Hi! I’m Jackie, the creator of Gluten Free Follow Me. I’m here to tell you that you CAN eat out without negotiating your diet and to give you some tips on dining out when gluten free!
I’ve lived in New York City for over four years, and I can attest that it really is the food capital of the world! When I moved to NYC in July 2011 after graduating from Georgetown University, I was excited and overwhelmed about the seemingly infinite number of restaurants across Manhattan. I wanted to try them all and have proceeded to attempt to do so. A few months after I moved to NYC, I learned I was unable to eat gluten due to health reasons. I was determined not to let this stop me from experiencing all NYC restaurants have to offer.
1. Call the restaurant beforehand to ask about their gluten free options. Ask if they offer gluten free bread, pasta, pizza, or desserts (I always have to get flourless chocolate cake if it’s on the menu!). You would be surprised to know that numerous restaurants offer these gluten free options but don’t always list them on their menu.
2. When you get to the restaurant, tell your server that you are gluten free. Don’t be embarrassed to say you’re gluten free – it’s so much worse if you order something that you think is gluten free and it isn’t and then you aren’t able to eat anything!
3. Ask your server if they have a gluten free menu.
4. Even if a restaurant doesn’t have a gluten free menu, most chefs and waiters know which items are gluten free or if they can make modifications / substitutions. Ask your server to go through the menu with you item by item so you know which items are gluten free or which items can be modified to be made gluten free.
5. If the restaurant doesn’t have gluten free bread, ask to get a burger without the bun and served on top of greens. Note that most veggie burgers contain gluten so make sure the patty you’re getting is indeed gluten free.
6. If the restaurant isn’t sure whether their entrees are gluten free due to the sauces, request fish and meat to be simply cooked aka with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Gluten can hide in the sauces so be careful!
7. When eating sushi, avoid ordering items that contain the following words (soy since soy sauce isn’t gluten free; tempura; crab since imitation crab isn’t gluten free but king crab is fine; eel sauce; teriyaki; creamy; marinated; dressing; crispy; spicy; wasabi since most places don’t use natural wasabi which is gluten free). Vegetable rolls or simple fish rolls like tuna, salmon, yellowtail are usually safe. Request Tamari gluten free soy sauce as most sushi places nowadays keep a gluten free version available.
Happy Gluten Free Eating! (Check out www.glutenfreefollowme.com to see what’s gluten free at over 980 gluten free friendly eateries in NYC, along with hundreds of eateries outside of NYC and products readily available around the country and sometimes the world!)
Jackie Aanonsen is the Founder & CEO of Gluten Free Follow Me, the guide to dining gluten free in NYC, California and beyond! She details and ranks over 2,000 gluten free friendly eateries and products on her website - follow her journey!