The Island of Kauai: a gluten and dairy free diner’s dream.
This hippy fantasy is perhaps the easiest island out there for those requiring a special diet. Visiting Kauai makes every other vacation seem like a nightmare. The tropical fruits are an obvious must, coupled with local veggies, acai bowls (hold the granola), and smoothies galore. You barely even need to think about food on this beautiful tropical island!
I was especially fortunate when we stayed in Kauai because we stayed in a vacation rental with a full kitchen. I cooked several meals (especially breakfast and snacks) which always makes the trip less stressful and my stomach happier), but Kauai is easy enough even without this luxury. I had the opportunity to splurge on a few restaurants during my stay!
Click here for a google map of all of the restaurants I mention below.
Areas on the island: (expanded in detail below)
- Hanalei (north, not far from Na Pali coast for hiking): Harvest Market, Postcards Cafe, Hanalei Taro & Juice (not recommended)
- Princeville (north): St. Regis Princeville
- Kapa’a: Coconut Cup, Rainbow Living Foods, Kauai Juice Co, Java Kai
- Wailua: Cafe Coco
Let’s take a closer look at each!
Gluten Free in DC
(that has a nice ring to it…!)
I recently took a vacation to Washington D.C. with family. We were lucky enough to stay in a timeshare (Wyndham) outside the city (National Harbor), which meant I had a kitchen to cook in! This was fantastic and allowed me to cook breakfasts every day and a couple lunch and dinners. On Saturday however, we went in to the city and are lunch and dinner out. Check out the great restaurants I found!
Penn Quarter – downtown DC
I love love love Jaleo so much. I dined for the first time at this restaurant in Las Vegas for my 21st birthday and couldn’t wait to check out their DC location on my recent trip! Jaleo can only be found in 4 locations, with 3 of them being near DC (Penn Quarter, Crystal City, & Bethesda) and the last location in Vegas. The location we visited was the original, and it’s right downtown within walking distance to all the museums, capitol building, and the mall. It’s also not far from Chinatown, so if you’re in for the day, check out Shop House on 7th st. It is definitely a unique menu with tapas for sharing, suggesting 2-3 dishes per person. Not a cheap menu, but you will pay for the quality flavors and the experience.
Charleston, SC: Downtown
Website and Menu
A new find in Charleston! Thanks to Tiffany, a reader who commented on my Gluten Free in Charleston post, I was introduced to this fabulous spot. Oddly enough, a friend of mine is friends with both the Head Chef and Pastry Chef. Julia Ingram, Pastry Chef of Edmund’s Oast, is a young entrepreneur who opened Sweet Radish bakery a couple years ago and is gluten-free herself. She recently closed the dedicated gluten-free bakery and decided to work at Edmund’s Oast full time, but brought her gluten-free expertise with her. This, coupled with the fact that her fiancé is the head chef, makes for an incredibly gluten-free friendly environment!
Slightly North of Broad
Charleston, SC: Downtown
Website and GF Menu
The first time, we dined on a Sunday in December and I made a reservation for 7:15 pm around noon that day without problem, however, the place was completely booked when we got there. The second time, we dined on a Thursday in March and I made reservations weeks in advance with little availability. I highly suggest making a reservation a week or so before. I used Open Table to make the reservation and in the comments I always write “gluten free and dairy free guest” so they can be prepared. I also think it helps reinforce that they have guests with food restrictions dining who appreciate their restaurant. Upon arrival, the gluten free menu was already ready for me!
Top Places to Eat Gluten Free (safely) in Charleston, SC
Charleston, in case you haven’t heard, is a bit of a foodie town. You will generally find high-quality ingredients (many farm-to-table) and excellent flavor combinations, for a decent price. It’s also in the south, meaning, you will find a lot of shrimp and grits as one of the only gluten free options listed. However, as far as dining gluten free in the south, Charleston does a much better job than many surrounding areas.
This list highlights my favorite restaurants in Charleston that will not only serve good tasting food, but also have a celiac’s best interest in mind. In general, these are in order (within each category) of my personal experiences and likelihood to return, from most positive to least. I am always updating, so check back often!
