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Eating Out Gluten-Free and Without Fear

Now...I've been intending to sit down every evening for the past two weeks and post a new entry, but the time slips away...warm evenings have caused me to linger a bit too long in my backyard, but it's been worth it. In addition to this blog, as I mentioned last month, I've become an author on's website which is really exciting, but finding the time between working full-time, having a social life and exercising, and researching Celiac news, and...well, you get the picture. I need like 8 more hours in each day, please!!

Receiving emails from newly diagnosed Celiacs has become the main source of the comments left for me to respond to. I'm amazed, though I shouldn't be, at the number of women...yes women vs. men who seem to have struggled for so many years and were ultimately diagnosed with this disease. The majority who have written to me range in age from the early 40's to late 60's. My heart truly goes out to these folks who have been struggling for so long with no answers...until now. Now, I hope they can find a way to celebrate, even through the confusion because it does get better, and better and better. Not to say they won't have days of feeling completely overwhelmed with what their "new life" will ask of them, but as I've always said and believed, KNOWING is so much better than not knowing. Knowing, means you can face something head-on, with all of your strength and energy and resolve or learn to manage with ABUNDANCE...whatever it may be.

I have emailed back and forth with a woman in southern California who was also recently diagnosed and really struggling with finding safe restaurants to eat at, and with the whole concept of eating out at restaurants period, which can be quite daunting, intimidating and scary. It honestly takes a long time to feel confident walking into a new restaurant you have never visited before and being assertive about what you can and cannot eat as a Celiac, and making sure the server and chef got the message loud and clear. This is especially true when eating out with larger groups of friends, family or colleagues - you must press the issue for your own safety, regardless of how uncomfortable you might feel. Being clear and upfront about what you cannot eat always beats the dread of two hours later knowing that you were poisoned and dealing with the inevitable 2-3 weeks of feeling "hung over" least that's how it is in my case!

So, this woman suggested that I begin talking about WHERE Celiacs can safely eat and which restaurants around our country not only are safe, but even promote their own gluten-free menus. I say Bravo! It's a great idea and one that will require much research on my part, but something I am excited and looking forward to doing - great suggestion, my Celiac friend. I have posted several gluten-free restaurants on my blog from my travels and have had great success at these lovely eating establishments; however, it's important to find more "main-stream" places to eat that allow for a safe and enjoyable dining experience...actually, we would all just take the safe part of that sentence!

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As I research these new restaurants and begin to delve into this new realm of information, I will continuously post my findings both on this blog and on my blog, in order to better-reach those reading and searching for some advice and answers. I will begin though, by listing some chain restaurants found nationwide that have their own gluten-free menus. Even when ordering off of these menus, please, please, please remind your server that your food must be prepared in a safe environment without any cross-contamination.

Also, if any of you find other gluten-free restaurants PLEASE email me or submit a comment on one of my blogs so that we can add them to the ongoing list that's being created:

  • PF Changs China Bistro
  • Outback Steak House
  • Chipotle
  • Claim Jumper
  • Baja Fresh - just make sure you are eating CORN tortillas
  • Bristol Farms - they have a cafe in some locations
  • Whole Foods Market - their salad and soup bars are largely gluten-free

Eat safely. Eat well. Eat with abundance.

More soon.

As always, welcomes your comments (see below).

Spread The Word

21 Responses:


said this on
08 May 2008 10:09:55 AM PST
Thank you so much for posting this site. I haven't been diagnosed with Celiac disease yet but they are trying to find out the cheap way without the tests. But they have me on a gluten-free diet now and I have no clue what I can eat. This site will greatly help me on my search for foods that I can and can't eat. Thank you so much. I am a 31 year old female who has had medical problems my whole life and now (due to the long and dragged out process of being turned from one doc to the next) have mental issues as well. I am waiting on a disability hearing and had lost all hope of ever getting better but now I have a little help thank you.
Frustrated in Indy


said this on
04 Dec 2010 9:31:05 AM PST
Hi, I have had a similar problem, or should I say problems, crohns, ulcerative, and know I'm told it was just colitis.
The best thing for any so called autoimmune disease is education, and I'm not talking about the mainstream medical community.
The only thing the mainstream community knows are drugs ( poison ), slash and burn. If you will go to Dr. Mercola's website he has some great information ( search for "The Darkside of Wheat ), also read the book "The Fungus Link" by author Doug Kaufman and Dr. David Holland.
Keep your chin up, there's always hope

Katie Nelson

said this on
08 May 2008 9:45:48 PM PST
Just a heads-up. Baja Fresh does not guarantee gluten-free dishes. They do not fry their chips or taco shells in separate fryers, so there is a huge possibility for cross contamination. Also, they do not switch gloves in between food preparation for each customer. So, please just eat there at your own risk, especially if you are a very sensitive Celiac!


said this on
09 May 2008 9:16:21 AM PST
I will definitely be checking this website again. I am 23 years old and just got diagnosed. I find it to be very overwhelming as I am trying to learn what I can eat and what I shouldn't eat. It gets frustrating especially when it comes to other people making food for you, I don't want them to alter their entire menu on my account. I guess this is just going to take some getting used to.


said this on
09 May 2008 11:14:36 AM PST
Old spaghetti factory has a gluten-free menu.

