Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top 5 Gluten-Free Chain Restaurants of 2016

The final of my year-end round-up posts covered the cream of the crop of chain restaurants I visited this year. 

Unlike my top picks from Baltimore (click here) and Washington D.C. (click here) this year, the good thing about the following chain restaurants is that there's a good chance there's a location near you.

As an added bonus, chain restaurants are nice because they are located across state borders, which ensures a little piece of mind when traveling. 

What's really cool about the five restaurants that are my top picks of the year is that they are all both amazingly good, and amazingly good for you. From pizza to stir fry, salads to dessert, each restaurant offers fresh flavors and predominantly plant-based eats that impressed me. Another bonus of all these restaurants? Their gluten-free offerings are numerous, which means that can be relied on for a good meal despite multiple visits.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 5 Gluten-Free Baltimore Restaurants of 2016

To see my 2015 Best Gluten-Free in Baltimore list, click here. To see the 2014 list, click here.

As 2016 is quickly coming to a close, I have to do the difficult task of determining the highlights of my favorite gluten-free eats I've had this year. This year I'm spotlighting my top favorite foodie finds of 2016 in both Baltimore and D.C., the locales I've covered most this year. 

Because I want to focus on the best of the best from the blog, I have narrowed this best-of list of Baltimore to five restaurants. Criteria for making this list is that the review include that the review needed to be newly posted this year, the restaurants were in the Baltimore metro area and that the restaurants are not chains. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 10 Washington D.C. Gluten-Free Restaurants of 2016

Although Baltimore is technically my home, I've spent far more time in Washington D.C. this year exploring the foodie scene. From food trucks to sit down restaurants, I've visited restaurants that have run the gamut in cuisine. 

Narrowing down my top ten favorite restaurants of 2016 was quite the challenge, so I want to clarify the criteria used for the ten that have earned a spot on my annual round-up of best restaurants. 

The following restaurants were newly reviewed in this calendar year, and are not national chains (some are regional chains with a few locations- coming soon is my chain restaurant best-of list). Because the District is quite small, geographically speaking, I have included my finds from bordering areas in Maryland and Virginia. That being said, all of the featured restaurants can be accessed quite easily via public transit or a quick drive. With those stipulations set, I'm proud to promote my top 10 gluten-free finds in Washington D.C. for this year.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Tasty Trend Review

Back in Orlando for only a few weeks, I came home with a lengthy list of places I wanted to check out for gluten-free eats. After enjoying lunch at Disney Springs, I suggested a stop at The Tasty Trend Bakery for dessert, a gluten-free bakery in Winter Garden that has allergen-friendly options on hand.

In a town overrun by chain bakeries where gluten-free is often an afterthought, The Tasty Trend focuses on those of us with dietary restrictions, as they are completely gluten, peanut, and tree nut free facility. It's a real treat to be able to partake in the experience of going to a bakery without fear, and I like to make a point of applauding and supporting local small businesses that work hard every day to serve the community. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Frontera Cocina Review (Disney Springs)

It's been quite a while since my last visit to Orlando, but in my absence I couldn't help but notice a buzz building around the transformation of Downtown Disney to Disney Springs. 

With a new layout, new shops, and new dining options, I knew I wanted to check out the complex soon after arriving home for the holidays. After going to a movie at the AMC located on property, my mom and I decided to grab lunch at Frontera Cocina, a place I've head good things about on Gluten-Free Dairy-Free at WDW and Alexis' Gluten Free Adventures.

Frontera Cocina comes from the culinary imagination of chef Rick Bayless, who has made his name cooking up Mexican dishes with modern flair. I'm a fan of Frontera's grocery products (chili starter, tortilla chips, simmer sauces), so I was excited to see how the restaurant would compare. On a busy day just before Christmas Day, I was able to walk right in to the restaurant without a reservation.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

No Whey Foods: Christmas Candy Review

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Before giving up gluten and dairy, the holiday season for me was filled with sweets ranging from candy canes to chocolate truffles, that helped to make the season merry and bright. Now with dietary restrictions, most of these delightful sweets are off limits, as gluten and dairy tend to spoil the fun.

This year, I was determined to find allergen-friendly peppermint bark, my favorite winter treat. After several faulty attempts, I came across No Whey Foods, an online allergen-free chocolatier that takes classic candy recipes and removes allergens to ensure everyone can enjoy a sweet treat. I decided to treat myself to a sampling of their Christmas offerings, and eagerly anticipating putting them to the test.

