years after our own son was diagnosed with Celiac at age two. I felt the need to educate those recently diagnosed and to provide hope that, yes, there were indeed places we could all go and get a safe and delicious meal. It just took a bit of effort to find them.... So that's what GlutenFreeTravelSite -- and later our Dine Gluten Free mobile app -- set out to do. We gave the gluten free community a way to share their experiences dining out and traveling with others who needed to be sure they wouldn't get sick when venturing out. We made it easy to find and read peer reviews of places in the U.S. and all over the world that took gluten free dining seriously. We were the... Read more →


For the first time in years, our family visited The Melting Pot to celebrate my Birthday a couple weeks ago. It was my choice as a venue...I wanted to go someplace festive -- and that we hadn't been for some time. I'm a big fondue fan, and the place has somewhat of a relaxed and celebratory feel to it. We knew they offered plenty of gluten free choices, but we brought our own gluten free bread for our Celiac son to dip in the cheese fondue appetizer -- and a gluten free brownie for dipping in the chocolate dessert fondue. We had remembered that when we had been there years ago, they only had veggies and apples for gluten free folks to dip in the cheese fondue...and fruit and marshmallows for the chocolate fondue. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to find out when we arrived that our "supplemental" food we had brought wasn't even needed. At some point since our last visit many years ago, they added gluten free bread for their GF patrons to dip into the cheese fondue -- as well as gluten free chocolate brownies and pound cake for the dessert fondue. The Melting Pot locations are... Read more →


We are now well over a decade into the gluten free awakening in our country. By "awakening" I mean when "gluten free" became part of our lexicon, and more people became aware of gluten's affects on individuals with Celiac and gluten sensitivity. Whether you were one of those getting a diagnosis -- or if it was a family member or friend -- "gluten free" was something that was now on your radar. And of course, there have also been plenty of people who have chosen to adopt a gluten free diet, for various other reasons. The point is, the demand for gluten free meals has really taken off over the past decade, and many restaurants have worked hard to help those with Celiac and gluten sensitivity enjoy a safe and thoughtfully prepared meal. Of course, we all know that other restaurants have simply "hopped on the bandwagon" for business reasons, slapping "GF" notations on menu items without much regard for the proper training of "front of house" staff (servers, managers) and "back of house" staff (kitchen). That is a continual challenge for those of us dining out. The more research you can do about a restaurant before setting foot in... Read more →


Pie Five Pizza has been on a tear...opening new locations at a fast clip all over the country. In fact, this "fast casual" concept now has about 300 locations across 20 states...and is expanding into at least 4 other states. This is a big deal because now they have not one, but two, choices for gluten free pizza crust! So perhaps you'll want to see if there's a location near where you live...or where you might be traveling. Their "original" gluten free crust, launched years ago, is particularly unique. First, it's homemade, which you don't find at many places. Secondly, it's made from ancient grains, so it has a nutritionally superior profile versus most gluten free pizza crusts. Pie Five combines teff, amaranth, and sorghum flours which deliver vitamins, minerals, fiber, and great taste! And finally, Pie Five's pizzas are ready in just five minutes (thus the name "Pie Five"...). Quality has always been a huge focus with Pie Five. They use homemade, all natural, preservative-free tomato sauce, sausage without antibiotics or hormones, and other high-quality toppings, almost all of which are gluten free. Back in April, after introducing a "limited time" pizza crust made from a blend of cauliflower... Read more →


Have you heard of GliadinX? I can’t remember where and when I’d first heard about it, but the developer of this unique enzyme formulation contacted me recently, and I was intrigued to learn more. Like with many products and services, necessity was the mother of invention with GliadinX. Founder Dr. Albert Zickmann has two children diagnosed with celiac disease, and he was concerned about cross contamination and accidental gluten exposure when dining out, traveling, and sending his kids to birthday parties and camps. Having a medical background himself, he began researching studies on enzymes that digest gliadin (the damaging component of gluten) in the stomach. Dr. Zickmann took an extensively researched enzyme proven to break down gluten in clinical and laboratory studies and combined it with a food grade acid to further increase the efficacy of the enzyme. Essentially, this combination breaks down the gliadin molecule, cutting it into harmless fragments before the gluten can cause an inflammatory reaction in the small intestine. Let me stress that this is not a product that is intended to replace a strict gluten free diet, as it states explicitly on the bottle. It is for times when you suspect cross contamination may be... Read more →


