Dining out is something that many people don’t really think about — you choose a spot and order what sounds good. When my mom or sister come to visit from Alaska, though, I have to be very conscientious because they are gluten-intolerant, meaning that they have to avoid wheat, barley and rye in their diet. This can make dining out difficult because you never know where gluten might be hiding in a pre-made dish. Recently, though, I’ve found that being gluten-free (GF) in Portland is getting easier all the time.
Glutenfreeportland.org has created a list of gluten-free and gluten-free-friendly restaurants in the Portland area. This is the most comprehensive one that I’ve found so far, and it has an interactive map, too.
Here are a few of my GF finds:
Hawthorne Fish House & Corbett Fish House
These two fish houses are sister properties and I’ve been to both. They’re great. The chile-fried catfish is spicy and flavorful and I love it with the jalapeno tartar sauce. The corn tortilla shrimp quesadilla is excellent as well. They clearly mark what is GF on the menu, which makes it easier to find what you want. Save room for dessert! The coconut rum torte doesn’t taste like it’s GF, but I assure you, it is.
Coffee Plant on Corbett
This café is located next to the Corbett Fish House. I’ve heard from several people about the wonderful GF pastries they carry. I may have to wander over there soon and try some so I can speak from experience.
Old Wives’ Tales
A staple in Portland for years, Old Wives’ Tales is well known for their Hungarian mushroom soup as well as their vegetarian and GF dining options (including desserts!). They list ingredients on the menu to help diners find exactly what they need.
Cascade Grill at Jubitz Truck Stop
That’s right, I said truck stop. This is by far the classiest truck stop you’ll ever visit and the food is wonderful. I discovered that their taco omelette is made with a gluten-free taco seasoning mix. Our server was kind enough to get the package from the kitchen so we could confirm the ingredients.
Bumblekiss has gluten-free, vegan blue corn pancakes on their menu. I discovered this one today and think I know where I’m going this weekend for breakfast. Also, that bacon taco sounds mighty tasty. I wonder if that comes in a corn tortilla.
Savor Soup House
I have previously blogged about Portland’s food cart scene; this is one cart that has GF items on the menu. Several of the soups they make are GF — all you need to do is ask and they’ll happily tell you which is which. They also sell GF bread for $1 extra so you can order the grilled cheese sandwich of your dreams. I’m partial to “The Tress” — Tillamook cheddar cheese, hickory smoked bacon and apple butter — and yes, if you’re wondering, Nancy at Savor named it after me (I’m so honored!).
Several restaurants in town have separate GF menus to make dining easier; just make sure you ask for the GF menu. You’ll find this option at P.F. Chang’s, Rheinlander German Restaurant, Old Spaghetti Factory, Oba!, Virgo & Pisces and Typhoon! to name a few. The Balinese Pork at Typhoon! is phenomenal — I highly recommend it.
Many other restaurants, like Pastini, will substitute rice pasta upon request. Looking for pizza? I recently learned that there’s an abundance of GF pizza in Portland and Glutenfreeportland.org has given pizza a page of its own — mama mia!
Wait. Beer is made from wheat and barley, you’re thinking. Yes, BUT gluten-free beer exists! I discovered this great blog post from Portland’s Gluten-free Gourmand on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to Deschutes Brewery, you may now enjoy a Gluten-free Golden ESB or a GF Golden Ale with your meal.
If you’ll be in town for a while and will be preparing meals for yourself, you have some great options for shopping gluten-free as well.
New Seasons Market has a section on their site about GF shopping and a downloadable GF shopping list. They have an extensive list of items to choose from, although each location doesn’t necessarily carry the same items.
Trader Joe’s offers a list of all of their GF items (download the PDF or ask for a copy at the customer service desk). This makes shopping much easier, as I’ve found that many of their GF products aren’t clearly marked or don’t jump out at me.
Whole Foods Market does a good job of grouping GF items together. In the freezer sections, look for tags proclaiming a variety of items to be GF.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It’s easy to be gluten-free in Portland. Now go explore, eat and enjoy! Bon appétit!