As much as I love cooking and experimenting with new recipes, I don’t always have the energy or the motivation to cook an entire meal at the end of a long day. Plus, who doesn’t love going out to a restaurant and having an excuse to dress up!
Having celiac disease can make eating out pretty difficult. Even a crumb of gluten-based food can cause a celiac to get sick for several days, and it’s always risky because we never know how much cross-contamination there might be in the kitchen.
I’ve had to learn the hard way that “gluten free” does not always mean “celiac friendly.” Even if the dish itself doesn’t contain gluten, the chefs may cook it on the same surface as something containing gluten, making cross-contamination likely.
To help alleviate some of the pressure and anxiety that comes along with eating out with gluten sensitivities, I have put together a list of some of my favorite celiac-accommodating restaurants in Seattle (as well as the best GF dishes I recommend). My hope is to one day be able to have a list like this for cities all over!
- Duke’s Chowder House
Food type: Seafood
Neighborhood: Alki, Lake Union, & Greenlake
Duke’s Chowder House is the epitome of authentic Seattle cuisine. Luckily for us, most seafood is naturally gluten free. Nonetheless, Duke’s is always careful about cross contamination, and they have a long list of gluten free dishes labeled right on their main menu (no need to ask for a special GF menu, although they do have one). The staff is always knowledgeable about what Celiac means for food prep, and I have never experienced being “glutened” even once out of the dozens (and dozens) of times I’ve eaten there. Pro-tip: Go to the Alki restaurant and make a day of it! Spend the afternoon wandering the beach and local shops, then get a table out on the deck and watch the sunset over the water while you eat.
Recommended dishes: I always order the Award Winning Clam Chowder (which is heavenly), the Mixed Greens Salad, and whatever the “Fresh Catch” fish of the day is.
- Il Fornaio
Food Type: Italian
Il Fornaio is my go-to stop whenever there’s a special occasion that requires a fancy dinner. It’s the perfect romantic spot for a birthday or anniversary date. The food is fantastic, and the servers are always knowledgable about Celiac and cross-contamination. Once while I was here for a birthday dinner, I was seated at a table near the kitchen and I could hear my server back there reminding the chefs to keep all of my food prep separate. It felt great knowing that she was looking out for me so attentively! They also have several gluten free desserts that they roll out on a fancy cart so that you can gaze longingly at all your options.
Recommended dishes: Caprese for an appetizer, gluten free Pomodoro pasta with salmon and extra parmesan for dinner, and a scoop of spumoni gelato for dessert!
Food Type: Mexican
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
It’s a blessing and a curse that my apartment is located so close to Barrio. I probably go there too often, if we’re being honest. The food is just. so. good. Almost everything on their menu is gluten free, but it’s always best to ask before ordering just in case. Again, the staff is clearly trained on how to deal with Celiacs, and I’ve never gotten glutened in all the years I’ve been frequenting the place. The ambiance at Barrio is fun and active – and the decor is on point. They have a whole wall of candles that light up as soon as the sun begins to set, and their floor-to-ceiling glass windows can open up on warm days for a fun indoor/outdoor dining experience. If you’re going on a Friday or Saturday night, make sure to make reservations because it’s always crowded!
Recommended dishes: Start with their incredible housemade guacamole and chips, then the Smoked Mushroom and Kale Enchiladas (double check that the tortillas are corn not flour, sometimes they change it). Make sure to sip on a margarita (or 3) while you’re there!
- The Pink Door
Food Type: Italian
The Pink Door is a small (but gorgeously decorated) restaurant/bar located in Post Alley right by Pike Place Market. I had the incredible opportunity to have dinner here on a night when there was a live aerial acrobatic performance! It was amazing. They also have a stunning outdoor dining area with views of the city and the Puget Sound to enjoy on those rare sunny days. What I loved about this restaurant was that it’s so much more than just having food – it’s an experience. The views, the music, the various live entertainment options depending on which night you go, and the antique-chic decor created a unique ambiance. I can’t wait to go back!
Recommended dishes: First of all, you know how most restaurants serve bread as a starter for the table, and us celiacs always have to watch with jealousy as everyone else gets to eat it? Well, The Pink Door has a gluten free bread option! It comes grilled and drizzled with a specialty olive oil. For dinner, I got a gluten free version of the Fettuccini al Limone and it was incredible. Dessert was the Trio of Seattle’s Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream: salted caramel, pistachio, and chocolate. Pro tip: try scooping a little bit of each flavor onto your spoon and eat it all together – the combo was delicious!
Food type: Cafe
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Oddfellows is the hipster-chic restaurant/cafe that everyone loves! They have a pretty small menu, but most of it is naturally gluten free. They’re a popular spot for weekend brunch and dinner, so if you want to avoid crowds, I’d recommend going to lunch on a weekday. Oddfellows has a completely open kitchen so you can keep an eye on your food and make sure it’s not contaminated, and almost everything on the menu is house made (even the sauces and salad dressings!), so they always know what’s gluten free and what’s not. Also, they’re committed to environmentally sustainable practices and almost every ingredient is organic and ethically sourced.
Recommended dishes: Their coffee is great, so I always get an almond milk latte and Chicken and Avocado Salad for lunch, or a gluten free grilled cheese for dinner. There are also usually grilled salmon or chicken options. Their menu changes pretty often so always ask about the daily specials!
Are you a celiac in the Seattle area too? What are your favorite GF-friendly restaurants? Let me know so I can feature them in the next Celiac in Seattle series post!