Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

Stella’s Fish Cafe July 10, 2015

I always loved going to Stella’s, back when I was gluten free (particularly their rooftop area). but I hadn’t attempted it for many years, after my diagnosis. I just revisited it this week, and was blown away by all of the great gluten free options!! I figured there would be plenty of plain fish options, if nothing else. but the two-paged gluten free menu went well beyond that. it offered lobster bisque, which is a rarity to find gluten free. it also offered lobster rolls (on Udi’s buns), which I’d never heard of until after I’d been diagnosed, and have always wondered how they tasted..). they also offered a hot crab & spinach dip (with chips not fried there, if you order the GF version), which I definitely can’t wait to go back and try! and then many, many more items. I don’t personally enjoy sushi and sashimi, but there were plenty of those offered gluten free as well. another item that popped out at me, for my list to try later, was the stuffed salmon (stuffed with crab meat, shrimp, and brie). and don’t even get me started on the sides.. the loaded hashbrowns were delicious, and unfortunately I didn’t have room for the mashed potatoes, which were loaded with sour cream, chives, and garlic butter. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it!

 

Original Pancake House, Maple Grove February 26, 2015

I didn’t realize at first that the Original Pancake House in Maple Grove is separate from the Original Pancake Houses in Roseville, Edina, and Eden Prairie. it’s unclear as to their connection or former connection.

but what I do know is that the food is just as good, and the menu very similar. the regular menu has a symbol designation for the pancakes, french toast, waffles, and crepes that can be made gluten free. pancake options include buttermilk, blueberry, strawberry, banana, Hawaiian, pumpkin, cranberry walnut, Georgia pecan, coconut, chocolate chip, bacon, peanut butter, and pigs in a blanket. very extensive! waffles have many of the same topping offerings. and crepes add a few new ones: cherry kijafa, mandarin orange, and a couple of fruit crepes with sour cream and liqueur.

not all the sides are labelled as to whether they’re gluten free or not: the sausage links and eggs are marked gluten free, but if you’re wondering about something not marked, the waiter/ waitress should know. I was quite worried at first, but the hash browns were gluten free. whew. that was really important for me 🙂 I didn’t ask about the bacon, but will next time. also, I’m guessing that the omelettes are gluten free, but you’d have to ask on that as well.

and like the other OPHs in town, they take call-aheads to get on the waiting list. and while the other OPHs still make you sit and wait for half your waiting time in the lobby, the Maple Grove OPH allows you to call ahead without being forced to wait for any of it in person, which is very nice! but plan accordingly. with such wild fluxes in waiting times on weekends, depending when you go, it’s always prudent to call ahead to find out when you’ll be expected to get a table before telling the rest of your party when to meet you there. in peak times, 90 minutes of wait time is quite common.

the food is amazing though, with a ridiculous amount of options! and since the Maple Grove OPH doesn’t require you to wait any of it in person, I think it may be my new favorite pancake house. I’m not a huge breakfast person, and didn’t find the urge to check out any of these pancake houses for years. when I was finally persuaded to go once, I was immediately sold. check one out if you haven’t already, just so you find out what you’re missing out on!

 

JD Hoyts February 12, 2015

this old-school steakhouse is a bit of an enigma to me~ it’s a really nice place, with it’s style quaintly trapped in a bygone era, located in a bit of a dodgy area downtown (they offer valet). and given all of that, it’s unexpected that beyond the usual steakhouse fare, they seem to have a love of cajun and Jamaican seasonings and food. it’s very unique, which actually makes it fit right in with all the other oddball places nearby in Northeast Minneapolis~ Nye’s Polynaise Room (R.I.P.), Gasthof’s, etc.

so basically, I wasn’t sure what to expect. but I was very pleasantly surprised! steakhouses generally have plenty of gluten free options, given they mostly serve meat and veggies. but JD Hoyt’s has a lot of fun extras thrown in.

first of all, all of the seasonings and spices are gluten free. so if you want the cajun version of anything, it’s probably fine. (obviously check everything out with your server when ordering). they have several apps that are ok~ there’s something called a Buddy Bowl, which is sort of like a jambalaya: rice, beans, peppers and onions, creole sauce, cheese, and some optional seafood mix-ins. they also have “pig wings” which is a shank that’s grilled and covered in BBQ sauce. and there are maybe a few more apps available gluten free.

