Since I am based in Orlando and Baltimore, my reviews disproportionately cover the two metropolitan areas. However, I cannot ignore the excellent restaurants I featured on the blog that don’t quite qualify as local to either city. In this restaurant round-up I want to give a shout out to both the big chain restaurants and independent out-of-town restaurants that made the year memorable.
This best-of list would be a good one to bookmark whenever travel is in your future. It’s a reminder that delicious restaurants can be found in almost any city or town, but also that chain restaurants also play a vital role when alternate eats cannot be found. Whenever I travel I like to include a little of both types of restaurants.
Channeling the simple but healthy dishes of the Mediterranean, Zoe’s Kitchen is not your average “fast casual” fare. With a wide range of options and simple, unprocessed food, Zoe’s is perfect for eating healthy on the go.
I rarely get to enjoy seafood in my collegiate diet so discovering Legal Sea Foods was a real treat for me. With an impressive gluten-free menu that includes everything from fried foods to elaborate seafood dishes, what puts them ahead is an educated staff and clear protocols to prevent cross contamination.
3. Roti Mediterranean Grill (Review Link)
Roti initially seems to be a variation on a common fast food theme with a select-your-own-ingredients process to create salads, sandwiches, or rice bowls. Roti breaks free of convention however with fresh fare and gluten-free pitas on hand, an elusive treat for gluten-free diners.
2. Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Review Link)
With a menu loaded with gluten-full fare, Carrabba’s is not usually thought of as a safe bet. However, this year they launched a new GF menu that includes old favorites as well as gluten-free treats such as pasta. It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy family meals here once again when everyone can find something to eat and enjoy.
1. Maggiano’s Little Italy (Review Link)
My visit to Maggiano’s marked the first time I ever ordered a gluten-free pasta in a restaurant. It was a revelation to be able to order without limits and have a chef come out to discuss my options. Maggiano’s proves that gluten-free dining can be an effortless affair and delivers impeccable service along the way.
5. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana (Review Link)
Oyamel is a restaurant I had pretty high expectations of going into the review; luckily, they delivered a quality allergy experience that left me wanting more. With menus that help you navigate the many options, Oyamel is definitely a restaurant to go to with others because tasting around the many tapas-style offerings is a delicious affair.
District Taco may not seem too sophisticated at first glance, but I mention it here because it made for an nontraditional breakfast option during my weekend in D.C. With gluten-free protocols in place, District taco introduced me to the breakfast egg taco, which is a total game changer in my collegiate diet.
Jacksonville, FL is not precisely out-of-state, but is enough out of my regular radius for Corner Taco to earn a place on this list. Serving up swanky street fare, I love how 99% of the menu is gluten-free and there is a real focus on farm-to-table eats.
2. Sabor Latin Street Food (Review Link)
Sabor is totally the dark horse of the pack because they surprised me with the amazing eats I found there. Located in Charlotte, NC, this restaurant serves up tasty, affordable Latin street fare to the masses. While not entirely gluten-free, they were willing to take extra measures to make sure my arepas and tacos were safe.
In a list full of taco joints, you might be wondering what sets Tio Pablo apart from the pack. With an entirely gluten-free menu there is a wonderful freedom when ordering at this Richmond, VA taqueria. The food is fresh, flavorful and served up with complementary chips- a real rarity when dining out gluten-free.
Disclaimer: This list is a collection of my favorite restaurant reviews of 2015. 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.