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The Best Gluten Free Restaurants

Updated on April 1, 2016

Outback Steakhouse Offers Gluten Free Items

Outback is an excellent choice for gluten free dining
Outback is an excellent choice for gluten free dining | Source

Thank goodness more restaurants are seeing a need to offer gluten free menu items and cater to dietary restrictions of their patrons. As the diagnosis of celiac disease or some form of gluten intolerance continues to rise, food providers and restaurants are finding a niche market. Since my daughter was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, we are always on the lookout for family friendly eating establishments that cater to gluten free diets by offering more than just salads and vegetables.

Here are some chain restaurants that offer gluten free menu items. The list is not inclusive, but it is based on my family's personal experiences.

Gluten Free Restaurant Reviews

Red Robin

This chain restaurant is known for catering to kids. It also serves several gluten free items, making it a desirable place for families with wheat allergies. One of the best things about this restaurant is that they actually have gluten free buns that taste good! In addition, some of their restaurants use a dedicated fryer for the steak fries so they are gluten free too.

On the Border

If you are allergic to shellfish, milk, soy, fish, tree nuts or peanuts, On the Border has menu items to serve you. For kids, there is a grilled chicken entrée. Adults have multiple items to select from including tacos, fajitas (without flour tortillas and condiments) and salads. The company uses a similar disclaimer as others. It also states its foods use a common fryer oil so be aware.

Mellow Mushroom

My daughter was thrilled to find Mellow Mushroom! What kid doesn't like pizza? Their gluten free pizza menu is outstanding. Better yet, they actually train their cooks to put on fresh gloves and a fresh apron, and to only use gluten free utensils and ingredients. Their gluten free crust proves to be quite tasty.

Outback Steakhouse

This national chain has an extensive gluten free menu with multiple fish, steak, burger, chicken and salad options. Yum! While their Aussie Fries are not gluten free, they gladly substitute other side items.

PF Chang's

This Asian inspired restaurant features multiple gluten free items. Although the waitress wasn't familiar with what gluten free options they had for kids, she was willing go ask the chef. My daughter was able to order a gluten free kids chicken meal. They brought it out with gluten free soy sauce, which surprisingly, she liked! A nice feature at Chang's is that the gluten free dishes come out on special plates with the PF Chang's logo as a way of making sure you know it is gluten free. On our last experience, the manager came and spoke with us to make sure we were happy with the meal. He told us that their regular sauces were the gluten culprits, not the meats. We found the staff to be pleasant and eager to serve gluten free items. Be sure to ask for gluten free soy sauce!

Gluten free menu at PF Chang's
Gluten free menu at PF Chang's | Source
Pei Wei diner offers limited gluten free menu items
Pei Wei diner offers limited gluten free menu items | Source
Chick-fil-A offers gluten free options for quick meals on the go
Chick-fil-A offers gluten free options for quick meals on the go | Source

More Gluten Free Restaurant Reviews

PEI WEI

Although this establishment is owned by the same company as PF Chang's we found the offerings and service to be quite different. The staff was not willing to make any special accommodations outside of the four limited gluten free menu items.

Z Pizza

This pizza chain makes its gluten free pizza crust out of rice, tapioca and potato flours. While I thought it was outstanding, it wasn't as well received by my daughter. She didn't like the crust or the cheese. However, for adults, it has a multitude of options for gluten intolerant patrons.

Biaggi's

For Italian food lovers, this is a gem! Offerings include many chicken, fish, beef and brown rice pasta entries. Gluten free sauces to choose from include Marsala, Alfredo, sun dried tomato, pesto, Italian salsa and more. The best part is they even bring out special gluten free bread, which tasted quite good.

Chick-fil-A

This fast food chain is a good option if you are in a hurry. It features salads and grilled chicken options and even grilled chicken nuggets for kids. They do state on the nutritional information that they attempt to avoid cross contamination by following their preparation guidelines.

