With so many different restaurant formats and styles of cuisine, the task of finding something gluten-free can seem daunting. But as with shopping for clothes, certain stores are easier to shop at because they offer the styles you like, certain restaurants and styles of cuisine will be more accommodating to you.
Before heading out on any dining adventure, it’s best to do your research into options that will be safest for you. Restaurants that cater to customers interested in healthy foods will often service many special diet needs, including the gluten-free diet. Also, servers are often knowledgeable about the ingredients and can guide you in the appropriate direction.
While gluten is often abundant in upscale cuisine, fine dining restaurants can sometimes be easier to eat at because of the slower pace of service and the finer attention to detail. At these restaurants, fulfilling a gluten-free diet request can be something they enjoy the challenge of and perform with style and pleasure. Executive chefs can often prepare something special for you upon request; the personalized service might take a while longer than you’re used to, but it will be worth the wait.
Restaurants with gluten-free menus are obvious choices for making the dining experience easier. The Outback, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, and Pei Wei Asian Diner have corporate-designed gluten-free menus available at all of their locations. Maggiano’s Little Italy regularly accommodates gluten-free requests without a designated menu. Fastfood restaurants, diners, bars, and restaurants that have gluten-focused menus, like most Italian places, will typically be more difficult to dine at because of limited options or fast-paced service.
Simply keep in mind that some restaurants are in tune with the times, and others are not. Some will take the extra steps to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for you while others may not have the ability, knowledge or ample time to serve you appropriately. And remember: the more processed the food, the more challenging your dining experience may be. Restaurants that focus on fresher, simpler foods can yield more options.