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Sam85

Best gluten-free restaurants

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That's a tuff one. Kids that age tend to be picky eaters and to put things like baked potatoes, steamed rice and steamed veggies in front of them won't be appealing. We typically advise even adult celiacs to avoid eating out if possible because studies show that's where gluten cross contamination happens most often. If an eatery had fresh fruit, that would be safe. With meat and eggs or anything else high in protein other than dairy, it would need to be cooked in a separate pan if at an eatery. You can request  that and cooked without seasonings except salt and pepper.

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At the very least you would want a place that has a gluten-free menu, and then be able to talk with the wait staff and manager when you order. At least one of our moderators always recommends going to higher end restaurants, as they tend to take the time to listen to your special needs when you order. One of the sponsors of this site is GliadinX, which makes enzymes that break down trace amounts of gluten before it gets past your stomach. The enzymes have been well studied, and I think any celiacs who decide to eat outside their home should consider them, and take 1-2 with the meal just in case.


Scott Adams

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

Founder Celiac.com

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Thanks everyone. We’ve stopped dining out altogether, but there are those rare occasions when you’re on the go, or you just want to go out and dine somewhere like regular families do! Life will be different with 2 celiacs in the family I know, and I’m still learning. Thanks again. 
Any tips for on the go meal options would be appreciated.  

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Yes, there are those eatery chains like Red Robin and Chick Fil A that do have gluten-free menu items but whether or not they are foods that will appeal to young children is another issue.

If your two children have celiac disease, have you and their mother been tested? There is a pretty high probability that first degree relatives will have celiac disease. Best to get a handle on it now before irreparable damage is done to your bodies.

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Sam85, sorry. I made an assumption based on your user name that you were male and the dad.

What I will say is that the celiacs in your home would be safer if you committed to eating gluten-free as well. Trying to keep gluten-free foods separate from foods that contain gluten, keeping cookware and utensils separate or at least thoroughly cleaned consistently if shared is a hassle and inevitably there will be accidents. 

 

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Yes, we’ve started doing that, but I still have to find a good bread/filler alternative for my 4 year old. She doesn’t like the gluten free bread, buns, pancakes or flour that we’ve tried so far :( 

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Just beware about large chain restaurants, for example, the last time I ate at the Olive Garden (over 5 years ago now), they had added a gluten-free penne pasta option to their menu. I got sick from it and called and talked to the manager who said they still cooked it in the same boiling water as wheat pasta! I want to believe that this was a one time mistake, but the guy honestly sounded totally clueless, so I am certain they did that with everyone.


Scott Adams

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

Founder Celiac.com

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50 minutes ago, Scott Adams said:

Just beware about large chain restaurants, for example, the last time I ate at the Olive Garden (over 5 years ago now), they had added a gluten-free penne pasta option to their menu. I got sick from it and called and talked to the manager who said they still cooked it in the same boiling water as wheat pasta! I want to believe that this was a one time mistake, but the guy honestly sounded totally clueless, so I am certain they did that with everyone.

That's a bummer revelation, Scott. But unfortunately it's probably a normal occurrence in the eatery industry as there is such incomplete understanding about how little gluten it can take to initiate a reaction. 

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Yes, the manager defended his staff by telling me that cooking my GF pasta in a separate pot using fresh water would have cause an unacceptable delay in my serving time, probably at least 15 minutes, which is "not acceptable for the Olive Garden." Of course I chewed him out and told him that he should not be offering anything that is marked "gluten-free" on the menu, because obviously they just don't care. Again, this could have been a bad example and only a problem at that franchise location, but I doubt it.


Scott Adams

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

Founder Celiac.com

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why didn't you sue?

If some lady was able to get millions suing mcdonalds for hot coffee she spilled on herself, surely you had a case..

In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald's drive-thru in Albuquerque and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald's and a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns she suffered

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Being part of any law suit against a big company is risky, and can become a full time job. You also generally need to show some sort of serious injury or substantial economic loss caused by their actions. A few days of feeling bad generally isn't going to be a big incentive for a law firm to take such a case pro bono. We've reported many such lawsuits against various restaurants, so it's clear that some people do go this route, but I'm too busy to go that direction.


Scott Adams

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

Founder Celiac.com

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Aye! Discretion is the better part of valor. But your experience, Scott, makes me inclined to ask questions up front when I go to restaurants having gluten-free menu sections an/or to request the "gluten-free" food be cooked in clean and separate pots and pans.

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Hi Sam - 

While that's definitely a tough age, you have a wonderful opportunity to model speaking up and advocating for themselves and a head on approach to handling life's curve balls.  I agree that the big chain restaurants can be challenging (except PF Changs and Outback and places like that, and even they still make mistakes sometimes) - you'll find with many of the smaller ones, the sister of the uncle of the cook has Celiac, so they're careful.  I can't see how a dedicated gluten-free restaurant could be a risk, but besides that, here's a few recommendations - 

- Have everyone at the table eat only gluten free. Kids that age will stick their hands in everything

- Emphasize to the server that the need for gluten-free is a medical one, not a dietary choice, and ask if they can remind the kitchen to be careful about cross contamination.  I have a brief shpiel that I give, and we get it over with, and then I ask again when it arrives to be sure.  If you're nice, most servers will be nice back.  Tip well.

- Yes, with pasta and fried foods, even those marked gluten-free - you need to ask about separate water and dedicated fryers.  Soy sauce alone and in marinades can also be a problem.  I've even found it used on some of the meats in Mexican restaurants!  And unless you know for sure, don't eat gluten-free pizza in a regular pizza place, it's just not worth the risk.  Some of the fancy burger mini-chains are now getting good at gluten-free so consider that. 

I'm lucky enough to live in a city with a lot of good options, but elsewhere I rely on the Find Me Gluten Free app.  It's really helpful, especially the reviews.

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Thanks, Trents - 

One other thought, whenever I order eggs at a restaurant, I ask if they can make them in a separate pan, not on the flat griddle (I forget the name for it).  Hard to keep that clean.  For some reason, hotel eggs -- even if I watch them crack the eggs into the omelette pan and check out the spray they use -- always make me sick, though I don't think it's gluten - so I don't bother anymore.  Lots more tips on this site, so good luck!

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Thanks ever so much Nikki and everyone else for all the support and expert tips! (I am currently memorizing my very own restaurant spiel that could come in handy later 😊)

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Hard boiled eggs would be the safest, but not necessarily the most tasty.

Nikkie2777, funny you should mention that hotel eggs make you sick. I've noticed lately that eggs often give me a belly ache these days, even when I cook them myself at home. If I eat a small serving of eggs I'm okay but not so with a large serving. Same with some tree nuts and peanuts. I can eat a small serving without issue but larger amounts give me a belly ache. I never used to have a problem with these foods. Maybe it's celiac disease or maybe aging.

Edited by trents

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I agree with Red Robin and Chick Fil A! Chipotle also has a very strict allergy protocol (remove existing utensils and wipe down line, wash hands, new gloves, new utensils, pull cheese and lettuce from underneath/back) and has never given my husband any issues. We live in Scottsdale and are lucky enough to have a True Food Kitchen if you live near one or vacation near one they are also very safe...and healthy. And although it might not have much toddler food, PF Changs is also very strict and serves allergy meals on a special plate so that you can feel confident it's safe.

Lastly, you can put your zip code in at https://gffs.org/safe-spots/ to find some places that are Validated Gluten-Free Safe Spots by the Gluten-Free Food Service/GIG. 

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