Let’s face it, gluten is everywhere. It’s in our bread, our pasta, our beer—even in our pets. But, for the most part, we don’t think about it. We just get on with our days. But, for some people, this is not the case. You might be thinking, “Why would I care?” And you might be right. But, if you are in the latter group, you should care. Not because you are “gluten sensitive” or “celiac” or whatever you want to call it, but because you can eat it and you have no choice in the matter.
Gluten free is one of the most popular diets for health and nutrition, and the gluten free diet is a healthy and natural way of maintaining your health and avoiding diseases.
When gluten is consumed, the body can react in a way that causes damage to the tongue, mouth, and throat. The damage can cause discomfort, a rash, and/or an allergic reaction. Gluten is found in wheat and related grains, such as barley, rye, and oats.
Given that I was only in Austin for ten days, my subjective list of places to stuff your face is impacted by two factors: (1) where my friends prefer to stuff their faces, and (2) where I can find gluten-free alternatives, given that I am a celiac.
While it is true that celiac disease awareness is increasing in North America, I must clarify that I have the illness and am not trying to be fashionable. When it comes to how accommodating restaurants are when you visit, each city has its own beast. I understand how aggravating it must be for the cooks, but I don’t have a choice. When I ask for a meal to be modified, I always attempt to be as polite and contrite as possible.
Denver was fantastic, Austin was partly fantastic, Los Angeles was awful, and when I requested that the mayonnaise be checked for wheat, folks rolled their eyes at me. YMMV.
Where Should You Eat in Austin? (with Gluten Free Options)
These are places that, like those in my Barcelona food guide, do not specialize on gluten-free cuisine but can accommodate it. As I travel, my aim is to dine with people at places where I may alter the dish as required to avoid vomiting on anybody (hopefully without causing too much trouble to the cook).
In Austin, get your gluten-free BBQ on
Yes, it tasted and looked as good as it appears.
Craft Meats by Mickelthwait
Tuesday-Sunday 11am till it’s gone (512) 791-5961 1309 Rosewood Ave
For celiacs, their BBQ, including sides like grits and slaw, is gluten-free. Of course, neither the bread nor the pie are. Try the barbacoa — it blew my mind.
In an outdoor setting, enjoy Italian food and beer
Open everyday, 5pm-11pm (512) 522-4834 2307 Manor Rd (in the Vortex Theater)
For celiacs, their bolognese sauce with Italian sausage added was delicious. I didn’t miss the noodles at all when they were served over zucchini “pasta” strips.
Tacos de Veracruz
E. Ceasar Chavez, 1704 (menu here)
For celiacs, there are homemade corn tortillas, corn tortilla chips, and several budget-friendly taco alternatives. Tacos al pastor FTW.
Pizza with a Thin Crust That Made Me Happy
Oven made with bricks
1608 W. 1608 W. (512) 453-4330 35th Street
For celiacs, I recommend the Brick Oven on 35th Street, although there is another choice in the central center. Both places provide gluten-free pizza. I understand that when it comes to gluten-free dough, beggars can’t be choosers, but after sampling a number of celiac-friendly pizzas throughout the United States this month, I can affirm that this was my favorite. It was thin and crispy, but it didn’t have much sweetness to it.
Note: Via313 was highly suggested by friends, but I did not get the opportunity to test it.
(512) 474-2796 1610 San Antonio Street
For celiacs: Before moving to Austin, I had never eaten grits, which shocked my southern friends. I made up for it at the BBQ joint, but I wanted to provide a second corny delight, this time paired with a healthy breakfast menu derived from local farmers. Much of the brunch menu contains wheat, but I guarantee you won’t notice when devouring your bacon-filled bowl of corn and prawns with an egg.
Summer Rolls with Vietnamese Bun Bowls
LuLuB’s has its own post, so it should come as no surprise that it’s my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in town! Tam Deli and Cafe is also highly recommended, although the proprietors retired the week I arrived, and friends who have been have reported the new chef is still finding his bearings in the kitchen.
3632 South Congress Ave (512) 921-4828 Tuesday-Saturday 11am-4pm
[Unfortunately, LuLuB’s is no longer open. Tan My is a great place to go for a great Vietnamese meal in Austin. The menu can be found here, and the Facebook page can be found here. Tan My serves thick pho broths, com suon, and hu tieu nam vang, one of my favorite dishes during my time in Saigon.
1601 Ohlen Rd (Payton Gin) (512) 832-9585 Tan My Restaurant
Spicy and delectable Thai cuisine in Austin
Daily, 4pm-1:45am, 1816 E. 6th St.
Try the nam tok moo, waterfall pork, and beef Penang curry if you don’t mind wheat. Pad siew may be made gluten-free by using tamari instead of soy sauce. Because of the tiny kitchen, cross contamination was a possibility, but they were willing to wash out the wok before preparing my pad siew, and I was unaffected.
