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Eating Out Gluten Free: First Adventures!

I was tired of the struggle to cook GF and wanted to eat out, but of course, it had to be gluten free. Read on and see how great my first meal experiences in restaurants were.

It used to be so easy to eat out, but I didn’t realize how tough it would be to do so with celiac. No more Subway. No pizza from either of the two places I liked (both are located in Bethlehem). No more pasta with red sauce and seafood at Nino’s. No more warm garlic bread to start, and where to even go? At first it seemed I had no options. Then things shifted. I researched a few locations, got some information, and eating out became reality!

My first experience was at Red Robin, because someone had told me they had gluten free buns for their burgers. So off we went. It was my first eating out GF experience.

I asked for their gluten free menu and got a Xeroxed, stapled together packet of pages in typed text. Information that was listed included what had to be requested to be left off each item, so it could be remade as GF. I read it twice, felt intimidated and then chickened out. Literally! I had a chicken cobb salad and asked that they remove the blue cheese crumbles, as suggested. And someone else ate my garlic bread. Staring at that plate of bread was a major bummer. Next time I will definitely try the GF bun....

A little over a month ago I ate some Panara food—for the last time, I thought. Not so. I have found they have a “secret menu” that you need to ask for—their GF menu! I can’t wait to go and check it out. They apparently keep it secret so they can test it without spending a lot on publicity or publishing costs.

I know there are a few pizza places that boast of GF pizza. The only one I know of for sure is in the basement behind the Bethlehem Brew Works. I've got to try it out soon, as I am craving pizza for sure.

Last Sunday I ate Wendy’s. I had their Baja salad, which has a cup of their famous chili poured over it. It comes with GF tortilla strips and a big glop of guacamole. It was delicious, made with really high quality greens, and the whole mixture worked well together. Beware, the red jalapeño dressing is very hot!

I found a website that can help celiac sufferers find a restaurant for eating out: http://www.glutenfreerestaurants.org/. The only trouble I see is that it doesn’t have an option to sort by location, so if you look for a pizza place you are looking over a number of states...that sure seems silly to me. It should have a spot to type in the city or at least the state.

I would like to eat out once in a while but it seems like a lot of work and I fear that ignorant staff will say things are GF when they are not. People forget that they put flour in gravies and sauces. And sometimes you can get sick just because of cross contamination; food baked on floury bread boards or pans can do a number on an already messed up digestive system. Some ingredients will be questionable; for example, white vinegar, soy sauce, blue cheese. Chefs that do not realize they must use clean utensils to stir or taste GF foods are contaminating everything GF that they dip that spoon into, if it was anywhere near wheat or other gluten containing foods. It will be a bit complicated but what in life isn’t a little tricky? GF pizza here I come!

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jennifer March 12, 2013 at 01:19 PM
I am interested to hear how well you do eating out over then next few months. Please continue with updates!
Tricia Ratushny March 12, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Our 6 y.o. was diagnosed with Celiac in Dec. The eating out thing is hard. I too will watch for updates. BTW, Five Guys fries are GF & their burgers & dogs are as well if ordered w/o the bun. My son enjoys those since most fast food places are now off the table. Good luck!
Beth Wescott March 12, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Hi Angie! Not sure where you live but Bella's Ristorante on Main Street in Hellertown has an extensive GF menu! Hope you get a chance to check it out!
Timothy Hoyt, LMT March 12, 2013 at 07:08 PM
I was also going to recommend Bella's Ristorante!
Angie Drake March 12, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Thanks Tim and Beth: I ate at Bella's quite a few months ago, yes... very good food. I will have to go there soon as it is close for me and I know whatever they make GF will be good. Some friends told me this afternoon to try Armetta's in Emmaus; that they make GF pizza and some other GF items. Plus she said that they are scrupulous about keeping their GF foods separate and away from all wheat products (as it should be!).
Angie Drake March 12, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Thanks Tricia, I love the Five Guys burgers, will take a GF bun there and enjoy one and some GF fries! Wish they would add a salad to their menu... Do try Wendy's; that Baha salad was yummy for anyone!
Concerned March 15, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Pizza Hut has a great GF pizza....so yummy!
gobacktonj March 15, 2013 at 06:03 PM
George's pizzeria in Wilson on Freemansburg Ave has gluten free pizza and pasta selections. We get it for our kids when they ask for take out and it is really good.
Angie Drake March 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Thanks Concerned and Gobacktonj! Two more places I can go for GF pizza. I really appreciate that. I can forsee some tasty GF pizza on my horizon soon! I will look up the address for George's and get there soon for a yummy italian meal :)

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