Allergy-friendly restaurants make life easier for gluten-free diners.
Who knew that a dietary restriction could become all the rage? The fact that the number of people following gluten-free diets is on the rise—whether it be due to a serious allergy, intolerance or a lifestyle choice—has definitely grabbed the attention of area restaurants. In turn, customers have responded and rewarded them with their business. Many of the eateries on our list reported getting six or more gluten-free requests every day. As it turns out, you don’t even have to eliminate foods like pancakes, pizza or pasta when you’re avoiding gluten. Gluten-free mixes and rice-based foods have made it possible to offer these favorite foods to everyone.
Finding something gluten-free for every course is a snap at P.F. Chang’s, from starters like egg drop soup ($3.25/cup) and Singapore street noodles ($11.95), right down to the flourless chocolate dome ($5.95) for dessert. The Mongolian beef ($16.75), prepared in one of the kitchen’s 600-degree woks, is so flavorful you won’t feel that you’re missing anything at all by avoiding gluten. There is a dedicated gluten-free section on the menu, but please notify your server if you are ordering from it, so adjustments can be made (including the request for gluten-free soy sauce at your table). Gluten-free dishes are served on special plates with the P.F. Chang’s logo, so you need not fret that the server or anyone in the kitchen has mixed them up before they make it to the table. While the kitchen isn’t entirely gluten-free, the Chinese-inspired eatery upholds a rigorous gluten-free cooking process to ensure the dietary safety of guests with celiac disease. 12071 Elm Creek Blvd.; 763.493.9377
Gluten-free diners adore the fact that Biaggi’s offers pizzas using gluten-free dough and a rice-based pasta in lieu of wheat noodles. The pasta Alfredo ($10.99/lunch portion or $14.99/dinner portion) in particular is popular, made with grilled chicken, gluten-free noodles, roasted red peppers, crispy Italian pancetta, sautéed red onion and peas tossed in an Alfredo sauce. Any pasta on the menu can be made with a brown-rice-based penne or spaghetti. The chicken piccante is the most popular pizza and can be requested gluten-free with spicy grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, leeks, herbed goat cheese and an Italian cheese blend on a thin, crispy crust ($9.99). The restaurant also serves delicious gluten-free bread. 12051 Elm Creek Blvd. N.; 763.416.2225
One Bowl Stir Fry
At Mongo’s Grill, the creativity comes from you rather than the chef. You fill up your own bowl with ingredients, which is nice for gluten-free diners because nobody knows your dietary restrictions better than you do. After you’ve piled the ingredients, walk it over to the grill for cooking. If you mention to the staff that you’re on a gluten-free diet, the chef will thoroughly clean off the space on the grill where your food is being prepared to prevent cross-contamination. For the one bowl stir-fry ($9.49/lunch and $11.49/dinner), choose from proteins like beef, chicken, calamari and salmon, pad Thai noodles, white or brown rice, and every vegetable imaginable, from bamboo shoots to yellow squash and red cabbage. Certain sauces, noodles and proteins like ham and imitation crab are excluded from the gluten-free options. Be sure to review the gluten-free information provided or talk with a staff member to learn more. Of the gluten-free experience, general manager Kyle Anderson says, “People absolutely love it because it’s usually so hard for them to go out to eat. They enjoy it here because they can see it being prepared.” 11628 Fountains Drive N.; 763.493.2695
Cherry Kijafa Crepe
The idea of not being able to go out for pancakes anymore due to a gluten-free diet sounds devastating. Thankfully, the Original Pancake House offers a whole slew of options, using a gluten-free mix that should have gluten-restricted diners jumping for joy. Any of the items with an asterisk on the menu can be prepared gluten-free on request, including pancakes like pumpkin, blueberry, Georgia pecan, chocolate chip and more. The cherry kijafa crepes are a Danish favorite filled and topped with Montmorency cherries and simmered in a Kijafa, or cherry wine sauce, then dusted with powdered sugar. Gluten-free waffles, crepes, egg dishes and omelets are also available. Owner Tom Bruins says customers have absolutely loved the availability of gluten-free options. “I thought [the gluten-free menu] might be a fad at first,” he admits, “but we’ve had an overwhelming response.” 6322 Vinewood Lane North; 763.383.0888
If you’re willing to forgo the bun with your burger, your options are nearly limitless at Five Guys. Manager Steve Bantoni says that with 15 free toppings included with any burger ($4.89 or $5.49 with cheese), there are up to 250,000 possible combinations. We won’t even try to do the math, we’ll just take his word for it. We will recommend that you try the cheeseburger with mushrooms or jalapeno peppers, though. Regular fries are gluten-free, and while the Cajun-style seasoning doesn’t contain gluten, Bantoni says that it is processed in a factory where there is gluten, so some diners avoid it. On the whole, gluten-free customers are very happy at Five Guys, he says. “We really go the extra mile to make them feel special and accommodate them.” 7814 Main Street N., 763.425.5489
Fire-grilled BBQ Salmon Salad
There are many choices on the menu at Houlihan’s that can be prepared without gluten, ranging from salads to burgers, salmon, steak, chicken and ribs. The fire-grilled salmon salad ($14.95) comes with mandarin oranges, spicy pecans and red onions in a sweet citrus vinaigrette. Tell your server that you are on a gluten-free diet, and the kitchen will make adjustments to exclude the tortilla straws and focaccia roll that usually come with the salad. Other tasty options include parmesan frites ($3) with a trio of sauces, babyback ribs ($17.95/half rack or $22.95/full rack) minus the ginger-peanut slaw, and Creekstone Farms black angus burger ($9.50), minus the bun. The restaurant prepares many items from scratch using wheat flours and wheat-based products, so it has a disclaimer that foods could inadvertently come into contact with those food products. 12725 Elm Creek Blvd N., 763.494.5380
Sea Scallops Benedict
Since Pittsburgh Blue specializes in meat and seafood, it’s relatively easy to find gluten-free options. Many items just need to have the bread excluded from the plate, so be sure to check in with your server about your dietary needs. Try the sea scallops Benedict ($13.95), a popular appetizer, which is served without bread to accommodate gluten-free diets. In this dish, two scallops are perfectly seared and served with applewood smoked bacon and hollandaise. Also try the rock salt crusted prime rib, starting at $24.95 for a 10-ounce queen’s cut. 11900 Main St. N., Maple Grove; 763.416.2663
Barbecue Chicken Pizza
If you’ve got a craving for a pizza, Boston’s Gourmet Pizza and Sports Bar offers a gluten-free crust for most of its small sized pizzas. Try the barbecue chicken, with Sweet Ray’s barbecue sauce, red onion and chopped cilantro, or start with the basic and build your own from a list of more than two dozen toppings (prices vary by size). 12109 Main St. W.; 763.315.4334