Wednesday, November 07, 2012

New York City - An Updated Gluten Free Restaurant Guide

I am heading back to New York City this month so I updated my list of restaurants that either have a gluten free menu or are known to be celiac-friendly. Can't wait to check out some new places!

 

West Village/Greenwich Village


  • August, 359 Bleecker St. between 10th and Charles St. Tel: 212-929-8727. http://augustny.com/. Pan-European. Seasonal. $$$
  • Barbuto, 775 Washington St. at West 12th St. Tel: 212-924-9700. www.barbutonyc.com. Italian. New American. $$$
  • Dell'Anima, 38 8th Ave. Tel: 212-366-6633. www.dellanima.com. Italian. $$$
  • Gobo Restaurant, 401 6th Ave. between 8th St. and Waverly Pl. Tel: 212-255-3902. www.goborestaurant.com. Vegetarian. $$
  • GustOrganics Restaurant and Bar, 519 6th Ave. at 14th Street. Tel: 212-242-5800. www.gustorganics.com. GF Menu. Organic. $$
  • Mary’s Fish Camp, 64 Charles St. between 4th and Bleeker St. Tel: 646-486-2185. www.marysfishcamp.com. Seafood. $$$
  • Risotteria, 270 Bleeker St. Located between 6th and 7th Avenues. Tel: 212-924-6664. www.risotteria.com. GFRAP. Italian cuisine with GF bread sticks, pizza, salad, risotto, desserts. Very small, cannot handle large crowds. $$
  • Slice, 535 Hudson St. between Charles St. and Perry St. Tel: 212-929-2920. www.sliceperfect.com. GF Pizza. $$
  • L'asso, 192 Mott St. at Kenmare. Tel: 212-219-2353. www.lassonyc.com. GF pizza. $-$$.

 

East Village/Lower East Side


  • Babycakes NYC Bakery, 248 Broome St. between Orchard and Ludlow. Tel: 855-462-2292. www.babycakesnyc.com. Bakery. GF, DF, Vegan. $
  • S’MAC, 345 E. 12th Ave. between 1st and 2nd Avenues. Tel: 212-358-7912. www.smacnyc.com. GFRAP. Mac-n-Cheese. Take-out, Delivery, Catering. $
  • Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery, 338 E 11th St. between 2nd Ave. and 1st Ave. Tel: 212-777-2227. www.tu-lusbakery.com. GF Bakery. Lunch. $
  • Pala, 198 Allen Street at E. Houston. Tel: 212-614-7252. www.palapizza.com. Italian. GF antipast, salad, pizze, pasta, with separate prep area, toppings, ovens, and serving platters and utensils for GF pizzas. 
  • L'asso, 107 First Ave. Tel: 212-837-2048. www.lassonyc.com. GF pizza. $-$$.
  • Jennifer's Way Bakery, 263 E. 10th St. Tel: 646-682-9501. www.jenniferswaybakery.com/. $$. Everything is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, peanut free, and refined sugar free.
    .

 

Chelsea


  • Friedman’s Lunch, 75 9th Ave. at Chelsea Market at 16th St. Tel: 212-929-7100. www.friedmanslunch.com. GFRAP. Breakfast and brunch. $$

 

Murray Hill


  • Bistango, 415 3rd Ave. at 29th St. Tel: 212-725-8484. www.bistangonyc.com. GFRAP. Italian. $$
  • Bloom’s New York Deli and Restaurant, 350 Lexington Ave. at the corner of 40th St. Tel: 212-922-3663. http://www.bloomsnewyorkdeli.com/. GFRAP. $$
  • S’MAC, 157 East 33rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Aves. Tel: 212-683-3900.  www.smacnyc.com. GFRAP. Mac-n-Cheese. Dine-in and Takeout. $

 