then I was delighted to find that they offer a gluten free bun for their burgers and sandwiches! it’s such a nice touch, especially since they already have so many options for us. as with everything, the burgers are available with cajun or Jamaican seasonings 🙂 they also have pork chop sandwiches, prime rib sandwiches, Kobi beef burgers, etc in addition to the basic burger.

and in a surprising twist, they also offer gluten free noodles!! this is above and beyond, given that they only offer one pasta dish (you guessed it, cajun pasta!)

most of the entrees are gluten free as well: pork chops, steaks, seafood, chicken. they have lots of fun toppings offered, and are really flexible if you want anything else requested. (be sure to tell them of you allergy, so you don’t accidentally get an onion ring on your steak, or any other unforeseen gluten accompaniments). the entrees all come with a surprisingly large amount of veggies on the plate. so it’s enough to just get an entree… but why do that when they have the most amazing sides?!

the side dishes were my favorite part of the whole meal! most of them were gluten free. and they come in 3 sizes, from a little cup to a huge plateful. I always love a good hashbrown or mashed potatoes (really any potatoes, I’m from the Midwest, after all!) and they of course have a few more veggies to choose from, if you didn’t get enough from the generous heaping on your plate. but the real highlight was the lobster risotto!! I wish that I lived or worked nearby, so I could pick some up regularly! it was so delicious, perfectly cooked pieces of lobster, and possibly mixed with cheese. it was amazing. definitely a must-try!

don’t be fooled into thinking that because it’s a steakhouse, it’s too pricey. if you want to stay on the thriftier side, you could still eat here quite reasonably, as so many things are a la carte. I’d go there for the risotto alone, but the burgers and sandwiches are also very reasonable.

as you can tell, I really enjoyed eating here, and will hopefully make it back there (very) soon.

 

Burch Steakhouse & Pizza Bar December 16, 2014

I must admit that I wasn’t too excited to go to Burch at first, because the pizza and dumplings sounded amazing, but I figured they wouldn’t have any of that in gluten free versions. but I was very pleasantly surprised…

while they don’t have gluten free pizzas, several of the dumplings can be made gluten free! they make homemade egg noodles to sub for some of the dumplings menu (at least they taste homemade, I guess I didn’t ask to verify though). I tried two of the three or four options. I’m not sure why I ordered the noodles with lobster, caraway and mint, because I dislike caraway… but the noodles with walnut and gorgonzola I loved!! there was at least one more option that I had to struggle with myself not to order (next time). I know that a lot of Italian restaurants carry gluten free noodles now, but these are quite different, they taste homemade, are a different type of noodle, and have such delightful sauces and toppings that are completely different than Italian restaurants. I just wish that I could get take-out noodles (“dumplings”) from them regularly! they’re also quite reasonably priced, around $10. I believe that they’re meant to be split across several people to sample, but if you order one, that would be sufficient for a whole meal, though quite rich for one. I had a lot to take home!

as for the steaks, of course the steaks are gluten free (and they have a huge assortment of grass fed, regular, wagyu, etc. the largest steak assortment I think I’ve ever seen! and very tasty too.

and of course many of the salads and sides are gluten free, they have a list if you ask.

Burch is located on Hennepin and Franklin, at the crux of Downtown and Uptown, and only open in the evenings, starting at 5pm.

 

Erte October 24, 2014

Erte is located in Northeast Minneapolis, and has a quaint, atmosphere, perfect for a romantic evening out. it’s not a huge restaurant, so you may want to make reservations. particularly if you plan to dine while they have live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

it’s the kind of restaurant that likes to keep their menu fresh, and change it up. in fact, the menu they post online might not be exactly what they currently offer… but it will give you the idea of the types of things that they serve. and one constant that they’re known for is their steaks.

and while the menu may change, they should always have a version marked for what is or can be gluten free, so be sure to ask for that.

