Sometimes dietary restrictions or adjustments are by choice (think the low-carb thing or even veganism). However, some dietary needs are more about bodily sensitivity or even disease. Many gluten-free dieters have celiac disease, or maybe non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a wheat allergy, even a form of dermatitis.
Or maybe you just don’t care for gluten. No matter which box you check, many a menu is making things easier.
Some restaurants in the Valley are 100 percent dedicated gluten-free eateries, while others offer gluten-free options and substitutes. Either way, there are options for you. Here is your field guide to eating sans gluten in greater Phoenix.
Maybe the best gluten-free starter in town is the real cornbread with green chile at Chelsea’s Kitchen. It’s made in house, and it’s also pretty popular, so make sure it’s available before you get excited. And if you plan on sticking around, Chelsea’s Kitchen has a gluten-free option for many of its dishes. All you have to do is ask.
Anyone who knows gluten-free restaurants in Phoenix knows, and recommends, Jewel’s Café. Menu items are 100 percent free of gluten, and use locally sourced ingredients. But in addition to the food being gluten free, it’s also unique — especially during brunch.
Go for the popcorn chicken and doughnuts, the cornbread pancakes and chicken, or the brunch sandwich — eggs, sausage, and cheddar cheese on a butter bun with a side of potatoes and buttermilk syrup for dunking or pouring all over the plate. And farther down the menu, there’s hot chicken and waffles.
Or if you’re looking to share (or not), try the Hatch green chile cheese curds, tempura ghost broccoli, sweet potato waffle fries, or brunch tacos. But the Frites Street fries deserve their own sentence. To drink? Jewel’s Café offers brunch cocktails like the classic Bloody Mary, bottomless mimosa, and sparkling rose.
Another favorite gluten-friendly (or not so much) eatery is Pomegranate Café. Gluten-free (or at least gluten-free adaptable) dishes include the Pumpkin Praline French Toast, In Season Scramble, and the banana-heavy Chimpanzee Bowl.
Another winner, and one of the cafe’s weekend brunch specials, is the Pomegranate Sampler — choice of scrambled eggs or tofu, the pancake of the day or French toast, harvest hash, and tempeh “bacon.”
Mama Jim's Gluten Free Kitchen makes it easy for celiac and gluten-sensitive diners — what you need is right in the name. The roving food truck pops around with offerings like the Swaffle (battered sausage waffle), breakfast burritos, chicken chunks, fries, and more.
Fox Restaurant Concepts has earned a reputation for being supportive of the gluten-free community thanks to menu items and a usually knowledgeable wait staff. At Flower Child, you can't get much better than that Vietnamese Crunch Salad packed with quinoa, bell peppers, pineapple, avocado, cashews, and more. And the majority of the sandwiches and burgers at Zinburger can be modified for gluten-sensitive diners, as well as its loaded fries and shakes (Butterfinger, thank you).
Speaking of burgers, Pizza People Pub and Camp Social have gluten-free buns (and pasta and pizza options) at the ready. What’s more, The Stand Burger Shoppe in Arcadia offers a gluten-free bun for its famous burger — The Standard.
Still in Arcadia, chef Justin Beckett also turns down the gluten dial with some menu items at Beckett’s Table. Go for the duck confit or a salad, or plan for entrees like the pork chop, scallops, or shrimp and grits.
True Food Kitchen offers a clearly marked menu of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. That includes the Seared Chicken Satay, Good Earth Kale Cobb, Korean Noodle Bowl, Mauritius Island Redfish, and more.
Picazzo's Healthy Italian Kitchen seems like an interesting name. Normally, Italian isn’t the healthiest food, but they do things a little differently than Nonnie at Picazzo’s. While not a completely dedicated gluten-free restaurant, its menu of salads, entrees, pasta and pizza can be served sans gluten. Think gluten-free focaccia, chicken picata with zucchini noodles, chicken and eggplant Parmesan, and tiramisu for dessert.
And we haven’t forgotten about pizza.
They’ve got gluten-free cauliflower crust at Fired Pie, as well as Venezia’s, Upper Crust Pizza Patio & Wine Bar, and Zesty Zzeeks. You can even order the spanakopita — gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with spinach, lemon, garlic, kalamata olives, and a myriad of cheeses like feta, fontina, Asiago, and herb Parmesan — at Alamo Drafthouse locations in Tempe and Chandler.
Pita Jungle always has the back of Arizonans with dietary restrictions, and obviously gluten-sensitive people are no exception. PJ offers gluten-free pizza crust for its beloved glazed chicken lavash pizza and gluten-free buns for than salmon burger, as well as gluten-free pitas and wraps perfect for about every other dish they have on the menu.
Yaya's Mexican Bar + Grill is both a gluten-free and paleo-friendly Mexican eatery with food truck roots. It claimed to be the first gluten-free food truck in Arizona back in 2015, and now the physical location still slings gluten-free menudo, tortilla soup, enchiladas, and sides like cilantro lime cauli-rice.
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Cakes can be as beautiful as they are free of gluten, and for this winning combo, order something from Bear and the Honey Specialty Bakery. Most of the cakes from the online bakery — also found operating out of Driftwood Coffee in Peoria — can be made gluten-free, paleo, and/or vegan.
Gluten Free Creations Bakery, as the name implies, is a 100 percent zero-gluten eatery. While this place has a number of breakfast items — muffins, scones, bread — the desserts here take the cake. Three, in fact. Choose from the triple chocolate marble, lemon cream cheese, and cherry almond bundt cakes. Or don’t choose. Gluten Free Creations Bakery also offers cookies and brownies, with and without dairy ingredients.
And while Nami is known for its vegan bites, it also offers gluten-free sheet cake, cheesecake, cookies, and doughnuts. What kind of doughnuts? Chocolate zebra, banana nut, blueberry, lemon poppy seed, and coconut latte. For more anti-inflammatory doughnuts, as well as other desserts, stop by My Gal Sal Bakery and Catering.