Edit: Updated February 2014
Huntsville Gluten-free and Paleo Dining List
While this list is based in Huntsville, AL, there are many restaurants listed that are regional or national.
Best Paleo Choice:
Grille 29 (Providence)- Grille 29 goes above and beyond with their gluten-free menu. In addition to giving you a handful of menu items that are Gluten-free, some of which aren’t even on the main menu. They also offer more than one really good gluten-free desert. Where they really hit the mark, and cross the line into being a great Paleo choice is that that actually list out all of their meats, sauces, seasonings, and vegetables that are gluten-free and allow you to create your own custom meal.
Chipotle (University Drive)– A favorite amongst the Paleo crowd with reason. They source anti-biotic free, local meats whenever possible. Since Paleo folks don’t eat corn anyway they don’t have to worry about the fact that the corn tortillas are laced with … well… wood. More on that here, thanks to FoodBabe. That said, I still eat them occasionally, but mostly I stick to a salad topped with their great meat, fajita veggies, and guacomole (OH Their Guacamole!).
Best Gluten Free Dining
Below the Radar is a fairly new addition downtown. Evidently, one of the owners is also a GI doc so they have it going on when it comes to gluten-free. Their menu changes regularly, but gluten-free items are marked clearly on the menu. They also offer a few items from Mason Dixon Bakery on their desert menu. Last time I visited they had some awesome gluten-free hot wings, but their menu has changed every time we’ve visited so I can only hope they will still be available next time. If not, I’m sure there will be some other awesome item I fall in love with.
Best Gluten-Free Bakery
|Mason Dixon Bakery Biscuits|
Mason Dixon Bakery – My non-gluten-free hubby usually turns his nose up at gluten-free products, but not the ones from Mason Dixon! They are Huntsville’s ONLY dedicated Gluten-free place. Offering all sorts of baked goods from cupcakes to breads and even biscuits. And,oh MY their biscuits are good. Actually, everything I’ve had there has been good but their biscuits have been the most surprising. Biscuits in general can often be dry, and you wouldn’t dare warm them up in a microwave without expecting a soggy mess. But, these… these are another story. They have that fluffy texture that I love in a biscuit and I just add some (not) butter and heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds and they are perfect, whether I’m topping them with cinnamon & sugar or a sausage patty. Added bonus is that many of their products are also dairy free and for those who are Paleo they offer many Paleo items, including a Paleo bread. They also have a gluten-free pizza dough.
Gluten Free Pizza
Pan E Vino (downtown)– They had my vote for best pizza when I was eating gluten, so when I found out they were offering a gluten-free crust I had to try it. I have to say that their pizza beats second place Pie in the Sky by a good margin, and beats Mellow Mushroom hands down.When it’s cooked right this is the best there is, unfortunately it seems that lately they’ve done something different and the crust never seems to get cooked all the way through (even after they’ve sent it back through). I also finally tried their gluten-free pasta and it was really not good.
Mellow Mushroom (Jones Valley/ Providence) offers both a gluten-free crust and non-dairy vegan cheese. I tried it and was not impressed. One thing that really annoys me is that they only offer the gluten-free pizza crust in one size and it’s their largest size. So, if you like most of us and the only one eating it, a lot will go to waste anyway. In my case, it almost all went to waste because I thought it was disgusting. I found the crust rather wet and flaky. photo credit: toastforbrekkie via photo pin cc
|photo credit: Thomas Hawk
via photo pin cc
Pie in the Sky (Madison) is my second favorite option for gluten-free pizza (following Pan E Vino when they cook theirs right). Their crust (as is the case with any gluten-free crust) is very thin, but it’s nice and crisp and has a good solid texture and flavor. All of their toppings are fresh and they offer goat cheese (although I did not see a vegan cheese on their menu). I can tolerate goat cheese, while I can’t tolerate regular dairy, so that was the option I chose. I will say that if you go for the goat cheese (and don’t want regular cheese) make sure to tell them “goat cheese ONLY” or you’ll get a mixture of goat cheese and mozzarella. A nice thing here, also, is that their gluten-free crust is the small size.
