Gluten-Free Restaurant Menus

Seventeen Regional and National Restaurant Chains Featuring Gluten-Free Menus

Eating out can be tricky if you're eating gluten-free. But if you choose restaurants that feature gluten-free menus, you may find your dining experience is more enjoyable.

Restaurants with GF menus usually train their staff on the needs of those with food allergies. They should have procedures in place to guard against cross-contamination in the kitchen, but it never hurts to ask about their procedures.

These 17 national and regional chain restaurants all have GF menus. If you crave pizza specifically, you might also want to look at my article on gluten-free pizza restaurants.

Bon appétit!

Austin Grill

The Austin Grill, which has multiple locations in and around Washington, D.C. and its suburbs, features Tex-Mex-style food and an extensive GF menu.

You can enjoy a variety of salads, soups, grilled entrees, tacos and enchiladas. Dessert choices unfortunately include only ice cream, although you can order toasted coconut or cinnamon ice creams, both unusual flavors.

Austin Grill notes that it makes every effort to avoid cross-contamination, but adds that its kitchens aren't gluten-free and so cross-contamination is always a possibility.

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B.J.'s Restaurant & Brewhouse

B.J.'s Restaurant & Brewhouse, a burgers-and-pizza-style restaurant with locations in 13 midwestern, southern and western states, launched a thin-crust gluten-free pizza in 2010.

You can top your pizza with any B.J.'s topping except for the meatballs. If you're not in the mood for pizza, you can dine on several smaller or meal-sized salads, two different soups, three types of giant stuffed potatoes or one of three different entrees.

B.J.'s also offers two different types of gluten-free cider, plus Redbridge gluten-free beer. The restaurant maintains information on other potential allergens and advises diners to tell their servers if they're eating gluten-free.

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Bonefish Grill

If you like fresh seafood, you'll be thrilled with the gluten-free menu at Bonefish Grill — almost all the seafood dishes are naturally gluten-free. The upscale chain, which is owned by the parent company of Outback Steakhouse and Carraba's, has locations in nearly 30 states.

It's possible to start with one of two or three appetizers or a salad, and then choose a seafood dish (topped with one of several sauces) or a steak or chicken entree.

Dessert also offers a choice: two of the three desserts on the menu are gluten-free. I normally choose the Crème Brûlée, but you also can order the flourless macadamia nut brownie with raspberry sauce.

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Boston Market

Boston Market, a carry-out and dine-in chain with locations in 29 states, doesn't offer a full gluten-free menu; instead, it offers an extensive allergen list from which you can extrapolate what's gluten-free and what's not.

The chain's signature rotisserie chicken is gluten-free, as is the roasted turkey breast. To accompany that, you can order a variety of different side dishes — almost all of them are gluten-free except for the obvious gluten-containing items such as macaroni and cheese and stuffing.

Only one salad — the Southwest Santa Fe — and one soup — the broccoli cheese soup — are gluten-free, however, and none of the desserts is safe.

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Carrabba's Italian Grill

You might not think of Italian food as being particularly gluten-free friendly, but Carrabba's Italian Grill — owned by the same company as Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse, with locations in 33 states — provides lots of great gluten-free options.

Start your meal with one of the two gluten-free appetizers, chicken soup (request no pasta be added) and/or a salad (ask your server to skip the croutons and to fix it in a clean bowl).

Numerous entrees are gluten-free; however, if you choose a grilled item, request it without the grill baste, and be aware that it will be cooked on the same grill as gluten-containing items. If you're very sensitive, you might be better off with an entree not cooked on the grill, so ask your server.

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Chevys Fresh Mex

Chevys Fresh Mex, with 42 locations around the U.S., unveiled its new gluten-free menu in spring 2012. It's possible to order salads, fajitas, tacos, children's meals and several different desserts, as long as you carefully follow the caveats on the menu itself.

For example, if you want gluten-free tortilla chips (and Mexican food pretty much requires those!), you'll need to call ahead and ask that your chips be fried in separate oil — otherwise, they'll be fried with breaded foods and won't be safe to eat. If you order tacos made with corn tortillas, you'll need to make sure those aren't placed in the fryer, either.

Chevys notes that several grilled items are not gluten-free because they're marinated in Agua Negra sauce, which contains soy sauce. You might also want to confirm with your server that any item you order does not contain Agua Negra sauce. Ranchero sauce and green sauce don't contain gluten ingredients. In addition, anything cooked on the grill is subject to cross-contamination from flour tortillas.

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Cheeseburger in Paradise

At Cheeseburger in Paradise, the iconic restaurant owned by singer Jimmy Buffett, you can order a cheeseburger on a gluten-free bun with a side of gluten-free fries. The restaurant, which has locations in 16 states (including, of course, Florida), works with the Gluten Intolerance Group to develop GF menu items and prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen.

If you're not in the mood for a cheeseburger (or a hamburger), you can order one of many entree-sized salads, or potentially choose between ribs, salmon and chicken entrees.

For dessert, there's only ice cream, but you can consider a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, including a root beer float. There are also a few GF kids' menu items, including French fries.

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Chili's Grill & Bar Restaurant

Chili's Grill & Bar Restaurant, which has locations throughout the U.S. and in 34 other countries, has a somewhat limited gluten-free menu with lots of caveats. However, if you like Chili's food, you may find something on it you'll enjoy.

Several soups are gluten-free, and salads can be made gluten-free if you order them without tortillas and with a gluten-free dressing. Most sides are gluten-free, as are the ribs, the Southwest Grill items, burgers without buns and a couple of chicken and seafood items. Sadly, fajitas cannot be made gluten-free, and the chips and salsa are not safe either.

Chili's notes that its gluten-free menu is based on information from food suppliers, and says it can't guarantee the absence of allergens in the food.

