Options for gluten-free dining
Posted: Monday, Aug. 06, 2012
Photo by Lora Denton Photography.
Originally from England, Sarah Ryberg has lived in Charlotte for the last 12 years and is a graduate of UNC Charlotte. After two whirlwind weddings - one in Charlotte and another in her homeland - Sarah is settling into married life and learning what it takes to be a Mrs. You can reach Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this year, I found out that I have a gluten allergy. It shouldnt have been a surprise because it runs in my family, but it has led to a big change in my eating habits.
It hasnt been too difficult to live a gluten-free lifestyle. For the most part, my life has stayed relatively the same. I purchased some gluten-free cookbooks and Im learning to convert my favorite recipes. The selection in grocery stores is getting better, too. Im particularly impressed with the way Harris Teeter has been remodeling their stores to include a gluten-free aisle.
The hard part has been finding fast food and restaurant meals. Most fast food restaurants offer breaded items, like hamburgers in a bun, tacos in a burrito shell, soups thickened with wheat flour or breaded sides (like jalapeño poppers). It can make life on the go a challenge.
Thankfully, I have found several sit-down restaurants that offer delicious gluten-free meals. Even when I went on our anniversary trip to Myrtle Beach I was able to enjoy a variety of foods. Here are a few restaurants that Ive found offer gluten-free meals nationwide.
Chilis has always been my favorite date night spot with Robert. Weve been going to Chilis since we first started dating and I am relieved I didnt have to give up this special locale. I was ecstatic that my favorite meal, the Margarita Grilled Chicken (without the tortilla strips), made the menu. Also on the menu are breadless burgers, ribs, Monterey Chicken (without the sides), and two different varieties of soup (Loaded Baked Potato and Southwest Chicken and Sausage).
As someone with an addiction to pasta, the idea of giving up pasta was tough. When I first found out I was allergic to gluten, I thought there was no gluten-free pasta. Thankfully, I was wrong. The Macaroni Grill has an impressive selection of gluten-free pastas, including Carbonara, Fettuccine Alfredo and Pasta Milano.
The most impressive gluten-free menu I have found was at Margaritaville. The menu wasnt boring, and I could choose from a selection of meals, like a burger, grilled chicken with rice, and Volcano Nachos. Seeing a gluten-free burger in the land of Cheeseburgers in Paradise made my night. Plus, its hard to find gluten-free nachos. Surprisingly, I didnt go for the burger, but how delicious does the chicken and seasonal vegetables meal above look?
As long as you can live without the burrito shell, you can still indulge in a rice bowl, a Baja Chicken Enchilada soup, and either of their delicious salads. Just make sure to avoid the taco shell that holds the salads. It may not be the most gluten-free variety youll find, but who doesnt enjoy Mexican in any form?
I am extremely excited about how much the menu offers, like grilled chicken, steaks, pork chops, salads, and yes, a gluten-free Bloomin Burger. More than anything else, Im excited about the flourless Chocolate Thunder from Down Under. A chocolate pecan brownie with ice cream, chocolate sauce and shavings! With my weakness for baked goods, Im floating on cloud nine.
I also have to mention Big Daddys Burger Bar which offers a gluten-free burger bun! Yes, burgers are one of my favorite foods, if you were wondering.
Any other favorite Charlotte spots for gluten-free dining? Please share!
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