10 Days of Gluten Free

Eating Out Gluten Free: Do Your Homework

66 Comments 06 May 2012

Eating Out Gluten Free: Do Your Homework

My topic for 10 Days of Gluten-Free is one of my favorite activities…Eating Out Gluten Free!  For the next 10 days I will share 10 of my best tips for making the dining experience safe, healthy, and enjoyable, even when on a gluten-free diet.

Eating Out Tip #1 is…Do Your Homework.

If you walk into a restaurant cold, without any information about the establishment at all, and you have a terrible experience, well, it’s your own fault.

In this day and age, there is no excuse for ignorance.  Most of us have the World Wide Web as close as our hip pockets or the lipstick slots of our Vera Bradleys.  And if you don’t, within minutes you can find a computer to do a little research before heading out to dinner.

Most restaurants have their menus online, and many of them have gluten-free menus.  Check them out, choose three meal options that look safe and yummy, and be prepared with questions for your server when you arrive.  The answers to those questions will help you decide what to order.  If you don’t have access to the internet, make a phone call during non-serving hours.  Start with this question, “Is your restaurant able to serve gluten-free diners?”

One of the best restaurant finds I made was from a quick iPhone web search in the car about 60 miles outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  One hit told me that we couldn’t drive through Asheville without stopping at Posana for dinner.  Who knew that a restaurant where everything on the menu is naturally gluten-free just happened to be 6 hours into our road trip?  I spent the next 60 minutes wondering if we were headed toward gluten-free heaven.

We were.  If I hadn’t done my homework I would have missed out on this.

Do your homework.

At the end of 10 Days of Gluten Free, I’ll be giving away two $25 giftcards to P.F. Changs, one of the first chain restaurants to create a gluten-free menu.  You can enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below.  You can leave a second entry by letting me know that you followed Gluten-Free Cat on Twitter and “liked” Gluten-Free Cat’s Facebook page.

I’ll be back tomorrow with tip #2.  And don’t forget to visit these blogs today for even more gluten-free tips:

Reader’s, dish!

  • What resources do you use to research restaurants?
  • Have you ordered from P.F. Chang’s gluten-free menu?
  • What is your favorite gluten-free restaurant?

Giveaway Guidelines:

  • This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents 18 and older.
  • You are allowed two entries per “10 Days of Gluten Free” blog post for a total of 20 entries on this blog.
  • Enter by leaving a comment on this post (and other 10 Days of GF posts)
  • The giveaway begins May 7, 2012 and ends at 11:59 pm central time on May 18, 2012.

No purchase is necessary.  Odds of winning are based on the number of entries.  The winner will be randomly chosen and will be contacted by email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond.  If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be randomly chosen.

Contest closed, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Your Comments

66 Comments so far

  1. Penny says:

    Your gorgeous photos are making me really hungry early this morning! Wish we could bring one of these restaurants here to Middle Tennessee…

    • Heather says:

      Oh, so do I, Penny! But Asheville isn’t too far for a weekend trip. Plus, if you stay the night you can have their incredible scones and cinnamon rolls for breakfast!

  2. Even better: talk to the manager! We do this for our kids, so we are super-vigilant, but it can be challenging. We ask for food to be cooked separately, and we like to go to places where we can see the kitchen. My husband saw them actually cook the food separately at, of all places, On the Border. That manager carefully explained how they handle GF and all allergens, and we were thrilled!

    • Heather says:

      Absolutely talk to the manager! That will be in an upcoming post…you beat me to it! So excited to know about On the Border. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lynn says:

    Posana is my all time favorite GF restuarant!!! I am glad you found it and have mentioned it in your article. I am hoping that more restuarants will do the same. Researching has become so much easier with smart phone technology, especially when traveling. It has helped me tremendously when in a place I am not familiar with. I am fortunate to have a few favorite safe go to places in Richmond, Va :)

    • Heather says:

      You’ve been there!!! Definitely worth a weekend trip for us! I’m so glad to have stumbled upon it. Glad you have some good places in Richmond too. It’s getting easier and easier. They’re learning. :)

  4. OH MY GOSH, I LOVE LOVE LOVE POSANA!!! I think I could plan a whole trip around Asheville JUST to visit posana! lolol… Great post, it is so important just to do a little leg work before you go to make sure you can get great meals when you’re away from home! (just commenting, no need to enter the drawing!)

    • Heather says:

      Thoughts of Posana make me twirl and dance!!!! Maybe be need to have a gluten-free event in Asheville… Glad you’ve discovered Posana!!!

