7 Places to Eat Gluten-Free in a Hurry

7 Places to Eat Gluten-Free in a Hurry

7 Places to Eat Gluten-Free in a Hurry

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

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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:

Chipotle Allergen Menu


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:

EVOS Allergy Menu


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:

Chick-fil-a Allergy Menu

Five Guys

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:

Five Guys Allergy Menu

Pollo Tropical

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:

Pollo Tropical Menu Planner


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:

Wendy’s Gluten Information

Pei Wei

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:

Pei Wei Gluten-Free Menu


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!

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47 thoughts on “7 Places to Eat Gluten-Free in a Hurry

  1. This is a great list, Amanda. I’ve noticed if you let them know you have an allergy (even though we know celiac disease is not) they are more prone to take better precautions. I knew Five Guys had strict guidelines they follow, but wasn’t familiar with the other places, good to know!

    • A lot of times I tell them I have an allergy. People seem to understand that better than auto-immune disease. I love educating people, but sometimes I just don’t have the time!

  2. Ugh eating gluten free and/or healthy AND fast is like a moms greatest challenge.. This list made me want everything on the list, sounds amaaaaaazing. Thx for posting <3

  3. Isn’t it terrific that so many restaurants are getting on board with this. 5-10 years ago it was really frustrating not to mention dangerous to dine out. 🙂

    • It is great! I am still a bit jealous though of peopel who live up north, we visited Philadelphia a couple years ago and I couldn’t believe all the gluten-free options, here in South Florida we are still plying catch up!

  4. I am very excited about your website, Amanda! I have very recently started to become gluten aware, having done a cleanse for 28 days that was free of gluten and sugar. I am amazed by how much better I am feeling in such a short period of time. Your website is a great resource for ideas and tips. Thank you for doing the leg work and providing support….we live in a gluten crazy world, it is everywhere!

    • Thanks for reading! I’m glad you b found it helpful, when I first started going gluten-free it was so hard because I just didn’t know where to go and it was hard to find resources. ..Miami is not a gluten-free friendly city, but hopefully I can provide resources to make it easier to navigate!

    • Hi Concetta! That’s right, I can’t believe I mixed that up, I don’t know about other cities, but here in Miami wherever there is Chipotle there is also a Pei Wei next door, that’s what I was thinking off. I corrected the post. I have never heard of Shophouse Kitchen, I’ll have to see if I can find one! Thanks!

  5. Great resource! There is a worry about cross contamination with Chipotle, however. all day long the burrito makers are reaching into the bins of lettuce and cheese with their burrito coated gloves, so asking that they change gloves only protects your hard shells or keeps the gluten off your bowl. You can ask them to change gloves and thence your toppings from a fresh bin, though.

    • Hi Meaghan! Thanks for taking the time to comment, you are absolutely right, lettuce and cheese does need to come from a fresh bin, I just edited the post to remind people. Thank you!

  6. Jimmy Johns makes THE best lettuce wraps. The lettuce is always crisp and the wrap doesn’t fall apart. I don’t remember if all meats are GF but I know the turkey and provolone definitely are safe.

    • You ate right! We just got a Jimmy Johns and while I avoid places like subway (even though the salad is technically gf) because of crumbs everywhere, the one by me has been really good, they keep things so clean! Great suggestion!

  7. Most fast food restaurants sell salad. There’s a chain called Jersey Mike’s that have gluten free bread options. And many pizza joints sell GF pizza now.

    • Yes they do! I would still double check there allergy menu though, the problem with some, if you have Celiac, is that they used shared cutting boards and such. I have never been to a Jersey Mike’s, but I just googled them and there is one not to far from me so I am going to definitely check them out! I love when I find a good gluten-free pizza, we have several places here in Miami that serve gf pizza that is suitable for celiacs, Pizza is so awesome, it’s getting it’s own post in February! Thanks for checking in, if you know of any other great places let me know!

  8. I am so glad to have found this! I am three years into diagnosed Celiac but my GI Dr thinks I was suffering from it for about four years before we found it. Even now I still sometimes feel like Im missing out on things I used to love. Always nice to meet others who suffer from CD and not just an intollerance. Another GREAT place is Subway. Their GF bread is individually wrapped and when you order it, they ask you if they need to change their gloves (allergy or preference) and then they wash their hands and the cutting boards down before starting your sandwich, then while making it they dont use their gloves to actually touch anything, they use the sandwich paper to open toasters and pick up sauces, etc. they are very diligent and I have always been impressed by their caution.

    • It is so encouraging to meet others with CD, I’m glad you found this helpful , I will have to look into Subway, I don’t think my store has the gluten free bread, but I’m going to check! Thanks for the tip 🙂

  9. We do Chipotle and Pei Wei often! We have a few local-only joints here in Phoenix that are safe – but that doesn’t help for travel. I can’t believe I still haven’t tried Chik-fil-a since I’ve been diagnosed, I think I’m missing out!

    • I love Chipotle…I really could use burrito bowl today :)…Chik-fil-a is great, but you do still need to ask, some of them don’t know what they are talking about, but overall they are pretty good!

  10. Great reminder of the *relatively* easy places to eat out on the road. It’s always good to have a fall-back plan in case of food emergencies while traveling!

    • “Relatively” easy is correct. I always feel like unless it is 100% gf, there is a risk, but these restaurants seem to do the best job of keeping us Celiacs safe!

    • They are great! One of the teens in my local GF support group work there and have confirmed that they really do practice safe food handling for celiacs. I have been before when it took a while because they have to switch pans, ect.

  11. Chick Fil A fries are my favorite! I have been resisting the temptation to go through the drive through all week!
    It is handy to have these “back-ups” especially when traveling!

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