Responding to the trend to incorporate cauliflower into more menu items, including pizza crusts, California Pizza Kitchen announced their full line of cauliflower crust pizzas on Tuesday. CPK has always been an innovator, especially when it comes to pizza. Some of you may remember they introduced the first BBQ Chicken Pizza back in 1985. (Now you’ll find it on pizza menus virtually everywhere!) Made from a blend of cauliflower, mozzarella cheese, rice flour, herbs, and spices, the cauliflower crusts were developed by CPK’s Culinary Innovations Team to meet a demand for lower carb, higher fiber, and nutritionally-dense pizza crusts. While California Pizza Kitchen already has a line of certified gluten free pizza crusts, these cauliflower crust pizzas give diners another gluten free alternative, depending on their taste preferences. Like their existing line of gluten free pizzas, there will be four varieties of the cauliflower crust pizza that are certified gluten free. California Pizza Kitchen employs protocol developed in conjunction with the Gluten Intolerance Group to keep gluten free diners safe. The Margherita (shown below), Pepperoni, Mushroom/Pepperoni/Sausage, and Original BBQ Chicken varieties of pizza – whether ordered on their traditional gluten free crust or the new cauliflower crust – are prepared... Read more →


Our son has been gluten free for over 12 years now, after a diagnosis with Celiac Disease in April 2005. We have dined out considerably since then...and traveled extensively in the U.S. and to many major European cities. There have been ups and downs along the way -- both pleasant surprises and occasional disappointments. I've written in the past about the Top 10 Mistakes Restaurants Make When Trying to Provide Gluten Free Meals. Don't get me wrong...even as the founder of GlutenFreeTravelSite and the Dine Gluten Free mobile app -- along with this Blog -- I'm actually not particularly hard on restaurants that at least make an effort to serve our gluten free community. And frankly, our 14-year-old son is pretty easy to please as well. As long as there are a few options on a menu -- and they are prepared safely and with optimal taste in mind -- we are happy. At this age, he is content with a juicy steak, a burger on a decent gluten free bun, simply prepared gluten free pasta, most gluten free pizzas, and any chocolate dessert that can claim it's gluten free! My Top 10 listing from months ago hits on how... Read more →


Let me start by saying that dining at Il Canale Italian restaurant in Georgetown made me feel like I was back in Italy, where our family had the opportunity to travel last summer. Part of the reason for this is that they are known for their authentic Neapolitan-style thin crust pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy. It's also got that lively vibe and friendly service you find at Italian trattorias. Add to that other tradtional Italian specialties on their menu -- fresh and just like you'd find in Italy -- and you've got all the makings of a great night out! To be clear, Il Canale does not offer gluten free Neapolitan-style pizza (at least not cooked in the wood-fired oven, due to cross contamination concerns). But they use an Udi's non-GMO gluten free pizza crust as a base for all their wonderful toppings like fresh Buffalo mozzarella, basil, prosciutto, olives, and more. Then they cook it in a separate conventional oven, so there's no worry about cross contamination if you have Celiac. Il Canale also offers gluten free pasta, an organic variety imported from Italy and made from a blend of rice and corn flour. All... Read more →


For over 12 years, Picazzo's Healthy Italian Kitchen, with 5 locations in Arizona has been continuously raising the bar for high quality dining, especially for those that are gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan. Year after year, they have added new menu items that combine healthy ingredients, new flavor combinations, and interesting takes on traditional favorites. Most of all, they continue to deliver on quality and TASTE. My secret wish is that Picazzo's would expand nationwide. We need one of these restaurants in every neighborhood! In the meantime, it's worth a visit to Arizona just to dine at Picazzo's (for every meal of your stay -- after all, with all their tempting menu items, you'd never get bored!). Here are 10 Things to LOVE About Picazzo's: 1.) They're the New Times "Best of Phoenix" Readers's Choice Winner for Best Gluten Free Restaurant in 2015 and 2016. Take it from your fellow gluten free diners...this place is awesome! 2.) Their ENTIRE MENU, full of starters (like the Caprese salad with homemade GF focaccia and pesto above), soups, salads, entrees, pizza, and pastas is GLUTEN FREE, with the exception of 2 of their pizza crust options (Organic Original and Organic Whole Grain). But... Read more →


We're a decade into the growth of the gluten free "marketplace," thanks to increased awareness of Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity -- and improving rates of diagnosis. Not only has "gluten free" become a household term, in many cases it's become a dietary "trend." For those of us personally affected by Celiac or gluten sensitivity, this is a mixed blessing -- as many have discussed in recent years. While demand for gluten free meals in restaurants eventually gives us more choice, the situation does come with pitfalls. First and foremost is the need to ensure that any restaurant with a gluten free menu knows not just what ingredients are used in their recipes...but how to safely prepare the meal without putting you at risk from gluten cross contamination. Another less serious -- but still frustrating -- challenge is being able to separate those restaurants that make the most basic (and often less-than-appetizing) substitutions or omissions to claim that a menu item is gluten free from restaurants that work hard to surprise and delight their gluten free diners with well-thought-out, flavorful offerings. (Check out the creative layered Beet Salad, with goat cheese, candied walnuts, and caramelized onions from Burtons Grill, below.)... Read more →