Living with coeliac disease does not have to mean an end to eating out! For coeliacs, navigating fast food restaurants can be a nightmare and while gluten-free meals have become more accessible with more offerings, there’s always the potential for gluten cross-contamination. The gluten-free diet may be a little tricky to determine which foods are safe and which are not. The good news for you, however, is that we’ve done the research for you to bring you a list of cuisines for gluten-free eaters at Paradise Centre.
Mexican cuisine is very rice- and corn-heavy which is good news for followers of the gluten-free diet. Corn tortillas are a staple and many dishes include rice, beans, and protein prepared with herbs and spices. You’ll need to be mindful of fried foods and anything prepared in a shared fryer, but you’ll have plenty of options at El Camino Cantina and Guzman Y Gomez from nachos to hard shell tacos and burrito bowls. It's an important disclaimer to note that El Camino and GYG are NOT a gluten-free environment and cannot guarantee that any of their food will actually be truly free of gluten.
Thai and Japanese
Though some Asian cuisines are less than gluten-free-friendly (think Chinese food and its many soy sauce-based dishes), both Thai and Japanese cuisine are good options for coeliac sufferers. Much of Thai cuisine is cooked with fish sauce rather than soy sauce and there is an abundance of rice-based accompaniments such as rice noodles, rice paper for spring rolls, and jasmine rice served along with dishes. Japanese food is similar in terms of its emphasis on rice, particularly when it comes to sushi. Just be mindful of dipping sauces and tempura. Head to Nahm Talay Thai or Hero Sushi in the beachfront dining precinct for their relatively safe gluten-free options including salads, soups, curries and rice noodles. Remember that you’ll need to avoid many entrees, particularly those of the starchy, fried variety (think curry puffs and spring rolls) and while rice and bean noodles are safe, steer clear of bamii (egg noodles), which are made with wheat.
Lots of Greek and middle eastern dishes are naturally gluten-free, such as meat, chicken, or fish that is not breaded nor served with a floured sauce, potatoes/chips and salad without dressing or croutons. In restaurants like La Playa where their menu is focused on grilled fish and meats, fresh salad and gluten-free bread alternatives, there’s plenty of options to enjoy, but be mindful of marinades, sauces and fried items that may still be prepared in a shared environment or contain hidden gluten. And while you may not know Grill’d for being a Greek restaurant, they’re important to mention as coeliacs rave about Grill’d and their meal options. One tip is to ask for your bun to be done on the grill, not the toaster and to avoid the vegan patties which may contain gluten. Word on the street is their gluten-free nuggets AKA Healthy Fried Chicken Bites (sans marinade) are delicious!
Not so long ago, it was nearly impossible to find gluten-free pizza on restaurant menus. Nowadays, however, plenty of pizza joints offer gluten-free options - including Enzo’s Cucina. But, when you see ‘GF’ on the menu, be sure to clarify with the staff — some pizza places make all their crusts on the same surface, resulting in flour sneaking into gluten-free bases. Toppings-wise, many standard pizza toppings should be fairly safe (especially vegetables), although some sauces and meat products may also contain gluten (e.g. teriyaki sauce, meatballs or sausage) unless specified otherwise. If you’re coeliac or especially sensitive, eating toppings that have been in contact with a wheat pizza base may still make you sick, so always be sure to check.
For a gluten-free dessert, you can’t go past gelato. Whether it’s Royal Copenhagen or Gelato Messina, when it comes to ice cream, you will find that most flavours are safe (as long as they don’t contain brownie, biscuit, cookie dough, etc), but be really careful to check sauces and sprinkles (many will contain wheat flour).
In short, it’s best to avoid any of the following when dining out gluten-free at restaurants:
Whatever cuisine you decide to eat, it’s always better to contact venues in advance of eating there to avoid disappointment and to enable less pressured conversation about the importance of getting both ingredients and preparation right.