This article is new and fresh, provided by a member of our community. This is a special gluten-free treat because she is also running for city council and aims to make a “positive change in your community.” This is something, as you well know, Vero Vine takes very seriously. This top nine article is an update from our existing Vero Vine Top 9 Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants from 2018. Thank you, Brooke.
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No, it’s not just a fad diet. Yes, it is the absolute worst! A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. As a bread and beer lover, I had some serious grieving to do and serious lifestyle changes to make. One mistake can lead to a cascade of problems that takes months to resolve. Dining out is an experience that should be shared and enjoyed. After going through the typical stages of grief, denial, anger, depression, etc. I finally accepted my new lifestyle and set out to discover which local restaurants offer the most enjoyable gluten-free experience.
I’m talking about truly enjoying dining out once again. What I found is that it’s actually pretty simple. All I need to do to keep myself safe while ordering out is make sure the people preparing and handling my food understand the seriousness of celiac disease. The wait staff or chef should be able to tell me with certainty whether or not the food is gluten-free. If the staff is uncertain, I’ll stick to the salad (sans croutons). I don’t expect all servers to know what celiac disease is or what foods contain gluten. I just need an honest answer, they either know for certain or they don’t. If they don’t, I’m happy to move on to the safest menu option, no harm, no foul.
These restaurants have earned a spot on my favorites list based on their knowledge of the disease, the quality of the food, and their willingness to accommodate their customers (within reason, of course). Please, keep in mind restaurants reserve the right to change their ingredients at any time. Always verify with staff that your order is, in fact, gluten-free. This is a list based on my personal experiences. I’m sure there are other deserving restaurants, but I simply haven’t tried them yet!
In no particular order:
Hurricane Wings and Grill
Listen, gluten-free bread is terrible. Seriously, it’s bad. When you find a restaurant that offers a gluten-free bun/bread option that is close to the real deal, it’s like finding the holy grail. When I’m craving a burger, it’s Hurricane’s for me. Their gluten-free bun is so close to real bread that the first time I ordered it, I didn’t even finish the bun because I was convinced they had made a mistake with my order. I was wrong! It’s actually just that good. I love french fries too, but thanks to cross-contamination, I can’t eat fries that are fried in the same oil as breaded foods. The staff at Hurricane’s is always willing to check to see when the oil was changed and if anything breaded has been fried in it that day. If not, it’s game on, and I can get the burger and the fries!
Tip: Get there right at opening for lunch. You’ll have a better chance of getting that fresh oil. This applies to most restaurants; just ask if their oil is changed daily or when it was last changed. Riverside is also good about this!!
On the surface, tacos would appear gluten-free. It’s just meat and toppings in a corn shell, right? I wish. Most chain restaurants that offer tacos are actually using packaged taco seasoning, most contain gluten as a thickening agent. I’ve only dined at Taco Dive a few times, but each time the staff was super friendly and knowledgeable. On the first visit to Taco Dive, our server was able to recite which items are gluten-free without batting an eye. She also knew all of the items that had hidden gluten, which is a huge bonus for me if I don’t have to stop and think about each and every single ingredient in the dish.
So gluten-free pizza is one of those not as good as the real thing foods, but I have been over the moon about Station 49’s gluten-free crust. Every pizza on the menu is available with a gluten-free crust, and it’s surprisingly good. The crust is thin, crispy, and delicious. Apparently, it’s because of the tapioca flour. I don’t know how they do it, but I feel like I’m human again. My favorite is the Arugula Pie Pizza, and I usually get a bowl of Ribollita as well. Because it is cooked in the same oven as their other pizzas, there is a chance of cross-contamination, but the staff is very accommodating, and I’m willing to take the risk for this one. (I take a pill that helps break down the gluten, just in case)
Vinz Wining & Dining
Two words, Champagne + Raw bar. They have charcuterie as well as gluten-free cracker options. I love the atmosphere, too live music, and outdoor dining just adds to the experience. Vinz is truly a gem. So glad we’re finally in months that end in “er” so I can enjoy the oyster season and beautiful weather.
Ok, I like seafood. And a seafood boil is pretty celiac friendly. We always get one of the table combos. There is so much food in these shareable platters. Is anything drowned in butter ever not delicious?! One food I have relied heavily on since learning of my disease is potatoes. I have a newfound love and appreciation for this vegetable. Is it the healthiest? No. But it is delicious, comforting, naturally gluten-free, and served up by the Crab Stop in a bowl of butter, crustaceans, and corn. I can’t get enough of it.
Grind + Grape
Sometimes all you need is a great glass of wine and a charcuterie board. While they don’t have gluten-free crackers or bread options, the pickled veggies and other goodies served up on their cheese board make up for it. They will happily plate the crostinis on a separate plate for my husband to enjoy, and I can feast on gluten-free macarons after reveling in cheese and wine – a one-stop option for a gluten-free “meal” and dessert. Grind + Grape is also another spot with live music. Who doesn’t love jazz by the beach in the afternoon?
The absolute best place for a gluten-free breakfast or lunch. The gluten-free bread is delicious, Power Toast is my go-to, the juices are fresh-squeezed, and OMG, the chimichurri. Dining at La Tabla feels like you’ve just stopped by your friend’s house after a morning surf or yoga class, and he’s like, “Oh, hey, you look hungry let me whip you up something fresh and amazing.” More than just a great place to eat, Santiago, La Tabla’s owner, is like a friend who is as concerned about your health as he is about his own.
Post & Vine
They don’t have a gluten-free menu per se, but every single time I have eaten at Post & Vine, the wait staff goes above and beyond to communicate with the kitchen and ensure that my meal is 100% gluten-free. One time I ordered the brie (what? I like cheese, ok?), and I’m not kidding. The kitchen staff cut the brie casing off before plating and preparing my order… just in case. I mean, I didn’t even know that sometimes (not always) brie is made from mold spores that are grown on wheat or rye bread, but they did, and they made sure my meal was safe. Just knowing that the kitchen and wait staff are communicating makes me feel at ease, and I don’t have to question what is in my food.
Same as above, the staff knows what’s up and communicates with the kitchen. The gumbo at Green Marlin is not only gluten-free but it’s also made to order, and it’s delicious. Anything in the weeds is also to die for. The staff is super accommodating and always willing to check with the kitchen if I want to try something new. Their pastry chef has a few gluten-free desserts up her sleeve, too, so be sure to ask about dessert options.
The bottom line is I know I am safest when the food is made in-house, and the staff is knowledgeable about the seriousness of celiac disease and the menu. If the staff doesn’t know what I am talking about or doesn’t know how a sauce or dish is prepared, I’ll play it super safe. It’s understandable if they don’t know. A lot of restaurants actually order from restaurant food distributors. And that’s OK! Before I was gluten-free, the best lobster bisque I had ever eaten was served in a five-star restaurant, but it was actually purchased from Sysco. Now that my life is different, I simply have a new appreciation for restaurants that make their meals in-house and have staff that knows what’s in the food and what celiac disease is.