G-free Dining Part 2: Tested (and Tasty) Gluten-free Restaurants in Northeast Ohio
Yesterday, I covered in detail two gluten-free dining experiences at Pura Vida in downtown Cleveland, including an amazing gluten-free chef’s tasting menu. If Pura Vida isn’t what you had in mind, each of these gluten-free restaurants in Cleveland, Akron, and Canton have been tested and, with proper instructions, have provided a safe (and delicious) dining experience:
Momocho, a wonderful modern Mexican restaurant in Ohio City has a separate gluten-free menu available. All of the staff are extremely knowledgeable and helpful when asked questions about the entrees. The GF menu is a lot smaller than the normal menu, but it still has a lot of great options.
Located in downtown Cleveland on 4th, Greenhouse Tavern is one of the best spots I’ve found when looking for a restaurant with gluten-free offerings. The location is fantastic and the rooftop bar was one my favorite things about this restaurant. Their GF menu is fairly large and the entrees do not disappoint. Nor did the popcorn pot de creme dessert. Holy crap. (Collyn and Lisa are equally obsessed with this dessert.)
Johnny Mango, located in the Ohio City area, is a fun and casual corner bar and restaurant. Their fare isn’t as fancy as Momocho and Greenhouse Tavern, but they are GF friendly and seem well-educated on the subject.
Although PF Chang’s is a chain, there is sense of safety that comes along with a chain restaurant that has a gluten-free menu. They have the process nailed down. Every time I have visited a PF Chang’s, I was confident there weren’t any cross-contamination issues as each restaurant has the same cookie-cutter menus and training process (which, as it turns out, isn’t always a bad thing). This is one of my favorite gluten-free restaurants in Akron.
Located in Green, Ohio (just south of Akron, Ohio), this bistro is surprisingly good. They have lots of gluten free options (with delicious substitutes for pasta). Our communication with the kitchen was clear, which inspired confidence. The full bar also made the visit a pleasant experience.
The Manchu Cafe (also in Green) is one of the BEST restaurants around for those with gluten intolerance issues. The owners and chefs are very familiar with gluten issues and are proud of their gluten-free offerings. They are extremely well-educated and can thoroughly explain how and why their food is safe. Not only that, but the food is great.
There are also several delicious gluten-free restaurants in Canton. Basil in downtown Canton, Ohio, is a typical Asian fusion restaurant that doesn’t exactly push its gluten-free offerings. However, during my last visit to Basil the chef was brought out to the table by our server and we had a great conversation with him about making the sushi nigiri completely safe. As with any sushi restaurant the sauces, wasabi and imitation crab are big no-nos. They have fillers and ingredients that reek of gluten. But, if you’re going for just simple fish and gluten-free soy sauce, you’ll be fine.
V Li’s has the best Thai food in the area, and it’s a little gem tucked away in Canal Fulton, Ohio. They are closed on Mondays and Sundays (as well for a week or more in July). What makes this restaurant fabulous is that their Thai food is legit (after all, the owner usually leaves to go to Thailand every summer) and they have LOTS of gluten-free options. You’ll feel like part of the family when you dine at V Li’s.
Samantha’s Restaurant offers a ridiculous amount of gluten-free options in North Canton, Ohio (the one on Portage Street near 77). It’s nicer on the inside than you’d think, plus there is a full bar. There have been some mishaps in the past (servers bringing out bread with a gluten-free salad, oh so silly) but as long as you’re clear about your order and pay attention to what they bring you, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting sick from cross-contamination.
I so want to love Bam! Healthy Cuisine in North Canton, but their track record isn’t so good with gluten-free dining. If you have gluten allergies, you will most likely survive. However, a guest with celiac disease has been hit multiple times after dining at Bam, even when I (obnoxiously) reminded the kitchen to make special preparations. Their new location in Washington Square is supposed to have a bigger kitchen able to handle gluten-free items more efficiently… but the staff is the same, and they need to take a few more courses in gluten-free food prep. Their food is healthy and great, but if you have celiac disease, dine at your own risk.
Theoretically, any Chipotle you visit should be safe; they even have a section of their web site dedicated to gluten intolerance AND celiac disease. However, their execution of handling gluten-free food leaves something to be desired. The first person in the line will change spoons and gloves if you tell them you need your food to be gluten-free, but it’s a dangerous game of telephone – most likely, the other employees down the line won’t get the message. Not only that, but the cheese and lettuce are being handled all day with the same gloves that touch flour tortillas, so they are off-limits. Once again, anyone with a moderate gluten allergy should be safe to dine at Chipotle. But, beware angry people in line behind you. Oh, they will be angry.
Hopefully this post will help you find some gluten-free options in the area to try. There are, of course, many more restaurants with gluten-free menus than what I mentioned… but, if you’re looking for a safe bet that someone already tested, try one of the above.
And if you missed yesterday’s post, I especially recommend Pura Vida, because if you didn’t catch it, they have a special bacon appetizer. BACON.