Birroteca Review

Taking the honor of the last restaurant I will review in Baltimore this year is Birroteca, a modern Italian restaurant with rustic sensibilities. Birroteca has two locations in the central Maryland region, one in Baltimore, and one in Bel Air. Owned by the same owners of Encantada (my review here), I couldn't wait to see how Birroteca would compare. 

My standards for gluten-free pizza have been elevated to almost unreal level, which has made me cautious to try new pizza places. I no longer am okay with a thin, brittle crust topped with minimal toppings, so I entered the experience halfway expecting to be disappointed. Without spoiling the review too much, I definitely had a tasty culinary adventure at Birroteca that left me wanting more.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lilit Cafe Review

On my last D.C. trip of 2016, I had less than 24 hours to check out new restaurants or visit old favorites. I decided to use the time to trek up to Bethesda (via the red line Metro) to finally pay a visit to a gluten-free friendly restaurant that I have only heard good things about for years.

A little off the beaten path (especially on foot), Lilit Cafe proved to not only be worth the journey, but a place I regretted not coming to sooner. With oodles of gluten-free options and a staff that went above and beyond when it came to friendliness and allergy knowledge, this is definitely a must-visit for those visiting or living in the area. Eating out should be as effortless as Lilit Cafe makes it, and it goes above and beyond to be both a restaurant and convenience store for gluten-free eats.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pure Raw Juice Review

Although this is not the case everywhere, December is certainly not prime smoothie-drinking weather here in Maryland. This time of year we tend to go for hot drinks and foods over frozen concoctions. 

However, upon hearing that Towson's latest gluten-free friendly restaurant was Pure Raw Juice, a 100% organic and raw juice and smoothie bar, I did not let the season- nor freezing temperatures- deter me from checking out the newcomer to the neighborhood.

Pure Raw Juice is an export of the Federal Hill neighborhood in Baltimore. Their expansion to Towson brings another welcome option for juices, smoothies, and other health-conscious fare to the area. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thai Landing Review

For someone who lives and works in Baltimore, a disproportionate amount of my recent reviews have covered Washington DC in lieu of my hometown. It's been a while since I did some culinary sleuthing in Charm City, but was craving Thai food, which called for a new expedition to find a gluten-free restaurant in my home city.

After scouring Google, I came across Thai Landing, a restaurant in the Mount Vernon neighborhood- just a few blocks from Penn Station. With marked menus to indicate gluten-free offerings, I decided to give them a try. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Corn Factory Review

Living in Orlando spoiled me a bit because their food truck scene has become a staple of the city's cuisine. In Washington D.C, the scene is a less organized, but there are tons of trucks that call the city home.

I have followed The Corn Factory for awhile, and have eagerly awaited checking out their menu of arepas, tacos, and tamales (my favorite foods in the world). Because they jump around the city and only work on weekdays, it was tough to align schedules, but I finally was able to check them out on a recent visit. 

The Corn Factory is the first dedicated gluten-free food truck I have found in the district, and I couldn't wait to check them out. On a blustery, chilly day, I was able to catch them at the State Department, their usual Friday hangout.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Burrito Brothers Review

After a disastrous turn of events that would have stranded me at the Atlanta airport for hours on end, I decided to jump in the car and drive back to Orlando with my mom and fly out of MCO the next morning. 

During our six hour drive, we made plans to stop in Gainesville, which is a town I have not checked out yet as a blogger. 

As I searched for a gluten-free friendly place to check out in the college town, I selected Burrito Brothers, which is a Gainesville institution  Specializing in Americanized Mexican food, it would be my first opportunity to check out a genre of Mexican food that's normally off limits to gluten-free folks.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

L'Thai Organic Cuisine Review

It's been a really, really long time since I last sought out Thai Food. Maybe it's because there are no good options in my neighborhood in Baltimore, maybe it's because I've been sidetracked exploring other food genres. 

Either way, my visit to L'Thai Organic Cuisine just outside of Atlanta proved to be the perfect opportunity to reunite with one of my favorite comfort food dishes- green curry. Long overdue for a taste of Thai cooking, a chilly night sparked my craving for the rich, hearty flavors of Thai food.

What's notable about L'Thai is that it's Georgia's first organic Thai restaurant. 85%-90% of the ingredients on the menu are organic, and gone are hormones, antibiotics, preservatives and MSG.

Not only does L'Thai carefully source their menu, they encourage diners to approach their meal with similar intentionality to savor the fullness of the experience- which can easily get lost in this hustle bustle world. Settling in for a dinner with high expectations, I couldn't wait to check out all of L'Thai's health-conscious offerings.