Tag: gluten free chicago

Breezy’s Windy City Bites: Celiac-Safe + Allergy-Friendly Chicago Dining Guide

 

I’m proud to finally bring you my guide to celiac-safe + allergy-friendly dining in Chicago!

 

This has been a labor of love– every single restaurant on this page is somewhere I have personally visited. Of course, please make your own health decisions and speak with the staff at each location– things do change before I’m able to make it back around to try it again. 

 

This guide will be consistently updated and I’m always looking for restaurant suggestions to check out! Drop them in the comments and I’ll explore.

 

Again, this is a guide based on my personal experience. Make your own decisions before consuming anything at any of these locations. 

 

For reference, my current food restrictions: gluten {celiac}, eggs {allergy}, shellfish {allergy}, squashes {allergy}, peanuts {severe intolerance}, coconut {severe intolerance}, and soybean oil {severe intolerance}. I refer to all as allergies when speaking with restaurant teams.

 

Each listing is by cuisine with a link to their website, information about their GF and allergy accommodation, and something I’ve called Trusty Tidbits– the little things that I think are important for you to know!

 

Without further ado…

 

Breezy’s Windy City Bites:

Celiac-Safe + Allergy-Friendly Chicago Dining Guide

 LAST UPDATED: April 30, 2018

 

City Dining

 

American

Beatrix
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: B, L, D
Trusty Tidbits:  Multiple locations. They have always handled all of my allergens with finesse.
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

Hub 51
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No, but 80% can be made celiac-safe
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: Hands down, the Pulled Chicken Nachos are a must-order! Dedicated fryer; nachos do not need any changes to be celiac-safe.
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

Little Beet Table
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? Yes
Meals: Weekend B; L, D daily
Trusty Tidbits: Want to actually dine {not just grab a bite} at a 100% GF establishment? Here’s your spot. LBT started in NY with restaurants and cafes and it’s only other location is Chicago! It’s such a relief to order anything on the menu– Ben loved the tacos with a mini squirt bottle for hot sauce; I’ve really enjoyed their hamburger and their fish dishes. Don’t forget– they do brunch on the weekends complete with homemade baked goods!

Lyfe Kitchen
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? GF menu indications on ~80% of all items
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: B, L, D
Trusty Tidbits: This is your prime spot for a quick, casual bite. Their flatbreads are all GF and egg-free; I love the BBQ chicken one!

Mity Nice
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: I always speak with the manager on staff. Located in Water Tower, it’s great for after a shopping day on the Avenue!
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

Pinstripes
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Pinstripes is a prime date spot– grab a celiac-safe pizza {or anything else from their GF menu}, go bowling {they give you socks to keep!}, or finish off with a game of bocce ball. If you cannot have soybean oil, however, options become very limited.

Range
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? GF menu indications on ~80% of all items
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: Weekend B; D daily
Trusty Tidbits: Megan is a rock star manager– be sure you connect with her. They can accommodate any allergen presented to their team. The chicken tenders and mac n’ cheese on the menu is only offered as a GF version, which is unusual and fantastic! I cannot say good enough things about their grass-fed burger {no bun} and french fries {dedicated fryer!}. Be sure to try the spicy ketchup — it’s available at most local grocery stores and I stocked my pantry immediately!

Smoke Daddy BBQ
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No, but ~80% of all items are GF {including all sauces!}
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Be sure to ask for their allergy list– it’s kept up-to-date and includes full ingredient lists! This spot is the most authentic BBQ I’ve found for those with celiac/food allergies in Chicago. They often have live music and a fun, but teeny, patio space!

Summer House Santa Monica
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: Weekend B; L, D daily
Trusty Tidbits: If you are not egg-free, definitely have the French Dip Sandwich! Ben and I love the Watermelon Tuna Tostadas– an absolute favorite. The hash browns at brunch are safe + they have Udi’s bread available if you are not egg-free.
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

Travelle
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: B, L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Be sure to ask for Claire, the Food and Beverage Manager. This restaurant is in the Hotel Langham and is one of the most beautiful spots to dine in the city. They are able to make the majority of items safely and have GF bread available. Shall I say, maybe this is a great spot to announce some news or make a proposal? 🙂

True Food Kitchen
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? GF menu indications on ~90% of all items
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: B, L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Based on the auto-immune paleo diet, TFK is a go-to spot for all things fresh and produce-forward– eat the rainbow, shall we say? Here’s an insider hint: all pizzas can be made on a GF/vegan crust {which is also used as GF pita in appetizers!}. Just ask!

