Adding gluten free options to your restaurants menu?

I recently had a Twitter conversation between @Block1912, @macgyyver, and @taybad.  It started off with @taybad seeking out gluten free beer in Edmonton, and turned into a discussion with Block1912 looking to add gluten free menu items.  So that brought up the question, what advise do you give a restaurant or cafe that wants to add gluten free menu items?

I couple of @macgyyver tweets explained it best.  Gluten free shouldn't mean just no sauce, it gluten free also shouldn't mean just salad.  Amanda often says, that it is nice to have a gluten free menu, but often menu items that are naturally gluten free are left off the menu, making her second guess ordering the item.  When it comes down to it, its a matter of knowing what the ingredients are, weather it is just a roasted chicken or chicken fingers.  What is in it?  Is it gluten free as-is?  Can we modify the item to be gluten free without taking away from it.  Once some of these questions are answered, then you can mark it as gluten free.  Celiac's just don't want gluten free breaded items, they want to be sure they can have a roasted chicken with a gluten free sauce too.

If you have sandwiches, do you have a gluten free bread alternative?  Alternative gluten free pasta and pizza crusts? Do you have a dedicated fryer for gluten free items to avoided cross contamination with deep fried breaded items?  If you have soups, what do you use as a thickener?  If it is flour, can you use something else?

We were recently on a Princess Cruise, and they would give Amanda the same sauce, they would just give it with no thickener to her (made a special batch).  She liked it, she was getting what everyone else was getting, instead of "You can have the chicken but no sauce", because lets be honest, who wants no sauce?

Is your restaurant too busy to avoid cross contamination?  Make some compromises to accommodate, it's worth it.  Press'd The Sandwich Company offers gluten free sandwiches now.  Which is great.  There Jasper location you can order anything off the menu which is even better, but they had to compromise on their City Centre location which gets slammed at lunch time.  They were worried about not being able to keep the work stations clean and uncontaminated.  They decided for the City Centre location to have a feature sandwich of the day.  So they only have to worry about prepping one type of sandwich for that location.  I think everyone appreciates the effort.

Now onto desserts.  Which is hard to come by, although we are seeing a few more places offering something besides a bowl of fruit or ice cream.  But there is certainly limited choices in pastries.  The only pastry chef I can think of that does gluten free is the owner of La Crema in St. Alberta.  He sells for re-sale too.  You can find his stuff in a couple of the gluten free stores.  Kinnikinnick obviously also has great gluten free bakery items at their store.  I heard Ed's Gluten Free store is opening up their own bakery inside as well.

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta


  1. I just came back from spending a week in NYC. I had fried chicken and cheddar waffles, 4 different types of baked mac and cheese with bread crumbs, 3 different types of NY pizza, cheesecakes, banana cream pie, breadsticks, a pulled pork sandwich, tirimisu, beer, pasta with cream sauce, pancakes, and I could go on. And everything I ate was gluten free. Not once did any of our servers have a stunned look on their faces when I inquired about items being gluten free. In fact, the places we ate at had mostly gluten free items on their menus. Why? Because they understand that you don't need gluten or wheat to make a great tasting meal.
    I'm really tired of going to restaurants here that say they have a GF menu only to find out that my GF sandwich is actually just the meat sitting on a sad lifeless piece of lettuce.
    I'm taking a trip to Calgary/Canmore next month and I already have a long list of restaurants that have great GF menus. Why is Edmonton so behind the times???

  2. Hi Angela,

    That is an unfortunate experience you are having in Edmonton. We have had many positive experiences. Have you checked out the restaurant list on our blog?


  3. I'd like restaurants to know that people who eat gluten-free like a choice of meals too. I don't want to be limited to one one entree choice (only the salmon or only chicken). Sometimes I feel like vegetarian other times I'd like meat, so there should be more than one gf entree choice.

  4. Hi Abisaac, please don't get me wrong, there are a few restaurants in Edmonton that I do enjoy and never feel like I'm being left out - High Level Diner, Next Act Pub, Red Robin, El Rancho, Tres Carnales just to name a few of the terrific restaurants. No, it's the others, which I won't name, that offer an actual GF menu only to have it come to the table deconstructed and bland. And those restaurants should know better - being that they are chain restaurants and some that are a 'group' of locally owned restaurants. Shame on them for charging us full price on a menu item but really only getting half the meal... no, shame on them for only offering that to us.
    And I always check here for recipes and restaurant ideas - thank you for that - you do a fantastic job!!

  5. Angela, we are going to New York in May and would be really interested in any information you can provide on restaurants that are celiac friendly. Maybe other readers of this blog would find it interesting too!

  6. Hi Sandy,

    Check our travel section. We have written about new York. If you email us we can tell you about more options.


  7. If you are headed to NYC be sure to check out mozzerllis pizza for amazing gluten free pizza, pasta and dessert! The owners are phenomenal and remember us each time we go back!


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