Upon going gluten-free, eating out can become a nightmare. It can be like playing Russian Roulette. Unless the place is 100% gluten-free, you are never going to be 100% sure that what you are eating does not have traces of gluten. No matter how hard you try to plan ahead, and bring your own lunch, it is going to happen. One day, you are going to be out running errands, and all of a sudden it is lunch time. You need to pick up something, but you really don’t have time to sit down. I’m going to be honest with you. There really are not a whole lot of choices. No one has come up with a gluten-free fast food restaurant….yet. Don’t dismay, there may not be a lot of choices, but I have found a few where you can pick up a safe meal without it taking a lot of time.Eating out with Celiac disease can be like playing Russian Roulette. Click To Tweet
Before we get into our list, just a few tips.
- Although many of these places offer online ordering or a drive through, while it is convenient, it is a better practice to go in. You want to tell whoever is making your food that you can’t have gluten and to please change their gloves to avoid cross-contamination.
- Obviously, since you are in a hurry, you probably won’t be able to do this, but if you can, try to avoid the lunch hour rush.
- Look up the allergen menu BEFORE you go (I have helped you out, there are links below…feel free to bookmark this page in order to have easy access to the list). This way at least you will have a general idea of what you can eat so you won’t waste too much time asking questions about ingredients.
- Last, but not least, remember, ingredient lists do change, so be sure to check for updates.
Sometimes it can be a bit hard to remember everything you need to ask when eating out. In order to help you I have created a FREE Dining Card. It comes in English and Spanish (which you need if you are in Miami!) and has all the questions you need to ask when dining out Gluten-Free. Just click the link below to receive it!
The 7 Places to Eat Gluten-Free in a Hurry
One of my favorite places to eat out. Chances of cross contamination here are minimal. They only have one item, flour tortillas, that even has gluten in it. Chipotle is very allergy friendly, be sure to ask them to change their gloves and use fresh lettuce and cheese (as gloves may have touched this previously). Check out their allergen menu for more details:
I will be honest. I have only eaten here once and it was because I had coupons for buy 1 get 1 free entrees. Their gluten-free menu is basically a burger bowl or a salad (not all salads are gluten-free, be sure to review the menu) and fries (which are air baked). In my experience they are allergy friendly and I was asked if avoiding gluten was an allergy or a preference. When I stated allergy, they had a button that was pressed when placing the order that had everyone change gloves to avoid cross contamination. Check out their allergen menu for more details:
Chick-fil-a is something I missed after going gluten-free. I loved their chicken nuggets and chicken biscuits. While I can no longer eat these, Chick-fil-a does offer several gluten-free offerings AND a dedicated fryer for their infamous waffle fries. They are known for being friendly and sensitive to a wide range of food allergies. You can check out their allergy menu here:
Basically, at Five Guys you can get a burger bowl and fries. That is about all they serve. Five Guys has a dedicated fryer for their fries so you can be sure they are safe to eat. They also give you a TON of them. The burgers are really good and in my experience they have been great about changing gloves. I have heard rumors that at some Five Guys they heat the buns on the same griddle as they cook the burgers, but at the Five Guys I usually eat from, this has not been the case. Check out their allergy info:
Quite a bit of the offerings here are gluten-free. Pollo Tropical has a great build your meal program that allows you to add menu items and will indicate if there is any allergy concerns. As with anywhere ask them to change gloves. My suggestion would be a tropi-chop because it has the least chance of cross contamination. We also on occasion get a family meal, just without the bread. You can find their build your meal program here:
While Wendy’s does not offer a wide variety of gluten-free options, the ones they do have, have very little chance of cross-contamination. This is one place where I have been known to go through the drive-through. The main items on their gluten-free menu are potatoes and chili. Good news is a Frosty is also gluten-free! Check out their menu here:
Pei Wei is also owned by the same company as PF Changs (who also has a gluten-free menu). They offer quite a few gluten-free dishes. In my experience they take gluten sensitivities very seriously. You can expect to wait a bit longer for a gluten-free dish as they do use separate pans and it requires someone to stop what they are doing and prepare the dish. I included them in this list because the wait isn’t usually that long and it is the closest thing to gluten-free Chinese take out you can get in a rush. Check out their gluten-free menu here:
That concludes the round-up of places to grab a gluten-free meal when you’re on the go! Don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Gluten-Free Dining Card. Print it out and carry it with you to remember everything you need to ask when eating out gluten-free. As a bonus, it even comes in Spanish! Happy Gluten-Free eating!