Wildfire
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: *ONLY eat at the downtown location– I have been glutened at the suburban locations several times.* They have celiac-safe pizza alongside many, many other options!
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant. 

 

Asian

Chinese

Bright Wok Kitchen
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? See website main page
Dedicated GF? Yes
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Okay, as someone who cannot have gluten, peanuts, or shellfish, getting some good stir-fry is…well…nearly impossible. That is until BWK came to town. This stir-fry gem is 100% GF, PF, and SF! That’s right, folks. Pick your base, pick your sauce, pick your protein, and pick your locally-sourced veggies– no chance of cross-contamination since every ingredient in the woks are GF — and there are GF appetizers/desserts on their seasonally rotating menu! I’m all about mixed greens, steak, Adams St. Teriyaki sauce, and broccoli/onions/peppers/sprouts. Hint: take the brown line to Wabash and Adams; it’s on that corner! Hint again: lunchtime on weekdays is pretty nuts with the business folks; be prepared for a well-worth-it line. Closed Sunday.

PF Changs
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Unlike a few other national chains {looking at you, Maggiano’s}, PF Changs does a great job with GF in Chicago. Though, if you can’t have soybean oil, all options are effectively off the table. Do not forget that the chicken lettuce wraps contain oyster sauce! Ask them to run an allergy matrix when you arrive.

Japanese

Arami
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No; indications for “celiac safe” and “shellfish free”
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: I took Ben here for his birthday last year and we so enjoyed it! Definitely on the pricier side, but they handle both GF and those with shellfish allergies {in a shrimp/crab environment, no less} extremely well. I love that instead of simply GF indicated on the menu, they note “celiac safe”! Closed Monday.

Naoki
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No; 80% of menu can be made celiac safe
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: The team at this restaurant is amazing– it’s a hidden gem tucked behind the kitchen of another restaurant! Chef Naoki himself makes the sushi and even the beautiful garnishes are allergy-friendly. Miso soup is GF! Make reservations as it’s a tiny spot– perfect for date night or a special occasion!
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

Vietnamese

Fuh Chicago
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No, but all Pho is 100% GF
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: I love this place for delivery via DoorDash/GrubHub! All broths and proteins are 100% GF + they use rice noodles, of course. Avoid all appetizers, as some contain gluten and I have not yet verified if they are prepared separately {proteins for Pho are prepared on separate grill top}.

 

Bakery

Defloured Bakery
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? Website for special orders; full bakery daily
Dedicated GF? Yes
Meals: N/A
Trusty Tidbits: Johanna and Defloured have been staples in my celiac life for over a decade–and she can now make vegan goodies, including special order cakes! I surprised Ben with a mini-cake for his birthday and the texture was spot on. Note: her oats are not purity protocol.

Swirlz Cupcakes
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? Weekly GF and GF/Vegan offerings on the main site
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: N/A
Trusty Tidbits: Though this bakery is not 100% gluten-free, it’s the only bakery of that type that I trust 100% for celiac safe cupcakes! My mom was involved in the process of creating their celiac protocols– completely separate appliances/utensils, only baking GF {not alongside regular} and baking it first, and a separate shelving area. They offer GF+Vegan cupcakes too– though they contain soy. Note: be sure to remind the person grabbing your goodie that you are celiac so they change gloves/wash hands. The minis are great to pre-order for a party!

 

Cafe

Argo Tea
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No; grab-and-go type of spot
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: All day; drinks + pre-packaged salads/snacks
Trusty Tidbits: 100% of the drinks {including all syrups, milks, add-ins, boba, etc} are 100% GF. Yes, you heard me right! Additionally, several salads and pre-packaged snacks are GF and have no indication of cross contamination. I love the Hibiscus Tea Sangria {fresh fruit inside!} and the make-your-own bubble tea.

Foodease
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No; grab-and-go type of spot
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: B, L, D + tons of snacks
Trusty Tidbits: This spot is great for an on-the-go bite when downtown {located in Water Tower Place}. Don’t forget to grab one of the GF desserts, sealed in the bakery section and from Sweet Ali’s, and a fun pop from the every-flavor-you-can-image pop machines at the check-out.
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

Wheat’s End Cafe
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? Yes
Meals: B, L
Trusty Tidbits: If you ask someone for 100% GF in the city, you’ll always be directed to Wheat’s End. It’s a great little spot for a weekend brunch– gets very busy! — or a weekday coffee/bite. Though only currently available on weekdays, I love their new vegan sourdough with avocado on top — ask to get all the pizza veggies on it for an extra rainbow boost of nutrients! PS- You can get unsweetened almond milk in any cafe drink — hello, decaf latte!

