Saturday, September 29, 2018

Leon Review (USA)

Eating gluten-free has definitely gotten easier over the years, especially as I live in Washington DC with lots of fast casual and full service restaurant options for gluten-free dining. If there's one category of restaurant I miss though, it's fast food. 

Yeah, it has a bad rap for not being healthy in the least (and very gluten-heavy), but sometimes you just want a quick fix and to get in and out with your food in a dash- especially when your lunch break is short!  

When I heard that the UK-based chain Leon was crossing the pond to make their American debut in DC, I was excited to welcome them to the Farragut North neighborhood. Known for serving up fast and healthy fare in over 50 locations in London, Leon promises to fill a much-needed gap in the DC food scene and serve up "gut-friendly" fare at an affordable cost. 
Saturday, September 22, 2018

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Review (Dairy-Free)

Just because summer is in the rear view mirror doesn't mean that your ice cream consumption has to slow down! I am firmly in the frozen-desserts-all-year camp, especially when there's an opportunity to try a new brand of dairy-free desserts.

During my brief visit to Atlanta a couple weeks ago, I stopped by the fun and funky Westside Provisions development in Midtown for dinner with a friend. Because I arrived earlier than our scheduled meeting, I walked around the stores and came across Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, a company whose dairy-full pints I have seen at my local Whole Foods, but I have never stopped by a scoop shop. I quickly spotted dairy-free options on the menu both in sorbet and non-dairy ice cream varieties so it wasn't difficult to make an executive decision to eat dessert first for the sake of a review! 
Sunday, September 9, 2018

Fuego Mundo Review

In what feels like a blink of an eye, Summer 2018 is (mostly) in the books. I have no idea where the past few months have gone, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you might have noticed that things have been quieter than normal. As I have settled into my routine here in Washington DC, I have found that there are often too few hours in the day to keep up with my usual rate and pace of restaurant reviews, but as the oppressive summer heat slides away I am definitely looking forward to more conducive weather for scoping out gluten-free eats at home and across the country. 

Recently, I had a chance to fly to Atlanta, Georgia for a brief visit, which proved to be a fun opportunity to get out of my DC bubble and do some gluten-free reporting from the road. After catching an early flight to the city, I turned to Find Me Gluten-Free to source a suitable lunch spot. Rave reviews and a close proximity to a meetup spot with a friend later in the afternoon led me to select Fuego Mundo as an ideal lunch spot. Fuego Mundo is a Latin-American eatery that is built on the fundamental belief that special diets should not be an obstacle to enjoying good food, and I was impressed by their transparency and accommodating attitude towards dietary restrictions.
Sunday, July 22, 2018

Taco Dumbo Review

My recent travels by rail to New York City have led me to discover the The Pennsy, a food hall just above Penn Station that has quickly become a go-to as I am arriving to the city and my final stop before I leave. On a recent visit, Taco Dumbo caught my eye, with a menu full of gluten-free options. With my curiosity peaked, I made sure the this stand would be my first stop on my next visit. 

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you might have caught on that tacos hold a particular place in my heart- I can never get enough of them! Taco Dumbo's approach is inspired by the foodie ethos of California, the ingredients are real and locally sourced and the vibe is laid back- a refreshing break from the relentless pace of the city.
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Noglu Review

Even after years of maintaining a strict gluten-free diet, I must admit that walking past gluten-full bakeries, bread vendors at my local farmer's market, and even the bakery section of the grocery store still feels like ripping a band aid off. I absolutely adore baked goods- both sweet and savory- and there certainly are not enough gluten-free bakeries in that would achieve parity with the number of gluten-full purveyors out there.

New York City is the rare place where there are multiple gluten-free bakeries- and one by one I am definitely on a mission to visit as many as I can. On my most recent visit, I made sure that I built my itinerary around a visit to Noglu, a 100% gluten-free bakery, cafe, and micro grocery store that has charming French flair. Not only are they a gluten-free oasis, but Noglu also sources organic and locally-produced ingredients to craft their each item on their menu.
Saturday, July 7, 2018

Wild Review

After spending most of my afternoon in the Greenwich Village neighborhood, I turned to the Find Me Gluten Free app to determine where I wanted to stop for dinner before catching an evening show closer to Times Square. 

