Houston's Best Gluten-Free Dining Options

Categories: For Your Health

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Ethiopian food is perfect for a gluten-free diet.
One of the more frequent questions I'm asked these days is where to find good gluten-free food. And when GF folks ask this question, they're looking for more than an answer of, "Oh, any place that serves vegetables and meat. Can't you figure out your own dietary restrictions?"

No; they're looking for restaurants that specialize in gluten-free menu items, but yet are still mainstream enough to accommodate their friends and family. Luckily for them, an increasing number of restaurants are doing just that.

One of the easiest routes to take as GF diner is, of course, to familiarize yourself with cuisines which are naturally free of gluten. This means getting cozy with South Asian ethnic foods like Indian (steer clear of naan and puri shells), Pakistani and Thai or learning more about sushi -- just make sure to ask for (or bring your own) gluten-free soy sauce.

Ethiopian is another easy option for GF diners: injera, which forms the base of most meals, is made of teff flour and is naturally gluten-free -- but also extremely nutritious. You use injera like a utensil to scoop up your food, which can be anything from all-vegetarian (lentils, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, greens and more) to meat-heavy (doro wot -- or spicy chicken stew -- is a personal favorite as is the raw beef treatment called kitfo).

But back to the idea of being gluten-free and mainstream. Here is a list of options, grouped by category, to please every palate:

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Chains

While chains aren't always known for the quality of their food, the spots below are notable for a few reasons: They're conveniently located throughout the city, they're relatively inexpensive and all offer entire gluten-free menus -- not just a few paltry GF substitutions. Outback was one of the first chains to offer a separate GF menu and P.F. Chang's currently offers one of the largest. (One more fun fact: Saint Arnold brews the beer locally for the BJ's spots in and around Houston.)

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse
Chipotle
Jason's Deli
Outback Steakhouse
P.F. Chang's
Rockfish Seafood Grill
Zoe's Kitchen

Mexican

The fact of the matter is that most Mexican joints are safely gluten-free if you abstain from flour tortillas, sopapillas and the like. Corn tortillas -- especially those filled with barbacoa or al pastor from taco trucks -- are one of the easiest bets for the GF diner. But here are a few places that really take gluten-free to the next level.

Hugo's
Lupe Tortilla
Taco Milagro

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Gluten-free pizza at California Pizza Kitchen.
Pizza

Pizza is one of the items that many GF diners miss the most. Fortunately, more pizza places -- both large and small -- are catching on to this and offering gluten-free crusts that are every bit as good as standard wheat flour crusts.

California Pizza Kitchen
Pink's Pizza
Russo's New York Pizzeria
zpizza

Burger Joints

Sure, you can get a bunless burger at any old burger joint. But sometimes you just want those two fluffy buns holding your meat sandwich together. These four spots will gladly throw a gluten-free bun into the mix for you -- and in the case of Beck's Prime, you'll find plenty of other GF options that aren't burgers, too. Same goes for Guru Burgers & Crepes, where you can also get GF versions of its signature crepes.

Beck's Prime
The Counter
Elevation Burger
Guru Burgers & Crepes


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19 comments
Celiac
Celiac

"The fact of the matter is that most Mexican joints are safely gluten-free if you abstain from flour tortillas, sopapillas and the like. "

Are you kidding?  Nearly every Mexican restaurant out there marinates BOTH their chicken and their beef in soy sauce.  Soy sauce sold here in the U.S. contains wheat in order to speed up the fermentation process.  Real soy sauce is fermented over a period of 6 months and does not contain wheat.  Real soy sauce is called tamari.

Major props to Lupe Tortilla for their excellent celiac-friendly menu.  They take great precautions, but even there you can't eat the chips as they are fried in a common fryer. 

karifrank23
karifrank23

"...indulge in naturally GF dishes such as gnocchi..."


This is not true and shows a serious lack of credibility in this article.  The two main ingredients in gnocchi are potatoes and FLOUR.  People with celiac should avoid gnocchi unless it is specified as gluten free.

radicalstaci
radicalstaci

Radical Eats has always been 95% gluten-free.  We use local little Soya soy sauce (g-f) and we don't fry wheat in the fryer.  Just sayin'

kitko
kitko

Corner table has many interesting gf options, including coconut flour tortillas that come with their almond crusted fish tacos. Also, Ooh LaLa bakery in town and country has gf cupcakes, cookies, and macaroons.

bullschuck
bullschuck

"Corn tortillas -- especially those filled with barbacoaor al pastor from taco trucks -- are one of the easiest bets for the GF diner."


