Gluten-Free Dining In DC

Despite Carmine's being a pasta haven, the chefs at the DC newcomer know how to cater to gluten-free guests.


"Do you have some recommendations for DC area restaurants where I
can find a gluten-free meal?" - A.D.

Amanda says:

I asked my
good friend, writer and gluten-free expert Carol Blymire to weigh in on this
one and she offers an amazing list of choices, some which may surprise
you. (So many Italian spots!)

Also, fresh from my inbox, Wildfire in Tysons Galleria has
put together a gluten-free
, Nov. 7-13, featuring a three-course lunch for $19.95 and a
three-course dinner menu from $25.95-$36.95.

I'll let Carol
take it from here. She writes:

While there are no
gluten-free-specific restaurants in the DC area that I know of, it is
possible for people with celiac disease or those looking to avoid gluten
to eat well and eat gluten-free. Some restaurants here in the area
have dedicated gluten-free menu options, while others simply know how to
cook for people who can't ingest gluten.

Of course, all of these recommendations come with the caveat that it's
still in your best interest to call a day or two ahead to let the staff
know you can't eat gluten so that they can be prepared to cook for
you. And, always, always, always send a thank-you note or personally
thank the manager and chef before you leave. It's not intrinsically
easy for restaurants to accommodate people going gluten-free (gluten is
everywhere), so a little thanks goes a long way.

Here are my favorites:

Rasika's Indian cuisine is a good bet for gluten-free diners.

Bibiana: Chef Nick Stefanelli and
his team can prepare a delicious gluten-free lunch or dinner, and
pastry chef Doug Hernandez has made many of his desserts — including his
famous chocolate bombe — gluten-free, as well.

& Barley
: Nevermind that this restaurant's focus is on
beer; they are a safe haven for people who can't eat gluten. And,
pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac has a plethora of gluten-free dessert
options on the menu.

Cafe Atlantico: I'm a big fan of
their Latino dim sum Sunday brunch, but I'm an even bigger fan of how
they spell out their food allergy options on the menu, and how they
train their staff to be aware of what each dish's ingredients are so
they can help steer diners in the right direction when it comes to
allergens, intolerances and preferences.

There are more than 50 things on their menu that are safe for people
with celiac, including gluten-free pasta and sauce options. Their
kitchen staff has been trained in cross-contamination risks, so they're
really sensitive to that, as well.

Central Michel Richard: The kitchen and the service
staff here are incredibly accommodating of people with celiac, and they
turn out amazing food that will make you forget you can't eat gluten.

CityZen: In addition to it being,
I think, the best restaurant in Washington, it's also a safe place for
people with celiac to eat. Chef Eric Ziebold and his entire staff are
well versed in food allergens, and gluten in particular.

I can't recommend Palena highly enough for their ability to cook for
people with celiac. Frank Ruta, owner and chef, is a master, and it is a
pleasure to eat his cooking.

Pete's Apizza: While they have gluten-free pizza
available for people with gluten intolerance, it's not recommended for
those with celiac disease because they prep and parbake the crusts and
the pies in the same space with the regular pizzas, so there's high risk
for cross-contamination. That said, they do offer gluten-free pastas,
which are safe for people with celiac.

P.F. Chang's: I know it's "Chinese food for white
people," but the team at P.F. Chang's accommodates gluten allergies
better than almost any other chain. In fact, John Linderman, partner
and chef at the Chevy Chase P.F. Chang's has a daughter with extreme
food allergies, so his kitchen is incredibly well-versed in how to cook
for and serve people with celiac and other food allergies.

By and large, Indian food is intrinsically gluten-free. Rasika's food
is outstanding and flavorful, and it's been my experience that the
service staff is helpful when it comes to food allergies and gluten

Carol Blymire
wrote about cooking her
through The French Laundry Cookbook, and is now documenting her
adventures in avant-garde home cooking in her new blog,
Alinea at Home. Diagnosed with celiac disease in November
2008, Carol is grateful for the chefs who feed and teach her, and for
restaurant staff who make her not feel like a freakshow or a nuisance
for having an autoimmune disorder.