After looking at the options nearby, I decided to dine at Wild in the nearby West Village neighborhood because it had a decidedly different ethos. Believing in serving fare made with real ingredients in a way that is socially responsible and good for the environment too. 

Wild is a dedicated gluten-free restaurant, which to me meant that I could dine worry-free. Not only that, but they feature many normally off-limit options such as pizza, pasta, and even chicken parmesan (not dairy-free). With the heat of the day waning, I was excited to sit out on their open patio and dine al fresco on a sleepy Saturday. 

By CHLOE Review

New York City is a magical wonderland for foodies- especially those with dietary restrictions. With a rich abundance of accommodating restaurants, bakeries, and cafes, I don't think I will ever run out of new options to try whenever I visit. 

On my visit to the city last weekend, I found myself wandering through the Greenwich Village neighborhood with a little time to spare before catching a performance at the Minetta Lane Theatre. I stumbled across By CHLOE, a 100% vegan cafe serving up a full menu of sweet and savory options. Just as the city's heatwave was beginning to get to me- I knew this would be a good stop to investigate their gluten-free options.
Saturday, June 23, 2018

Gorsha Ethiopian Eatery Review

When people ask me for recommendations about what to do or see in Washington DC, I cannot recommend Union Market enough. This foodie wonderland is a feast for the senses, with cuisines from around the world represented by the many micro-eateries and there are always pop up shops and art that make each visit memorable.

On a recent visit, I decided to stop by Gorsha, an Ethiopian eatery that I have walked by, but not stopped to see if they had gluten-free options. As I soon discovered, this was a serious error on my part, as Gorsha has a lot to offer for gluten and dairy-free foodies. As my first foray into Ethiopian cuisine, I was excited that this would be a new- and safe- experience. 
Saturday, June 9, 2018

Taqueria Local Review

While I started this blog as a quest to find and report the best gluten-free eats wherever I live or travel, it's really a documentation of my endless love affair with tacos. It's hard for me to ever turn a taco down, and I love that they are naturally gluten-free. Over the years I have found some pretty showstopping tacos, but that never deters me from the quest to keep seeking out new (and new-to-me) options near and far.

While walking through DC's Farragut Square recently, the bright facade of Taqueria Local caught my eye, and after some quick research, I decided to give them a try. A relative newcomer to the neighborhood, Taqueria Local promises to deliver authentic and fun tacos in a casual setting that promotes food and the community. That promise is more than just words too: by sourcing local food, paying the staff above minimum wage, and giving back through donations of food and a portion of their profit, they are the real deal- which definitely impressed me long before I had a bite of food.
Monday, June 4, 2018

Häagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Desserts Review

Summer is in full swing here in DC, and I am more than ready to trade in heavy coats and hot tea for sunglasses and dairy-free ice "cream" since winter weather lingered longer than usual this year. With the changing of the seasons, it's always exciting to see new arrivals in the freezer aisle of my favorite stores. 

When buying dairy-free ice "cream," I tend to stick to companies who cater exclusively to dairy-free consumers, but recently, I've notice more and more "mainstream" companies are venturing into the vegan and non-dairy game. One such company is Häagen-Dazs, an iconic ice cream maker who has introduced a new line of dairy-free delights. Of course I couldn't pass up an opportunity to try them when I spotted them stocked at my local Giant, and was excited to see how they measure up against an increasingly competitive field of gluten-free and dairy-free options.
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Tamale Co. 2-Go Mexican Street Food Review

Anyone who has followed this blog from its earliest days knows that I am a super fan of the Orlando-based food truck Tamale Co. This 100% gluten-free food truck introduced me to the magic of tamales, and is a staple of any trip back to Orlando now that I live in Washington DC. Since my last visit, they have announced an expansion to not only one, but two brick and mortar locations: a grab-and-go shop in Altamonte Springs and a soon-to-open location in Orlando's Hourglass District. 

