Celiac's Life: Avoiding Gluten at Bars and Restaurants

Posted by Gabriel Wolff on March 21, 2017

gluten free navigation for bars and restaurants

I use the weekend to enjoy myself: a couple of meals with friends and maybe a drink or two. 

While I love to let go during these two sacred days, I need to do so in a way that I know won't make me sick. I've learned the hard way that restaurants and bars can easily be cross contaminated, thus leading to painful Sundays, and that's without a hangover...

Here's how I stay on top of my Celiac and other food allergies during the weekend:

1. Gluten Free Potluck

By having our friends come over, we're able to accomplish many things:

A. I know I won't get sick, as we're the ones doing the cooking, on our kitchenware.

B. Save $$$$. Eating out costs up to 3X more than cooking at home, and that doesn't even account for the plates you're putting out for your friends' meals! We can make a dinner for 4 for $40, while the same bill at a restaurant comes to $200 easily.

C. You build up a wine stash! Friends usually default to bringing wine, often times more than is needed, thus wine is gifted to you. Yes, this is thirsty. Yes, I have no shame.

2. Default Restaurant Gluten Free Meals

So let's say there's no getting around it: You're going out for dinner...

You look at the menu and realize there are only two categories:

A. Things you cannot eat


Tough choice, huh?

After considering this difficult decision, you go with the salad, perhaps with some sort of protein topped on it. And then, guess what! The waiter decides to treat you a bit by topping it with croutons. Why croutons still exist in society, I have no idea. They're literally crappy stale pieces of toast. 

Here's how you avoid this whole situation. Looking at the menu, pinpoint what veggies and proteins the kitchen has on the menu. Note, certain items are probably delivered as is, or prepped to be completely full of gluten (i.e. chicken wings, sweet potato fries, etc). Rather than have a whole education session about Celiac disease with your waiter or waitress, simply ask to have {insert protein} with {insert veggies} grilled or pan fried with only oil (or butter if you can stomach dairy). When asked about seasoning, simply state that salt, pepper and herbs are cool, but that's it, and that'd you like {insert known gluten free sauce} on the side.

Or you could just say "no croutons" on the salad....

I know this may be a bit simple for many of you, but let me tell you, I've been to many a restaurant that claimed to be familiar with Celiac disease and ended up accidentally poisoning me.

3. Vodka is your Friend

At the bar, cocktails are sexy. They're filled with all these different potions and tonics to increase the bar's profit and your body's insulin production. 

If you're on a gluten free diet, you're probably already on the more sugar-sensitive side. Go for a pure spirit, or spirit + club soda + lemon/lime.

Oh, and by spirit, I mean vodka. Tito's or, if available, Prairie Organic. That stuff is amazing.

By drinking vodka, you're avoiding an unnecessary blood sugar spike, hang over, and opportunity for gluten poisoning. It'll also get you buzzed...so mission accomplished.

Don't like vodka? Try it with more lemons. Lemons will kill any taste...


What are your gluten free weekend tips?