The Bunless Burger and Fries
A burger is one of those things I just crave occasionally. And most of the time the fact that I have to eat it bunless is not an issue. Sometimes it’s really more about the fries than the burger. And fries are one of those places where they tend to hide gluten. Why they feel the need to coat a perfectly good fry in gluten is beyond me, but they do. However, there is one place where you can still get gluten-free fries.
|photo credit: *Grant* via photo pin cc|
Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Jones Valley / Univ Dr / N. Parkway)- According to their website the only thing in their restaurant with gluten is their bun. Their fries are fresh and since they don’t serve any other fried foods you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. Plus, their fries are just freakin awesome anyway! Five Guys now offers their Bunless burger two ways. You can get it in a lettuce wrap or in a bowl.
Red Robin (Jones Valley / Bridgestreet)- they now offer a gluten-free bun. I tried it recently when I was just feeling a strong desire for a good old fashioned burger in a bun. It (like most gluten-free bread items) is dry. The flavor was pretty good but I figured figured that in order to not choke on every bite I needed to cut the top of the bun in half. There was just too much bread for the burger. That said, they do offer lettuce wrapped burgers, which is the way I would go there. Their fries, however, are cross-contaminated and their guacamole is not gluten-free. They do offer a gluten-free menu online now, and I would say you should definitely check it out before you go (if not print it off and take it with you).
Smashburger (Madison 72W)- From a reader: “Smashburger is a pretty good paleo option too! Veggie frite sides and a lettuce bun burger :)”
I know that their fries are not gluten-free but they do offer a lettuce wrapped burger.
|photo credit: mhaithaca via photo pin cc|
Thanks to another blogger, I discovered that I didn’t have to give up one of my favorite foods: Hot Wings. This is one of those food items (like fries) that while it doesn’t need to be is often coated in a small amount of flour. Luckily, another Paleo blogger that I follow pointed out that Buffalo Wild Wings wings are gluten-free. However, their fries are not and a few of their sauces (mainly the Asian inspired ones) are also not gluten-free.
1892 East (5 Points) is a local restaurant that focuses on local and sustainable eating. This place is great for the Paleo eaters and they are also more than ready to accommodate those of us that have gluten or dairy sensitivities. Their menu changes somewhat regularly, but they have no issue with adjusting items as needed to fit your needs. My first time there I had their steak and vegetables and a salad. I asked for no butter on anything and I will say that my food was still absolutely wonderful. All I can say is if you go out to eat and they take away the butter and gluten and it’s still that good, the food must be awesome to begin with (and theirs is).
Anaheim Chili (Jones Valley) – The day they offered a bacon wrapped jalapeno stuffed hot dog was the day I finally broke down and tried this place. They have about a dozen different chilis, most of which are gluten-free. They do not have a gluten-free menu, however the wait staff was knowledgeable and happy to ask the chef when she wasn’t sure. At some point I was able to find a list of which chilis were gluten-free online, but I can’t find it now.
Another Broken Egg (Jones Valley) – Offers gluten-free pancakes and Black Bean Sliders (using the GF pancake as the bun).
Bonefish Grill (Airport/Whitesburg)– Offers a pretty solid gluten-free menu that includes a large portion of their regular menu, including multiple desserts. They are also happy to mix and match sauces and toppings between their fish/meat options, in order to create a meal that suits your mood.
Cantina Laredo (Bridgestreet)- Mexican seems like one of the easiest ways to avoid gluten, but it seems like so many restaurants sneak it in to so many things. Cantina Laredo now notes on their menu which items are gluten-free, and I’ve been told by a manager there (and he followed through) that many other items can be adjusted to be both gluten and dairy free. When I ordered by Fajitas gluten and dairy free we could hear them in the kitchen making sure that no butter was used on my meat. Also, since their Guacamole is made table side, you know exactly what is in it. photo credit: Scorpions and Centaurs via photo pin cc
Carraba’s Italian Grill (Parkway Place) – offers a gluten-free menu. However, the GF menu consists largely of instructions you need to give the kitchen on how to ensure your item is GF, including ingredients to be removed, the use of new/clean utensils for preparing, etc. IMO, these are things that should be automatic when you order from a GF menu.
