Gluten-Free Dining in the Rainforest

rainforest cafe

I’ve always turned up my nose at the Rainforest Cafe. Eating mediocre food among timed thunderstorms, bellowing elephants and mechanized apes beating their chests, all with the smell of chlorine wafting from the waterfall? I’d take my eats elsewhere.

However, I am now a big fan, albeit in limited doses.

That’s because Rainforest Cafe is super-accommodating for a gluten-free diet, making it a great destination for gluten-free kids.

Although Rainforest Cafe doesn’t have a specific GF menu, a manager comes to your table to discuss the gluten-free or allergy-free options. While they do not stock specifically gluten-free foods (so no GF pasta or GF pizza), they will make every effort to modify their menu items to make them safe for diners. They’ll even cook special orders not on the menu.

Last night, since our kitchen cabinets were still wet with paint, we headed to the Rainforest Cafe in the dreaded tacky tourist zone in downtown Chicago. Wednesdays are family nights — meals from the kids menu are $1.99 with purchase of an accompanying adult entrée.

Initially, I planned to order the quarter rotisserie chicken for the 5-year-old, thinking it would be gluten-free. But the manager was unsure of the spices used, so they grilled a chicken breast for her instead. I thought it was bland, but the 5-year-old ate it up.

Their fries are made in a dedicated fryer (one that’s not used for breaded items like onion rings or chicken tenders, which would be unsafe for celiacs). Unless you’re a gluten-free kid, you don’t know the joy of finding fries that are gluten-free.

A specially prepared gluten-free entrée, with fries, for $1.99. That’s something to bellow about.



Filed under restaurants

7 responses to “Gluten-Free Dining in the Rainforest

  1. Tay

    You guys are so lucky you had a good experience! I went to the one in Downtown Disney and when the manager came over we talked about their Nachos and how they WERE INFACT GLUTEN FREE. I asked AT-LEAST 3 times if everything was Gluten Free and if the Chips were in-fact Corn Chips. She said yes and as I ate I some reason ate around the chips. My mother thought I did it subconsciously. (Chips are usually the first to go). Then I rushed to the bathroom with an upset stomach. I thought I was okay, and 5 minutes later when I was heading INTO ACTUAL DISNEYLAND, I started blacking out and couldn’t walk and breathe. I had to throw up, because I was poisoned with Gluten! It ruined the rest of my special day. I was so upset.

    The only reason I ate at the Rainforest was because after Disneyland workers gave me a packet of all the Gluten Free foods and options inside the park, one place I went simply just did not want to make me my special mickey pancakes. I was about ready to cry. I was so disappointed. I could hear them talking about how much work it was and they didn’t want to be bothered by it.

    I guess the place to be is Chicago!


    • I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. That is horrible!

      Eating out at restaurants is so tricky. We’ve had experiences like that too at other restaurants, where the restaurant says something can be prepared gluten-free but yet they don’t understand cross-contamination, etc, and my daughter gets sick. That’s why now I try to go to restaurants with a separate gluten-free menu, since the staff there has been trained in gluten-free meals.

      We haven’t been to Rainforest Cafe for over a year, but in the past they’ve been good with gluten-free requests. I’m surprised you had a bad experience at Disney World; they are usually very accommodating for special diets. We went to Disney World a couple years ago and the chefs always brought out gluten-free rolls, gluten-free brownies, etc.

      Again, I’m sorry that you had that awful experience. I hope the rest of your vacation was OK.



    • nitamom

      I am sad to hear you had such a bad experience eating GF at Disneyland. We are annual pass holders and have found dinning at Disneyland to be the best. The chef always comes out to talk to us about our order, prepares the food for us and brings it out to us.
      If you had talked to the boss I am sure they would have been fired.
      I will say that California Adventure is not as good about it, so we always eat at Disneyland.


  2. Heidi

    Thank you for the info!!! My kids love Rainforest, and my son recently started a GFCF diet. That is great to know about Francesca’s too. P.F. Chang’s also has a dedicated GF menu, which was very extensive! I had to order an adult portion for my 2 year old, but he loved the ginger chicken and broccoli, and it made great leftovers to take home for him!


  3. Elizabeth

    Hi Eve, love the blog! Check out Francesca’s for a gluten-free menu, too. I just reviewed the Arlington Heights location and was pleasantly surprised to see the separate menu.


    • Elizabeth,

      We’ve had gluten-free pasta at Mia Francesca’s on Clark Street before. But I wasn’t aware that they now have a gluten-free menu. We will have to check it out.

      And, at some point, I’d like to put up a list of Chicago gluten-free restaurants on this blog.




  4. melissa

    great, important information about a venue that everybody (even me, and i don’t know much about chicago) recognizes. well done eve! 🙂


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