just a quick update on the dining options in Grand Forks, ND, as my original post was quite awhile ago, and much has changed since then. and I just want to note that I made many, many calls around town, to hopefully not disclude any restaurants that are making an effort to provide gluten free options in town. if I’ve missed any, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with the names of those restaurants. (although if there is no specific menu and the only provision is something like a plain burger patty or salad without croutons, I generally don’t include them anyway).
and as always, please make sure to ask the appropriate questions at each restaurant to verify that what I’ve been told on procedures and offerings are still vaild. and if you have a lot of questions (for any restaurant) calling to speak to a manager during slower times of the day is always a good idea!
let’s start with… BURGERS:
Five Guys is always a good option, in any city! tell them it’s an allergy, and I like to watch them prepare it on the line, just in case. they’ll either lettuce-wrap it or put it in a “bowl” (the latter is what I prefer). and the fries are safe (either kind) as that’s all they fry there.
Burger King is a true fast-food option (which I’m generally more cautious of), but they do have a dedicated fryer for french fries (although they often dump the fries into the same area as the onion rings, and sometimes use the same scoop, unless you ask them not to). you can also order a bunless burger (and request a glove change). so you can eat there, if you want. I’d suggest slower times, just to be safer. I generally stay away of places that aren’t specifically set-up with gluten free menus or procedures and training, but sometimes you’re in a pinch, traveling, or need to take the kids somewhere to play, etc.
Wendy’s is another fast-food option. they don’t have a dedicated fryer, but bunless burgers and non-breaded chicken are an option. more interesting to me than the burgers are the chili, baked potatoes, and many of the vast variety of salads. just ask the manager or check online before you go.
(**Green Mill in the Pizza section also offers gluten free burgers with Udi’s buns)
next up.. PIZZA:
Pizza Ranch is still my favorite (in many cities), each location seems to handle the salad bar and soda that accompanies a gluten free pizza differently. in Grand Forks, if you order a GF pizza you get a soda and a one-trip to the salad bar with it automatically. they have a great variety of pizzas, generally don’t charge you for additional toppings, and are as nice and accommodating as can be. they bring your pizza to the table in a to-go box, which I like because I can just take one slice out at a time, knowing that other people won’t accidentally contaminate it from their multiple buffet plates that stack up quickly. and it also keeps the pizza warm! I like to call ahead as I’m leaving for the restaurant though, to get them started on making my pizza. otherwise I end up just watching everyone else eat their pizza for twenty minutes, which isn’t fun.
Happy Joes also offers gluten free pizza. I haven’t gotten the feeling that they are quite as informed on cross-contamination, so be sure to ask all the questions that you need to before ordering. also, I’ve had a difficult time in the past on pinning down which toppings were gluten free, so maybe call ahead and ask during a slow time so that you can speak to a manager. I always appreciate when a restaurant offers any special accommodations, so I hesitate to complain in any way, but it really felt like they were more just offering it for fad dieters than people with allerigies and/or celiac disease that need to be very careful. although to be fair, that was a year ago now at least, and maybe that has improved. and of course, nothing beats their taco pizza! (the Crookston location also offers GF pizza).
Rhombus Guys makes a gluten free pizza. I have yet to try it, and don’t know much about their process either, but I definitely need to make it a point the next time that I’m there. I know everyone loves their regular pizza, so I have high hopes for the GF ones. they have a lot of fun-looking specialty pizzas! as I don’t know much about it, please ask the usual cross-contamination questions before ordering, to make sure you don’t get sick.
Green Mill offers a medium gluten free pizza. it’s a really thin crust, and really tasy! they also have gluten free burgers, using Udi’s buns! and there are a few salads as well.
Italian Moon offers a gluten free pizza, baked on a tin pan to avoid cross-contamination. they don’t have a list of GF items other than that, but if you ask, you may find other things that you can eat. for instance, I was told that the queso is gluten free (but you’d have to bring your own chips).
Dominos also offers a small gluten free pizza. they will cook them on parchment paper if you ask, in order to avoid cross-contamination in the oven. both the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks locations offer them.
(**also note that some from the Pasta section offer GF pizzas as well)
Mamma Maria’s is my favorite, as there is a lot of choice (this is in East Grand Forks, but I count both cities together for dining purposes). many of the sauces are gluten free, and they’re a lot more flexible than say, Olive Garden. it comes with a nice salad. most customers are offered complimentary “garlic knot” appetizers. if that makes you sad to watch, bring your own bread and ask for olive oil :) but I’m usually filled up enough with the salad and pasta.
Guiseppe’s also offers a lot of pasta options. they have a gluten free penne, and most pasta dishes can be made gluten free. I have not yet made it there to report on, however. as always, be sure to ask about them using a fresh pot of water and other cross-contamination issues, as well on checking on the sauces that you’d like to order.
Noodles is a place that I’ve largely disregarded in the past. I knew they could use a rice noodle from one of their Asian dishes, but that didn’t interest me very much anyway, and it makes me nervous that it’s a fast-paced environment. and finally, without an actual specifically gluten free product, I always have concerns that the training isn’t there. recently, however, I saw that they now offer a regular gluten free noodle! so now that there’s something official, I’m more confident in the process and training, and can’t wait to return to Noodles and eat my old favorites again! the list of which of the pastas dishes can be made gluten free is here under the “watching gluten?” tab (I was sad to see that the mac & cheese could not).
Olive Garden is a classic, and the Grand Forks one is now a legend :). they have such great salad (just get it without croutons), and it’s so nice that they have a couple of gluten free pasta dishes now. my only complaint is that it shouldn’t be too difficult to make their other sauces gluten free, especially now that they’ve already done the difficult part in supplying gluten free noodles and training on it. also, they have no flexibility at all, such as when I requested the gluten free noodles with just olive oil and garlic, or other requests in the past. it seems they’re more of a machine than a made-to-order. again, I appreciate that they offer some options of pasta (and some fish and other entree options), but I’m hoping that they expand which sauces are gluten free soon (like a meat sauce or a mac and cheese sauce, etc).
