All of my gluten-free fueled business trips to Portland, Oregon in 2012-14 paid off!
I recently curated a delicious itinerary for Bikabout.comwith gluten-free destinations in Portland. Bikabout is a really cool website that puts together bicycle routes in cities across the country. The website provides self-guided bike tours, a lodging directory, a bike rental directory, and transportation tips for your travel.
I am an avid bike rider (and an avid gluten-free eater), so I loved Bikabout from the minute I connected with founder Megan Ramey, at the New York Times Travel Show. She heard me shout-out that I was a gluten-free travel blogger during an industry session and the collaboration began! Megan is also gluten-free and loved sharing niche travel ideas. Not to mention she was walking around the expo with the cutest portable bike ever!
When I wasn’t working in Portland, I was eating as you know from all of my posts about gluten-free food! When I wasn’t working or eating, I was riding a rented bicycle. The city is such a bike-friendly city and I wanted to take advantage of my downtime by exploring! I loved biking up and down the Willamette Riverfront, seeing the city from a different point of view. I cannot recommend enough hopping on a bike when you go to Portland. It’s so much fun and a great way to get around.
I put together this “Gluten-Free Globetrotting Your Way Through Portland” self-guided itinerary for Bikabout. The Bikabout tour includes where to rent a bicycle, where to eat gluten-free pizza, cupcakes, and bread, where to enjoy nature and so much more. Putting this together made me so nostalgic for Portland. As if 12 work trips in less than 2 years wasn’t enough, I am ready to go back for more!
Download my Bikabout itinerary, rent a bike, and start eating your way through the gluten-free friendly city of Portland! Burn those calories between gluten-free bites.
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!
Urban Space NYC continues to bring awesome markets to public spaces in New York City. The latest opening is Broadway Bites at the intersections of 33rd Street and Broadway, a hugely busy location in the heart of Manhattan. Just steps away from Macy’s and the Empire State Building, Broadway Bites is a great place to stop for a bite to eat and a rest.
As with all of my excursions, I am always on the look out for gluten-free food. Broadway Bites pleasantly surprised me when they reopened on October 6th. There are many options throughout the open-air market that were gluten-free friendly.
Broadway Bites is open daily from 11am to 9pm. I suggest going after 2pm and avoiding the midtown lunch rush. This market is only open until November 14th, so don’t delay stopping by for some gluten-free food.
Palenque Colombian Food
Yuca empanadas with beef
Welcome to Broadway Bites
Broadway Bites by Urbanspace
As with any gluten-free dining, it is your responsibility to ask about the gluten-free options and other allergens at each vendor.
Going to summer street fairs in New York City are one of my absolute favorite things to do. Starting in late April and running straight through October, there is a street fair somewhere in the five boroughs of New York City* every single weekend. This summer, I am making it my goal to go to as many street fairs as possible. While many of the vendors at the NYC street fairs are hawking the same goods such as magnets, cheap clothing, and jewlery, there are also lots of food vendors and amazing artisans. Usually the food is crappy, deep-fried, non-gluten-free food but not always. There are more local vendors providing gourmet food and sometimes you can even find delicious, gluten-free friendly grub at these fairs.
As part of my street fair mission this summer, I will scope out all of the gluten-free food I find and report back to my Gluten-Free Globetrotter readers. If you are visiting New York City this summer, I highly suggest you find a street fair and check it out!
The first fairs I am featuring are the Astoria Flea and the LICFlea. I am grouping these together because they share many of the same vendors. Now in it’s second year, the Long Island City Flea has become a popular Saturday market in the ever-changing Long Island City (LIC). Long Island City is a neighborhood within Queens, one of New York City’s five boroughs. With amazing views from Gantry Plaza State Park and Manhattan only one subway stop away, LIC is more popular than ever. I ride my bike to Long Island City from Astoria almost every single weekend and often stop by the LIC Flea. I highly recommend a trip to Long Island City the next time you are in Manhattan. The neighborhood has lots of fun, new restaurants, gorgeous views of Manhattan, and interesting vendors and entertainment at the LIC Flea. Did I mention the view?!
In it’s first year, I am so excited the Astoria Flea is now in my ‘hood! Located on the backlot of the famous Kaufman Astoria Studios (home to TV shows like Law and Order and Sesame Street!)), the Astoria Flea is a very welcome edition to the neighborhood. Organized by the same founders of the LIC Flea, the Sunday Astoria Flea has food, jewelry, and interesting home crafts. One of my favorite vendors sells the cutest little cork vases I have ever seen. Astoria Flea is also right next door to the Museum of the Moving Image, a popular museum that focuses on movie and television history. There are frequent movie viewings at the museum and I noticed a 2-for-1 entry fee postcard at the Astoria Flea. I’ve been in Astoria for 10 years and have yet to go to the MOMI. Tragic, I know. But I hope to take advantage of one of their free Friday afternoons later this summer.