With the former now open, I requested that it was my family's first stop after picking me up from the airport. While I enter most reviews questioning what my experience might be like, I entered this experience with the opposite problem- I wondered if my expectations were too high. Could Tamale Co. 2-Go live up to my sky-high expectations? 
Monday, May 28, 2018

Brio Tuscan Grille Review

Flying back to Orlando briefly for my sister's graduation, I was looking forward to celebrating after the ceremony at Brio Tuscan Grill. Although I have reviewed many gluten-free friendly Italian restaurants in my years as a food blogger, I have not yet had a chance to dine at this chain. 

In taking a preliminary glance of Brio's gluten-free menu, I was excited to see several entree options (including gluten-free pasta). As much as I enjoy making pasta at home, I also enjoy the simple luxury of ordering at a restaurant, so I was eager to see how Brio's ranked.
Saturday, May 12, 2018

Butterfly Review (ThinkFoodLab)

When people ask me for recommendations for gluten-free friendly eateries in Washington, DC my advice is simple: you can't go wrong with a José Andrés restaurant! As a city, we are lucky to be home to several of his inspired culinary concepts, including China Chilcano, Jaleo, Beefsteak, and Oyamel (can you tell I'm a fan?!), which present globally-inspired flavors in a fun and whimsical way. 

His latest concept- Butterfly- is taking a test drive at the Navy Memorial-adjacent Think Food Lab. Part popup, part test kitchen, Think Food Lab allows the chef to experiment with flavors and foods while serving up fast-casual fare. Serving up tacos, tortas (sandwiches), and salads, I'd say that Butterfly definitely has a bit of Oyamel in it's DNA. I couldn't wait to check out this welcome addition to the José Andrés restaurant family on my lunch break.
Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sweet Loren's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies Review

When it comes to gluten-free baking, I rely on boxed mixes to do the heavy lifting for me. Playing the game of having to mix seven different types of flours that many from-scratch recipes call for just isn't my cup of tea. With box mixes all I have to worry about is milk, eggs, oil, and maybe one or two other mix-ins. 

However there are times when even box mixes seem too involved when I want a quick fresh-from-the-oven cookie fix. Luckily, Sweet Loren's place and bake cookie dough can be ready and waiting in your fridge whenever a craving strikes. Magically able to transform from a refrigerated dough to delightfully fresh-baked cookies in under 30 minutes, Sweet Loren's wins points not only for eliminating complicated cookie prep, but also virtually eliminating most most the mess involved with baking.

Formulated to be gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free and vegan, I wondered if Sweet Loren's gluten-free chocolate chunk cookie dough was too good to be true when I first spotted it at my local Giant. The dough only lasted a few hours in my fridge before I couldn't resist putting it to the test.
Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Little Beet Review (Breakfast)

Whenever I travel I usually have luck finding gluten-free options for lunch and dinner but breakfast is more hit-and-miss. Hotel breakfast bars can be limited on options and many gluten-free friendly restaurants are simply not open for the first meal of the day. In these instances, I typically I turn to fruit and a protein bar for substance while on the go. 

However, while on a work trip to New York City last week I made a point of rising and shining earlier than I needed to so I could walk over to The Little Beet for a proper breakfast. I am already familiar with The Little Beet from their DC location, but their breakfast service was new to me, as my previous reviews covered lunch or dinner. Getting a full breakfast is a luxurious experience while traveling, and I had hopes this meal would set the tone for a full day of meetings ahead.
Monday, April 9, 2018

Schnipper's Review

When booking a matinee and evening Broadway show on the same day, I knew I needed to find someplace close to grab gluten-free fare in between shows. After considering all the nearby options using Find Me Gluten-Free's location feature, I decided to go to Schnipper's at 41st Street and 8th Avenue- just a few blocks from the heart of Times Square. 

I chose Schnipper's not only because they received glowing reviews on the app, but at first glance were the most affordable option available within a radius of several blocks. Not only that, but their gluten-free offerings feature rarities that are off limits for gluten-free diners: fish and chips, chicken fingers, and burgers. 
Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Counter Review

Knowing that my weekend trip to New York was going to be short and sweet, I made sure to squeeze as much sightseeing as I could into my visit- food-centered and otherwise. Knowing that I had tickets for a matinee and evening Broadway show on Saturday, I decided to spend my morning near Times Square exploring the magnificent New York Public Library in Bryant Park. 