L’Bistro has a nice list of offerings, they have gluten free pasta (any except the lasagna, ravioli, or gnocchi can be made GF) and an 8″ gluten free pizza crust.
Paradiso happily has an actual gluten free menu now, and it’s not tiny! to start with, the chips are not fried on site, so they are fine to eat. they have several apps, like quesos, nachos, chips & guacamole, etc. and then tacos, chalupas, salads, etc. it’s so nice that they’ve officially identified which are gluten free now, as it gives me much more confidence to venture past my usual beef chalupa!
Mexican Village has a nice-sized gluten free menu, with various sauces and tortilla shells substituting to make a nice meal. the chips are made there (so not safe), but they will bake some for you if you need! that’s really accommodating, and makes me appreciate their efforts even more!
Little Bangkok/ Drunken Noodle in East Grand Forks have combined into one restaurant now. they serve noodle and rice dishes. I was last there a couple of years ago when it was just the Drunken Noodle, and my particular waitress and chef that evening indicated that they usually didn’t use a separate pot of water or pan for rice for gluten free dishes. so just be sure to ask the usual questions about that stuff. they had a great list of GF items with lots of variety, so it’s definitely worth checking out! and hopefully by now they have a better process without being asked! I’m assuming it’s more of the Little Bangkok menu now though, which has been known for their (sushi & Thai) says that everything on their menu, with the exception of the Pad Thai, can be made gluten free. however, I looked on their menu and saw tempura, dumplings, egg rolls, etc. so please make sure to ask questions about the ingredients and preparation to find out it what you’d like to order truly is gluten free. I haven’t been there since they combined locations/ menus.
Shing Ya is a sushi restaurant, so a lot of their sushi rolls are gluten free. there is no specific menu, but just ask. if you want soy/ tamari sauce though, bring your own GF version as they don’t have one.
Fuji Japanese Seafood and Steakhouse has a gluten free soy sauce there, so many options are available.
Kon Nichi Was doesn’t have a gluten free menu, but they can make some gluten free dishes. spring rolls are the obvious choice at any Asian restaurant. soy sauce and faux crab/ seafood are the usual suspects. so keep that in mind at any Asian places you want to venture to. I like to just bring a GF soy sauce/ tamari with me, and that usually opens up a lot more options.
Erbert & Gerberts has an amazing gluten free sub roll by Udi’s that I didn’t even know existed. it’s amazing and super soft (if fresh). they only unthaw so many at a time, so I always call ahead prior to driving there, to make sure I’ll be able to get a GF sandwich.
Jimmy Johns offer lettuce wrap (low-carb) sandwiches, and they deliver
Dickie’s BBQ is a good option in any city~ almost all of the meats are gluten free, as are all the BBQ sauces. many of the sides are as well, such as the coleslaw (tastes amazing!), the BBQ beans, the green beans with bacon, and several others. sometimes I bring my own GF bread in order to make a sandwich, but sometimes I just enjoy eating the meat plain.
Wild Hog is a newer restaurant on the scene. they have a nice list of gluten free options, which also includes all of their barbecue sauces, as well as most of their meats.
the Blue Moose is in East Grand Forks, just across the river. I’ve gotten conflicting info from them over time, but I think I have it figured out now. they do have a list of gluten-free items, mostly the pricier seafood/ meat entrees and plain veggies, or burger without a bun. so bring a bun with you if you go! I will say that there were a few suprises on the list, from what I remember, though I can’t recall specifics. one of the highlights is that you can have the queso there! and since they don’t fry the chips at the restaurant (in a fryer with other things), the chips are fine to eat as well!
Al’s Grill & Catering has the gluten free items starred on their menu. I haven’t been there since they opened (pre-celiac diagnosis), but their food tasted amazing, so I can’t wait to try it again! it sounded like there were quite a few GF item on the list.
Toasted Frog is a great restaurant downtown. it’s one of the nicer and trendier places. it does have a gluten free menu, which had a few options on there. they, too, have good chefs, who will know how to accommodate any other specific requests as well.
Sanders is a fine dining restaurant in Grand Forks, and they have always had excellent chefs. they understand gluten allergies and can accommodate as necessary. with nice restaurants that prepare many meant and vegetable dishes from scratch, many options are usually available.
Ground Round offers a lot of what I call “omission” dishes (salads without croutons, burgers without buns, and then plain meat dishes). but they also have a loaded potato section too. and as always, nice to have any options!
Ruby Tuesday has an allergen list, there’s a lot on it, actually, but again, mostly salads without croutons, meat, and veggies. if you enjoy salads, though, the salad bar is large and extensive.
Texas Roadhouse can accommodate. the steak and potatoes are easily made gluten free. last I was there, there was no specific GF menu, but that may have changed. I’ve never ventured past the steak to know about variety of options, sorry!
Perkins has put a list of gluten free items together. it includes soup (tomato basil), several salads, a couple of meat dishes (pork chops, steak medallions), and several omelet/ egg meals (with hash browns, bacon, fresh fruit, etc)
Tim Horton’s has as small of a gluten free menu as can be (one item), but if you’re with a group that wants to go there, there is a treat that you can have: coconut macaroons
most grocery stores have some gluten free specialty items here and there, but Hugo’s on 32nd Ave S has the most extensive variety for their chain
and the local co-op, Amazing Grains, has probably the largest selection of gluten free and other allergen free items.
This list will likely grow over time, so please check back every now and then.