10 Days of Gluten Free

Eating Out Gluten Free: Keep Your Guard Up

24 Comments 18 May 2012

Eating Out Gluten Free: Keep Your Guard Up

Welcome to Day 10 of 10 Days of Gluten Free, created by Linda, the Gluten-Free Homemaker. I hope you’ve enjoyed all 10 Eating Out Gluten Free posts as well as the posts by the 10 other bloggers listed at the bottom of each post.  Thank you for participating!

Is it possible that I could have one more tip about Eating Out?  Haven’t I covered it all?


Eating Out Tip #10 is…Don’t Let Your Guard Down.  Don’t be lured into a sense of security when you have a gluten-free menu in your hand.

Many places now have a gluten-free menu.  Thanks to restaurants like these, ordering gluten-free is much easier:

  • Bricktops
  • P.F. Chang’s
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Amerigo
  • Cantina Laredo
  • Taco Mamacita
  • Outback Steakhouse
Other restaurants have marks that note gluten-free items.

(Don’t you love that children are welcome at this restaurant as long as they’re well behaved?)

But whether you’re ordering from a separate gluten-free menu or from a menu with gluten-free notations, keep your guard up.

Here are two quick stories to illustrate:

1.  When I sat down at Amerigo’s, I assumed I’d be having a salad.  I was thrilled to find that they had come out with a gluten-free menu since my last visit.  And listed on that menu was a gluten-free pasta.  What a delight!  Plain chicken and an iceburg lettuce salad while smelling Italian dishes like lasagna, ravioli, and tortellini is just pure torture.  I could actually have pasta at an Italian restaurant!

I gushed my excitement to the server and explained that I’d love to know what kind of flour was in their gluten-free pasta.  I was curious if it was rice, quinoa, corn, maybe a combination? Her answer astounded me.  “I think it’s wheat, but I’m not sure.  I’ll check for you.”

Even when ordering from a gluten-free menu, you have to keep your guard up.  Just because there are gluten-free options doesn’t mean your food will be handled by people who know what gluten is.

2.  Another time I ordered Chinese food from a gluten-free menu.  The waiter was fantastic and assured me that my meal would be gluten free.  But a non-English speaking attendant came to deliver my “gluten-free soy sauce”.  When he placed it on the table I asked for confirmation. “This is the gluten-free soy sauce, right?”

“Oh  yes, soy sauce,” should have been enough warning, but because of the obvious language barrier I trusted my original waiter.

Hours later, I was miserable.

Keep your guard up, even when ordering from a gluten-free menu.

Today is the last day to enter to win a $25 P.F. Chang’s gift card!  I’ll be choosing two winners tomorrow.  You can leave two entries today by answering two dish questions or by answering one and letting me know in a separate comment that you followed Gluten-Free Cat on Twitter, “liked” Gluten-Free Cat’s Facebook page, shared this post on Twitter or Facebook, or subscribed to Gluten-Free Cat posts via email.  Give it one more shot!

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.

Thanks again for your support of 10 Days of Gluten-Free.  Hop on over to read the grand finales from these bloggers today:

Readers, dish!

  • What was your favorite post of Eating Out Gluten Free?
  • What was your favorite tip?
  • If you were to write a post on Eating Out Gluten-Free, what tip would you add?
  • What new blog did you learn about through this blog hop?

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

Your Comments

24 Comments so far

  1. Cara says:

    This is great info! It is so good to be diligent especially with the “gluten-free fad”. I also recommend speaking to the manager or owner.

  2. Corrina says:

    Just found you today through Jules GF baking and I couldn’t be happier. Great info!

  3. Janet says:

    I find the safest thing to do with any Asian restaurant is to bring my own “soy” sauce. Since I have a soy allergy, too, it means that even the gluten free variety is gonna cause problems. Thank goodness for coconut aminos. I use it all the time. I even use it to cook with as a way to reduce my sodium intake (it’s got a lot less sodium than soy sauces or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos).

  4. Cindy says:

    I like the post about sharing. My husband and I love to share and he usually tried to order something that I can eat.

  5. Cindy says:

    I would also suggest that if you do have an issue at the restaurant, don’t make a big deal about it while you are there. It actually makes you look bad when you make a scene, but either ask to speak to the chef/manager, or write to customer service later when you have calmed down. If you are nice to them, they will be much more accommodating to you and willing to fix the problem.

  6. Ricki says:

    Great info, as usual. And I just can’t wait until we get PF Chang’s here! 😉

  7. Amy says:

    I bring either Little Soya fishes or San J Tamari with me when I go out to eat. Better be safe than be dependent on restaurant staff.

  8. Lynn says:

    Thanks–and thank you for participating in the 10 days of Gluten Free…as always great tips

  9. Jana says:

    We are traveling and last night went 40 min out of our way into LA to eat at PF Changs , my favorite. As you suggested in today’s post I asked again when we were served it those plates were GF and if that was the GF soy sauce. it was worth it :)

  10. Jessica B says:

    Hope I can win the PF Chang’s card.

  11. Bonnie B says:

    Thanks for this suggestion that I needed to be more aware of.

  12. julie says:

    great post. My fav post was the ask questions one. It reminded me that I really need to be more vigilant about questioning everything.

  13. julie says:

    facebook follower

  14. Natalie says:

    This is a great post. It is so hard to keep my guard up when I eat out with my family. My husband is totally on board with my nicely questioning the waitstaff and being vigilant about the menu offerings, but my two late teen sons are uber embarrassed, rolling their eyes and complaining that I’m going overboard, etc. (I’ve only been diagnosed for about 2 months; maybe they’ll get used to it!!)

  15. alicia says:

    Thanks for the post! I “liked” your FB page!

  16. Cindy W. says:

    I think was probably my favorite tip. After 3 years of gf I think I am becoming just a teeny bit relaxed and maybe not ask as many questions as I should. Appreciate the reminder.

  17. Cindy W. says:

    I follow your blog via email.

  18. Keeping your guard up always is the best advice…take nothing for granted. Also calling ahead before going, hopefully when they’re not that busy, and asking your questions about ingredients is the best way to not feel like you’re making an uncomfortable scene. You can let them know to be expecting you too, which will probably get you better safer service!

  19. Deborah says:

    I think I’ve said it before, but I recently went to Outback and had a less than stellar experience. My gluten free salad arrived with croutons and my steak was seasoned with a commercial mix that had gluten.

    I may go back but it’s not likely.

  20. Emma says:

    I’m not one to hold back on quizzing the people that will be handling my food. You want to make sure they know what their doing!

  21. Emma says:

    What was your favorite post of Eating Out Gluten Free?

    I really liked this post. Especially when eating out, it’s important to remember that saying something is gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean it is.

  22. Jessica E. says:

    thanks for this great series of informative, down-to-earth advice!

  23. So true. I have been in the restaurant industry for ages and I can’t tell you how often situations like the ones listed above come up!


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

    […] Keep Your Guard Up […]

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A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. 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. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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