Onions, some of you probably noted that over the past year I’ve been struggling with a newly-diagnosed gluten intolerance. It’s given me new sympathy for various dietary restrictions, and I would appreciate some input on a dedicated thread. It hasn’t limited my dinner or fine dining options much, but it’s been tough with lunch and cafes and more casual places. Yesterday I met up for lunch at Sofra, which I would have thought would be a good choice, and found myself with a mezze platter of dips and literally nothing to dip it in. They had not one single gluten free cracker, bread or pita option, and I ended up with carrot sticks, which isn’t really a satisfying lunch as I’d spent the entire morning doing barn work and I was starving. I was kind of shocked, and on my way home stopped at Formaggio and bought myself a mini flourless chocolate cake as recompense. My needs do not rise to allergy-level precautions in the kitchen, for which I am grateful, but I’d love suggestions of places that have good gluten-free alternatives that don’t leave me feeling left out. For example, does anyone know of a burger place that has a gluten free bun? A schwarma place with a GF pita wrap? Here’s what I’ve found:
Tatte, various- has GF bread and a large GF lunch menu
Three Little Figs, Somerville- GF bread for sandwiches and a few pastries such as an almond flour blueberry muffin
Butternut Bakehouse, Arlington- some pastries and treats
Donut Villa, Arlington- has GF bread and supposedly pancakes
Otto Pizza- various- my favorite GF pizza crust thus far
Flatbread Pizza, Somerville- has GF crust, not my favorite but edible
The Habit Burger Grill, Wilmington/Andover line- will do a lettuce wrap burger- probably anyone will do this, but they specifically advertise it which is noteworthy for a fast food drive through chain
And a few places that, as far as I can tell, should be avoided:
The Burtons Grill locations dotted across the area and their sister format, Red Heat Tavern, have promoted a commitment to allergy-friendly and gluten-free dining options. The website claims that gluten-free buns are available (under the gluten-free tab).
I haven’t been to a Burtons for quite awhile though, since the before times when I was still meeting people for business lunches. Not the most exciting food to be sure but wanted to add to the possibilities.
Adding: Bummed that Sofra didn’t have more to offer you.
I hear you… I was diagnosed with celiac disease in February (much to my surprise) and it’s been quite a challenge to navigate the restaurant world. I’ve been surprised at how many restaurants have chosen - for whatever reason - to not provide an allergy-aware menu, and instead direct customers to talk with their server or a manager.
We’ve been to the Red Heat Tavern (Westborough location) a few times and I’ve been very impressed. About 2/3 of their menu can be prepared GF, and they have a dedicated fryer and excellent procedures (all GF food is served on red dishes).
110 Grill has multiple locations and a separate GF kitchen, and everything on their menu can be made GF. I didn’t love their burger buns, however - they’re that heavy rice-laden kind. We’ve had no issues with the Wayland location, but I’ve heard mixed comments about other locations.
PF Chang’s (Natick) was horrible - few choices and poor procedures. I feel very lucky I didn’t get sick. There’s a Chinese restaurant in Framingham, I believe, with a good GF menu but I haven’t tried it out.
We had an excellent experience last weekend at Casa Loca in Westwood; I’ve heard Rosa Mexicano (which I believe is in Burlington) is safe and good too.
Five Guys will serve a burger on lettuce and take good care to wrap it separately from the rest of your party’s order. We keep meaning to go to Wahlburgers (last time we tried it was unexpectedly closed) - they have GF buns and fryers.
Lola’s in Natick has excellent options, including meatball subs (I’m not sure what brand of rolls they use but they were surprisingly good) and cannoli!
Also on my list for Italian is Faccia a Faccia in Back Bay… dedicated GF, Italian.
A few resources that I’ve found helpful:
Find Me Gluten Free app (the free version)
Gluten Dude app (I paid for this one, they offer a free trial)
@truman’s post reminds me that in the before times a colleague and I had lunch at Sichuan Gourmet in Burlington (just past the mall) and since we loved our lunch he asked about GF because his wife has celiac. They took a paper to go menu and, consulting a master list, carefully lined out by hand those menu items which could not be made GF. Both of us were impressed with the amount of diligence and care they took with their response. Not sure if now-former colleague (since retired) ever went with his GF wife. But I have a shellfish allergy, always communicated when I eat there, and have never had an issue. Plus fabulous food!!
The Abbey (both Brookline and Cambridge) have a GF menu. Was at the Cambridge location last week with a group from work. They took excellent care of our cohort with Celiac. You can see the GF choices online and they made sure to have a paper menu on the table. Confirmed everything, including having him read the ingredients in ginger beer before pouring. You might have to bring your own GF bun, but the burger is excellent.
Re middle eastern, one of the reasons that Sofra may not have had options is that available GF pita options are mostly awful.
(Some of my family is gluten sensitive, and we end up carrying their preferred GF pita to middle eastern restaurants because it’s rarely an available option - not great for spontaneous eating out, but not that hard if we know even slightly in advance.)
Bummed for you. I have no data for you because no one chez digga is GF but now, I will take notes and report anything interesting.
I hadn’t connected the dots so I did not realize your plight. (Then again, I’m the same person who didn’t realize a coworker I saw every day was pregnant until month 8, so it’s safe to say that I’m pretty oblivious.)
My first thought, since your case doesn’t require extreme caution, is to semi DIY. I would buy a bag of GF rolls, wrap each sliced one in a ziploc bag (suck out as much air as possible), put back into a larger bag, and freeze. Grab one on the way out the door on days with unknown lunch plans. Then order whatever you want, and move the fillings to your safe roll.
Absolutely! This will be my approach when traveling or if someone else picks the restaurant. But I thought a list of go-tos near home (Camberville) where I know I don’t have to bring my own GF bread would be helpful. I was caught off-guard at Sofra the other day as generally restaurants have been very understanding, helpful, and have come up with options to the point where I got complacent. I didn’t feel like having an extended discussion with a line at the counter behind me, but really they could have offered me a scoop of rice, or a bag of potato chips or just about anything and I would have been happy.
@truman The Find Me Gluten Free app is brilliant! I guess there’s an app for everything; why I didn’t think of this I don’t know, but thanks.
Yep, one of my friends and I are planning to go to White Lion to check it out!
I have to say that I’ve generally been somewhere in the range of underwhelmed to flat-out disappointed with the GF bread options I’ve been served in restaurants. I have been much happier with my bread-baking home experiments. Still a work in progress, though.
I love Sofra, but I’ve always purchased the pastries, prepared food and the jarred ingredients they sell to go. The space is so crowded, uncomfortably cramped, the ordering system and waiting is difficult, etc. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to try to eat in. I can really understand why asking questions and trying to get answers while waiting in the line is impossible.
I wish it were a both a bigger space and more of a real eat-in restaurant. However, that would increase costs, I guess.
I just looked at the online menu. None of the breads, crackers, cookies, pastries are gluten free. Two of the “oven ready” meals are gluten free; no sides are listed on the menu so I guess the fingerling potatoes and rice in those two aren’t available separately (they are prepackaged as “meals”) Some of the mezze, etc. are gluten free, but you would of course want pita or something to dip in them.
Thank you. That looks like a tortilla. Tortillas are easy, because corn ones are superior anyways IMO! I think I’ll call Koshari Mama and ask where their GF pita is from- you might have your family members try it as well. It was an actual puffy pita bread, not a flat wrap, and went very well with their dips and meals.