Survival Guide – Restaurants

When I first decided to go gluten free I had no idea what it actually entailed, it turns out that it’s a little more then just not eating bread and pasta. So in the hopes that it will help some people here are some of the things that I’ve found helpful for not being gluten-ed. This is in no way 100% certain to keep you from eating any gluten, and you should always use you own best judgement.

Important things to know:

  • An otherwise gluten free item fried with a breaded item will have gluten
  • Oats in the US are almost exclusively processed on the same equipment as wheat, so assume they’re contaminated unless they specifically say otherwise
  • Soy sauce has gluten, tamari does not
  • A very large portion of dressings and sauces have gluten – be very careful with BBQ sauce which often will have soy, beer or flour to thicken and salad dressing which often has soy (especially anything with asian in the name) and you should try to avoid anything pre packaged which will have things like ‘modified food starch’ which usually contains gluten – in general if they don’t make it there and they can’t tell you exactly whats in it, don’t eat it.
  • Some sushi rice is made with a vinegar that contains gluten, I have gluten free friends who eat sushi and are fine but I generally don’t feel great afterwards
  • Similarly certain miso is made with glutinous ingredients, so best to avoid
  • For alcohol – definitely avoid: beer, and ‘flavored beer’ like Mikes Hard and Twisted tea – anything flavored with malt. Good to avoid: whiskey, bourbon, scotch, and vodkas made with grain (the jury is out on this issue; technically distillation should remove any gluten, but a lot of people report reacting anyway)

Now where to use this knowledge, in my experience your Best Bets are:

Mediterranean (Greek, Spanish (tapas), ect.) – very seafood heavy, and a lot of grilled -

Seafood – grilled fish and veggies are your friend!

Mexican – make sure any tortillas are corn flour only!

Falafel – falafel it’s self is gluten free, just double check that they don’t fry it with anything breaded, otherwise just avoid the pita and you should be great!

Indian – make sure they don’t use flour in their sauce (80% or so of the menu will have dairy)

Steak Houses – just be careful about the sides

Vietnamese – Pho! Its my new favorite thing (but make sure to ask if they marinate their meat in anything before they cook it)

OK Bets:

Cafes – generally have salads and a lot are now getting gluten free bread – but make sure that they don’t toast the bread on the same toaster as the regular bread

New American – be careful of added fried items

Thai – the curry should be safe, but ALWAYS ask, I’ve found places that marinate all of their meat in soy before putting it in anything. And while the noodles are often safe they use soy and miso all the time.

Italian – any good restaurant will have grilled meat / fish and veggies

Not so great bets:

Japanese – sashimi is safe, everything else is questionable

Traditional American / Diners – everything is covered with bread, fried with bread, on bread, or all of the above

Chinese – in my experience don’t even try

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