(Originally posted this week on Celiac.com)
I am so appreciative of the wonderful comments I've received since posting my last entry regarding some of the safe restaurants I know of that offer gluten-free items. I thought it most-important to summarize all the great information that my lovely readers have sent my way. As Celiacs, we are ALWAYS searching for our "safe havens"...a.k.a. a restaurant we can enjoy that won't make us sick! For years the joy of socializing and eating out at restaurants with friends and family seemed so daunting to me and dangerous. I refused to give up that piece of my life, however. Though I do cook a large majority of my meals at home, I also have created a lovely collection of eating establishments that not only make my psyche happy and fulfilled, but my stomach too!
For any of you starting the brave journey into the land of "is this a safe place to eat?"...I feel your anxiety, trust me. But don't give up on finding these unknown, hidden treasurers AND then sharing them with all of us! You see...I do believe that it's also up to ALL of us as Celiacs to go out there with dietary card in hand (if needed) and inform everyone in our worlds, our communities about what it means to live gluten-free and with abundance. If we all approach this journey as just that...a journey, not a goal or something to fix, we will have a much better chance at shifting perspectives and creating a much safer world for Celiacs all over the world.
Keep up the great work and please continue to send me your restaurant finds, tips and information. Together, we can all truly make a difference and create the awareness that we so desperately need to instill in every restaurant server, chef and owner. In time this will happen, but it will take our diligence and time, especially in America. I'm still struck by the insanely higher level of awareness about Celiac Disease that almost every other country seems to posses. My last visit to the Basque Country in northern Spain last September, once again proved to me that our country is lacking in Celiac education. It didn't matter what tiny town I was visiting, or what bar I saddled up to for some tapas...EVERYONE knew about "Celiaca"...as they say, and how I could eat safely. I just love that. It's a gift and makes me want to live where they know how to feed me!
So, here's a brief compilation of what you lovely readers informed me of...so take this information and please share it with your other Celiac friends, wherever they might be:
1. Baja Fresh is IFFY - Here's what a reader told me:
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! Each location does vary, so be very careful when ordering. I have successfully eaten their 'naked burrito' which is served in a bowl with no tortilla.
Try these safe alternatives: Rubio's and/or Qdoba Mexican Grill.
2. A very helpful tip for Celiacs is ordering the dietary cards that explain what we can and cannot eat - they come in several languages (Spanish, French, Italian, German, and English) and make traveling and eating out a breeze. Check out the site: www.dietarycard.com
3. I was told by several readers that Johnny Carinos, The Old Spaghetti Factory, and Carrabba's Italian Grill are great places for Celiacs to dine and the staff members/chefs are very educated and prepared at making gluten-free dishes.
4. Since it's BBQ season, 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 though, as far as prep stations for the food.
5. And finally...I was also told about another on-line company that have some delicious gluten-free goodies, breads, etc. so please visit and let me know what you think of Kinnikinnick.com.
My best to you all - Let gluten-free abundance abound!!