What's a gluten free guy or girl to do when it comes to dining out? In Chicago, dig in! Chicago and its surrounding suburbs has an ever increasing number of restaurants with gluten free menus and dining options for gluten free and dairy free diners.
With the growing awareness of gluten free living and recent celebrity endorsements of a "gluten free" diet, comes an increase in the number of restaurants that now offer gluten free options. This comes as a mixed blessing for those of us with celiac because some restaurants out there offering gluten free options don't quite get it, e.g. brushing the croutons off a salad as it is being served to you, etc.
Below is a sample of restaurants throughout Chicagoland that offer gluten free menus and can modify dining options to accommodate food allergies. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a good place to start when you are out and about and looking for a bite.I try and update this list regularly as I try new restaurants too.
Tips for Dining Out
Before you dine out, here are a few tips to help ensure a successful dining experience:
1. Do your homework - Look online, read restaurant reviews from other celiacs, and check out the restaurant's gluten free menu.
2. Call ahead - Speak to the manager or chef (if you can) beforehand about your dietary concerns and confirm that they can make any additional modifications, e.g. substitute dairy ingredients. A word of caution: Weekends can be very busy, and even the best intentions can get lost in the shuffle of food orders at a busy restaurant.
3. Re-confirm with your server - Don't be afraid to ask questions about ingredients, re-confirm your dietary restrictions with your server, and send something back if it is not right.
Dining out can and should be an enjoyable experience!
Restaurants Offering Gluten Free Menu Options - Downtown Chicago and Suburbs
Barrington Gourmet: (Barrington) I have not eaten here yet, but did have a lengthy conversation with one
of the owners on the phone about the menu. She informed me that a local teacher with celiac spent quite a bit of time working with the owner and chef on their menu, teaching them about ingredients and cooking gluten free. They currently do not offer a dairy free cheese for their gluten free pizzas, but their homemade gluten free brownies are also dairy
Cooper's Hawk: My husband and I dined at the South Barrington location last year for our anniversary. I spoke with
our server about preparing some of their gluten free menu options so they could accommodate my dairy allergy. After enjoying a few glasses of wine from their winery, I ordered the scallops with asparagus and rice. When
my food was ready, the manager personally delivered it to the table and made sure it met my needs. Impressive, especially for a busy Saturday night!
Update 11/30/12: I had their Napa Chopped Chicken Salad for lunch (sans goat cheese). Delish! They also offer fresh gluten free bread, but it has milk in it.
Duke's Ale House: (Crystal Lake) They offer several gluten free menu options that can be modified to eliminate dairy plus Gluten Free Hard Cider and wines.
Prasino: (Downtown, La Grange) I had a delicious dinner with friends last spring. I've heard great things about their brunch as well.
Pinstripes: They offer a gluten free menu and can modify to accommodate dairy allergies as well. I dined here on a Friday evening and enjoyed grilled salmon and roasted vegetables. I do need to bring the kids to their Mom & Tot times.
My son would be so excited to bowl and eat from their gluten free menu! They no longer require a 24-hour notice for ordering their gluten free pasta or pizza crusts.
Senza: (Lakeiew) Dedicated gluten free restaurant offering an eclectic dinner menu with Sunday brunch coming soon.
Woodstock Public House: (Woodstock, also own Williams St. Public House in Crystal Lake) They offer a gluten-free
menu, but when I inquired about fried items on the menu, I was told that french fries and other items share the same fryer as gluten items. All sandwiches listed on the menu are "naked" i.e. without a bun.
Wildfire: They have a wonderful gluten free menu and bring warm gluten free bread to the table (it does contain milk powder). I have dined here many times for work as well as with friends/family and always have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Big Bowl: They have a separate gluten free menu. Their pad thai is to die for!
Bistro Wasabi: (Algonquin) Located on Algonquin Rd in Lake in the Hills, this is one
of the best sushi restaurants I've found in the suburbs. It has an urban feel and a great selection of fresh sushi, as well as appetizers and main meals. In talking with the manager, I learned that they have accommodated many patrons with food allergies and can modify menu items to meet your needs. You are also welcome to bring in your own, gluten free soy sauce to use at your table.