Midtown


  • Lili’s 57, 200 W. 57th St. at 7th Avenue. Tel: 212-586-5333. www.lilis57.com. GFRAP. Chinese. Japanese. $$
  • Nizza, 630 9th Ave. between 44th and 45th Streets. Tel: 212-956-1800. www.nizzanyc.com. GFRAP. Italian cuisine with GF pasta and their specialty, Socca, a chickpea flour pizza. $$
  • Oyster Bar, 842 7th Ave. Grand Central Station. Tel: 212-586-6525. http://www.oysterbarny.com/. Seafood. $$$
  • Rice ‘n’ Beans, 744 9th Ave. between 50th and 51st Streets. Tel: 212-265-4444. www.riceandbeansmidtownwest.com. Latin American, Brazilian. $$
  • Ruby Foo’s, 1626 Broadway at 49th Street. Tel: 212-489-5600. www.rubyfoos.com. GF Menu. Asian Fusion. $$$ 
  • Don Antonio by Starita, 309 West 50th Street, 646-719-1043. http://donantoniopizza.com/. Authentic Neopolitan Pizza. $-$$.
 

Upper East Side


  • Candle 79, 154 East 79th St. at Lexington Ave. Tel: 212-537-7179. www.candle79.com. GFRAP. Vegetarian. Vegan. $$$
  • Gobo Restaurant, 1426 Third Ave. at 81st St. Tel: 212-288-4686. www.goborestaurant.com. Vegetarian. $$
  • Lili and Loo, 792 Lexington Ave. between 61st and 62nd Streets (southern edge of Central Park). Tel: 212-421-7800. www.liliandloo.com. GFRAP. Asian, Chinese, and Sushi.  GF lunch specials Monday-Friday. $$
  • Lumi, 963 Lexington Ave. at 70th Street. Tel: 212-570-2235. www.lumirestaurant.com. GFRAP. Mediterranean. Italian. $$$
  • Pip’s Place, 1729-31 1st Ave. between 89th and 90th Sts. Tel: 212-360-6400. Upscale GF Bakery. http://www.pipsplacenyc.com/. $$

 

Upper West Side


  • Nice Matin, 201 West 79th St. at Amsterdam Ave. Tel: 212-873-6423. www.nicematinnyc.com. GFRAP. French. $$
  • Sambuca, 20 West 72nd St. between Central Park West and Columbus Ave. Tel: 212-787-5656. www.sambuca.nyc.com. GFRAP. Italian. $$$
  • Pappardella Cucina Tipica Italiana, 316 Columbus Ave. at 75th St. Tel: 212-595-7996.  http://www.pappardella.com. GF lunch and dinner menu, including pizza, Panini, and pasta. $$
 

Flatiron


  • Blue Smoke, 116 East 27th St. Tel: 212-447-7733. www.bluesmoke.com. Pit Barbeque. Southern. GF Menu (and vegetarian). $$$
  • Mozzarelli’s, 38 E 23rd St. between Madison and Park. Tel: 212-475-6777.  www.mozzarellis.com. GF pizza and desserts. $
  • Dos Caminos, 373 Park Ave. South at 27th St. Tel: 212-294-1000. www.doscaminos.com/. Mexican. $$. Menu does not indicate GF but diners state that the staff is knowledgeable. Other New York City locations include Meatpacking District, SoHo, and 3rd Ave. at East 50th St.

 

Battery Park


  • Blue Smoke, 255 Versey St. Tel: 212-889-2005. www.bluesmoke.com. Pit Barbeque. GF Menu (and vegetarian). $$$

 

Other suggestions:


  • Hale & Hearty, numerous locations. www.haleandhearty.com. Soups are labeled vegetarian, low fat, and dairy free. Ask to see the back of the card listing the soup to verify if gluten free. $$

 

Websites



 

 

 

 

 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Staying Safe & Gluten Free in South Florida

WARNING! Do not approach wildlife!
Never get closer than 15 feet to an alligator.


This was the notice posted at the beginning of a 15-mile scenic loop my family intended to bike in Everglades National Park. It literally stopped us in our tracks. To take pictures of course, not only of the warning sign, but also of the gators swimming lazily in the canal next to the paved trail we were on. And they were definitely closer than 15 feet, with no fence or barrier of any sort preventing them from exiting the waterway and crossing the road to the wetlands on the other side.

