Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Favorite Gluten-Free Restaurants in the Portland area

Since we have moved in to our house and started renovations,  we often depend on the local restaurant scene to keep us nourished.  And as people with celiac disease know, it can be really hard to find restaurants that are "celiac safe."  You not only need to worry about finding gluten-free options but you also have to worry about cross-contamination.  I hate always being that annoying person at the restaurant asking if what I order will come in to contact with any gluten or share space with gluten-containing food, especially while everyone at the table is waiting to order with "hanger" pains setting in. You can imagine what a hot date I made!

But, living in Portland, OR, I found that there are a ton of restaurants who are ready and willing to accommodate people with celiac disease.  And since Portland is the land of foodies, you not only get gluten-free food, you get really good tasting food. There are not only restaurants but bakeries, cafes, and even food carts that offer gluten-free safe options.  Since going gluten-free, I have developed my own "little black book" of celiac friendly places to eat.  These places don't just offer gluten-free options but, in my opinion, people are educated about what celiac disease is and know how to prevent cross-contamination. The food is also good enough to please celiacs and non-celiacs alike.  Here a few of my favorite option:

  1. New Cascadia Traditional Bakery: This bakery is special in that it is entirely gluten-free!  There are no gluten-containing products that enter in their kitchen.  And they offer everything from pastries, cakes, cookies,  sandwiches, pizzas, calzones, pies, and more than I can list.  You can also buy loaves of sandwich bread in a wide-variety of flavors.  Not only do they cater to people who are gluten-free, they also have options for people with all different food allergies.  The offer vegan, nut-free, dairy-free food options that are made with hemp milk.  They are only open until 5pm Monday-Saturday.  You also want to get there before the end of the day as they start to run out of certain products after lunch.
  2. Andina:  This is arguably one of Portland's best restaurants and the majority of the food on their menu is gluten-free.  The food is Peruvian and they offer everything from fresh fish, oysters,  and  all-natural, grass-fed chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and even some specialty meats like duck and quail.  They also have a vegetarian menu that offers many gluten-free options as well.  I have heard their happy hour is awesome but I have never been as it gets really crowded really fast.  Speaking of getting crowded, you need a reservation to get in no matter which night of the week you want to go.  We went last May for my mom's birthday on a Monday with a reservation a week in advance.  I am glad we had it because you would have thought it was a Saturday night, New Year's Eve party in there.  If you want to go on a weekend, I recommend getting a reservation at least 3 weeks in advance.
  3. Mi Famiglia:  Ok, so technically this restaurant is located in Oregon City.  But a really great pizza place located near Portland was too good not to list.  This restaurant offers salads, soups, pizza, calzones, and traditional Italian dishes in a wonderful, intimate atmosphere.  You can't get all options gluten-free but they do have a great gluten-free pizza crust.  What I like about their pizza is that they make it in a separate location and package it on a cooking safe place so when the bake it in their wood-fired stove, it will never come in contact with gluten.  They also have a couple of good gluten-free beers on the menu, and what can be better than gluten-free beer and pizza?!
  4. Nuestra Cocina : This restaurant has a special place in my heart as it was where my wonderful husband took me on our first date.  :)  And, knowing that I had celiac, he researched restaurants that had gluten-free options. What a guy!  Nuestra Cocina offers traditional Mexican cuisine and the whole menu is almost entirely gluten-free.  The only thing that is not gluten-free is their drunken beans, which contain beer.  When you get there, you will promptly get fresh baked corn tortillas with the best salsa you will ever have.  Also, try the margaritas; they are amazing!
  5. Divine Pies: When I was going to Portland State University for grad school, I often had to go to Saturday session classes that lasted all day.  That gave me a chance to explore the downtown food cart action and I came across cart called Divine Pies.  They offer gluten-free, dairy-free pies with crusts made from hazelnuts.  They make all of their own flour separate from anything containing gluten or dairy so you don't have to worry about cross-contamination.  Their pecan pie was about good enough to make me enroll in school again.
  6. Pix Patisserie: This funky bakery is all-Portland!  Their SE location is home to more toy monkeys than I think any other restaurant you will find.  They also have a lot of really great gluten-free desserts that are made separate from gluten-containing desserts.  My favorites are the creme brulee and the French macaroon.
  7. P.F. Chang's: Ok, P.F. Chang's is a chain restaurant.  But sometimes you need just need to have some good Chinese food and that is so hard to find gluten-free.  P.F. Chang's is great about accommodating to people with celiac disease.  You will get your own soy sauce mix in special bottles and they have separate plates for gluten-free food so you feel safe when you eat their cuisine.  There is something so great about their gluten-free lettuce wrap and flour-less chocolate dome.
  8. Bridgewater Bistro: Again, technically this place is not in Portland; it's located in Astoria, OR. But this restaurant was such a savior on our last trip home from the beach I had to mention it.  The majority of their menu is gluten-free, they even have gluten-free fish and chips, and the food is really good.  You also get to enjoy a nice view looking out on the sea in a super-cool atmosphere.  The restaurant is located right next to the Cannery Pier Hotel, a beautiful seafront hotel with a spa.  Perfect for a romantic evening away, right honey.
Any favorite gluten-free restaurants?  Feel free to share in the comments section!

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