Monday, December 31, 2018
As years go, this one was marked by change, as I started a new job and completed a full year as a resident of Washington, DC. I didn't think it was possible to fall deeper in love with this town, but nevertheless I end the year far more enamored with it than I began.
Between the restaurants I've discovered and the new recipes I have put to test in my (new) kitchen, 2018 has been a year of experimentation and widening my horizons. Speaking of horizons, opportunities to travel have brought me to the Midwest, South, and NYC, which have allowed me to explore beyond my beloved neck of the woods.
As I look back on the year that was, I wanted to share my top five restaurant discoveries from 2018 to celebrate great food and great teams that care about serving gluten and dairy-free diners safely. Year after year it is precisely experiences like the ones I share in this post that making blogging a true joy, and keep me engaged and excited to share them with you.
Friday, December 14, 2018
For a year now, I've heard absolutely glowing reviews for Ambar, a Balkan restaurant in the cozy Capitol Hill neighborhood. Because exploring the nearby Eastern Market flea market on the weekends is one of my favorite DC pastimes, I knew Ambar would be a perfect choice so that my mom and I could visit both without moving our car (a critical consideration in that area as parking is at a premium).
As my first time visiting Ambar and my first time enjoying Balkan food, I was excited to see what this experience would have in store.
Monday, November 12, 2018
One such discovery was Indikitch, a New York City-based chain that spices up the fast casual assembly line model with Indian flavors and flair.
I am a huge fan of Indian food and have been adding more and more Indian flavors and styles of food to my home cooking, but it's still such a treat to be able to enjoy Indian food when eating out. The cuisine is naturally inclined to be gluten-free friendly, and Indikitch's menu has a lot for gluten-free foodies to love.
Sunday, November 11, 2018
That's why when I found myself with 20 minutes of down time before catching an off-Broadway performance in the West Village, I knew I wanted to head over to Grom to investigate further. Lured by the promise of my first visit to a 100% gluten-free ice cream shop, I was thrilled that I would have an opportunity to have the "normal" experience of visiting an gelateria without fear.
Sunday, November 4, 2018
While brgr might seem like a dime-a-dozen fast food restaurant from the outside, looks can be deceiving, because they hold themselves to a higher standard, crafting each burger, shake, and fry with quality ingredients to ensure they both taste great and are better for you. Of course any place with a dedicated gluten-free fryer is worth stopping my book, so I was eager to see what kind of experience brgr would serve up.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
TAP NYC's menu is built on the endlessly versatile tapioca starch (from cassava), which is native to Brazil. Of course I am familiar with tapioca in as far as seeing it in the ingredient lists for food I have purchased, but I was interested to see it placed center stage, as it is on TAP NYC's menu.
Monday, October 29, 2018
Saturday, September 29, 2018
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Saturday, March 31, 2018
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
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
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
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
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
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
Update 4/18/2: Since my initial review, Bibibop Asian Grill has gone 100% gluten-free. Stay tuned for an updated review coming soon! More info about the menu changes can be found here.
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 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
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?