Food plays an integral part of both the LIC and Astoria Fleas. Obviously, I am always looking for the gluten-free vendors and happy to support the local people who feed me well. I’ve gotten to know some of the GF vendors and I am happy to give them my business. Vendors sometimes vary from week to week and at each location, so be sure to check out their websites beforehand if you are looking for a specific gluten-free product.
Gluten-Free Finds at LIC Flea and Astoria Flea
Bibingka-eskis a traditional Philippine dessert made from sweet rice flour and coconut milk topped with coconut shavings. These come in flavors such as cinnamon sugar, blueberry, and chocolate strawberry. The flavor selection varies at each fair so try a few different flavors. They come in fun sizes from bibingka (large), to bingky (medium), and the bite-sized bibites. Arrive early, they often sell out!
Cheesebread Co., a gluten-free pao de queijo, aka cheese bread, is a popular item at the fleas. These are naturally gluten-free, made with no preservatives, and are non-GMO.
Jicama NYC is a “California Street Food” stand that sells gluten-free treats such as kale sausage wraps, jicama carnita tacos, etole (Mexican corn on the cob), and tamales. I have become a tamale freak lately, trying tamales all over the city. I haven’t tried the Jicama tamales yet, but I plan on it the next time I see them at the LIC or Astoria Flea.
Chocotoy is a cold-pressed juice company that has featured flavors such as Green Goodness, Energy, Rejuventate, and Tropical. These juices aren’t cheap, but as with any cold-pressed juice they are fresh and delicious. I highly recommend Green Goodness. You just feel healthy after drinking this juice.
Drink More Good makes handcrafted soda syrup, tea, and bitters. At both the LIC and Astoria Flea, More Good was sampling their sodas. I didn’t get a chance to try the soda yet, but I loved their booth. According to their Twitter response, “They are not processed in a certified gluten free kitchen, but the recipes themselves are gluten free.” Good answer, Drink More Good!
TheCheeseGuy.com had me at cheese. I am cheese freak and eat samples whenever I can. I tried mellow yellow cheddar at the Astoria Flea and really enjoyed it. TheCheeseGuy.com sells soft cheese, Kosher cheese, feta, cheddar, swiss, and more. Give me more cheese!
This Pie is Nuts is a cool pie product that I found at the Astoria Flea with an interesting back story. The chef for this company was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis many years ago and as part of her treatment she started eating differently and took control of her diet. These pies are vegan and gluten-free and made primarily from nuts so they are naturally gluten-free. They are currently made in a shared facility, but they are trying to move to a 100% GF kitchen soon. The pumpkin pie was awesome!
Ollie’s Bites are a bite-sized, kid-friendly snack made from buckwheat groats (yes, these are GF!), chia, hemp seeds, and dried fruit. While they are advertised as “wholesome bites for awesome kids”, this awesome adult really enjoyed the samples at the Astoria Flea!
Did I miss anyone? Are you a vendor at the LIC Flea or Astoria Flea selling a gluten-free product? I would love to hear from you and will be sure to stop by soon!
LIC Flea Day: Saturdays through September Location: In a parking lot at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street in Long Island City. Address: Nearest Google Maps address: 5-25 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101. Directions: Take the 7 train to Vernon Blvd. and walk north (street numbers will go down) to 46th Ave. Turn left and walk until you see the LIC Flea on your right-hand side.
Astoria Flea Day: Sundays through June Location: Inside the world-famous Kaufman Astoria Studios backlot on 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues. Address: 35-23 35th Avenue, Astoria, New York Directions: Option A: Take the R train to Steinway Street. Walk south on Steinway (street numbers will go up) until 35th Ave. Turn right and walk to the back lot of Kaufman Astoria Studios. Option B: Take the Q or R train to 36th Ave. Walk north under the train (street numbers will go down) to 35th Ave. Turn right and walk to 35th Street.
Over the past two years, I have been to Portland, Oregon eight times due to business travel. In a city whose motto is “Keep Portland Weird” there is absolutely nothing weird about being gluten-free there. It seems like dietary requests are pretty much the norm in Portland. I now have my favorite food carts, stores, and restaurants. I love walking around the city, crossing one of the many bridges by foot or bicycle, or just sitting by the waterfront. Even though I am working hard in Portland, I am also enjoying the quaint city as much as I can when I am not in the office.
I find it VERY easy to eat gluten-free in Portland. So easy, in fact, that I usually eat my way through the city and don’t have enough time to visit all of the restaurants I want to dine at during my stay. I tend to stick to the NW/SW neighborhoods of Portland due to the proximity to my office and lodging but I am curious to explore the other side of the river more in the next year.
Here is my list of top places to eat and shop gluten-free in Portland, Oregon. I’ve added an asterisk next to the locations that I have actually been to myself. I think personal recommendations go a long way, so please let me know if you have any questions! I’ve also put together both a Foursquare list of all the gluten-free places I have visited in Portland. You can find my previous Portland posts here.