Gluten Free dining?

Discussion in 'Dining and Food' started by KFol, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. KFol

    KFol Beach Crab

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    Hi!

    Wondering what some of the best places are around here with gluten free meals that are Celiac Friendly (meaning they do their best to also avoid cross-contamination). Thanks!
     
  2. hnasri

    hnasri Beach Comber

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    Marie's Bistro prepare all the meals to order & we have rice noodles to substitute for Pasta, we have Marinara, olive oil, fresh pesto, homemade mashed potato, fresh seafood and hand cut steaks all cooked to order and totally no cross contamination when we are told of any allergies (looking Forward to serve you)
     
  3. Will B

    Will B Moderator

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    that is awesome to know. My wife is a celiac, too...
     
  4. hnasri

    hnasri Beach Comber

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    Looking forward to serve you as well.
     
  5. BeachMac

    BeachMac Beach Lover

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    KFol and WillB, I actually have a restaurant questionnaire about to mail out to chefs to create a handy resource for celiac vacationers in our area, PM me your email and I'll send you what I find out, but it could take a month or two since so many restaurants are closed right now. After finding out from my doctor earlier this year that I had to omit gluten, it is surprisingly more of a challenge to dine out here at home (South Walton) than anywhere else we have traveled. Many local restaurant staff members are not properly trained - on more than one occasion (lost count, actually) I have been told by wait staff or the person answering the phone that a dish is "gluten free" only to find out later when ordering (after I ask for them to double check with the chef that the salad dressing, spice blend, etc. is truly gluten free), that, in fact, dishes I was initially told were safe, were not. Many people tend to think if it doesn't have "bread" it is safe... which as you know is not true. This is what has led me to go straight to the chefs to get the information and then put it together to give to area websites/media in case it is helpful for other locals and guests in the same boat. Hope to get that finished by March.

    Some highlights from GF meals over the last few months...

    The Raw+Juicy Airstream in Seaside is the easiest place to order, to my knowledge everything they serve is gluten-free. Their new RJ Life store across the street has some tasty desserts that are all gluten-free.

    The Bay has several options, but staff are hit or miss in accuracy in relaying options from the kitchen. The more tenured staff seem to have a better grip on it. I've been told most consistently that the regular burger without bun is GF, grilled seafood with rice and braised greens is too. Unfortunately they only have one fryer also used with flour-coated items, so their French fries are not gluten free. This is too bad because they have the best burger and fries around (in my opinion) - we used to eat there every week!

    The Terrace Restaurant has been the most accommodating. The good news is that they are able to make almost everything gluten-free, and their Greek salad dressing is GF. The only downside is that the last two meals I have had there have been strangely not at all up to their normal par. I think they may have hired someone new in the kitchen. I'm hoping after the off season they will get back on track - because up until recently it has been a tried and true option, and my favorite place to go to feel like I am eating normally and not missing anything.

    Edwards in Rosemary has several satisfying options.

    Restaurant Paradis too - their gulf coast snapper dish is one of the best GF dishes I have enjoyed since the summer. They omit the gnocchi, but leave the ginger brussel sprouts, zucchini, and a flavorful lobster coconut curry cream sauce.

    George's used to be our favorite place for lunch, but recently they updated their lunch menu and now only have two lunch options - neither memorable. I'm hoping when they reopen in the new year perhaps it will be updated again.

    In most cities Mexican food is a tried and true gluten-free option, but unfortunately at La Cocina they fry everything in the same oil as flour-coated options, so the tortilla chips are out, entree orders are limited; you can order the fajitas made GF but sides like the refried beans are out (not sure how/why there is gluten in them).

    If you don't want to dine out or cook, For the Health of It in Blue Mountain stocks some of Chef Rich's premade foods in the cooler case as you enter the store. You can also get on Rich's email list and order directly for pick-up on Sunday afternoons. He releases a list of weekly options such as shepherd's pie, grilled salmon, chicken wings, taco meat, etc. His website is: SUN MOON & SPOON FOOD CO. | Santa Rosa Beach, FL

    Also Vintji near the outlet mall can make several dishes gluten-free if you ask. Their chicken dish is strong with chutney and cheese grits.