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Legal Sea Foods

Legal Sea Foods, with locations in 10, mainly northeastern states, understands gluten-free dining ... right down to the gluten-free croutons on its salads. The upscale restaurant offers gluten-free rolls at many locations, plus calamari fried in chick pea flour and gluten-free crumbs on the baked scrod.

You can order anything from a steak to a steamed lobster at Legal Seafood and have confidence that the restaurant understands the gluten-free diet. Most of the sides also are gluten-free, and there's even a children's menu with fish sticks, again fried in chick pea flour.

For dessert, you can enjoy Belgian chocolate mousse parfait (no sugar added), sorbet or a fruit plate.

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Old Spaghetti Factory

At the Old Spaghetti Factory, which has multiple locations in 13 states, you don't need to forgo spaghetti and other pasta — the restaurants serve gluten-free pasta.

As long as you request gluten-free pasta, you can enjoy any of Old Spaghetti Factory's pasta sauces, including marinara, rich meat, clam, sauteed mushroom, Mizithra cheese and browned butter, and Alfredo sauce. You also can consider ordering baked chicken marinated in garlic and lemon juice. Several of the sides, including the Sicilian-style Italian sausage, also are gluten-free.

There's also a children's menu, mainly with child-sized portions of gluten-free pasta. Dessert (if you still have room) is limited to vanilla ice cream or spumoni.

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On The Border

On The Border, a Mexican grill-style restaurant owned by the same company as Chili's, features a similar menu with numerous warnings and caveats. As with Chili's, the tortilla chips are not safe, and only a handful of salads and appetizers are gluten-free.

For an entree, you can have the fajitas, but only without the flour tortillas. You can, however, order tacos, and several of the sides (including the black beans, the guacamole and the Mexican rice) are gluten-free. Several of the sauces, including the salsa, also are listed as GF. However, there are no safe desserts listed.

On The Border recommends you consult with a manager before ordering, which is always a good idea in any restaurant.

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Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse, with hundreds of locations throughout the U.S., represents a real go-to restaurant for the gluten-free crowd, especially while traveling.

Although attention to the problem of cross-contamination can vary from location to location, for the most part Outback's staff is well-trained. Definitely talk to a manager before ordering, however, since most locations are busy at peak times, which means problems involving cross-contamination can occur.

Outback features an extensive gluten-free menu, filled with steaks, seafood, salads, sides and an excellent gluten-free dessert, the flourless Chocolate Thunder from Down Under brownie. There's also a gluten-free kids' menu, with smaller portions and a gluten-free sundae for dessert.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro

P.F. Chang's is another favorite go-to restaurant for those who eat gluten-free, and many gluten-free diners have had good success ordering off the chain's dedicated gluten-free menu.

The choices include a wide variety of appetizers, gluten-free egg drop soup, a noodle dish, plenty of entree options and even vegetarian options. You even can order a great dessert, P.F. Chang's excellent GF flourless chocolate dome.

All of P.F. Chang's gluten-free dishes are served on a special plate with the chain's logo so that you know you're getting a safe meal. The restaurant uses gluten-free soy sauce in its GF creations.

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Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday has an extensive online allergen menu with multiple choices for the gluten-sensitive. However, the menu largely leaves your ultimate meal up to you — you'll need to order very carefully and ask your server to omit various portions of dishes that contain gluten.

For example, if you order Chicken Fresco, barbecued chicken or Chicken Bella, you'll need to leave off the garlic cheese biscuits along with the sauce for each dish. Some of the potential side dishes are safe, but many are not.

Each Ruby Tuesday also features an extensive salad bar with many fresh alternatives. Some of the prepared salads on the salad bar contain gluten, but many are safe — consult the menu, and beware of cross-contamination from other diners.

T.G.I. Friday's

T.G.I. Friday's offers menus with allergen information at participating locations. Using a system of icons ("G" for gluten), you can identify dishes that contain specific allergens so that you can avoid them.

The restaurant's menu doesn't offer the gluten-sensitive many choices — just a handful of main courses, including steak and shrimp scampi, plus some basic sides, such as a salad, steamed broccoli or mashed potatoes. There are no dessert options.

The menu also includes a disclaimer noting that all foods are cooked in a shared kitchen, using shared cooking spaces. If you want to have a good gluten-free experience at T.G.I. Friday's, you should consult with a manager before ordering to make sure the kitchen understands your needs.

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Ted's Montana Grill

Ted's Montana Grill, a chain with 46 restaurants in 16 mainly eastern and midwestern states, offers an extensive gluten-free menu created by dietitians. The chain, founded by media mogul Ted Turner, serves burgers, steaks, and fish dishes.

Many of the salads and entrees are naturally gluten-free, and you can make others safe by omitting one topping (such as crispy fried onion straws). Most of the side dishes also are gluten-free. The chain does not offer GF hamburger buns, so you'll need to order your burger without the bun.

Gluten-free desserts are limited to Haagen-Dazs ice cream and shakes, plus floats made with ice cream.

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Uno Chicago Grill

Uno Chicago Grill routinely pleases gluten-free pizza lovers with its GF menu, which includes cheese, pepperoni and veggie gluten-free pizza options. But the chain, with 150 locations in 24 state plus Washington, D.C., also offers a large selection of other gluten-free foods.

When dining at Uno, you can choose from two gluten-free soups, burgers (without the bun) steak, salmon and chicken entrees, many gluten-free sides, several different salads (make certain to tell your server to omit the croutons and bread sticks, and to mix it in a clean bowl), and two different desserts, including bananas Foster.

You also can enjoy Redbridge gluten-free beer at Uno Chicago Grill, and five of their smoothies and freezer drinks also are safe.

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