SALT LAKE CITY — With increased awareness and screening, celiac disease and other allergies to wheat are becoming much more widely diagnosed. That means, of course, that more and more Utahns are on the lookout for gluten-free foods and restaurants that allow them to enjoy good food but don't produce all the pain and discomfort of eating wheat.
Though still a challenge, grocery shopping for gluten-free food has become much easier than in the past, but one area that's always hard to pin down is where to eat out when you're burdened with celiac disease.
We're all about making people's lives easier here at ksl.com, and with your gastrointestinal comfort in mind, here are a few restaurants that offer gluten-free fare that's top-notch.
Sometimes it's the most familiar of foods that have the fewest alternatives, at least in the world of fast food. But Utah's home-grown, Greek-inspired burger joint is on your side when it comes to gluten-free options. Any sandwich can be made on a gluten-free bun, meaning that double bacon cheeseburger you've been craving is just a short drive away.
Not only that, but Astro Burger maintains a separate deep fryer for fries vs. other breaded products, meaning that your fries will never be cross-contaminated with those gnarly wheat proteins. These gluten-free options are available at all three Astro Burger locations in Draper, South Jordan and Midvale.
We might be craving the toppings when we order our favorite kind of pizza, but it almost invariably comes on a bed of wheat-based pizza dough. Not so, or at least not always so, at The Pie, perhaps Salt Lake's most well-known pizza shop.
Any pizza can be requested and prepared on gluten-free dough. The Pie even makes sure to prepare its special pizzas in a separate kitchen to minimize the chance of cross-contamination.
Another local company, Costa Vida, is pretty much entirely gluten-free if you don't count the tortillas — which, let's admit, is a pretty big deal when we're talking Mexican food. Nevertheless, the main benefit of Costa Vida is that nothing else has any wheat at all — not the sauces, not the salsas, not the flavorings. Nothing.
So if you can manage without a tortilla, and can avoid the tres leches cake and key lime pie, you're all set.
Baked items and pastries are, of course, the most difficult items to find for those as allergic to gluten as vampires are to garlic. But what if, against all reason and hope for survival, you happen to be both vegan and allergic to wheat? City Cakes is there for you.
Not only does City Cakes have some of the best vegan baked goods this side of the Mississippi, it also sells at least eight items that are both vegan and gluten-free, including bread, cupcakes, doughnuts, cookies and more.
It's not locally owned or operated like the above four restaurants, but sometimes that's a good thing, since chain restaurants are often available nationwide and allow you to find a consistently gluten-free menu without a lot of searching around.
Biaggi's offers a menu that includes gluten-free pasta, if you can believe it, along with pizza and about a dozen sauces and other items.
While we're pointing out chain restaurants with lots of gluten-free options, Outback Steakhouse has a decent menu as well, and is even more widely available. Beware, however, that it doesn't offer gluten-free buns, so burgers ordered gluten-free simply won't have buns. Also, Outback's fries are (somehow) not gluten-free, so those are off the table as well.
Almost every restaurant
It sounds a bit banal, and perhaps overly obvious, but most eateries have items on the menu that are both delicious and free from the poisonous protein that gets so many people's intestines tied in knots. Even if they don't have a specific gluten-free menu or items dedicated to that population, they may be more than willing to accommodate your request.
So just remember: Ask away. Certainly keeping your request within reason is a good idea as well; I doubt every place with bread pudding has a gluten-free option, but if they're not friendly enough to at least hear your request and try to fulfill it, perhaps it's not a place worth visiting a second time.
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