 

Dessert

Froyo Chicago
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? N/A
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: N/A
Trusty Tidbits: ~95% of the yogurt flavors are gluten-free at this fun little spot! There are also vegan/sugar-free options — I never take toppings from the toppings bar {who knows about cross-contamination even before they hit the counter with everything else!}, but they do make celiac safe baked goods that are prepackaged and available at the check-out!

Jeni’s Ice Cream
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? N/A
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: N/A
Trusty Tidbits: Jeni’s is a hot spot in Chicago, with new locations popping up every season {latest is in the new Wrigley park area!}. Almost every flavor is GF at Jeni’s and the scoopers are always more than willing to open new containers {as many flavors as you want!} and change gloves. Be sure to remind them no cone on top and of course, get your ice cream in a bowl. They have a new vegan chocolate flavor– I’m eager to see more dairy-free options from them! Note: every flavor card in the case will note if the flavor is GF.

 

French

Mon Ami Gabi
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: This is one of the only safe French spots I’ve come across in Chicago for celiac folk. If you have additional allergies, they can accommodate but the menu is not as extensive.
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

 

Italian

Basil Leaf Cafe
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: When visiting Basil Leaf, I always wonder– what made them decide to make 99% of their menu GF or GF optional? I’m still yet to get the answer, but in the meantime– if you’re looking for a spot for all the Italian pasta dishes your heart desires prepared by a stellarly-trained team, Basil Leaf is your spot. They serve Wheat’s End bread {contains dairy/eggs} and olive oil to start and their wine pours are fairly priced and super generous. They even make GF ravioli and gnocchi in a separate area! Perfect for a summer evening date or girl date when they have their front doors wide open.

Marcello’s Father and Son
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? GF section on the menu
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Looking for celiac-safe pizza in Chicago that can be delivered?! Marcello’s is your spot. They make their pizzas square-shaped so there’s no confusion, using completely separate utensils and a separate area of the kitchen. Delivered pizzas come in a pizza box with a sticker that seals the edge labeling it GF! This is one of the only places in the city I trust for pizza.

Piccolo Sogno
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? GF indications on 90% of the menu
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: Weekday L; D daily
Trusty Tidbits: Piccolo Sogno has handled celiac patrons for decades. They have a well-trained staff from waiters to kitchen and managers oversee all items. If you’re venturing to Piccolo Sogno, be sure to come in the summer when you can sit on the gorgeous patio {first come, first served but well worth the wait!} I’ve taken my mom here for her birthday/Mother’s Day many times– it’s a beautiful spot.

Vinci
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: Weekend B/L; D daily
Trusty Tidbits: Vinci has long been our go-to spot for large parties, between the celiac safe food, kind staff, and authentic atmosphere. They take celiac and food allergies seriously– the head waiter has been with Vinci for over 20 years and knows how to handle all requests. They have a delightful brunch on the weekends with gorgeous, celiac-safe dishes of all kinds — including GF bread {Udi’s, so contains eggs} and housemade butter/jams. They do a fantastic job preparing GF pasta, as well– my non-GF friends and family love Vinci!

 

Latin

Carnivale
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? GF menu indications, ~75% of items
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: Weekend B; L, D daily
Trusty Tidbits: If you are looking for a lively atmosphere, Carnivale is your spot. Located in the old meat packing district — Fulton Market– Carnivale overlooks the city and the bustling expressway and is splattered with bright colors throughout. Be sure you speak with a manager, as some waitstaff speak English as a second language, which has lead to some confusion in my past experiences. The kitchen is extremely well-trained. Note: try to attend one of their fantastic live music or dance events– they’re so unique!

Maya del Sol
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No, but 90% of the menu is GF
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: Chris, the manager as of early 2018, is one of the most amazing people I have come in contact with in the food industry. His kindness and attention to detail make dining experiences at Maya del Sol– with or without food restrictions– absolutely impeccable. He emailed me a list of all the dishes they could do ahead of time, had a special staff meeting and hung up my list of allergies in the kitchen the day I was attending, and checked on every course that was brought to the table. Maya del Sol has been serving celiac patrons for a very long time– Chris is a magnificent addition to the process. Alongside Piccolo Sogno, this is another must-visit patio for the summer!

