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Gluten Free in Tucson, AZ

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.

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By Area

Northwest

  • 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
  • Acacia
  • Zona 78
  • Wildflower
  • Goodness
  • Tucson Tamale Company
  • Harvest

Northeast

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Things to do in Tucson for People with Disabilities

This post should really be “suggestions of a few things to do” because the options here are nearly endless. If you have physical limitations, and live in Tucson or are visiting, there are all kinds of great activities for recreation. Those of us who are residents are lucky to live in a very accommodating city! *Note – it is always possible something has changed and although I try and keep this list updated, prices and accommodations change regularly, so always call first.

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  • Attractions
    • Old Tucson
      • Wheelchair accessible, but dirt streets
        • Fee for chairs to rent
      • Pet Friendly (but not indoors)
      • $17.95 adults, $10.95 kids (4-11). Seniors & military save $2
    • Reid Park Zoo link
      • $9 adults, $7 seniors 62+, $5 kids 2-14
    • Tucson Botanical Gardens link
      • $13 adults, $12 students/military/seniors, $7.50 kids 4-12

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Gluten Free in the Tucson Airport

Gluten Free Food in the Tucson Airport

There aren’t a whole lot of gluten free options at the Tucson International Airport, but there are definitely a large variety of pre-packed foods in Cibo, Arizona Marketplace, Ikes, and Desert News. There are a few options in the restaurants as well, and they are listed below. If you have an experience or find gluten free food items that are not listed below, please share with me by commenting below!

A Concourse (Gates A1-A9)

Southwest, American, Frontier

Arizona Marketplace

Various pre-packaged GF snacks

Boar’s Head Deli

Ask for meat rolled up, without bread. I ordered an Italiano sandwich, no bread, no cheese. It had salami, lettuce, tomato, and roasted red peppers. It was wrapped in a paper wrap. See photo below. (this was from the other terminal, but same restaurant)

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Cibo Market

Various pre-packaged GF snacks

Ike’s

Surf Sweet candies and gf snacks

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Restaurant Review: El Charro Cafe

El Charro Cafe

Tucson, AZ (3 locations: NE, Downtown, NW)

Website and Menu (GF denotes Gluten Free)

“high grade Mexican foods since 1922…Established in 1922, El Charro Café of Tucson, Arizona is The Nation’s Oldest Mexican Restaurant in continuous operation by the same family.”

El Charro, in my opinion, defines mexican food in Tucson. Everyone has their own opinion, and some would rather go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the south side, but most of those places don’t cater easily to gluten-free customers and typically have a more difficult language barrier. One restaurant that many argue is better than El Charro, or more authentic, is La Parrilla Suiza. While I agree that they have amazing flan, since going gluten-free I have only dined-in one time, and it was a scary experience. I arrived armed with my spanish translation cards, defining what I could not eat, and was given a completely blank stare. I doubt the card ever made it back to the chef, but I had to have faith in the fact that most mexican food is safe.

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Restaurant Review: Zayna Mediterranean

Zayna Mediterranean

Family-owned restaurant

Tucson, AZ: Central (Speedway/ E. of Alvernon)

Website and Menu

Step into the quaint restaurant of Zayna and you have found a mediterranean gem in the middle of the Sonoran desert. The entire building consists of two rooms, (during the weekdays and non-busy times, only one room) with seating for about 30 in each room. Although the restaurant does not explicitly offer a gluten-free menu, there are an abundance of options of those with food allergies.

When it comes to gluten, the only menu items that do contain gluten, are the gyro meat, pita bread, tabbouleh (bulgar wheat), sandwiches, beer, and all desserts including the obvious baklava. Check it out – you can have falafel and fries (which are both fried in a fryer without any gluten), hummus, chicken shawarma, and more!

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If you’ve never had Mediterranean food, don’t let that keep you from going! If you like chicken and some seasoning (nothing too crazy), then you will love the chicken shawarma. It comes with green beens (which I sub for rice), hummus, a tomato, pickle, and garlic sauce. Be sure to let them know you’re gluten free so they don’t bring hummus on your plate, and if they make a mistake and bring it out with hummus (which they never have for me before) just be sure and ask them to re-make it! The staff is friendly and the restaurant is family-owned, so all the cooks are related and truly care about the authentic food they make. When I go to Zayna, there’s no competition, I order the chicken shawarma plate every time.

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If you order a side of fries (which I highly recommend :] ) Be sure to ask for a side of garlic sauce. It compliments the fries beautifully (as well as the chicken shawarma plate, which comes with the sauce). This garlic sauce is also dairy free, because it’s basically mayo and lemon juice. Some other entrees come with yogurt sauce which is not dairy free and has a completely different flavor with cucumber, garlic, and mint. Be sure to read the menu and talk to your waiter if you are dairy free, as I’m sure you can sub the garlic sauce.

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The fries are safe in their own fryer with the falafal, which is a great thing for gluten-free folks! My understanding is that as in any restaurant cross contamination is always an issue, but generally all the chicken is cooked on one side of the grill, separate from the gluten-containing foods. You can also tell the chef if you have celiac or need them to be extra-careful and they are willing to wipe down the grill. Going in at a slower time, such as a weekday or between lunch and dinner is always a good idea for your first visit.

It’s a great to-go dinner too!

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Zayna Mediterranean specializes in light and healthy vegetarian, Middle Eastern & Mediterranean cuisine made from fresh ingredients and served in a casual setting.

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Stars: Day 56 #100PositiveDays

Tucson is a special place.

I may be a little biased since it’s quite possibly my favorite place in the world, and also happens to be the place I call “home.” It has majestic mountains, the bluest skies, and this combination makes for a constant real-life painting backdrop. There are bike paths on every road, snow an hour away in the winter, and Tucson lacks the more sweaty quality of my new place of residence (humidity). But beyond all of this, Tucson has consciously made a decision to prevent light pollution of our skies. The University has an impressive astronomy program and from the surrounding mountains, telescopes reach to discover all sorts of new things about the world beyond the clouds.

Credit: Cristobal Young

Credit: Cristobal Young

You can be in the middle of town and still look up and see a hundred stars. Granted, it comes with its cons- many people don’t like driving on roads without street lights. Gait enters though, all it takes is one solid minute of staring up into that night sky to decide it’s all worth it.

What is it about the stars that can completely distract your mind from all the other clutter? I see the stars like many people see the ocean, only I didn’t grow up near any water. But it doesn’t matter, because you can gaze up into those stars and see the same depth to the world and feel that sense of how minuscule your single body is in the vast planet. Ocean or stars? For me, I prefer the stars, for they can take us even beyond the ocean. Step outside and take a gander – it’s out of this world.