Like wildlife in all of America’s national parks, the Everglade’s alligators are free to roam wherever they want. Because they are coldblooded animals, meaning they cannot regulate or maintain their body temperature, they often congregate on the pavement to warm themselves in the sun during the cooler winter months. But since we were visiting South Florida in spring, when daytime temperatures are generally in the mid-80’s, most of the alligators we saw stayed put in the lily pad cloaked channel.

Our 14-year old son, Matthew, had not been thrilled when we started planning a spring break trip to Florida that included the Everglades, Biscayne National Park, and the Florida Keys. He had wanted to spend his holiday in central Florida - at Disney World, Universal Studios, and Seaworld. Or anyplace, really, that didn’t involve biking, hiking, and canoeing in nature. He seemed especially concerned about biking, hiking, and canoeing in the midst of alligator country. His worries were not unfounded. While unprovoked attacks are considered rare, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission did receive 16 reports of alligator attacks in 2010. So as I crept closer and closer to the water’s grassy edge to get that perfect wildlife shot of a baby crocodilian, my family reminded me about the 15 foot rule.

Bikes are rented on a first-come first-served basis at the Everglade’s Shark Valley Visitor Center, located at the park’s north entrance. For those not enchanted with the idea of pedaling around the 15-mile loop, all-the-while keeping watch for road-crossing gators, a popular guided tram tour is a faster and safer way to explore the River of Grass. 

 The entire Everglades area encompasses about 4,000 square miles, from Lake Okeechobee down to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay. It used to be twice as big, before early settlers, developers, and government projects began altering the balanced ecosystem. Today, roughly 2,300 square miles of this slow-moving sheet of freshwater are protected by Everglades National Park, all of which lies south of U.S. Highway 41. Called the Tamiami Trail, the highway traverses the lower Florida peninsula from near Miami in the east to Naples on the west coast. Additional tracts of marsh are maintained by Big Cypress National Preserve and the Miccosukee and Seminole Indian Reservations on the north side of the highway.


Getting Around in the Everglades

After the bike ride we crossed Highway 41 to MiccosukeeRestaurant, which is run by the Miccosukee Tribe. A billboard outside the diner advertised fried gator tail, fry bread, pumpkin bread, breaded catfish fillets, fried frog legs, and Indian tacos.  While offering me little hope of getting a gluten free meal, we still went inside, basically because there wasn’t much else around. The waiter and I agreed that a salad and a glass of real iced tea were my safest bets.

Down the road from the restaurant is the Miccosukee IndianVillage. Touted as a cultural experience where visitors can enjoy craft demonstrations, watch an alligator show, and take an airboat ride with a stop at an authentic Indian camp, the Village got great ratings in our guidebook. However, with no demonstrations taking place during our visit, the next alligator show not starting for another hour or so, and the sole airboat in sight having already been booked by a group coming from the Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Convention Center, a facility near Miami owned by the Miccosukee Indian Tribe, our experience lasted about 15 minutes. (Recent reviews on TripAdvisor.com are more favorable so it’d be worth it to check it out again). So we headed back towards several airboat tour outfitters we’d passed earlier in the day on our way to Shark Valley. Everglades Safari Park promised an eco-adventure tour that included a 30-minute airboat ride, an educational alligator show, and a wildlife trail.

For our second day in Everglades National Park we pointed our rental car towards the more remote area of Flamingo. Along the way we stopped at the Royal Palm Visitor Center to walk the “must-see” 0.8 mile loop Anhinga Trail to observe more alligators, turtles, and birds such as the anhinga, herons, and vultures. Other stops along the Main Park Road afforded us views of the Everglades diverse habitats that include subtropical pine forests, jungle-like hardwood hammock, and mangrove forests. We were also privileged to witness a flock of endangered wood storks nesting at Paurotis Pond.

