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5 TIPS FOR EATING OUT GLUTEN-FREE AT RESTAURANTS
Going out to eat when you’re gluten-free or have other dietary restriction is difficult. However, eating out gluten-free IS possible, it just takes more intentional planning and asking key questions. Here are my 5 top tips for eating out gluten-free at restaurants.
Tip #1: Do Your Research!
The internet is your friend—at first! Do a google search for restaurants offering gluten-free menus or use the findmeglutenfree app/website. Look through the options available and use it as a starting point when you want to eat out gluten-free. Never completely rely on the restaurant’s website or someone’s review of a restaurant to see if it’s safe for your dietary needs.
Note: You all know I LOVE to review restaurants! You can even look through my reviews here. I write those to be a first step for you—not as a means to skip these next 4 tips!
Tip #2: Contact the Restaurant Ahead of Time
As I mention above, when eating out gluten-free never simply rely on an online menu. Always call the restaurant ahead of time to ask questions and ensure they are capable of accommodating your individual dietary needs. I personally find open-ended questions (ones not resulting in a yes/no answer) to be the most helpful here. Some questions I like to as are:
- What kinds of accommodations are you able to make for individuals with food allergies?
- How do you prevent against cross contamination?
- Do you have any dedicated prep stations/fryers/ovens for gluten-free dishes? (While this is not an open-ended question, this can help you see how much they really are able to protect against cross-contamination)
Based on these questions you can often tell if it’s worth eating out gluten-free at this specific restaurant. I’ve often called a restaurant and it became clear within a couple seconds of the phone conversation whether they could truly accommodate allergies/intolerances, or just food “preferences.”
Bonus tip: Be considerate of restaurant staff. Try to call during a typical restaurant lull—like 2:30-4pm—so you aren’t rushed off the phone. And if they are busy, ask when a good time would be to call back.
Tip # 3: Be Clear, but Kind, to Waitstaff
When eating out gluten-free, ensure the waitstaff are well aware of your dietary needs. Use clear language to be sure that they understand what kinds of accommodations they will need to make. When eating out gluten-free, we often use the language “gluten allergy” even though we have Celiac disease. More people seem to understand the severity of “allergy.”
It may also be helpful to carry an allergy alert card to use at restaurants when eating out gluten-free (such as the one I’ve created and you can download for free below). Give it to the waitstaff—but be kind, not condescending.
Keep reading for more tips on eating out gluten-free, but also be sure to download our FREE printable restaurant card for safe gluten-free dining! It is business card sized, perfect to keep your wallet and give to restaurant staff to ensure they understand your dietary needs.
For example, you could say something to the effect of, “I have a serious gluten-allergy. Yesterday I talked to someone on the phone who assured me that the kitchen could accommodate my needs so I could eat safely here. This allergy card states what I can and cannot eat, plus some suggestions for the kitchen that could keep me healthy. I know that this is some extra work for you and the kitchen, so I’m happy to wait a bit longer for food.”
Tip #4: Always Double-Check
Once your food is delivered to your table, always double-check that the entrée in front of you is gluten-free! When eating out gluten-free, sometimes a separate person or a manager will bring out the gluten-free entrée so it’s always important to double-check! In cases when the incorrect food is delivered, ask for a correction/replacement meal. Better yet, ask the manager for one.
Tip #5: Don’t Give In to Peer Pressure!
Some restaurants can and will accommodate your food needs making eating out gluten-free easy. But some will not. You are under no obligation to eat if you are not sure that your needs are actually being considered. Do not compromise your health for the sake of ‘fitting in.’
If it becomes clear when ordering that your needs cannot be accommodated safely, leave.
If it is a social gathering, just order a gluten-free drink and enjoy the company. Also, if you know ahead of the social gathering that your needs may not be accommodated well, eat ahead of time and bring a snack to curb the hunger. Gluten-free bars like Kind or RX Bars are great for this.
Some places may even let you bring your own meal if they are unable to accommodate. For example, my family once attended a party at a Bowling Alley where they served pizza as part of the party. The bowling alley was happy to let us bring in our own gluten-free pizza since they could not accommodate gluten-free dietary needs.
Do you have any other tips for eating out gluten-free? Share them in the comments.
Also, download our FREE printable restaurant card for safe gluten-free dining! It is business card sized, perfect to keep your wallet and give to restaurant staff. Plus, you’ll get FREE instant access to my online library of free printables designed to make your gluten-free lifestyle totally easy!
This is not a sponsored post. This is an honest review and all opinions are my own. My full disclosure isn’t that interesting, but you can find it here.