when I went, they had the most amazing polenta sticks. I love polenta sticks in general, though I’ve had some difficulty re-creating them at home, which then makes me appreciate them even more.. and these were the most amazing ones I’d ever tasted! usually I only find these at Brazilian steakhouses, just plain or with parmesan. but these had a quinoa coating of sorts, and an amazing dip to go with them. I couldn’t get enough of these, and hope that they become a menu regular!

as for the main entree, I couldn’t decide between the short ribs or the steak, and eventually decided on the steak. it was quite delicious, but I sort of wished I’d tried the short ribs, as it can be more unique with the various prep and sauce options. the risotto was also very tempting. I believe that I got the au gratin potatoes as my side, which was good, but different (and larger) than I’d expected. I think I’d probably try something new next time.

all in all, the regular menu is pretty small, so that means that the gluten free one is even smaller. but it’s filled with more meat- and veggie-based entrees, rather than burgers or lots of carbs, so you don’t miss out on too much. and it’s got every thing you need: apps, salads, steaks, and other entrees, and a nice variety of sides. so although it’s a short list of options, it’s actually enough.

Erte is a little pricey, so it’s great for a special night out. but it’s got delicious food, and the live music (which is surprisingly unique). so it makes for a great night out.

 

Original Pancake House September 25, 2014

I love Pizza Luce’s brunches (and bloody marys) so much so that I procrastinated on trying the Original Pancake House for quite some time. but now that I’ve been there, difficult decisions must be made every time I go for breakfast/ brunch! both are completely amazing.

the first time I went to the OPH, I went to the Edina location. thankfully a friend told me to call ahead and get on the wait list. this doesn’t get you a table when you arrive, but it does get you on a shorter one. one time I called ahead and there was no wait, but I still asked to be on the call-ahead list, and it was an hour-long wait for walk-ins by the time I got there 15 minutes later! be sure to call a good half an hour before you plan to arrive, to be safe.

I was amazed at the huge gluten free menu that they carry~ they are very thorough in providing TONS of options!! we’re talking pancakes, waffles, crepes, french toast, and omelets. all have tons of options for toppings, add-ins, and syrups, as well as several choices on pancake sizes: normal, the short stack (plenty for one person!), the dollar-pancake size, and junior/ senior meal plate sizes. sides include hashbrowns, eggs, and options on bacons and sausages. and don’t worry, even with incredibly reasonable prices, they said that they run through the options to optimize the deals for you.

on my first trip, I tried my an old favorite of mine, GF pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream (it was amazing!) and sampled of my friend’s GF pancakes with chocolate chips (also good, but would be too sweet for me to eat a full plate of). we also had a side of hashbrowns. I love potatoes, so I was very hesitant to share an order, but I was sure glad that I did! they fill a side plate, and are about one inch high. the hashbrowns alone elevated OPH towards the top of my restaurant list 🙂

the next time I went, I went with a larger group of family, this time to the Roseville location (a much bigger location, it felt like). we all ordered gluten free so that we could all sample everything, which was an amazing feast! we had banana pancakes (and ordered the decadent caramel topping for them, which tastes like caramel rolls), the blueberry pancakes, a rather boring-in-comparison waffle that came with some fun syrups (not that we couldn’t have ordered a more fun waffle…), and another order of strawberry pancakes. we got a plate filled with all kinds of little syrup containers. one surprising crowd-pleaser was a citrus syrup. no one thought they’d like it, but loved it once they tried it. and of course we got more hashbrowns too 🙂 a must!

next time I’d really love to try a crepe, as it’s been a very long time since I’ve had one, and I love french toast too. there are just too many options to decide! hopefully I’ll be able to sample a whole batch of new things though, that feast was definitely the way to go~ and I don’t think they charged extra for gluten free, nor were the options limited that much. so the gluten-eaters were completely happy getting gluten free, luckily for me!

there are several locations: Eden Prairie, Edina, Plymouth, Roseville (Maple Grove’s Original Pancake House is a different restaurant, which I’ll write about shortly)

 

Gluten-Free Restaurants in Grand Forks, ND: 2014 Update August 5, 2014

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)

PASTA:

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.

MEXICAN:

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!

ASIAN

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.

SANDWICHES

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

BBQ

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.

OTHER RESTAURANTS:

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

GROCERIES:

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.

Happy Eating!!