  5. Katie says:

    Love this series! And those pictures look so delicious — makes me want to get in a car and start heading to Asheville right now! :)

  6. Catherine says:

    I like eating in restaurants that have GF menus – it makes everything a little easier from the beginning. I also love that P.F. Chang’s has different plates for GF meals. It makes me feel safer that whoever brings out the food hasn’t switched something up by accident!

    • Heather says:

      You are so right! I think places like P.F. Chang’s are learning that there needs to be more safety checks. I’ve been glutened eating off a gluten-free menu in the past, so you still need to ask questions and keep your guard up. More on that coming up in the series. Thanks for commenting, Catherine!

  7. Those pictures look so good, it’s so true about doing your homework. I have found some incredible places and eaten some incredible food, because I checked first. (It also makes going out and traveling a lot less stressful, too).

    • Heather says:

      So true. I used to avoid going out because of the stress. It was just easier to stay home and cook my safe food. But I was missing out on a lot of fellowship and delicious meals. Researching ahead helps a lot. (LOVE your strawberry pie!!!)

  8. Really is a great idea that I never think about when traveling. I’m on it for my next road trip!

  9. Kaye says:

    It’s hard to believe this is gluten free food. I’ve never heard of this place. Here in Indiana we don’t have a lot of options. My husband and I are travleing to Florida in July and I would love to know where to stop along I75 or I65. Could you direct me to a web-site that might tell me where to stop? I will be back to visit your web-site often.

  10. Janet says:

    Yes, I make a point of researching restaurants I go to. There are some that surprise you with their ability to do gluten free (and do it right) and some that you would think should be able to understand and handle gluten free only to discover that they don’t do anything in the kitchen to prevent cross contamination.

    • Heather says:

      That is so true. That’s why I chose this topic to write about for 10 days. We have to be armed with questions and knowledge to make sure our meals out are safe.

      Thanks, Janet!

  11. Anndrea says:

    Now I have an awesome reason to travel to Ashville, NC.

  12. Lynn says:

    Food looks delicious!!!

  13. Having multiple food allergies, My first question is always, “May I see the ingredient list for your menu?” I ALWAYS look online and/or call ahead. Blue Lemon is FABULOUS! I also love Applebees and Chilis – They don’t carry a gluten-free menu that I know of, but simply recreate a menu to your needs when asked.

    • Heather says:

      Great question to ask! Many times ALL of the ingredients aren’t listed on the menu (wonton strips, croutons…) Ooh, where is Blue Lemon?

  14. Sandra says:

    That food looks fabulous!!! Shocking that it’s gluten free…makes me want to schedule a road trip there just to check it out! :)

  15. Jeannie Parker says:

    This is very exciting, a place to eat out that is 100% gluten free. I can’t even imagine and the pictures looked amazing. I think my husband and I are due for a weekend trip.

    • Heather says:

      It’s a perfect weekend getaway!! And my iPhone pictures don’t do it justice. In person, the food is breathtakingly gorgeous!

  16. Amber says:

    Hi Heather,

    Great post!! We definitely do our homework before we go anywhere new. It seems like a simple step, but it’s often overlooked. And those pictures have me drooling!!! YUM!

    I would LOVE a gift card to PF’s – it’s one of my favorite places to eat. Kids love it too!

    Thanks Heather!!

    —Amber

  17. Kate says:

    seriously jealous of those meals!

  18. Amber says:

    And I like you on FB! :-)

    –Amber

  19. Bonnie Helzer says:

    Thank you for the information you share. I am new to being Gluten Free and I am soaking up as much information as i can

    • Heather says:

      Wonderful, Bonnie! You will definitely want to check out Linda’s blog this week as her posts are all about starting the gluten free journey.

  20. Linda says:

    The food in those photos looks amazing. What a great example to use. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of your tips!

  21. michelle says:

    great advice! Calling ahead and checking out the gluten free menu is part of how I can enjoy going out to eat. do you have any advice for how to eat gf and df outside of the country?

    • Heather says:

      I wish I did!! It was very easy for me to eat gluten free in Mexico since much of the cuisine was corn based. I’d say that you should make sure to research, research, research. Triumph Dining has cards that you can use to communicate dietary needs in many languages too.

  22. julie says:

    great photos, the food looks delicious

  23. Deborah says:

    I’m so envious that you were able to go to such a restaurant. I’m frequently frustrated trying to find a place that cooks with whole foods and is also gluten free.

