The gluten free boy has been traveling—last weekend we ventured to Philadelphia. As usual googling ‘gluten free __________’ is my first ritual before traveling to a new city with the gluten free boy.
When searching for gluten free restaurants my criteria is specific. My first choice is a restaurant that has a gluten free menu- if they do not the phone call with the manager is painstakingly detailed.
If the restaurant is Italian, they must have a dedicated area to prep the gluten free food, have separate pots to boil pasta and separate strainers and utensils to drain the pasta.
My preference at all restaurants is for the manager to hand deliver the allergy meal—I really love it when the meal comes with a colored or different shape plate (Lilli and Loo- NYC, Big Bowl- Chicago, PF Changs) or a ticket attached indicating the meal is an allergy specially prepared meal (Mon Ami Gabi, Chicago).
If the restaurant is Mexican- I obsessively inquire about the tortilla chips. I ask about the fryer and segregation between corn and flour tortillas. I LOVE when the answer is, “We only have corn tortillas in our restaurant.” (Happ Inn-Northfield, Distrito and Pure Tacos-Philadelphia)
If the manager asks me in an annoyed voice, “How serious is the gluten intolerance anyway?” My answer is, “The kind of intolerance you die from.” Not going there.
If you are looking for great service, divine food and a very knowledgable staff- check out any Steven Starr restaurant in Philly. Similar to the Lettuce Entertain You group of Chicago- Steven Starr staff are trained and on the ball regarding food allergy. Two of the three restaurants we ate at had a gluten free menu—the other was very knowledgeable and accommodating.
Buddakan- Amazing asian food located at 325 Chestnut Street. Start with edemamme with GF tamari sauce, Pad Tai noodles in a tasty GF sauce or wok charred broccoli. No GF menu but they are very accommodating- call ahead and let them know about the food allergy.
DISTRITO: They have a huge gluten free menu. (their GF menu is new and it is not posted on line as of 10/8/12) After interrogating our server we discovered that the entire menu is gluten free with the exception of two or three items. They were also very accommodating with our annoying and picky requests in addition to my compulsive questioning.
Pure Tacos, Philadelphia:This place is a dream come true for anyone who loves simple and DIVINE Mexican food AND the place is completely gluten free! The employees aren’t even allowed to being gluten food for themselves to eat while working.
The gluten free boy and his family feasted on ground beef tacos, pulled chicken tacos, delicious corn salad, perfect homemade guacamole, six different fresh made salsas, various toppings, rice and divine corn salad-LOVE THIS PLACE!
POD: No gluten free menu here but they were so knowledgeable and very accommodating. This place is Asian and DIVINE! The gluten boy indulged in his most favorite food here- Kobe beef cooked tableside on a sizzling hot rock—served with gluten free Tamari sauce for dipping. Shredded chicken lettuce wraps, salty perfect edamame and vegetable Pad Thai with a spicy and delicious gluten free sauce. We loved POD!
Breakfast at the Four Seasons hotel Philadelphia was also a safe gluten free experience. The executive chef Rafael Gonzalez is conversant with all things related to food allergies—in addition his child is allergic to peanuts. As usual the Four Seasons kitchen is run like a well-oiled machine with regards to food allergies—omelets, pancakes, fresh fruit, crisp bacon, hash brown potatoes, smoothies and pastries—all available gluten free. They will probably get anything you need if given a few days notice.
An added bonus was Capogiro for gelato—most of the gelato is gluten free and each flavor has its own scooper. Ask for the ice cream to be taken from the back of the container.
Philadelphia is not only the city of brotherly love but the city of gluten free love as well! Thank you Philly for so many safe gluten free meals!
More gluten free greatness in Philly:
Bobby's Burger Palace--amazing hamburgers, crispy fries--they were so knowledgeable about gluten and allergies
El Vez- another Steven Starr restaurant in Philly-- great guacamole, fajitas--corn tortillas and crispy corn chips- no gluten free menu but they were very accommodating!
Parc- Steven Starr again! no gluten free menu but everyone was very knowledgeable about allergies and gluten free in particular!
Davio's- Italian originally from Boston- great gluten free menu.
Reading Terminal Market- this place is amazing! it is a cross between Chelsea market in NYC and Fanueil Hall in Boston. There was a stand with divine gluten free baked goods and a section which sold gluten free cookies, crackers and treats.