No, I am not talking about Thanksgiving, turkeys or little white bonnets. I am talking about someone who journeys to far away places. One of the challenges of being on the gluten free diet is finding places to eat out with friends and family. I can always find at least 2 or 3 great gluten free places wherever I am but the thing is…I don’t want to be limited to 2 or 3 restaurants and neither do the other people coming to dinner.
When I say only 2 or 3 places, I mean places that are actively gluten free friendly. There are other places around where I can ask questions, explain about cross contamination to the waiter and hope for the best but I prefer restaurants like PF Changs, CPK, Rosti Tuscan Kitchen or The Old Spaghetti Factory where I know the waitstaff and chefs have been educated about gluten and trained in safe kitchen practices.
If you want to dine at more than a couple of restaurants, you are going to have to venture out of your zip code. I once found this incredibly frustrating. I don’t want to be the reason that my whole family has to spend over an hour in the car just to get to a dinner place that will accommodate me. Well, I don’t have a magic solution for the long commute, but I do have some advice: change your mentality.
The other day I really wanted to try this place in Los Angeles called Chili Addiction. This place serves GF hamburgers, hot dogs (buns and all!) as well as delicious chili. Only one problem — the long commute. Instead of dwelling on the drive, I told myself to think of this as a gluten free pilgrimage. People always say “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” Despite being overused and somewhat corny, I decided to actively adopt this mindset when trying out a new GF restaurant.
The commute from the San Fernando Valley to West Hollywood requires driving through the canyon. I made sure to enjoy the views – and my Mom’s company – on the way. When you exit the gorgeous canyon, you are immediately surrounded by a jumpin’ city. There is so much to see!
When we arrived at the restaurant we were starving! I ordered a classic hamburger and chili cheese fries. My burger had a bun! What a revolutionary concept! The restaurant was fast, affordable and delicious. The bun was so light and fluffy I triple checked with the staff that it was gluten free. I simply couldn’t believe how great it tasted.
I highly recommend Chili Addiction to anyone who is gluten free. They are super aware of the importance of protecting their products form cross contamination and they make all of their condiments in house.
Although I really enjoyed my dinner at Chili Addiction, this post really isn’t about the food, it is about how to make dining out less stressful and more enjoyable while on the gluten free diet. There will be times when, in order to get foods that most people don’t think twice about in terms of accessibility, you will need to drive many, many miles. As a gluten free person this is your reality. But, to be honest, it isn’t so bad! By being a gluten free pilgrim, you get to try new restaurants all over the city and go to new places, not simply new restaurants.