Gluten Free Dining Concerns

Some restaurants may offer gluten free items on the menu, but it is important to read the fine print. If an eating establishment does not have a separate preparation area for gluten free items, then there is a significant risk of cross contamination if the gluten free item comes in contact with a food containing gluten or a utensil used to prepare it. Depending upon the level of gluten intolerance, this can be an issue for the diner.

Many moons ago I waited tables to help finance my college bills. I cannot imagine the restaurants I worked in being able to avoid cross contamination. All three of these restaurants had a "A" sanitation rating, but trust me, none of them were tidy in the kitchen. During dinner time, it was pure chaos in the kitchen. I admire any restaurant that attempts to keep separate work areas. Some restaurants use the following disclaimer:

"AS WE COOK, PREPARE, AND SERVE YOUR MEAL, THE LISTED MENU OPTION MAY COME IN CONTACT WITH THE ALLERGEN YOU WANT TO AVOID. FOR EXAMPLE, WE MIGHT COOK THE LISTED MENU OPTION ON THE SAME BROILER AS A MENU ITEM THAT CONTAINS THE ALLERGEN YOU WANT TO AVOID. WE CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT ANY MENU ITEM WILL BE PREPARED COMPLETELY FREE OF THE ALLERGEN IN QUESTION."

Red Robin: A Good Choice for Gluten Free Families

Red Robin is a family friendly restaurant chain that has gluten free menu items
Red Robin is a family friendly restaurant chain that has gluten free menu items | Source

What is your favorite restaurant that offers gluten free food?

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Red Robin Caters to Gluten Free Customers

Recently my family dined at Red Robin in Burlington, NC. We had nothing short of a fantastic experience. Surprise--they offered gluten free buns! My daughter was thrilled to order a grilled cheese. The waiter was very attentive and offered to make sure the kitchen staff used a separate prep and cooking area. Red Robin may have standard menus and practices, but on a local level we found this restaurant was more than willing to go above and beyond the norm in providing gluten free dining. Recently, Red Robin added a "Customizer Hub" to their website. You can build a custom allergen menu based on your personal nutritional restrictions. http://www.redrobin.com/customizer_hub#_allergen Way to go Red Robin!

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    • zaton profile image

      Zaton-Taran 2 years ago from California

      A great resource. I never knew that the Outback Steakhouse was a gluten-free-friendly eatery. Been looking for a place to take my friends, who have celiacs and just got married. Great hub!

      https://hubpages.com/food/Energy-Foods-to-Fight-Fa...

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image
      Author

      LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Oh, yes. I believe he was from Durham, NC. It was in the media a while ago, but it was very short lived. I am looking forward to reading your hub.

    • icmn91 profile image

      icmn91 4 years ago from Australia

      He was the man that I believe faced 11 years imprisonment for labeling gluten-filled bread as GF. I'll be discussing it further in the next few days in a future hub.

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image
      Author

      LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      icmn91, sorry, I am not familiar with the incident you are referring to.

    • icmn91 profile image

      icmn91 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you.

      Just out of interest (being near Raleigh), did you hear about Seelig or know anyone affected by his incident

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image
      Author

      LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      icmn91, I am so sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience in the residence hall. In the US, I think more restaurants and more food manufacturers are offering gluten free items. It IS getting better, but you still have to be careful.

    • icmn91 profile image

      icmn91 4 years ago from Australia

      @GoodLady I believe you would have access to Amedei chocolate (one of the few brands that makes chocolate that is both soy and gluten free), given where you are located.

      @LauraGSpeaks Great information. I hope to get to the States sometime to try out some of these places. I recently joined this community so that I could speak out about my terrible GF experience at an Australian University Residential Hall.

      But I shall most definitely keep your info on hand. Thanks ;-)

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 5 years ago from Scotland

      Great information for me to use the next time I am on a visit to the good ole USof A.....jimmy

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image
      Author

      LauraGSpeaks 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Thanks for reading GoodLady. You sparked my interest--I will have to research the stats on gluten intolerance by country and see where Italy ranks.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Nothing LIKE this in Italy. But USA is way ahead providing what people really need.

      An exhaustive review which I'm sure a lot of people will seriously appreciate.