Laura H.

said this on
10 May 2008 7:44:11 PM PST
The chain restaurant Johnny Carino's now offers a gluten-free menu--and it is superb! The first time I ate there, it was like heaven because the food was so tasty. They even have soup that I can eat, and the Chicken Scaloppini is wonderful. Just be careful: Not all of their restaurants have yet trained their staff. I visit the one in Antioch, California, and when I request a gluten-free menu, I'm always met with a puzzled expression. I then have to tell the hostess/host that the manager will know how to print a menu from the corporate web site. Once you review the menu, make sure that the server takes the gluten-free menu directly to the chef--just so there are no mistakes. So far, so good!

Laura H.

said this on
11 May 2008 1:16:51 PM PST
The chain restaurant Johnny Carino's offers a gluten-free menu upon request. Not all of their restaurant staff has been trained, though, and most seem unaware that the menu exists. You'll have to ask the hostess/host to have the manager print the menu from the corporate web site. The food is over-the-top great! You can even eat the potato-garlic soup (without croutons). The Chicken Scallopini is wonderful--best gluten-free restaurant meal I've ever eaten. One thing to remember, though--when you order your meal, hand the menu BACK to your server and ask that the chef follow it to the letter. The chef will need it to know how to make gluten-free changes.

Alastair Arnott

said this on
12 May 2008 9:11:06 AM PST
I read your site with interest and it reminded me very much of the feeling of being overwhelmed when I was diagnosed with Coeliac (as we call it in the UK). What can I eat and what cant I eat? Its a truly overwhelming feeling.

However, through the support of my doctor and a dietitian I worked this out quickly. There are also helpful things such as dietary info cards that can be used when dining out, so you don't just need to stick to recommended outlets.

These cards can be supplied in many languages including French, German, Spanish, Portuguese to name a few.


said this on
12 May 2008 9:40:50 PM PST
Baja Fresh is a little sketchy. Rubios has an allergy chart for all items and if you speak with a manager they will prepare your food with separate kitchen utensils, etc. I had a great experience.

Colleen C

said this on
13 May 2008 2:50:51 AM PST
Carrabaas has gluten free items. A local Celiac support group does 'food field' trips there. I haven't been able to go yet and anyway my daughter is 3 and picky and now has Celiac Disease.

Pat Burrell

said this on
13 May 2008 6:55:34 AM PST
I was diagnosed in 2001. It made a world of difference. BUT... I cannot find a good recipe for bread.

Lisa Brown

said this on
13 May 2008 9:09:19 AM PST
I am a newly diagnosed celiac and I was able to eat gluten free pasta on Mother's Day at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Also, I am a fan of Baja Fresh and the manager was very helpful. I was able to order a naked (without the tortilla) burrito. Since I also have a true dairy allergy I have to make sure there is no cheese. But the food is fresh and tasty. Good luck all!

Brenda Rogers

said this on
13 May 2008 4:53:55 PM PST
Famous Dave's Barbeque has a list of sauces that are Gluten Free if requested. It is not posted on their regular menu and the list is a bit difficult to decipher. There are no guarantees that there isn't any cross contamination as far as prep stations for the food.


said this on
15 May 2008 4:55:53 PM PST
My favorite places in Fort Wayne are Biaggi's (they have a HUGE gluten free PASTA!!! menu) and Flat Top Grill. Both are great!


said this on
19 May 2008 3:40:20 PM PST
I have not been diagnosed as a Celiac but recently I went to a nutritionist. She decided to test for allergies, thinking it was a milk allergy...boy were we wrong. I found out that my intestinal problems were because of a Gluten allergy. Anyway, your information has helped me a lot in finding Gluten free menu's. I didn't even realize the cross contamination thing. Thank you so much and I look forward to reading more of your blogs.



said this on
19 May 2008 7:57:21 PM PST
Any restaurant advice would be much appreciated for vegetarians who are casein sensitive in addition to gluten free.

I had a good experience at Red Robin - my waitress actually knew about gluten free diets due to her brother's experience. She gladly asked her manager whether their 'oriental sauce' had wheat in it. It did, but the 'Red's rice bowl' plain was actually not too bad. Next time, I'll bring my own tamari sauce.


said this on
31 May 2008 12:11:30 PM PST
I'm glad to see restaurants starting to adapt gluten-free items in their menus. Now if they can only add in some gluten-free vegetarian items....sigh.... Most places I've been to only have carnivorous gluten-free options. Except for a plain green salad.


said this on
04 Jun 2008 5:18:20 AM PST
Chili's has become my favorite restaurant - they have a gluten-free menu that is updated monthly, I show the server I'm ordering from that menu and that's how they submit the order (as Gluten-Free) I'm only diagnosed 2 months, but I have not had any problems here at all.


said this on
26 Aug 2008 11:07:14 AM PST
My two favorites are Noodles and Adobo Grill. Both have gluten-free menus.


said this on
01 Nov 2008 4:58:14 AM PST
Pizzaria Uno has a gluten-free menu. I go there often and I've enjoyed everything I've had. You still should emphasize you're ordering the gluten-free version.

said this on
03 Nov 2008 8:25:38 AM PST
Bone Fish and Maggiano's also have a gluten free menu.

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