The Fat Hen
John’s Island – Charleston, SC
Website and Menu w/ GF options (*)
This charming gem is found a short drive from downtown Charleston and without a doubt makes the top of my list, when it comes to dining gluten free in Charleston. I have eaten at this dinner restaurant more times than I can count, and each and every experience has exceeded my expectations. The wait staff are always attentive, informed, and professional and the quality of the food never disappoints. Gluten Free options can be found on the main menu and include salads, mussels, coq au vin (chicken), short ribs (The Rib, not the Braised Short Rib), grouper, duck, salmon, and even crab cakes can be catered to celiacs. I never worry about cross contamination here and the restaurant is certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group. Even better, many ingredients and beers (not gluten free, though) are locally sourced. Continue reading
True Food Kitchen
Locations in: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Fairfax, Houston, Newport Beach, San Diego, Santa Monica
Website and Menu (varies at each location)
I always feel safe when I eat at True Foods. Even better, I feel good about what I’m eating. All menu items at True Foods are approved on Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. I live & went to the University where Andrew Weil does his work at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Basically, the diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, grains, proteins, herbs, etc and very limited sweets with no refined sugars and allows red wine. The anti-inflammatory diet can be used for a variety of health needs, especially those with autoimmune disorders as well as preventing cancers, alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
Below is an image of the pyramid.
Okay, so back to True Food Kitchen. The menu easily highlights gluten free options and the staff in my experience has been exceptional at accommodating other food restrictions including dairy. My favorite dish is the Spaghetti Squash Pasta and I have trouble ordering anything else because I love this dish so much! I add chicken to make it a bit more filling, since it tends to be on the small side. I also order it without cheese, to make it dairy free, but still delicious!
Sir Veza’s Taco Garage
Tucson, AZ (2 Tucson Locations, 3 Phoenix Locations)
Website and Menu
Sir Veza’s founder and chef are in the same family as the El Charro family. I have been told that there is Celiac in the family and that’s a huge part of why they take gluten free seriously (but this is secondhand information). I have found the speedway and swan location in Tucson to be much better trained, both in their overall service as well as knowledge on gluten free options. I really try to avoid the oracle location if I have a choice.
I loveeee me some Sir Veza’s. Gluten free menu options are marked on the normal menu, so you don’t have to ask for a separate one. The options really are endless here with tacos on corn tortillas, wings, fried chicken, rice bowls, chicken sandwiches & burgers with Udi’s buns, and more. Complimentary, you will start out with some chips and salsa, with the chips being made in the dedicated gluten free fryer. (Just because these things can change at any time, I like to periodically double check that they’re still being made in a separate fryer).
I love the wings here, because often wings can be a hard thing to find. (The only other safe ones I have found in Tucson are at La Cocina downtown). My favorite are the prickly pear wings, which are shown below with sauce on them and with the sauce on the side. Other options are franks hot which is dusted with several seasonings and served with franks hot on the side. I’m not a huge fan of these franks wings because the 6 spice dusting tastes dry and feels like I’m inhaling hot powder. Lastly there are diablo wings with agave and Sriracha, which I have not yet tried. These are served with “Old skool” fries automatically, but can be subbed for another side. The old skool fries are made in a dedicated gluten free fryer, but again, always good to clarify that you need them to be. Even though menu options say “gf” I always like to tell them that they need to be gluten free, just in case there are any subs necessary or a fryer is involved.
Disney – the most magical place on Earth!
Based on my most recent trip to Anaheim, CA I would say that holds true when it comes to gluten free food options and catering to special diets.
It is clear the park makes a conscious effort to cater to those with food allergies and it seemed like everywhere we went, the staff was educated when it came to gluten free menu options. We stayed in Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel which is very convenient and within walking distance to both parks, as well as downtown disney. You cross the street and are surrounded by Mickey ears, restaurants, and that famous Disney energy. Since Disney is so expensive (I mean wow – really? How do families afford this?!) we decided to get the evening passes for Friday night and Saturday night and not do the full-day pass.
Upon arrival Friday evening, the first restaurant we went to in Downtown Disney was called Uva Bar. Continue reading
My Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Surprisingly, Tucson has done a very good job in recent years of getting some good gluten free options and several safe kitchens. We now have 3 dedicated gluten free restaurants/bakeries and many of their products can even be found at other restaurants in town.
- Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery
- The Melting Pot
- Flemings Steakhouse
- *Blanco (La Encantada)
- North (La Encantada)
- El Charro link to my review
- Sir Vezas link to my review
- Red Robin
- Saffron Indian Bistro
- Zona 78
- Tucson Tamale Company
- Truland Burgers and Greens
- Contigo Latin Kitchen
- Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
- Claire’s Cafe