Friday, January 23, 2015

Gluten-Free St. Louis - McAlister's Deli & The Blue Owl

Finding gluten-free restaurants when traveling can be difficult. Not every state (or country) has restaurants that cater specifically to gluten-free eaters, and if they do, sometimes those restaurants are not always open when you arrive. Take our experience with a closed-for-vacation gluten-free eatery in Paris and a more recent experience with a gluten-free restaurant in Hannibal, Missouri being closed for good!

When that happens, sometimes you have to go with the second best option. On our last trip to St. Louis, we discovered two regular restaurants with gluten-free menus: McAlister's Deli and The Blue Owl.

Keep in mind, these restaurants are NOT exclusively gluten-free. There may still be the potential for cross-contamination in the shared kitchens, so if you know this isn't safe for you, then don't take the chance to eat at either place. I asked my husband how he felt about eating out at these two places, and he didn't mind because he's never had a problem at restaurants like these.

McAlister's Deli has a pretty good "gluten-sensitive" menu that consists of GIANT baked potatoes with a variety of different toppings, ALL salad dressings, four different soups, nachos, and a few sides. My husband had a salad and baked potato. The verdict? Very good and no evidence of having been glutened.

There are multiple McAlister's locations, which is good for us if we're ever in a bind when it comes to stopping for food in the St. Louis area.

(I do have to point out that the gluten-sensitive menu does say that because of cross-contamination, it's not recommended for people with Celiac disease. It's more for people with minor gluten sensitivities and those who avoid gluten for nutritional reasons. Again, use your own discretion before dining at this restaurant or any restaurant with a shared kitchen.)

The Blue Owl in Kimmswick, Missouri has quite a following, so if you're going with a group of 5 or more, you'll want to make a reservation. It gets crowded there!

The gluten-free menu here is not listed on the restaurant's website. You have to ask for it when you get there. It's not very big, but there was enough to satisfy my husband's appetite. I didn't get a picture of his salad, but I did save the menu, which you can see on the right.

The verdict: my husband enjoyed his Tossed Strawberry Salad and also had no evidence of having been glutened.

All things considered, our gluten-free eating in the St. Louis area was a success. It was nice to find some new places where my husband can eat and break free from our Red Robin-exclusive mode.

Not that there's anything wrong with Red Robin!

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