    Cafe Thirty-A has a menu with GF labels on it - several entree options but very sparse on the appetizers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  6. mbo222

    mbo222 Beach Comber

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    So we have been eating on 30A for over 15 years. Last 5 with GF because of my dx of celiac. To Beach Macs list I'll add:
    Fish out of water. They actually have GF bread etc. $$ tho.
    Roux 30A. Chef Nik will make everything to order GF.
    V is hit or miss. While the menu has GF on it, I have had some issues. We did the tasting menu with chef alex and he prepared probably the greatest GF meal I have had in memory...but had to give him a few days heads up.
    Whiskey Bravo: Prob the most extensive GF menu and stand by it.
    Fish House Sushi: Chef makes the rolls GF and they have tamari.
    Perfect pig has a few GREAT dishes and is worth the effort (esp from 5-6 where its all half off).
    Vintij---best restaurant period. Always accommodate.
    Terrace actually excellent and knowledgeable. Food great...its just so gloomy inside!!
    Stinky's is very GF friendly and they actually have GF beer.
    Tango goes out of their way to be GF and food is good. Limited menu regardless of GFness.
    Pass on Georges. No choices and average food experience at a high price. Same can be said for Cuvee30A. Paradis went downhill when it changed ownership. We avoid it. Havana Grill has been reasonable but I am not convinced of the GFness. I had some problems but it was probably (?) worth it. Sadly Borago is not GF friendly in our experience so we stopped going a while ago (now relocated). Basmati's is actually GF unfriendly (rude to us more than once and on the phone) so avoid that one. RedBar has gluten in the air they fry so much so no real options there.

    Hope that helps.
     
  7. mbo222

    mbo222 Beach Comber

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    oh and ill mention Brunos pizza has GF pizza. Its awesome, but you know how that goes....individual trays but same oven so use your judgement.

    M
     
  8. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Thanks for the excellent info y'all.
     
  9. BeachMac

    BeachMac Beach Lover

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    Just wanted to update this thread with a few new-ish additions...

    Chiringo in Grayton Beach: the only place I know in South Walton that advertises their fried shrimp and French fries as gluten-free. The shrimp are coated with rice flour and the fries are real potatoes :clap: - not frozen like the norm at other places around town, nor cooked in oil that has previously been used with flour/gluten items! It's a great addition to the area for those with Celiac disease. Though do be cautious with their sauces as I have had conflicting information... some staff tell me their special burger sauce is *not* gluten-free and others have said it is... when in doubt, I go without.

    Also the Raw and Juicy Life store (across the street from the R&J airstream - down toward the B&A Pizza Bar) has excellent gluten-free dessert options in their cold case. They also happen to be dairy-free if you have any other allergies.

    (And in my earlier post above from 2015, I mentioned a restaurant questionnaire sent out to 20+ chefs as I was attempting to put together a handy resource for tourists and locals with Celiac, but unfortunately even with a self-addressed/pre-stamped envelope and an online option for filling it out, my return rate was an abysmal 5%, so it's a no-go for now. I might try again down the line as the diagnosis continues to grow/be implicated in other autoimmune conditions. At least there are more local options now than in years past!)
     
  10. Will B

    Will B Moderator

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    A couple more additions...

    La Playa in Gulf Place has good gluten free options.
    Hurricane Oyster Bar has several menu items.
    The BBQ trailer in Seaside...all their sauces are GF.

    The biggest battle we fight for my wife is education. Clearly, more restaurants are "getting it", but it's the ones that can't differentiate between fad gluten free diets and those with real issues that annoy. Too many times we ask a restaurant about being GF and tell them that my wife is a Celiac, and they say they are up to speed with the allergy. Sorry...no. If you were, then, you would know that it's an autoimmune disease and that gluten to a Celiac is akin to eating poison.

    Baby steps...it's all we can ask for...
     
  11. LarsAtTheBeach

    LarsAtTheBeach Beach Fanatic

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    Count me in!!! :D
     
  12. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Why does a restaurant have to offer gluten free options again? Did I miss the law on that one?
     
  13. Will B

    Will B Moderator

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    Not sure where you read that. There are no regulations to that effect.
     
