Saturday, July 20, 2013

The chain-gang (My favorite menu items from popular Springfield-area restaurant chains)

The Burrito Bowl from Chipotle
A few days ago, I posted a list of downtown Springfield (MO) restaurants, along with some of their gluten-free offerings. Today I'm listing area chain restaurants, including fast food, along with the items I've eaten with success. Many of these restaurants have additional gluten-free items on their menus, but I'm listing only those that I generally order.

As always, remember that menus, ingredients, and preparation methods change (and with chains they are inconsistent from restaurant to restaurant); therefore, eating in restaurants is always risky for people with celiac disease.

Chipotle: Burrito Bowl (Most items are GF at Chipotle, but ask the preparers to reglove.) This is one of my go-to restaurants. The food is fresh and safe, and I've never had an issue.

Qdoba: Naked Burrito (Most items are GF.) Also consistently fresh and delicious.

Red Robin: Red Robin Gourmet Cheeseburger (on GF Bun) with Bottomless Fries. The best gluten-free bun I've found in a restaurant--it usually holds up until I've finished the burger!

HuHot: Create your own combinations from the items at the food bar, and use the list of gluten-free sauces provided by your wait-person to choose your sauce. Tell the wait-person that you must eat gluten-free, and the cook staff will be alerted. They will clean the grill and keep your ingredients separate from others. Keep in mind that there is danger of cross-contamination from the food bars.

Chili's: I eat the Santa Fe Chicken Salad (without tortilla strips) with avocado-ranch dressing. They have a fairly large GF menu, though, so you're not limited to salad.

Ruby Tuesday's: I recently ate the petite sirloin with a baked potato and grilled asparagus. No problems at all. While they don't actually have a gluten-free menu, they'll give you a list of their gluten-free offerings. It's a pretty decent list. Lots of grilled vegetables.

Panera: Fuji Apple Chicken Salad. So good--and I've never had a problem, although the risk of cross-contamination must be fairly high because of all the baked items.

Olive Garden's Penne Rigate Pomodoro
Olive Garden: They have a limited GF menu, but they do have a couple of penne pasta offerings, for which I am exceedingly grateful. Ask for the salad without the croutons, of course.

Steak 'n Shake: Genuine Chili, awesome shakes.

McAlister's Deli: I always order the gigantic Spud. There are many GF toppings available.

Wendy's: Apple Pecan Chicken Salad (Don't eat the pecans, though. Why, oh, why must these have wheat as an ingredient?); Baked Potato; Chili.

Fazoli's: Cherry Apple Almond Salad.

McDonalds: Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Viniagrette or Fruit 'n' Yogurt Parfait. They are also happy to fix a beef patty without a bun. Ask if their fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer.

Applebee's: In the past year, I've eaten at Applebee's in Springfield, MO, in Marshall, MO (where my youngest child goes to college), and in Destin, Florida. The chain has a pretty good gluten-free menu, but I usually stick to the salads. The Santa Fe Chicken Salad is my favorite. One of my happiest discoveries, though, was that I can eat the Queso Blanco Dip and tortilla chips.

These restaurants also have GF items: Pasta House Company, Arby's, Chick Fil A, Taco Bell, Subway, and Burger King. I haven't visited any of these lately, but I'll report when I do! Let me hear from you about your experiences, good or bad, and I'll pass the information along.