Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RESTAURANTS: Gluten Gluttons & Hardly Helpfuls

This post is updated every time we discover a gluten glutton or hardly helpful restaurant! For definitions of these categories, please see the bottom of the post.

Total From A to Z: 1 Star

Qdoba Mexican Grill - GLUTEN GLUTTON
(Date added: April 22, 2009)
So long as you steer clear of flour tortillas, Mexican food is ordinarily a good option for gluten-free dining. However, when we asked at Qdoba if they used wheat in their seasonings, the employee informed us that there are traces of wheat in everything at Qdoba, so there was nothing at all for me to order. But they do get bonus points for being able to answer my questions right away and being apologetic when we had to turn around and leave.

Daphne's Greek Cafe - GLUTEN GLUTTON
(Date added: March 25, 2009)
I thought that Greek food would probably be ok, so long as I avoided the pita bread. Unfortunately, it turns out that Daphne's uses wheat in all their seasonings, so the only gluten-free option on the menu is the plain Greek salad (with no meat). However, they do get some credit for having a cashier knowledgable enough to tell me that there was wheat in everything as soon as I asked.


(Date added: March 25, 2009)
Santiago's claims to have the best Mexican food in Colorado, which certainly appeals to us! Mexican food is generally gluten-free so long as you stick with corn tortillas and check for gluten in the seasonings. But when we went to Santiago's the staff was totally unable to tell us if there was gluten or wheat in the sauces. They seemed to have a hard time figuring out what we were talking about and they didn't have a list of ingredients on hand for us to check ourselves. So, unfortunately, we had to leave without eating anything at all.

(Date added: March 25, 2009)
We really like buffalo, but we had a really bad experience at The Buffalo Restaurant. Our server was downright rude when we asked if there was breadcrumbs in the meatloaf or flour in the chili. (He actually said: "I don't know - I've never made it" and literally rolled his eyes when we asked him to go to the kitchen and check!) It turned out that the meatloaf and chili were both off limits, which basically left me with nothing to order but a burger without the bun. They were unwilling to wrap the burger in lettuce and then they brought me my "cheeseburger" with no cheese at all. When I reminded them that I ordered a cheeseburger, they brought out a cold slice of cheese for me to put on top of the meat patty, which left me with a pretty unappetizing gluten-free meal.


When restaurants don't have very many gluten-free options or if the staff isn't helpful or knowledgeable, eating out can be difficult and frustrating when you are gluten-free. We strive to provide our readers with a list of places where eating gluten-free is easy and enjoyable, but we realize that a list of suggestions about where not to eat can be equally helpful!

We've developed two categories for 1 Star restaurants that will be listed in this post and updated as we discover them: Gluten Gluttons and Hardly Helpfuls! If you are hungry and gluten-free, we recommend you try someplace else!
A restaurant receives the title of Gluten Glutton when, in our experience, the menu has extremely limited or zero gluten-free options and they can't or won't make alterations.

A restaurant receives the title of Hardly Helpful when, in our experience, the staff has no idea what "gluten-free" means and they are either unable or unwilling to help you order.


  1. We got feedback from Daphne's. Here's is what they said:

    We saw your blog. We do have some other products that are gluten free. I believe our hummus is. Let me verify this with our Food and beverage department and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you.

    Sam Samra
    Director of Training and Guest Service
    Daphne's Greek Cafe

    Z's Note: We haven't heard back from them yet.

  2. Wait that buffalo place sounds terrible!!!! Ugh how rude/annoying!

  3. So what's the term for award-winning glutton-free friendly (GFF?) restaurants. I demand more alliteration.

  4. I wonder how many of these places might not have gluten in some things (e.g., seasonings at qdoba), but since they don't know for sure, they say there is. As a law student, I'm sure you're more than familiar with the legal stance of CYA when it comes to things like food allergies like peanuts where any potentially affected parties are simply told "STAY AWAY" in order to avoid any potential cross-contamination. A co-worker of mine has Celiac's but is not nearly as strict as some others who avoid food that has even been prepared on the same surface.

  5. It's very possible that some of these places say there is wheat just as a disclaimer - even places that cater to gluten-free guests usually say "despite our best efforts there is always a risk of cross-contamination..." to cover their butts.

    However, adding wheat to seasonings is a cheap way to stretch seasonings so you get more bang for your buck and the food is less expensive. And for people who are used to eating wheat all the time, it gets you a cheaper meal. But it's done more often than you would expect - you are probably eating wheat in your seasonings quite often without realizing it!


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