Nacional 27
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? No, but 95% of the menu is GF
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: Looking for some of the best skirt steak in town? How about safe chips for all those fun Latin dips? This is your spot. And, best of all? 7:30 pm Wednesday nights for a free salsa lesson + open floor {you can keep your table throughout!}
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

 

Mediterranean

Ema
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: B, L, D
Trusty Tidbits: The atmosphere at Ema makes you feel like you’re on vacation. My faves? Start with a trio of hummus and their homemade, celiac-safe crackers. Then split a few plates, but be sure you include the lamb kebabs and the romanesco {do NOT miss this dish!}
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

 

Mexican

Adobo Grill
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: Weekend B; D daily
Trusty Tidbits: Adobo Grill is a restaurant in the DaVinci Group {Vinci, in Italian, is the other!} that has committed to celiac safe preparation of their extensive gluten-free menu. I love the tableside guacamole — so fun to watch! — and their chips are made in a dedicated fryer {a change that was made about 5 years ago!}. They’re famous for their margaritas and have tequila tasting nights that people rave about {I don’t drink anything other than wine, so I can’t speak to it directly!}

Takito Kitchen
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? Yes {except 1 gluten item in weekend brunch only and is prepared in a separate area with separate items}
Meals: Weekend B/L; D daily
Trusty Tidbits: One of two Takito restaurants {also Bar Takito in West Loop}, this spot is a Wicker Park gem. Every single item on the daily dinner menu is gluten free– including fried chicken tacos on Wednesdays! This is a fantastic spot for a night out with friends — Ben loves their Pineapple Serano Margarita and we never pass up the cheesy polenta! Yum, just yum.

 

Steakhouse

Fogo de Chao
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? 90% of meats, 95% of the salad bar, and cheese bread on the table is GF
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: This Brazillian steakhouse has been my birthday tradition since I was a little kid! I love when food is fun– and having a go/stop card for the meats is just that! The Brazilian cheese bread on the table is naturally gluten-free {contains eggs}. The salad bar is almost entirely gluten-free, with gluten items on a separate station. The side dishes brought to every table are also 100% gluten-free, as are all but 2 meat dishes. All waitstaff is well-trained to indicate what is unsafe on the salad bar and the meat list– I trust everyone at Fogo. Be sure to come hungry– it’s quite the feast!

Joe’s Stone Crab
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: *I have not been here since adding additional allergies beyond dining as a celiac– I will return soon!* I have fond memories of the beautiful job Joe’s does with food allergies and celiac patrons– a perfect spot for a celebration!
This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant.

 

Suburban Dining

 

American

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Cooper’s Hawk is a great spot to gather– you can dine in their main dining room or make a reservation at the wine bar! I’ve been to the Arlington Heights location where the entire staff is well-trained for all food allergies and options that are veg/vegan are noted on the GF menu. The GF menu is extremely extensive– I can bet if you desire it, there’s an option! They even have safe desserts. Man, I wish I had one closer…maybe they’ll open a city location soon!

Happ Inn
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: L, D
Trusty Tidbits: Talk about an extensive GF menu! I had a fantastic experience here– complete with some of the best cauliflower rice I’ve ever had. The kitchen/waitstaff are both well-trained and prefer if you tell them what you want to eat {if you have additional allergies} and they’ll accommodate changes to any dish. If you want to visit for dinner, be sure to make a reservation because it gets quite crowded!

 

Bakery

Sweet Ali’s Bakery
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? Yes
Meals: N/A
Trusty Tidbits: Sweet Ali’s is your go-to for goodies of all kinds– sold both in grocery stores like Whole Foods and in their 2 suburban bakery locations. They’ve recently started to venture into more vegan options– for those of us with egg/dairy free needs! Note: they do not use purity protocol oats.

 

Italian

Da Luciano’s
Restaurant Link HERE
GF Menu? HERE
Dedicated GF? No
Meals: D
Trusty Tidbits: This family-owned gem is a staple for the celiac community– nearly all 7 of the children in the Da Luciano family have celiac disease! Though this is not dedicated GF, due to their extensive knowledge of celiac, their kitchens are completely safe for celiac patrons. If you’re looking for the Italian staples– think garlic bread, arancini, chicken parmesan, you name it– a trip to DL must be on your list. Be sure you come extra hungry! Note: they’re closed on Mondays + do not have many egg-free options.

 

Restaurants to Avoid

*This section simply lists places I have gotten sick before, despite recommendations from fellow celiac patrons– I am extremely sensitive to all cross-contamination, but always make your own decisions.*

Restaurants to Avoid

– Maggiano’s
Unfortunately, I have been glutened multiple times at this Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant at the downtown location, so I no longer trust their staff is appropriately trained.

– Big Star Taco {Wicker Park}
I was assured of safe items at this cute taco spot when I went on a recommendation– though, I was immediately gluten-ill that evening. I will not dine here.