Will you go out of your way to try a new restaurant because it has a gluten-free menu and you heard great things? Or will you take a detour on a road trip because there is a gluten-free bakery in the middle of nowhere? To you check Trip Advisor for restaurant reviews just as often as you do for hotel reviews? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you might be a “destination diner.”
I wholeheartedly consider myself a “destination diner.” I do a ton of research before each time I travel and have specifically arranged stops along the way for gluten-free meals. I have planned for detours on road trips, have changed itineraries in foreign lands for days I knew restaurants would be open, and even took local bicycle trips to try a gluten-free dish to far to get to by foot. In some locations, a safe, gluten-free meal of any kind was a welcome sight (Thailand, I am looking at you!) and a nice surprise. In other locations, there were places I just knew from gluten-free friends online that I could not miss. Whatever the excuse, I will travel for food!
Here are five of my most memorable gluten-free travel dining destinations:
1. Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce in Prague, Czech Republic (Now closed!)
I went here in 2011 as part of my Gluten-Free Globetrotter website launch vacation, but sadly this place is now closed. It was a 100% gluten-free restaurant right outside the center of Prague in the Czech Republic. The neighborhood was off the beaten path, but this completely gluten-free restaurant was totally worth the trek. It’s too bad that it is closed because I raved about it to all of the gluten-free travelers to Prague that would listen.
2. Butter is Better Bakery in Chiang Mai, Thailand
In my second week of Thailand, I was really hoping for some non-rice dishes. I stuck to plain white rice or rice-based noodles at most meals because rice was “safe” on my translation cards. When I read about a restaurant in the middle of Chiang Mai, Thailand having gluten-free options, I knew I had to go. I did see some mixed reviews of safety of gluten-free food at this restaurant, but I ate here twice and had no gluten problems. As a hyper sensitive celiac, I can usually tell in less than one hour if I was “glutened.” No problems here.
In a very foreign country such as Thailand, even seeing the words “gluten-free” on a menu was such a relief. The Thai owner was married to an American man and she said that more and more Westerners had started asking for gluten-free food. I had pancakes and gluten-free sausage on both of my visits and also bought a loaf of bread before I moved on to Koh Phangan, Thailand. Sadly, the Thai ants devoured my bread before I could even get through half the loaf. These buggers could get in anywhere. I highly recommend ziplock bags in Thailand and a trip to Butter is Better.
3. Molly’s Gluten-Free Bakery in Pewaukee, Wisconsin
As I drove from the Milwaukee Airport to Madison, Wisconsin for Thanksgiving at my sister’s house last fall, I took a detour to Molly’s Gluten-Free Bakery. I have only two words for this place: APPLE PIE. This was by far the best gluten-free apple pie I ever had and very reasonably price. The staff at Molly’s was very friendly and I wanted to buy one of everything in this bakery. I will definitely go back here the next time I am driving to Madison, Wisconsin! Good news, Molly’s is also available at local stores and they ship nationally!
4. Linda’s Dutch Pancakes and Pizza in Aruba
When you are on an island surrounded by water, the majority of the local restaurants serve seafood. When you don’t eat fish, you can often go hungry. I am allergic to shellfish and don’t like the taste of most seafood, so I found eating in Aruba to be difficult. That’s why I trekked over to Linda’s Dutch Pancakes and Pizza twice during my brief stay in Aruba. I was thrilled to find a place on the island that didn’t think asking if things were gluten-free was a crazy request. The owner was very accommodating and even linked back to me after I reviewed them here on my website! Go here for gluten-free pancakes and pizzas. Try Nutella with bananas, you will NOT be disappointed.
5. Gluten-free everything at Arenas Del Mar in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
One of my 2014 gluten-free travel highlights was my trip to Arenas Del Mar. I went specifically to meet the staff and try all of the gluten-free food. I was thrilled with the menu. Everything was fresh, flavorful, and most importantly, gluten-free. It helped that I ate every meal al fresco with the jungle on one side and the beach on the other, but seriously the food was that good. I cannot pick just one dish, although I see a trend in this post and I am going with the pancakes!
Do you plan your travels around gluten-free menus? I would love to hear if you are also a destination diner!