For my lunch destination between the library and the theater, I chose The Counter, a gourmet burger bar that promises custom-built burgers that let you pick and choose toppings, sauces, and proteins to your heart's content. In choosing The Counter, I knew I was getting fast food- but fast food that wouldn't cut corners when it came to quality. 
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hu Kitchen Review

When it comes to travel, I am not a huge sightseer. I don't pack my days with tours and places to be but instead focus on a few places of interest and see where the journey takes me. After arriving by train to New York City in the early afternoon, I decidedly made a bee line towards Hu Kitchen, which on this trip was definitely a destination that was topping my list of places to go. 

Hu Kitchen has the set up and feel of a grade school cafeteria, but one that is transformed fairy godmother style into the cafeteria of your dreams. Everything served is gluten-free, and most everything is dairy-free and grain-free, with a few rare exceptions. While this is a fantastic concept for anyone who's gluten-free or who is in a group who can't decide where to eat, it's also a huge conundrum. After all, how do you possibly choose what to eat when each item looks better than the next?! 
Saturday, March 31, 2018

Inday Go Go Review

The second I booked my weekend trip to New York City, I immediately began craving Inday. The 100% gluten-free Indian restaurant impressed me on previous visits, and was a reliable place to grab healthy, real food (check out my review). 

I was all set on going back to Inday's Nomad location for another visit when I saw on Instagram they had recently opened up a pop up at Urbanspace 570 Lex, a vibrant food hall near the Midtown East neighborhood. Promising gluten-free roti and a lineup of fun and flavorful eats, I knew I had to check them out. 

As a fan of food halls, Indian food, and Inday, my experience was almost custom-designed to make me happy. Without giving too much away, I can totally confirm Inday Go Go not only delivered but proved to be one of the best dining experiences I have had in awhile. 
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Merzi Fresh Indian Kitchen Review

Ever walk by a restaurant that looks interesting but dismiss it out of hand because you assume they don't have gluten-free options? I did. Working in the Penn Quarter neighborhood, the brightly colored storefront of Merzi Fresh Indian Kitchen caught my eye every time I came and went from work. 

With no menu markings, I assumed (incorrectly as I discovered) that nothing was safe. However, when looking for a place to grab dinner with my mom in town, I decided to reach out to Merzi over Twitter to see for sure whether there was anything there for me. Sure enough, a friendly staff member assured me that they had a wide selection of gluten and dairy-free menu items. I needed no further convincing to check them out that night.
Friday, March 2, 2018

Chef Soraya Eat-a-Bowl Review

Since graduating college last December, I have moved into a new apartment, started a new job, and adjusted to a new pace in my life. The greatest thing about my post-grad life? I finally have a kitchen I can call my own, and time to play around in the kitchen with new recipes. Good-bye forever dorm kitchen!! 

As much as I have enjoyed cooking up curries, soups, and other meals, it is taxing to try to keep up the creativity and clean up the mess involved with preparing several meals a day- especially during the work week. That's why when I spotted the Chef Soraya Eat-a-Bowl quick-cook soups at Fairfield, Ohio's Jungle Jim's International Market, I knew I wanted to see if they could deliver on their promise: healthy, delicious food that cooks in mere minutes. 

While the convenience factor certainly caught my eye, it was the real ingredients and tantalizing flavors that convinced me to give this new-to-me brand a try.
Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cooper's Hawk Restaurant and Winery Review

Cooper's Hawk Restaurant is a chain that I have heard quite a buzz about in the gluten-free world. I've read other bloggers' glowing reviews and have seen positive reports on Find Me Gluten Free, a website and app I use religiously. That being said, I approached this dining experience at Cooper's Hawk with dread, because I have eaten there once before (years ago) and it was one of the worst dining experiences I have ever had since going gluten-free. 