Chili’s (University Dr / Jones Valley) – from a reader: “Chili’s has a gluten free menu and their potato soup is gluten free. Cheesy delicious potato soup. I’ve become addicted over the winter to it.”
Chick-Fil-A (many locations)- While they’ve been a goto place for gluten-free fries for a while, they now also offer grilled nuggets (gluten-free) to go with them.
Conners Steakhouse (Bridgestreet) – handles their GF menu much the same as Carraba’s. What makes it more annoying is that at the top of the menu it states “Listed below are menu suggestions that we trust contain no known traces of gluten.” then proceeds to give you instructions on how to order those items so that they are gluten-free.
Cracker Barrel (Madison, Parkway & Drake) – They do have a GF menu but you have to ask for the manager to get it. They also have a GF menu online but they are not the same. Additionally, there seems to be confusion in the restaurant regarding the GF menu and whether those items are GF. I ordered a couple of sides listed on the GF menu only to have the waitress come back and tell me the manager said they aren’t gluten-free.
Drake’s (Airport/ Whitesburge)- Initially I didn’t think they offered much in the way of gluten-free options. When I emailed them and asked I was given a very short list. However, when we visited I was pleasantly surprised. The manager on duty came out to talk to me and it happened that she was also gluten-free. She let me know that all of their meats were cooked fresh in-house, so I was safe with those as well as with their veggies. The fries were questionable because while they did have a dedicated frier, sometimes when they get busy it’s possible that it may get used for other things. When it came to my sides she even offered to make me up what she makes herself (sauteed spinach with onions and mushrooms). It was delicious.
Dreamland BBQ (University Drive) – you do have to watch out for the sauces at some BBQ joints, but the sauce is safe here, so enjoy the ribs. I can’t say as much for the sides, but carnivores paradise.
Fulins Asion Cuisine (Madison)- I’m happy to say that it’s getting easier and easier to eat Asian food without the worry of gluten contamination. More and more chains are offering gluten-free soy sauce as an option and will happily adjust your menu items to meet your needs. Fulins is one of those. While it would help to have the menu clearly marked stating what can be adjusted, they were happy to work with me and I would definitely go back there.
4 Leaves Asian (72 East)- This is another Asian option that will adjust your menu items. Unfortunately, on my visit the waitress was new and was not at all knowledgeable about the menu or gluten-free, so I didn’t really take any risks.
Happy Tummy (Lowe Mill) – from a reader: “Happy Tummy at Lowe Mill also has gluten free bread and will work with you on allergies.” – I have tried their GF bread and ended up trashing it.
J. Gumbo’s (University Dr) – I haven’t tried this place yet but according to their website they do have several menu items that are gluten-free.
Jason’s Deli (University Drive or Airport/ Whitesburg) – This is my “go to” place when I want a sandwich. They offer Udi’s bread and you can order any sandwich you choose. They will toast it on request (recommended). I’ve even ordered their Paninis on GF bread and they’ve gone through the trouble to clean the panini press prior to making my sandwich. They also offer GF potatoes and a couple of GF soup options. When your GF order comes out is is marked clearly and wrapped to protect from cross-contamination.
Lawler’s BBQ – Most of their menu is gluten-free. While it’s not marked, just ask and they will be happy to give you info on any items. We eat their BBQ regularly.
Lime Fresh (Bridgestreet) – Fast casual Mexican that prides itself in using fresh organic ingredients. Their flavors are very mild and often carry a lot of Lime. Any item can be ordered with corn tortillas instead of flour.
Longhorn (University Drive)- offers a gluten-free menu listing which items can be ordered as is, or with slight modifications. Very few of the items require modification.
Macaroni Grill (University Drive) – This is my go-to choice when I get a craving for pasta. Their gluten-free pasta is so good you can’t tell it’s gluten-free.
Mei Wei Asian Bistro (University Dr across from Target) – I’ve been told that Mei Wei will work with you regarding gluten allergies.
