Whether you’ve chosen a gluten-free lifestyle or require one for health reasons, finding an accommodating dining spot can be an ordeal. For those unfamiliar with the afflictions of celiac disease, sufferers must abstain from gluten which is a protein found in grains. While it sounds like a painstaking task, you can still enjoy a gluten-free meal at restaurants that don’t offer specific gluten-free options. Just be sure to alert your server about any dietary restrictions to avoid cross-contamination. Here are six tips to help you survive a night out on a gluten-free diet.
Call the restaurant ahead of time
To avoid a potential dining disaster, call ahead of time to see what dishes a restaurant can prepare safely for your gluten-free diet. For added peace of mind, you can ask to speak to a kitchen manager or the chef.
Tell your server
This seems like an obvious move, but alerting your server will not only help to prevent cross-contamination, but your server may have some insight on off-menu options for gluten-free diners.
Start with a simple salad
House salads (no croutons) are fairly safe appetizers for gluten-free diners. Ask for balsamic or red-wine vinegar on the side and avoid prepared vinaigrette dressings. A Caprese salad is another great option for an appetizer—just be sure to ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side.
Avoid marinades and sauces
Stick with grilled, broiled, or baked entrees that aren’t smothered in marinades or prepared sauces. Ask for your meat or seafood to be prepared with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon. Most restaurants will happily accommodate.
More veggies please!
Most restaurants serve sides that contain gluten like pasta or items that may cross paths with gluten like French fries (which may be fried alongside breaded and floured items). Opt for steamed veggies or sautéed veggies cooked with garlic and olive oil.
Indulge your sweet tooth
You don’t have to miss out on dessert on a gluten-free diet. Opt for a bowl of fresh fruit or a scoop of fruit sorbet. Most vanilla and chocolate ice creams are gluten-free as well, just be sure to ask your server about the specific brand they’re serving.
Dining out on a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be a disaster. If you’re in a pinch, use these tips to create the best gluten-free dining experience for yourself.