However, when visiting my grandparents in Cincinnati last weekend, the restaurant came up as a viable option for dining out because they had a menu that would appeal to everyone in the family and they had a reputation for great gluten-free accommodations. Although I was skeptical, I decided to give them a second chance, to see if my first experience was a outlier.  
Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant Gluten-Free Menu

While visiting Cincinnati over the President's Day weekend, my grandparents wanted to go out for dinner with my dad and me. After some searching, we decided that Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant in Kenwood would be a good place to go out because they had an expansive gluten-free menu and lots of choices for the gluten, and non-gluten eaters in our party. 

When I arrived our waiter brought out the restaurant's gluten-free menu. I marveled at it's multi-page format and that it listed everything from appetizers to desserts. It made knowing the gluten-free options refreshingly easy. 

On Cooper's Hawk's menu, vegetarian and vegan options are marked, and in my experience our waiter was happy to double check with the chef to verify items were dairy-free. Other gluten-free features of this menu are that gluten-free buns are available for sandwiches and burgers as well as for a gluten-free bread course. On another note, the restaurant uses Barilla gluten-free pasta. 
Sunday, February 11, 2018

&Pizza Review

When it comes to pizza options in Washington D.C., it's hard not to miss &Pizza, the District's homegrown and hip fast-casual pizza chain. Self-described as the "anti-establishment establishment," &Pizza is built around a core value of creativity, and caters each store to reflect the ethos and individuality of their surrounding neighborhood. 

In the same way, &Pizza's creations are as unique as the customer ordering them, because one can choose the sauce, toppings, cheeses, and finishes that speak to them. Flair is the name of the game, and &Pizzas upend the status quo. 

I visited my local &Pizza shop is located in Brookland, located near the Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the National Shrine. It's been a while since I last enjoyed a good gluten-free pizza, so my hopes were high for this visit. 
Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bibibop Asian Grill Review

Although I am by no means a big fan of sports, there's something about the Olympic Games that gets me really excited every two years. This year, the Winter Games are taking place in the South Korean city of PyeongChang. After waking up before the crack of dawn to watch the Opening Ceremony live this past Friday, I decided to forego my usual morning excessive of deciding what to pack and instead opted to find something to eat in the Penn Quarter neighborhood where I work. 

Inspired by the Olympic Games, I decided to try out Bibibop, a Korean restaurant chain with lots of gluten-free options and multiple locations around the District (and in several states). Always intrigued when I can get safe Asian food, I was excited to see what my experience would hold.
Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Red Bandana Bakery Review

If there's one thing the world needs, it's more dedicated gluten-free bakeries. These magical cafes are places where sweet and savory treats are in abundance and fear can be left at the doorstep. 

The latest gluten-free bakery to pop up in the DC region is The Red Bandana Bakery in Bethesda, MD. While not a newcomer by any means (they have been a Bethesda farmer's market staple for years), their brick and mortar location is a newcomer to the city's bustling Wisconsin Ave corridor. 

Although The Red Bandana Bakery opened in November of last year, my college graduation, moving, and starting a new job in D.C. have consumed all of my spare time recently. This past weekend however, I made sure to carve out time to stop by and see what they were all about. I have previously tried and enjoyed their treats at the 2016 D.C. Gluten-Free Education Day and Expo, and was eager to get the full experience of this bakery-cafe in its full glory.
Sunday, January 21, 2018

Jersey Mike's Subs Review

Subs. Hoagies. Heros. Submarine sandwich. 

Whatever you call them, they're really hard to find gluten-free options at sub shops, much less find one that knows how to prepare them safely (shared knives and counters are a cross contamination danger zone!). 

In my six years of going gluten-free, I have never found a place where I could walk in and order a sub and reclaim the normal experience I so enjoyed in my pre-gluten-free days. Of course I have made subs at home on a few occasions, but I have longed for this every time I pass by a sub shop or the deli counter at my local grocery store. 

That's why I was floored when Jersey Mike's Subs, a nationwide chain, announced that they were going gluten-free. I met the news with skepticism, after all, I can point to plenty of examples of chains rolling out gluten-free options that are dangerously cross-contaminated or are considered "gluten-light" for those who follow the diet due to preference rather than medical necessity. Could Jersey Mike's boldly go where no sub chain had gone before? Even more, could they pull off the taste and texture of these iconic sandwiches minus gluten?