Italy, Portland, Prague, Thailand, United Kingdom

Top 5 Gluten-Free Globetrotter Meals Across the Globe (So Far)

I have a very long list of places I want to travel to, but I also have a wonderful list of places I have been where I’ve eaten some wonderful gluten-free meals. Here is my top 5 list of gluten-free meals across the globe so far.

1. Pasta in Italy. It was less about the food and more about the location and circumstance. I was within walking distance of the Vatican in Italy, sitting at an outdoor table, sipping on wine and eating gluten-free pasta. I was so happy to find a safe, gluten-free friendly restaurant in Italy. This was the first of many gluten-free pasta dishes I ate while in Italy. I highly recommend Italy to any Celiac for a vacation.

La Soffitta Renovatio Ristorante
Piazza del Risorgimento 46/A, 00192
Roma, Italia

Gluten-free pasta at La Soffitta Renovatio Ristorante
Gluten-free pasta at La Soffitta Renovatio Ristorante
Cucina senza glutine! (Food without gluten)


2. Cooking class and 5-course meal at Baan Thai Cookery School. When I first made a reservation for this class, I had someone from my hotel explain in Thai that I needed to have a shellfish-free and gluten-free meal. The school said this would not be a problem. This 4-hour-class started with a pick-up at my guest house in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I met fellow classmates from around the globe. We walked to the local market to buy Thai vegetables to prepare with our meal. For each course, we moved from the dining table back into the kitchen. It was so much fun to learn about traditional Thai meals, ingredients, and meal preparation and then enjoy your meal with others. We took home a recipe book and I went back to the market to buy the traditional Thai spices we used in our meals. This was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon learning about Thai cuisine and meeting friends from around the world, while eating a safe gluten-free meal.

Baan Thai Cookery School
11 Rachadamnern Rd.
Soi 5 T.Sriphoom A.Muang
Chiangmai 50200 Thailand

Me in the kitchen of Thai Cooking School
Me in the kitchen of Thai Cooking School
Amazing selection of fresh produce in Chiang Mai, Thailand market


3. Patacones in Portland. El Pilon is a food truck in Portland featuring traditional Colombian food. The truck is almost entirely gluten-free and event has GF icons on their menu. My favorites include beef empanadas, pan de yucca, and patacones with aji. Seriously, the patacones are one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten in my life!

El Pilon
SW 2nd and Oak Street
Portland, Oregon

Lunch from El Pilon: patacones with chicken, empanada, and pao de queijo

4. High Tea in Edinburgh. My mom and I went to Wales and Scotland in October 2013. Before our trip, we decided we wanted to have a traditional British afternoon tea during our trip. My mom found the Scotsman Hotel who could provide a 100% gluten-free high tea. Finger sandwiches, scones, cookies, and cakes, plus unlimited pots of tea made for a perfect gluten-free high tea. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Edinburgh.

Scotsman Hotel
20 North Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Gluten-free high-tea at the Scotsman Hotel

5. Schnitzel and Beer in Prague. Schnitzel is a traditional, Czech dish that is deep-fried MEAT. With a little research, I knew that Švejk Restaurant U Karla (read my review) served gluten-free schnitzel and beer. I met up with a student from TravBuddy who was also in Prague at the same time as me and we had a lovely dinner sharing stories from around the globe. I was so excited to eat a traditional Czech gluten-free meal that I went back to this restaurant a second time before I left Prague.

Švejk Restaurant U Karla
Křemencova 7, 110 00 Praha 1,
Prague, Czech Republic

Small photo, big flavor. Gluten-free schnitzel at Švejk Restaurant U Karla
Beef goulash with roasted sausage, onions, homemade gluten free dumplings
Europe, Prague

Photo Friday: Gluten-free in Praha

Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce
100% Gluten-Free in Prague
Europe, Prague

Wheat Starch in Czech Republic

While I was researching my trip to Prague, I came across a random article about special dietary requirements. I bookmarked this article and I am glad I did. One paragraph in particular caught my eye:

The symbol for gluten free is a wheat stalk with a cross through it, but this does not actually guarantee that it is completely safe – wheat starch is allowed in these products, so bring your reading glasses and check those labels to be absolutely sure!

WHAT??? Wheat starch is allowed in gluten-free products!? This worried me big time. Not only did I have to worry about finding gluten-free foods, but now I had to worry about foods being labeled gluten-free but having wheat starch in them.

wheat starch:  pšeničný škrob

Luckily, I only came across one “gluten-free” product in the Czech Republic that had wheat-starch on the label. Thank goodness I had my translation cheat sheet with me to confirm that indeed I was seeing pšeničný škrob as the key ingredient. It was a bread produced in the Czech Republic. I didn’t buy it.

This week, there have been discussions of “safe” wheat and “gluten-free” wheat starch at the 14th International Coeliac Disease Symposium 2011 in Oslo, Norway. I don’t know about you, but this is just scary to me. I don’t think I could knowingly ingest wheat after 30 years of avoiding it. I would be too nervous

Keep your eyes out for wheat starch in the Czech Republic and other European countries when traveling gluten-free.