PF Chang's (Chinese)
Benedict's La Strata: They have several omelet and salad options that are gluten free. They have accommodated my dairy free needs as well, by eliminating cheese or cooking omelets in oil rather than butter. They also offer gluten free pancakes, however they do contain milk.
Egg Harbor: I recently dined at their Barrington location and was my server's first gluten free customer.
We talked over their gluten free menu and substitutions for making them dairy free, and I had a very yummy salad with grilled chicken. Their dressing was not gluten free, so my server brought over several packets of Kraft salad dressings for me to choose from. My son enjoyed one of their gluten free lettuce wrap sandwiches. He didn't even complain that
he couldn't have their Rainbow Pancake!
Richard Walker's Pancake House: (Crystal Lake, Schaumburg locations) They offer gluten free and dairy free pancakes.
Walker Bros. Original Pancake House: They offer gluten free pancakes that are cooked on a separate grill
from other menu items. Unfortunately, the pancakes do contain dairy (cultured buttermilk is one of the ingredients).
Wilde Bar and Restaurant: Love the ambience and library in the center of the restaurant. My girlfriends dined here for brunch recently. They have a pretty extensive gluten free menu and can make dairy free accommodations.
The Berghoff: I grew up on the creamed spinach and pot roast here. Their updated menu includes several gluten free options. Coming Soon! My interview with Carlyn Berghoff, talking about she is paving the way for gluten free education in restaurants and cooking for her daughter with celiac disease.
Biaggi's: I've eaten here several times and have had a pleasant experience each time. The Grilled Chicken Pietro is my personal favorite.
Da Luciano's: (River Grove) This family-owned establishment has an extensive gluten free menu, separate gluten free kitchen and gluten free shop for purchasing frozen meals, pastas, and sauces. Delicious food in a cozy and welcoming atmosphere!
Francesca's: (located throughout Chicagoland) I've eaten at several of the Francesca's
restaurants throughout Chicagoland and have had great experiences. They have a varied selection of gluten free items, and at the Arlington Heights location, crusty gluten free bread. Did you hear that? Warm, crusty gluten free bread!!!
Go Roma: I've had great salads here for work lunches.
Maggiano's: They carry gluten free pasta.
Paisano's:(McHenry)Located on Broadway St. in Richmond, this Italian restaurant offers gluten free pasta.
Palermo's: (Oak Lawn) They offer gluten free pizza crusts and will be offering dairy free cheeses to accommodate gluten and dairy sensitivities.
Saranello's: (Wheeling) We had a work outing here, and they accommodated several diners with dietary restrictions - lactose, vegan, and gluten free. The have a dedicated gluten free menu.
Scoozi!: Lettuce Entertain You gets it and has gone the extra mile to educate its staff about celiac disease and preparing foods without gluten.
Roti Mediterranean Grill: I don't know about you, but I am addicted to hummus. It is a great go-to gluten free food. Be sure to check the labeling on commercial brands just to be sure. Having traveled to the Middle East quite a bit for a past job, I have come to love falafel as well. Roti offers several varieties of falafel, as well as gluten free pita bread at their various Chicagoland locations.
Chipotle: Simply notify the servers of your dietary needs, and they will change their gloves and use fresh serving utensils to prepare your dish. Rice bowls can be made to order with gluten free ingredients. When asking about their chips, I have been told that they are not gluten free however according to Chipotle's website, they are saf.
Julio's Cocina Latina: (Lake Zurich) I've eaten here several times and have never been disappointed. Julio's has a friendly, attentive staff that truly understand gluten and dairy allergies. They have a wide variety of items on their menu and even indicate those items that can be easily made dairy free.
Zapatista: Locations downtown and Glenview.
Aurelio's: They offer a gluten free pizza crust that comes in its own pan. Locations throughout Chicagoland.
Barone's: (Downers Grove) They now offer a gluten free crust in a 10-inch size.
Chicago's Pizza (locations throughout Chicago - Old Irving Park, Ravenswood, Lincoln Park, Lakeview) Their dough is made in dedicated equipment and can be made into thin crust, Chicago-style stuffed, and baked calzones.
Connie's Pizza: (locations throughout Chicagoland) They now offer a thin crust gluten free pizza, which was also recently offered during The Taste of Chicago.