Note: Thai Fresh was another suggestion, but I did not make it there to taste it. There are many gluten-free alternatives.
I know people love suschi (see below for details), but I’m writing about Piranha instead because, in addition to their fresh fish, they not only have gluten-free soy sauce, but they also provide freshly grated wasabi for your meal if you tell them you’re celiac, which is a rarity in North America.
Because they don’t serve lunch, their happy hour is the greatest option for people on a budget.
I loved sitting at the sushi bar, and if you go, be sure to sample their yellowtail sashimi, which was really wonderful.
Sushi with Piranha Killers
Extravaganza of Tex-Mex Cuisine
Damien is famished.
My buddies treated me to Tex Mex so I could compare and contrast my experience in Mexico. “You have to taste our take on Mexican food, Jodi!”
The name and its popularity, according to this Tex-Mex culinary history, originated in the 1900s:
“Tex-Mex cuisine, adapted from Tejano home cooking, initially gained a wider audience in San Antonio in the 1880s, owing to the inexpensive, excellent food served by a group of women known as the “chili queens” in the city’s plazas. In those days, a hot bowl of chili con carne—now one of Tex-trademark Mex’s dishes—along with bread and a glass of water cost a cent, attracting both residents and visitors. San Antonio’s lasting image as the center of Tex-Mex cuisine was aided by the chili queens’ increasing fame.”
While it was delicious, it was much heavier than the Mexican cuisine I’m accustomed to, and the quantities were huge! I appreciated the fact that the waiter was aware of celiac illness and was able to advise us appropriately when we placed our orders. I can understand how the meal developed into this hybrid, and I’m happy I gave it a try, but for the time being, I’ll stick to tiny tacos. (Texans, don’t hate me!)
512-407-8302 6406 North Interstate Highway 35, Suite 2343
Bonus: Austin Cider and Rooftop Drinks
Geraldine is staying at the Van Zandt.
(877) 202-2191 605 Davis Street
We bypassed the tables and headed straight for the bar since the restaurant was crowded. I suggest it for people coming in town and looking for a pleasant way to start their stay. It’s outside, near the pool, and has a wonderful view of the city.
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company hosted my reader meeting, and it was a pleasant setting with live music, food, and a decent variety of gluten-free beers for my gluten-free pals. There are a lot of excellent ciders to select from, in my opinion. Note for celiacs: the gluten-free pizza is thin-crust, but they made it obvious that the kitchen was contaminated, so I didn’t order it.
Austin, 1305 W. Oltorf Open everyday from 12 p.m. until 11 p.m. 512-298-2242
Austin has a number of dedicated gluten-free restaurants
If you wish to dine at a completely gluten-free restaurant, I suggest the following:
- Picnik is a free online photo editor (Gluten-free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items, butter coffee, and bone broth, all sourced locally)
- Wilderwood Restaurant and Bar (100 percent gluten-free Mexican-American cuisine.) Tacos, fajitas, chilaquiles, burgers, and a variety of appetizers and sides are on the menu. Only on Sundays is the breakfast menu offered.)
- ATX Cocina, a Mexican restaurant that puts its own twist on classic maize recipes, is another gluten-free option. Their cuisine is built around corn, and they even nixtamlize and prepare their masa themselves. I had to add their maize since it is made from heritage strains from Oaxaca, where I grew up. Prices are higher than the others on this list, but for a treat – and a safe one for celiacs at that – I highly recommend it.
- Do you have a sweet tooth? Gluten-free to the core Pie Jacked snacks are free of the most common allergies and are produced without wheat, barley, or rye. Their pies are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and corn-free, and they utilize genuine fruit, non-GMO ingredients, and cane sugar.
- Fresh Heim’s unusual menu, with its colorful website advertising steak, salad, and snacks, may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely delicious – and gluten free.
Other friends’ suggestions that I didn’t get to during my brief visit:
- Juliet Italian Kitchen offers a variety of gluten-free pastas as well as a separate fryer to prevent cross-contamination.
- Uchi for sushi (“extremely costly, but well worth it”).
- Brunch at the Odd Duck (“farm to table excellence”).
- For a pricey tasting menu (“worth it, so worth it”), Barley Swine is the place to go.
I wish I had more time to spend in Austin, but like every other city I’ve visited, I attempted to eat as much as my stomach would allow. I’m grateful for friends who drove me about town and shared their favorite spots with me.
Austin is a great place to discover new gluten-free foods and eat out. This city is full of gourmet places to sample gluten-free fare. One of the most popular places is Alamo Drafthouse, which is a cinema that serves beer, wine, cocktails and gluten-free food. Their gluten-free menu features salads, appetizers, entrees, and desserts.. Read more about comedor austin gluten-free and let us know what you think.