Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants in the L.A. Area

A little over a year ago, I discovered that I’m gluten sensitive. I don’t have an allergic reaction like some people who are super sensitive, though, so please don’t take my word as gospel on the following restaurants.

It was hard for me to find gluten-free friendly restaurants where I could eat. I can handle a small amount of gluten, so I might be wrong about some of the food listed below. Finding a GF friendly restaurant involves a lot of trial-and-error and dealing with waiters and waitresses that have no clue what you are talking about when you ask them for a GF menu. Some think that gluten is in milk or soy.

Here are some of the places I’ve tried and the experiences I’ve had with them:

Curry House – not so gluten-free friendly, but they said the omelet was gluten free. I would say, eat at your own risk.

Ruby’s 50s Diner – surprisingly, has gluten-free food to eat that is actually edible! Like hamburgers with a gluten-free bun! They didn’t even blink when I asked them if they had a gluten-free menu. Shock. It’s not a separate menu, but the GF items are listed in with the regular items. I went to the one at the Citadel Outlet mall in Commerce, CA. I don’t know how the other restaurants are in the chain, but I’m guessing they’re the same.

Cheesecake Factory – has gluten-free options, but beware, there might be gluten in some of their gluten-free food. The next day, I had a slight reaction. Maybe it was in the dessert I ate that I thought was gluten-free.

Chinese restaurants – I haven’t found a gluten-free friendly one, yet.

Japanese restaurants – Only 1 restaurant I went to (at Universal Citywalk in CA) actually had gluten-free soy sauce. If you eat sushi, you can bring your own gluten-free soy sauce to Japanese restaurants so you don’t have to starve while the rest of your party eats. Some sushi is gluten-free, but it’s slim pickings.

Roy’s Hawaiian – I didn’t like anything on their so-called gluten-free menu. I think they only had 2 entrees to choose from. Of course, the one I chose was the one they were out of. I was stuck with the only other GF entrée which I didn’t like.

TGI Fridays – some gluten-free items. There is a gluten-free menu that you have to ask for, but not all the waiters and waitresses know what it is or that they even had a GF menu. That’s kinda scary.

Thai and Vietnamese food – They have rice noodles that I can eat as well as dishes that don’t have soy sauce in them. I eat the pad thai rice noodles, yellow curry, and coconut soup (tom ka gai). I don’t know if the curry has gluten in it, but I haven’t had a reaction to it.

Indian food – Unfortunately the naan isn’t gluten-free, but I’ve eaten the dishes there without a problem. The food is mainly vegetables, but it’s so good!

BJ Brewery – they have a pretty good gluten-free menu. The portion size is pretty big, too.

PF Changs – has an awesome gluten-free menu. I guess it’s supposed to be Chinese, but it’s not really. Anyway, the food is good there. The first time we went there we didn’t like it, but you have to know what to order. My sister-in-law chose for us the second time and everything she ordered was good.

Mexican food – burritos are a no go, but tacos with corn tortillas are gluten-free. I recommend El Taco Man in El Monte, CA. I’ve lived in CA most of my life and these tacos are the best I’ve had. And I’ve never had a fried quesadilla like the one they have there. It’s on a crust like a pizza. Yummy! It’s made from corn, so it’s gluten-free. The horchata is really good, too! I’ve tried horchata at other places before, but never liked it. The horchata at El Taco Man reminds me of Christmas. They have a good cucumber drink there and also a hibiscus drink called Jamaica that’s really good, too.

Lyfe Kitchen – It’s in Culver City. That’s the place to go if you eat gluten free. They have a gluten-free menu, a regular menu, and a vegetarian menu that you can pick up at the door. It’s trendy in there and very cute. It looks like they grow their own herbs there in the restaurant. The food is good. I wish the portions were bigger, though.

Versailles Cuban Food in Culver City– Roasted chicken. A favorite. As far as I know, it’s gluten-free. I’ve never had a problem with that dish. Don’t forget to get the Jupiña soda. It’s pineapple soda. I love it!

There is another Cuban restaurant in Glendale, CA that I think is called Mambo’s. That’s a good one, too. They have gluten-free choices.

Z Pizza – Love their GF pizzas! They also have GF cookies.

Bella’s Gourmet Pizza and Mama’s Brick Oven also have GF pizzas.

These are just a few places I’ve tried since I’ve gone gluten-free. I don’t know how sensitive to gluten you are, so don’t take my word for it on these places. Even gluten-free dishes at restaurants have traces of gluten since they are made around other dishes that contain gluten, so if you are hyper-sensitive to gluten, you should be very careful.

For me, the indicator that I’ve eaten something with gluten is arthritis in my finger. If I have a small amount of gluten, my stomach won’t hurt, but the arthritis in my finger will act up. If I’ve had a good amount of gluten, my stomach will burn and get bloated.

Other people that are gluten sensitive will feel tired. I’ve found that people with a gluten sensitivity have different symptoms. Eczema  and lactose intolerance also comes with it sometimes. I have read that people with type 2 diabetes probably have a gluten sensitivity. I think more research needs to be done on it.

I’m no expert. I’m learning more about it as I go along. Doctors are still trying to figure it out if they know anything at all about it.

Italy is really on the ball when it comes to gluten-free food. I hear they have some of the best GF food in their restaurants. France, not so much.

They say Caucasians have the highest rate of gluten sensitivity and that other races, especially Asians, have a lower rate. I don’t buy into that. I think it affects every race. It’s just that not everyone knows about it. Or people have stomach/health problems, but don’t know that it’s gluten related. Some will figure it out, some will suffer for years not knowing what is wrong, and others will die of some form of cancer caused by it. You could have a gluten sensitivity and never have symptoms.

I think I have always had a gluten sensitivity and never had symptoms until recently. That would explain why I’m the smallest in my family. The nutrients in my food were never sufficiently absorbed into my body.

Wow, I sound like a health advocate. I’m really not. I don’t know enough to be one. This post is meant to help people who just found out they are gluten sensitive like me, and are looking to find something they can eat and still have a life.

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