Edwardo's Natural Pizza: (locations throughout Chicagoland): Offers a thin-crust gluten free pizza.
Gino's East: Although it is not listed on their menu, they do offer a thin-crust gluten free pizza crust. Sorry, no gluten free deep dish yet.
Giorgio's Pizzeria: (Crystal Lake, South Barrington) I dined at their Crystal Lake location which offered gluten free pizza crusts (prepared in their own separate pan with gluten free pizza sauce) and pasta which can be made with marinara sauce that is gluten free as well. My son LOVED their gluten free sausage pizza.
Lou Malnati's: (locations throughout Chicagoland) Lou Malnati's offers a crust-less deep dish pizza for those with gluten intolerance. They now offer a gluten free thin crust that, from what I hear, is really really good!
Marcello's/Father & Sons: (Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Northbrook) I dined at their Northbrook location. They offer thin crust and pan pizza varieties, and if you call ahead, you can get a frozen crust to take home with you.
Naked Pizza: They pride themselves on pure ingredients and healthful options. They offer a gluten free crust, but it does contain milk.
Nick's Pizza and Pub: (Crystal Lake, Elgin) Aside from the fun peanut shells you can
toss on the floor, they have a special gluten free pizza crust that comes in its own pan. I order mine loaded with veggies and without cheese. My son has had the cheese and sausage many times. Yeah for a yummy gluten free pizzeria!
Palermo's: (Oak Lawn) They offer gluten free pizza crusts and will be offering dairy free cheeses to accommodate gluten and dairy sensitivities.
Pie Hole Pizza Joint: (Lakeview) They offer a wide variety of sauces and toppings - including gluten free pizza crust and Daiya cheese for vegans and those with dairy allergies. I had a yummy gluten free crust with mushrooms, artichokes, and spinach with Daiya cheese a few weekends ago.
Pizza Capri: (Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Hyde Park) Gluten free crust available.
Pizzeria Uno: (5 locations throughout Chicagoland) Offers a dedicated gluten free menu with gluten free thin crust pizzas.
Ranalli's (Andersonville): They have a dedicated gluten free menu with pizza and crusts you can take home.
Rocco Ranalli's: (Lincoln Park) Offers a gluten free pizza crust.
Bonefish Grill: I've had several, delicious dinners here. I order off of the gluten free menu and ask the server to have the chef use oil instead of butter for any sauteing of vegetables or fish. I LOVE their Bonefish House
La Tasca: (Arlington Heights) They carry a variety of tapas that can be made gluten and dairy free. Unfortunately, most dessert items contain gluten or dairy. Fresh fruit is always an option though.
Tapas Calpe/Orchard Prime Meats: (Cary) Not only do they have the best cuts of meat in town, they have a tasty
tapas menu for an evening out. I spoke to the owner and the chef can work with gluten free patrons to modify menu selections. The menu and specials change frequently, so they can prepare items with olive oil instead of butter, omit cheese, etc.
Anna Shea Chocolate Shop: (South Barrington) We stopped here after our dinner up the way at Cooper's Hawk. There is a multitude of decadent chocolate confections. Unfortunately, most all contain dairy. They do offer gelato which is free from gluten and dairy, as well as a dark chocolate bar. The cashier called the owner at home to ask about the ingredients in the chocolate bar, so we could confirm it was gluten and dairy free. They also offer soy milk for their espresso and coffee drinks!
Bountiful Eatery: (Lakeview) Delicious soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Their kids menu looks great, and be sure to checkout their calendar of events and offerings.
Cassava: (Lakeview) Fresh baked rolls and breads, empanadas, smoothies, and more. From what I hear, their hot chocolate is to die for! Unfortunately, the rolls and breads do contain milk. They publish ingredients for all their menu offerings on their website and offer free delivery to Chicagoland and the suburbs with a $20 minimum order.
OMG It's Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe: (Frankfurt) My interview with OMG It's Gluten Free owner is coming soon! I sampled several of their baked goods during the interview, including chocolate chip banana bread muffins, brownies, and fresh baked bread. Delish!
Rose's Wheat Free Bakery & Cafe - Love their pita bread!!!
Sweet Ali's Bakery: (Hinsdale)
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