Eating out has always been a problem for me and my family. Scary times. Cross contamination, processed foods, or just poorly educated servers can make a month long misery of what should be a simple meal. When my family travels, we usually hole up at a hotel with a kitchenette/microwave and our refrigerated cooler stuffed with leftover and frozen meals we'd been stockpiling over the last few months. We'd hand select a few places with good gluten free reviews and hope against hope that gluten allergy, intolerance, and avoidance is really understood. My girls and I have the gluten allergy kind. Yup, the severe kind.
Things were different. I was alone, no time, no car, no kitchen, and no Sasquatch to rescue me if things went bad all of a sudden. My gluten allergy attacks my brain as well as my GI issues. I started each morning with my Chocolate (non-vegan) Shakeology, 2% milk, and my blender bottle.
Processed foods, GMO corn and soy really do a number on me so hitting the real local places with gluten free knowledge are always the best bet. Not only will I eat clean, real food, but I get to experience local eateries. I adore local everything and even when traveling there is no exception.
My Fave Bar for Drinks and Music
Bethany, Patricia and I walked down 6th and found a place that was bursting with music and looked clean inside. BD Riley's is a beautiful Irish Pub. Originally the pub was built in Ireland and was brought over brick by brick and built in Austin, Tx. I have no knowledge of the food.
The acoustics of the bar were amazing. They served plenty of spirits, but I played it safe with a Wood Chuck's Hard Cider. The most amazing thing was the cover band playing had a harpist. Instead of the traditionally used piano, Kristen Smith, harpist, was jamming out. On the calendar, Kristen Smith and her group, Harp on This, play every Thursday. Here are two videos to blow you away. Local music!
This first clip. Girl walks into a bar and asks the musicians if she can jam with them. They say, yes. She pulls out her harp and blows enough of the crowd away that there are multiple videos of the same performance. I picked this one because of proper attribution to the Kristen Smith.
The second clip is a studio jam. If you know Kristen Smith or her band, please get them to start up a strong internet presence, a youtube channel, or even a facebook page.
My Fave Clean Chain Eats
Oh, Chipotle! How do I love thee! If there is a Chipotle in a city, I can visit there. I have to be careful about gloved hands cross contamination. I never get cheese or lettuce. Only items that are pulled out with a dedicated spoon. If a server touched a burrito to heat or wrap it, the glove is tainted with gluten. Yada, yada. Never eat the cheese again, I'm warning you!
I ate well and happily a few times at Chipotle. Patricia and I walked over for a quick lunch on Saturday only to find that in downtown Austin, Chipotle is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Actually, the city mostly shuts down on the weekend, other than the 6th street bars. Yes, the downtown area of Austin shuts down on the weekends. Shocked!
My Fave Local Dive
Wholly Cow Burgers is a local burger joint. Now, sweetpeas, I live in Durham, NC home to Only Burger. A burger has to be real good for me to consider eating the burger a second time. Wholly Cow makes a burger that made me come back. They have a fabulous gluten free hamburger bun and are extra careful with making a gluten free allergy meal. They differentiate between allergy and avoidance. Allergy food takes 3-5 minutes longer to come out. So when Chipotle was closed on Saturday, Patricia and I tried Wholly Cow for our second visit. The cashier explained how dead downtown gets on the weekends so everything closes.
The gluten free bun is soft and squishy. I like to get my burgers dry. No mayo, no ketchup, no mustard. The patty itself is moist but mostly dry, unlike an Only Burger. The veg is perfect, local organic or regional for sure. The fries are not gluten free, so double the burger because that is all you are going to get here.
My Fave Local Sit Down
I ate at the Iron Cactus twice. Would have gone back a third time, but on Sunday's they only have a buffet. Buffet and gluten translates to a lot of cross contamination risks. All the other days of the week, the Iron Cactus has a sizable gluten free menu with lots of choices. They serve upscale Mexican food and have multiple floors with a full bar on each level. The food was so delicious, I had a hard time not eating it all up upon arrival.
On my first time there, my waitress delivered my food then came back before I could eat to take it away. My order had the wrong rice, which could contain gluten. The kitchen got it wrong, she checked and saved the day. They made my plate from scratch. Took a little more time, but the food was good and I didn't get sick.
My Fave Cafe
When I found out about the Sunday brunch at Iron Cactus and I had to find a new quick place for lunch, I walked back to the hotel and on the way was the Old Pecan St Cafe. They do not have a dedicated gluten free menu, but had plenty of salads and egg dishes that could easily be modified. The salads did not have croutons and looked super safe.
The Greek Salad with grilled shrimp was a delish treat. I'm super picky about pepperocini, olives, and capers. Must be a good quality or it doesn't taste right to me. At Old Pecan St Cafe, food quality is superb. I wish I found this cafe earlier, would have loved to explore their menu a little bit more.