No, NO, NOOO. This is factually incorrect. Almost all Mexican restuarants will fry up their corn tortillas to make them soft. This is usually the same oil and same fryer that they use for those tasty sopapillas and that means that those corn tortillas are most definitely NOT gluten-free. Trust me, I have a very specific reaction to gluten and I've found out the hard way. Molé is right out as well (except guac, thankfully). There are also some soup bases and sauces out there that will use some wheat flour so caldo, enchiladas, and even rice or fajitas can be problematic. Add in the fact that most Mexican places will also fry up their chips in the same gluten-y oil and it make most of them bad places for Celiacs and others with health issues related to gluten. Thanks for posting about Hugo's and Lupe Tortilla.



ellenleemann
ellenleemann

Two days a week Celebrity Cupcake makes fabulous GF cupcakes, Torchys Tacos has many GF items - also use gloves and handling practices needed for celiacs level of GF precautions, Ruggles green has great gf macaroni and cheese, Candelaris has GF pizza. Pondicheri - owner has a daughter with celiacs and they are extra precautious too.


reptilegrrl
reptilegrrl

"These coffee shops are notable for offering goodies from some of our favorite vegan bakeries around town, such as Sinfull Bakery" 


Which is irrelevant because vegan does not mean "gluten free". Why do so many people in Houston think they are the same thing? Maybe because articles like this perpetuate that misconception.

kellinger
kellinger

Thanks so much for providing this information! Can't wait to try some of these. I discovered Russo's three weeks ago and have had pizza from them three times already - there is no limit on what toppings you can have and the size is nice as is the pricing. I've had zpizza as well and while it is a good pizza, I was disappointed with the limited topping selection, size and price of the pizza. Hence my being excited about Russo's. Dessert Gallery has a delicious peanut butter and dark chocolate truffle that is gf as well as a flourless chocolate cake.

tracy332
tracy332

Most of Hugo's menu is gluten free since corn is the base of most of what we do.  Keep us in mind.


Kevin Lacobie
Kevin Lacobie

Te House of Tea has a solid gluten-free menu. Also, caution about injera: some recipes use wheat! Connie was trying to expand her gluten-free options with a new injera crepe, so visited to local Ethiopian grocer on Bissonnet, and the owner there gave her a recipe with wheat! She experimented on her own, and finally settled on a teff/buckwheat. Alas, the batter spoils quickly, so it didn't remain on the menu.

fulsome
fulsome

Why oh wyh woudl anyone give up Gluten? I love mustard.


Danielle Stillman-Diederich
Danielle Stillman-Diederich

Great rundown! Didn't know half of these places had GF options. Thanks for the list; I think we'll be eating from it quite often. :) Wanted to point out sushi is not as simple as "bring your own soy sauce", though, unless you're going straight sashimi. There are lots of potential allergens where you don't think they'll be hiding--like seaweed, roe and other sauces (ponzu, eel, etc). Even the fake wasabi stuff that so many places serve has wheat in it to stretch it. We've kind of given up on sushi since it can be so disastrous.

westonanderson
westonanderson

The Chocolate Bar has a gluten-free chocolate truffle cake (maybe more, too).  Also, while it's not dining out, it is prepared food, HEB (on Buffalo Speedway, at least) has a frozen foods section with prepared meal offerings.

holtight
holtight

I love the varied selection of international gluten-free offerings listed here. Can't wait to try all of them. Thanks for this posting.

patty_kins
patty_kins

Of course Pei Wei does gluten free as well like PF Chang, since they're owned by the same parent company.  Amazingly, for pizza alot of Dominoes Pizza does GF dough for $5, though only come in personal size, they are happy to accommodate.  Candelari's uses GF Houston's dough for pizza as well.  And of course, sushi is pretty gluten free all around, just avoid the fried stuff.

Celiac2
Celiac2

@Celiac I agree. I love Mexican, so I've tried (after being assured by managers that they're fine) food all over town. I always get sick. Chuy's says they have gluten free options, but then they told me that they marinate their meat in beer! I've never gotten sick at Hugo's or Radical Eats, and you can get great chips and guac at the latter.

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