Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 10 Gluten-Free Friendly Orlando Restaurants of 2014

After finishing my list of my top 10 picks of gluten-free friendly restaurants, cafes, and bakeries in Baltimore, I knew the next task at hand would be to construct a parallel list for Orlando. A much taller order due to the sheer variety and number of establishments I've reviewed in my nine months of blogging, I now present this list of my personal picks for 2014 with pride. 

The restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that made this list are noted for their outstanding attention detail when it comes to gluten-free and allergen-friendly protocols as well providing great service and delicious food that proves why this city is quickly becoming a gluten-free foodie's fantasy land. 

As Orlando rings in 2015, what new eateries are you looking forward to trying out and which made your personal best-of list? Comment below!

10. Dandelion Cafe

Thornton Park's Dandelion Cafe which features fresh, local ingredients grown with love. With the exception of a few menu items (that often can be made safe with slight alteration), all of their offerings are gluten-free and dairy-free and all are vegetarian and/or vegan friendly. I'm practically addicted to their whirled peas guacamole (no avocados involved!) but also recommend their garden tonic which is oh, so soothing and delicious on a cool day. Check out my full review here.



9. Phat Thai

A newbie to Thai food, I have loved getting to taste different restaurants around town. Though all were delicious, I am tipping my hat to Phat Thai for their range of options available gluten-free, beautiful presentation, and downright delicious fare. It score extra for filling me up enough to have leftovers- a rarity! Read my original review here.


8. Bob Marley: A Tribute to Freedom

A family favorite long before gluten entered my vocabulary, I was floored to find they not only are gluten-free friendly but have a dedicated gluten-free menu! Perfect for those who have spent a busy day in the Universal parks, or for those searching a island getaway, this restaurant quickly whisks you away to Jamaica where the pulse of reggae and spice of jerk seasoning lull you into a quasi-paradise. Check out my full review here for more. 


7. Hawker's Asian Street Fare

Despite Hawker's many gluten-free friendly foods, I must confess that whenever I pay them a visit, I dare not stray from their incredible, perfectly spiced tom yum soup. Fearing that "life-changing" may be misconstrued as a hyperbole to describe this dish, it is the catalyst that began my love affair with big bowls of broth with noodles, spices, herbs, and veggies. Check out my (first) blog post (of this blog) on Hawkers here.


6. Local Food Trucks

This may be cheating to save space on the countdown, but I am grouping all of my food truck encounters into one mention. I guess that would be in true food truck round-up form! Tamale Co., Wako Taco, and Yum Yum Cupcakes emerged as my go-to trucks and I hope to scout more of this moving cuisine scene next year! Check out my first food truck blog here, and my second here.

5. Raphsodic Bakery

My favorite place in Central Florida for a sweet tooth fix is Raphsodic Bakery in the Mills 50 district. Everything they make is 100% vegan, and despite handling gluten-filled flour as well, they ensure that their treats are safe for those of us who cannot eat wheat. I highly recommend their scones, cinnamon buns, and gingerbread cookies, but really would not pass up on any of their treats! Check out my original review here and expanded one here.


4. Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine

As one of the first restaurants I covered this year, Bosphorous solidified my desire and passion for sharing gluten and dairy-free fare. I love the natural gluten-free nature of much of the menu and skilled service that preserves the integrity of gluten-free food. I loved the juicy, spicy chicken adana kepap in my original review here.


3. Sanaa 

A visit from my aunt this summer called for an exotic adventure; Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge fit the bill perfectly with it's fusion of Indian and African flavors and tableside view of Africa's majestic wildlife. Though the pappadum bread service has been fazed out (to my despair), they served up one delicious safari into flavors familiar and unknown. Check out my full review here.


2. Boatwright's Dining Hall and Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory

This two-part entry, like my food truck one, is also probably cheating in a way, but I honestly could not mention one without the other! Sarah from GF & DF in Walt Disney World and Alexis from GF in Orlando introduced me to this dynamic dining duo located at Disney's Port Orleans resort. Chef Tony masterfully delivered and unforgettable spread of Louisiana classics such as jambalaya and crawfish bites, and the evening took a decadent turn as I sampled my first beignet. I could go on, or you could read my Boatwright's review here, and Sassagoula review here.


1. Columbia Restaurant

Reminiscent of Old Florida charm and tradition, Columbia won me over this year and earned this top spot on my best-of list. It's a must-do for tourists and locals alike and showcases Spanish cuisine with finesse. The legendary 1905 salad and other classic dishes are naturally gluten and dairy free. Located near the attractions in Celebration (yep, that's a real town), it's perfect for a night out on the town or elegant lunch. My review can be found here.


Disclaimer: This list is a collection of my favorite restaurant reviews of 2014. It is a reflection of my opinion and is no way affiliated with each of the restaurants mentioned. I have not been compensated for this post in any way.

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