The Melting Pot (BridgeStreet)- is the only GIG trained restaurant in the area. Most items on their menu are gluten-free already, with only a few substitutions needed (ie. skip the bread/chips for the cheese course). – From a reader “Melting Pot in Bridge Street has gluten free bread AND brownies so you don’t have to skip the cheese fondue or chocolate courses. Each location is managed differently. The one in Nashville didn’t have any of those things so I’m in much love with ours.”
Moe’s BBQ (Providence & Jones Valley) – from a reader: They have a gluten-free menu at the register.
Nothing But Noodles (University Dr or Airport/ Whitesburge)– They now offer not only their rice noodle but they have a gluten-free penne noodle that you can sub in any menu item.
Olive Garden (University Dr)- from a reader: “Olive Garden has 4 dishes that are gluten free and they do have gluten free pasta. However, they’re all the same red sauce and it’s really a pitiful selection for an Italian chain. ”
Outback Steakhouse (Airport Rd or Madison) – offers a gluten-free menu. However, the GF menu consists largely of instructions you need to give the kitchen on how to ensure your item is GF, including ingredients to be removed, the use of new/clean utensils for preparing, etc. IMO, these are things that should be automatic when you order from a GF menu. The one time I did attempt to eat at an Outback and made the requests as directed, the directions were not followed.
P.F. Changs (Bridgestreet)- is a national chain that by far seems to have the best handle on doing gluten-free. Not only do the have an actual gluten-free section on their menu but they cook the gluten-free items using separate pans, and serve them on special plates to ensure that there is no cross-contamination. I’ve tried several items from the gluten-free menu and I will say that some things do seem different (I haven’t figured out why the Chicken Lettuce Wraps look and taste different in the gluten-free version, but they do. That said, they are still good. And, if you leave off the rice you can come pretty close to being Paleo.
Phuket (Providence)- Thai food is largely gluten-free, however it’s nice to see them actually make the effort to put out a gluten-free menu that is very clear on what items are safe.
Sady’s Bistro (Madison) – located in downtown Madison this is a great little sandwich shop, offering gluten-free bread from Mason Dixon Bakery, as well as many of their baked goods. This is the place to head if you are wanting a good sandwich. They also offer salads, smoothies and some really good coffee (with almond & coconut milk options). They also offer several gluten-free breakfast items including crepes and waffles.
The Scene (Bridgestreet)- I had actually never eaten here before I went gluten-free. About half of their menu is sushi, which is just not my thing, but once we finally tried the place it’s now one of my favorites. They make everything (or pretty darn close to everything) from scratch, so even if something isn’t typically gluten-free (one server mentioned that their salad dressings are not) they can mix you something up that would be. I really enjoy their (beef or chicken) skewers and the Steak Kabobs. And Paleo peeps, they’ve got some kick-ass sweet potato fries.
Shane’s Rib Shack (Airport/ Whitesburge)– offers a gluten-free menu that is easily accessible online. Their pulled pork and chicken are gluten-free, however their ribs are not. They also offer grilled chicken tenders, salads and a few sides. Their menu may very by location.
Shea’s Express (Church St near Pratt Ave)- Shea’s now has a gluten-free menu available. There are no special items on that menu, it just lists which items off the regular menu are gluten-free (and, of course, if you order it gluten-free they don’t bring you the side roll). Gluten-free options are pretty much salads and soups (as expected). They do serve breakfast and as far as Paleo / gluten-free breakfast options go, this is probably your best bet. Lots of egg based breakfast items.
The Sandwich Farm (Cleveland Ave @ The Lumberyard)- is a local restaurant offering … sandwiches. While they don’t offer gluten-free bread they do offer all of their sandwiches as a salad. They also have some great breakfast options including their BYO Potato hash, which is my personal favorite.
Zoe’s Kitchen (University Dr OR Airport/Whitesburg) – Zoe’s offers fast casual Greek Dining using fresh ingredients. Their menu is now clearly marked for GF and DF as well as Vegan options. Despite the indications it’s important to tell them you are gluten-free when ordering or you will be served pita bread on your plate.