Safe gluten-free travels!

Europe, Prague

Another Gluten-Free Meal in Prague

After such a wonderful experience at Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce in Prague, I was sure that I would need to eat every gluten-free meal there. Although I wish I had gone back to the first restaurant, I did find another restaurant that offered a full gluten-free menu right in the heart of Prague.

Švejk Restaurant U Karla
Outside of Švejk Restaurant U Karla

I discovered Švejk Restaurant U Karla as another gluten-free option while searching the Internet. I emailed the restaurant to confirm that they were still serving a bezlepková (gluten-free) menu. The owner emailed me back to tell me that they were still serving a gluten-free menu and that his daughter has Celiac Disease. Immediately, this gave me a sense of relief since the owner clearly understood the need for a safe, gluten-free menu.

Limora and I at dinner

I had arranged to meet a new TravBuddy friend, Limora, on Saturday night for dinner, so I suggested Švejk Restaurant U Karla which happened to be right near her hostel. We were seated promptly as we passed by the accordion player and tables full of big meals and bigger beers. I asked for a gluten-free menu and the waiter quickly brought one over.

I was pleased to see the gluten-free menu at Švejk Restaurant wasn’t much different from the traditional Czech menu my friend had in front of her. I was pleased that I was going to get another traditional meal that was safe for me to eat. On a recommendation from the waiter, I decided on the gluten-free beef goulash with roasted sausage, onions, homemade gluten free dumplings. I also asked for a side of gluten-free bread and the waiter insisted the dumplings were “enough bread!” I ordered a Celia beer as well and then began to explain Celiac to my dining companion.

Beef goulash with gluten-free dumplings

My goulash and dumplings came and I was excited to see a “GLUTEN-FREE” flag right in the middle of my plate. Another happy sigh of relief escaped my mouth. I explained to Limora that is just so comforting to know that your food is safe. The meal was heavy and saucey and bready and exactly what I wanted from this traditional Czech dish. I think I started to realize why Czechs drink so much beer; it is the perfect balance with the salty and thick sauced-meal that I was having that night. It was all so filling that I didn’t even have room for dessert.

Pork schnitzel in cheese gluten free dough with boiled potatoes

I went back to Švejk Restaurant U Karla my last night in Prague because I really wanted to try the Pork schnitzel in cheese gluten free dough. I was excited that my waiter remembered me and he immediately brought me the gluten-free menu. If you don’t know what schnitzel is, the best way I can describe it is breaded and fried meat. Can you say delicious?! This was the first time I ever had a deep-fried anything in a restaurant and I devoured the dish. Of course, I also washed this down with another one (or two!) gluten-free beers. Seriously, I think this was my favorite dish in Prague. Can you go wrong with deep-fried anything? This was the perfect last dinner in the Czech Republic. Check out the picture of the food and the gluten-free flag.

You should definitely add Švejk Restaurant U Karla to your list of gluten-free places to eat in Prague. Make sure you go to the right “U Karla” though, because they seemed to be a chain of restaurants.

Švejk Restaurant U Karla
Křemencova 7
Prague 1
Phone: +420 222 515 889

Europe, Prague

“Don’t go there, there is no such food”

My Prague Preparation

Over the past few years, I have been adding to my ever-growing list of places I want to travel. About 5 years ago, I think I added Prague to this list. Honestly, I don’t even think I knew where Prague was at the time. Did Czechoslovakia even exist anymore? I added Prague to my list because it sounded so different and far away and left it at that.

In late February of this year, I decided it was time to travel again. Prague popped into my mind and I threw myself wholeheartedly into researching this foreign land. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic which is bordered by Poland to the north, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west. The local language is the nearly impossible Czech language, the national drink is pretty much beer, and the local cuisine is heavy on the flours and gluten-filled dumplings. This was going to be my scariest and farthest solo gluten-free trip to date.

Once Prague was decided upon, I begin obsessively planning the minute I decide on location. Most travelers spend time researching neighborhoods, hotels, tourist sites, restaurants, and side trip locations. Multiply that kind of planning by ten and you might get an idea of how I start planning for a trip. I devour information about gluten-free restaurants, Celiac Listserv, national Celiac organizations, health food stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, supermarkets, local gluten-free resources, and so on.

During my research I found some great links and some depressing links. One of the more depressing things I read on a forum discussing wheat-free options in Prague said

“Don’t go there, there is no such food.”

This is where I began to rethink my travel plans. I fretted as I imagined I would only have the food I brought with me to the Czech Republic to survive on for the week I would be gone. Then I reminded myself that I have never let my Celiac Disease stop me before and I was going to prove that message forum wrong. I was determined to travel gluten-free to Prague and the Czech Republic and I was going prove that poster wrong. And that is exactly what I did two weeks ago!

I am excited to share to research and links with you. Stay tuned!