    • Heather says:

      I understand. Even when you find a restaurant that has a few gluten-free options, sometimes the options are still incredibly unhealthy. But whole foods are so easy to prepare gluten free! I understand your frustration.

  24. Cindy W. says:

    That food from Posana looks amazing! I have always had good luck and good food at Longhorn Steakhouse. Thank you for the giveaway. The lettuce wraps at PF Changs are the best.

  25. Becky says:

    Like you on FB

  26. Jillian says:

    you have me REALLY wishing i was on the east coast… maybe i should just do my homework :) and find some tasty desserts here…

  27. Autumn Wallace says:

    I live in eastern NC, and have never heard of Posana..thank you so much for sharing! We may need to take a road trip;)

  28. Cara says:

    I love PF Changs! Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. Shirin Rose says:

    This is great!!! PF Changs was actually the first and only place I went out to eat for several weeks after being diagnosed with Celiac in January. We’ve since branched out, but they were so amazing and helpful that I have a soft place in my heart for them!!

  30. Natalie says:

    Thanks for posting this blog hop. I need all the resources I can gather. I was diagnosed with celiac disease this past March but haven’t gotten my symptoms under control even though I am following a strict gluten free diet. I have also temporarily given up dairy and consume almost no soy — aside from gluten free soy sauce. Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for entering me in your giveaway!

    That food looks yummy!!~

  31. Melisa says:

    I’d like to add that I recently downloaded 2 Android apps that help you find gluten-free friendly restaurants in your area. There is almost nothing where I live, but I can use them when I travel, at least. (no entry, as we do not have a PF Changs)

  32. Emma says:

    Great post!! I always plan my road trips around GF POIs (points of interest). :D

  33. Jessica says:

    Posana is definitely on my list for the next time I go to Asheville. I wish I’d known about it when I was there last Fall!

  34. Rogene says:

    I try to do research in advance, but it generally hasn’t paid off for me. The information online is often either old, not accurate or when you get to the actual restaurant they know nothing about it. Phone calls turn out somewhat better, but not always.

  35. AmandaonMaui says:

    I don’t agree with blaming the victim. Sometimes there is no way to do research, or to find a restaurant that has even a mention about gluten free online if you’re not in a metropolitan area.

    So many restaurants here wouldn’t have any gluten free mention on the web if I hadn’t done the research myself by going in cold.

    • Heather says:

      Wow, Amanda, I’m so proud of you for doing GF in Maui so well!!! Your blog is awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors! Thanks for all of your efforts that promote GF awareness even in Maui. You are a pioneer!!!

  36. Emma says:

    Have you ordered from P.F. Chang’s gluten-free menu?

    Yes! It’s not of my favorite restaurants…the lettuce wraps, Chang’s chicken, fried rice….yummmm

  37. Jason says:

    That burger looks so good!

  38. Jason says:

    What resources do you use to research restaurants?

    Google

  39. Carolyn says:

    I will have to see if there is a Posana anywhere close to me.

  40. Natalie says:

    What resources do you use to research restaurants?

    I always research restaurants on the Internet before we eat there. I usually print out a copy of their gluten free menu and take it there with me when I go.

  41. Natalie says:

    What is your favorite gluten-free restaurant?

    Unfortunately, in my area there are no totally gluten free restaurants, but there are many restaurants that offer gluten free menus and adhere strictly to them. My favorite is locally owned Mark’s City Grill. The waitstaff isis excellent and takes extra care to be sure that there is no cross contamination.

  42. Gina says:

    Am envious of the Posana experience! Starting to feel like I live in a gluten free wasteland by comparison! Does anyone have any apps for iPhones for restaurant choices that they can recommend?

  43. Angel R. says:

    Have never been to Posano but sampled their pasta at the Gluten Free Expo. Delicious!

  44. Angel R. says:

    I downloaded the Find Me Gluten Free app. Good way to search out GF options, especially while traveling.


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ten Days of Gluten Free Wrap-Up - 23. May, 2012

    [...] Do Your Homework [...]

  2. 10 Days of Gluten-Free Resource List | Gluten Free Pantry - 23. May, 2012

    [...] Do Your Homework [...]

A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, friend, fitness fanatic, foodie, high raw vegan, child of the King, and Mama Cat. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. And now I have another challenge ahead...I'm moving to New York City! I look forward to Living Raw Vegan in the City and sharing my experience with you.

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