Gluten-free restaurant advice for celiac disease

Lana Bandoim's picture
Gluten-Free Restaurant Food

Eating out can be a stressful experience for people with celiac disease. It is not easy to find restaurants that have a gluten-free menu and avoid contamination with gluten in the kitchen. However, the following tips can help you enjoy the experience of eating out again.


The number of gluten-free restaurants is increasing, and there are more options for people on a restricted diet today. Restaurant owners are beginning to realize that this is a lucrative part of the market that should not be ignored. If you are searching for a local restaurant that has a gluten-free menu, your chances of finding one have increased.

The first and most important piece of advice is to do research before heading to any restaurant. A general online search for places that have gluten-free meals will bring up many results, but you may want to try a different approach. There are specific websites and apps such as Gluten Free Travel designed to let you search for restaurants around the world with gluten-free menus and user reviews.

Once you have narrowed down your search to a potential restaurant, you should check the official website to see if a gluten-free menu is posted online. Many restaurants are starting to do this, and it makes ordering easier. You should try to call ahead and let the management know you have a restricted diet because of celiac disease. You may need to make a reservation and request a special table.


It is important to ask questions before going to a restaurant and once you are inside. After requesting a gluten-free menu, you should not automatically assume that the server or chef will understand your needs. Some diners have reported waiters bringing bread with gluten to their tables despite being warned they are gluten sensitive. Others have discovered chefs cooking their gluten-free pasta in the same water and pots as the gluten versions. It is crucial that the staff understands your diet so do not be afraid to question everything.

If you are searching for a gluten-free restaurant, you may want to try the following options. Please keep in mind that not every location will have a menu without gluten or be able to accommodate celiac disease. You may want to consider these choices (this is just a sample of the variety that might be in your area):
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
California Pizza Kitchen
Outback Steakhouse
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Red Robin
Ruby Tuesday
Uno Chicago Grill

Read more about celiac disease:
Celiac disease tips for making bread at home
Gluten-free food available at state fairs for celiac disease

Image: Arnoldius/Wikimedia Commons



Honestly I think it is really hard to decipher if a place can be trusted or not. Even the best place I've managed to find where I live (which actually has certified gluten free menus and is owned by a celiac patient) can be hit or miss depending on who is working or what happens in the kitchen. Bottom line for me is, I've learned that eating out means a high probability of cross contamination even from folks with the best of intentions. With celiac that means 5-14 days of being sick so it isn't a minor concern (like taking a chance with some cheese might be a minor consideration for a person who is lactose intolerant). If they are using ingredients with gluten in the kitchen at all, there is a good chance they will end up in the gluten free food at some point.