Chicago is a true melting pot, with tempting food contributed by the city’s many ethnicities. I love the range of restaurants — from cutting-edge restaurants with celebrity chefs to corner cafes with tasty fare. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of gluten-free dining options in Chicago, with more restaurants offering gluten-free menus or otherwise accommodating gluten-free diners.
Everyone has to make their own choices about how safe they feel eating out gluten-free. Personally, I favor restaurants that offer gluten-free menus, as I feel that means the establishment has put thought into its gluten-free options and training its staff on safe handling of gluten-free food. Some restaurants (Maggiano’s comes to mind) don’t offer gluten-free menus but still are very careful about preparing meals that are gluten-free and allergy-free.
Some safe gluten-free and allergy-free dining-out tips:
- When dining out on a special diet, try to avoid peak times. Dine earlier in the evening, when you can more easily get the attention of restaurant staff.
- Before you dine, call the restaurant and ask to speak to a chef or a manager about your gluten-free or allergy-free requests. Review the menu online and ask questions about one or two dishes that you are likely to order.
- At the restaurant, be sure to speak to the chef or manager again, not just your server. Ask questions about menu ingredients, preparation and dedicated equipment to be certain a dish is safe for you.
- If you feel that the staff doesn’t understand your special diet concerns, or if you are served food that looks questionable, don’t hesitate to leave. Pick another restaurant.
- If you’ve had a great experience, make sure to thank the restaurant staff and tip accordingly. It requires a lot of extra work to prepare meals for diners on special diets, so please be sure to thank the staff so they will continue to offer safe gluten-free or allergy-free meals.
I have put together a list of gluten-free restaurants on the “Restaurants” tab on the top of this site. I would love to add your suggestions too. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment with your gluten-free restaurant suggestions.
New updates to my Chicago gluten-free dining list:
— Senza, a gourmet gluten-free restaurant that offers truly sensational food, is offering a gluten-free six-course New Year’s Eve dinner for $100 per person, or $175 with wine, including parsnip and apple soup, barramundi, tagliatelle with duck confit, foie gras with caramel corn brulee, lamb loin and coconut pound cake.
— Cassava, which offers gluten-free empanadas and rolls, let me know that they offer free delivery of their frozen empanadas and mini rolls in the Chicago metro area, so they can be baked fresh at home.