Gluten free eats offered in the neighborhood
by Angela Gagnon
Maintaining a gluten free lifestyle is challenging, and especially import- ant for those with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition where ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine.
Two community members living with celiac disease shared tips on how to eat gluten free in the neighborhood for those looking to revamp their diets in 2020.
“I ask a lot of questions,” said Abigail Manville, who works in the New Eastside and was diagnosed celiac as a teenager. “I rely on the waitstaff and kitchen staff when dining out. I’ll call ahead and ask if they can accommodate me, and I avoid busy meal times so the chef can come out and talk to me.”
New Eastside resident Alexis Jones is also living with celiac disease. “
There is a lot of good (gluten-free) food out there. You just have to find it,” Jones said. “But being able to eat at restaurants and be part of the social scene is important, so I’ll talk to the chef and see if they can customize the menu or create something that works for me.”
“So much of our socialization is built around food,” Manville said, “so going gluten free can have a big impact on that.”
Jones said it’s hard to share meals when eating out unless everyone agrees to go gluten free. Chicago’s downtown area has some options for those who can’t tolerate gluten. Whether avoiding gluten is a preference or an allergy, it’s possible to navigate the vast culinary landscape in downtown Chicago to meet your dietary needs.
“Brown Bag Seafood, 340 E. Randolph St., has food that is simple in terms of ingredients,” Manville said. They also la- bel their gluten free menu options on their website.
Jones said Brown Bag has a good gluten free clam chowder, which is hard to find.
Eggy’s Diner, 333 E. Benton Place, offers gluten free waffles and pancakes. “I can go there for breakfast or dinner food,” Jones said.
Wildberry Cafe, 130 E. Randolph St., has a variety of gluten-free breakfast and lunch items, labeled “GF” to make it easier to order.
Jones and Manville also recommend Do-Rite Donuts, 50 W. Randolph St., for a sweet treat because they offer several gluten free varieties, prepared using separate equipment from the regular donuts. This is important for reducing cross contamination.
Brightwok Kitchen in the Loop, 21 E. Adams St., “is an awesome dedicated gluten free build your own stir fry place,” Manville said. “And if I want a fancier meal when my family is in town, we will go to The Berghoff.” The German restaurant, 17 W. Adams St., has extreme handling procedures to make the gluten free dishes celiac-friendly.
Mariano’s grocery store, 333 E. Benton Place, has hundreds of gluten free products, which can make shopping for groceries a little easier.
“I’ve learned to make everything from scratch,” Jones said, “so shopping for gluten free ingredients is important. “Living in the city makes life easier for me. If I can eat at 10% of the places, that’s still a lot of options.”