  14. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Exactly so why are restaurants being called out because they choose not to cater to gluten free folks. I'm not saying it's not a legitimate disorder and life threatening for some, but the rather magical explosion of folks who supposedly have celiac is bordering on the crazy. It also seems that those with the least likely legitimate diagnosis are the ones who harass restaurants who don't cater to them.
     
  15. Will B

    Will B Moderator

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    Dude...you and I are normally on the same page 99.99% of the time, but you need to quit when you're talking about folk with Celiac disease. It's the "oh, I can't eat gluten because it makes me bloated" crowd that are the PITA and not true Celiacs. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that wrecks the GI tract because the body makes gluten specific antibodies that attack the small intestine and quite literally destroy it.

    You know my wife. Before she was diagnosed she lost 25 pounds. She only weighed 115 to begin with. Seeing her at 90 pounds was really scary. People who say they have Celiac disease and have never gone in for Celiac specific tests are full of crap. It can only be diagnosed by looking for a count of gluten specific antibodies in blood work and combined with upper and lower GI's. Heck...the doctor who diagnosed her had to look up the codes because true Celiacs don't come around often.

    The thread is informative only. Cross contamination is a real threat. It's one thing for a restaurant to say they are gluten friendly and then give you something off of a grill that just had buns browning on it or give you french fries that came out of a fryer that had breaded onion rings in it and another to have a restaurant say they are gluten friendly that goes through all the protocol to make sure there is no cross contamination. I'm not going to call them out by name, but I vetted a popular venue on 30A that assured me that they were gluten friendly. After speaking with them for a minute, I made the determination that I would never ever take Debbie there despite what they said. People with real cases of Celiac need to know where it is safe to eat. If it's a place we don't know, we call them first. Almost all of them will never go into a restaurant blind so this thread is immensely helpful.

    But...you and I are sooooo on the same page regarding people with the least likely diagnosis of anything gluten related being the biggest pains. Somehow, going GF became an unnecessary fad. While it raised awareness about being GF it also diminished people's understanding of how bad it can be for somebody who truly can't have gluten.

    Remember...there's a big difference between ingesting poison and eating something that doesn't agree with you.
    Oh...and the biggest insult you can throw at a Celiac when deciding on a restaurant is to say "They have salad." Bad juju. Don't ever go there!

    Rant over...we're still pals!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  16. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    I'll admit I don't communicate well sometimes. I was blasting the gluten free by choice crowd and not celiacs.
     
  17. Will B

    Will B Moderator

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    All good!
     
  18. BeachMac

    BeachMac Beach Lover

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    Will, such great comments above - and I had no idea about Hurricane Oyster Bar and the others in your list, thanks for those. Like you, my posts on this thread were for informational purposes only. I definitely do not expect any restaurant or chef to cater to Celiac (I can eat at home just fine), but I have just been surprised that in this area it can be difficult to obtain accurate information as to whether or not restaurants have any options that are truly gluten-free or just advertise things "without bread". When calling ahead, emailing, or even asking in person, communication has at times been a challenge to find out about what goes on in the kitchen to ascertain whether or not one with Celiac should eat there. It has been worth digging, as I'd like to give more business to area restaurants, just not at the risk to my health. Baby steps like you said! I am just so glad there are some places adding options to their menus in recent years.
    Re: those who eat gluten-free "by choice" as Matt mentioned... It boggles my mind why anyone would voluntarily choose to eat this way other than medical necessity! There are too many SoWal favorites out there to miss otherwise... I still remember the exact day I found out from my doctor, I decided to have one last meal and went straight to George's and had my very last fried grouper sandwich and then bid it adieu and cheered to new health in the future. That was one incredible sandwich (that I do miss to this day), but not one bite is worth how much better I feel a year later!
    Thanks again for the restaurant info - and Will, your wife is further on the journey than I am, so if she has any favorite dishes around town, I'd welcome any tips on what to order at the places you mentioned.
     
  19. seabythegrove

    seabythegrove Beach Fanatic

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    Are Cheerios really GF?
     
  20. Will B

    Will B Moderator

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    yup. The wife eats them all the time with no ramifications, and she's crazy sensitive
     

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