Brown’s Brewing Company–Walloomsac Taproom: A Restaurant Review
Brown’s Brewing Company first opened in Troy back in the ‘90s and it holds the reputation in the Capital Region of New York as having excellent food and atmosphere. However, breweries can be risky places for the gluten-free. They tend to put beer. in. everything. And in all honesty, Tyler was ‘glutened’ at Brown’s early on in our marriage. He ordered a garden salad with chicken on top, no croutons—but did not tell the waiter that he needed his meal to be gluten-free. I’ll stress, this was not Brown’s fault. We did not inform them that we needed gluten-free accommodations. Furthermore, that menu item did not make gluten-free claims.
note: learn from our mistakes and ALWAYS inform wait staff that you are gluten-free for medical reasons. For simplicity, we usually we just say “wheat allergy.” When your food is delivered, double check: “Is this gluten-free?” Every. Stinking. Time. This was one of our early learning experiences on the need to advocate for yourself when dining out. This is also why I designed an “allergy alert” card to use when eating out. It makes advocating easy peasy!
Download the allergy-alert card for FREE here, plus get instant access to my online library of free printables designed to make your gluten-free lifestyle totally easy!
Fast forward 6 years to today, and Brown’s Brewing Company makes our gluten-free hearts (and tummies) happy! They’ve opened a new location, the Walloomsac Taproom, in an old manufacturing facility about 2 miles from where we live–and it’s one of our current favorites. Keep reading to see why!
I cannot say enough about the atmosphere at Brown’s Walloomsac Taproom. They’ve restored an old factory complex from the mid-1800s and actually create and distribute their craft beer from the location. We haven’t done a brewery tour, but unfortunately, none of their craft beers are gluten-free, but we can dream huh?
In addition, Brown’s Walloomsac Taproom hosts entertaining theme nights including live music and trivia. Not only does this location have eclectic and rustic indoor décor including original brick walls and antiques, but it’s located right on the Walloomsac River. If you choose to dine outdoors you’ll not only view the river, but hear the little water fall as well.
The Walloomsac Tavern does not have a dedicated gluten-free menu, but each of the times we’ve dined the waitstaff was very knowledgeable about the gluten-free options available. That’s a big plus! When eating out, it is unsettling to have a waitstaff that does not understand gluten-free accommodations—amiright? The staff at Brown’s explained their gluten-free accommodations and confirmed that each item they brought us was gluten-free. As an added bonus, many of their menu items are locally sourced. (And I mean local. I actually know some of these farmers personally!)
The menu specials change weekly, but there are some staple gluten-free substitutes including gluten-free tortilla chips (note: the gluten-free chips are not the house-fried tortilla chips. They do not have a dedicated gluten-free fryer), gluten-free buns, and gluten-free pizza crust. On our most recent trip we shared the nachos appetizer (made with gluten-free chips) and Yushak’s pizza.
The nachos came topped with onions, tomatoes, peppers, jalapenos, black olives, cheese, and sour cream and served with a cup of salsa on the side. I’m a sucker for nachos, pretty much any nachos, but I’m telling you—these were excellent! The Yushak’s pizza has on a gluten-free shell and topped with chunks of pepperoni, Yushak’s sausage, and bacon. This honestly is probably one of the best gluten-free pizzas we’ve eaten. I actually asked our server a second time if it was actually a gluten-free pizza. The cheese was so melty and stretchy and the toppings were perfect. There were none of the tell-tell signs that the crust was gluten-free. The texture, consistency, and flavor were spot on for pizza crust. It seriously tasted that good. (It definitely was gluten-free! No gluten reactions!) Plus, can you go wrong with bacon on a pizza?
We’ve had a couple other menu items at past visits including the Tiashoke Farm Wood Fire Grilled Hamburger on a gluten-free bun with a side salad. This choice was also super yummy!
I am seriously so impressed with the gluten-free food we ate at Brown’s Walloomsac Taproom. While their gluten-free selection is not expansive, we’ve been a couple times and have not been deprived. Especially when there are more pizza creations to try and their specials change weekly. Have you eaten at Brown’s? If so, share your experience with us in the comments! If visiting the Capital Region of New York, I highly recommend you visit one of the Brown’s Brewing Company restaurant locations.
Also–just to make sure that you don’t make the same mistake we did the first time we ate at Brown’s, I made an Allergy-Alert Restaurant Card just for YOU! Download it now and print at your own convenience. It’s business card sized, so it fits right in your wallet to carry with you whenever you eat out. When you order, give the card to your waiter. Happy dining!