Flamingo Visitor Center is the end of the road in the Everglades. There used to be a lodge, cabins, and restaurants here, providing the parks only accommodations, but that was before Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Now there is only the visitor center, the marina, a campground, and a convenience store. It was at the store where we rented canoes for a four-mile round-trip paddle up Buttonwood Canal to Coot Bay. There are numerous canoe trails in this area but tides, winds, and advice from marina staff should dictate which route to choose.

Our excursion was relatively uneventful, save for the time my husband steered us into a grove of mangrove trees, causing me to nervously scan the overhead branches for snakes, and we returned having spied only a limited number of birds. Expressing our disappointment about not seeing any reptiles, the staff member helping us out of our canoes at the dock shot a finger toward a saltwater crocodile just a few feet forward of our bow. To which my 14-year old exclaimed, “You mean we didn’t have to waste all that time, do all that work, and get sunburned just to see that?”

Sunscreen is essential equipment in South Florida. Even in the winter when morning and evening temperatures are cool, mid-day temps are regularly in the sunny 70’s. Winter is normally the best time to visit the Everglades because of the pleasant temps, fewer rains, low mosquito activity, and increased migratory bird population. We knew we were taking a chance by visiting the Everglades in late spring when the mosquito population increases right along with the daytime temperatures and water levels.  But we were prepared with mosquito repellant.


Where to Find Gluten-Free Food

I was also prepared with regard to gluten free food. Knowing beforehand that food in general in the park would be sparse I’d packed my usual travel collection of gluten free cereal, crackers, bread, and bars, and planned to pick up perishable items and other snacks at the local Walmart Supercenter Store. Surprisingly, I didn’t need to be so organized because the store carried many gluten free products. It was also situated just a few blocks from our hotel in Florida City, making it convenient place to pop in to for our daily picnic supplies.

We’d selected the Best Western in Florida City for our 5 night stay in south Florida solely for its location. Positioned smack-dab between Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, we counted the hotel’s large courtyard pool, pleasant rooms, daily continental breakfast (hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit, and juice for me), and helpful staff as welcome bonuses. With its official name being Best Western Gateway to the Keys, we also knew we’d be nicely situated for an excursion through the Florida Keys.

Florida City itself is small, with a population of about 8500. It is the southernmost town in the south Florida metropolitan area, located roughly 33 miles south of Miami airport. Coupled with its larger sister city, Homestead (population 50,000), the area has several hotel chains, shopping centers, and restaurants. Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q, Chili’s Grill, and Longhorn Steakhouse are among the chains that have gluten free or allergen menus.  For local, non-chain dining flavor, we looked to the area’s population mix, its legacy as an agricultural zone, and its “tropical” designation. This led us to places such as El Toro Taco, Farmers Market Restaurant, Fruit & Spice Park, and Robert is Here.

El Toro Taco is a family-run business in Homestead with a “very good to excellent” Zagat rating for homemade Mexican food. I’d also give our waitress an “excellent” score for the attention she gave to my gluten free requirements. After checking with the kitchen staff several times, she recommended chicken enchiladas made with soft corn tortillas, and replaced the enchilada sauce, which contained flour, with ranchero sauce. At Farmers Market Restaurant in Florida City, fittingly located inside the gated industrial-looking state farmers market, the staff was equally friendly and willing to accommodate me. With plenty of fresh vegetables on the menu and seafood being their specialty, I had no problem putting together a gluten free meal. However, I did have to send back the mashed potatoes when they were served to me with gravy on top because the waitress didn’t know the gravy was made with flour!

Fruit & Spice Park is a 37-acre tropical botanical garden that grows more than 500 types of tropical fruit, spices, vegetables, herbs, nuts, and other plants. During an hour-long tram tour, visitors are invited to sample whatever happens to be in season. For us this included one of their 75 varieties of bananas, sapodilla (tastes like a pear sprinkled with brown sugar!), and mamey (has a sweet pumpkin flavor). Additional tastings were offered inside the visitor center. At the park’s Mango Café, a fruit sampler, fruit and spice shakes and smoothies, and an assortment of salads and sandwiches (not GF) were available for purchase. We popped into the café only for the smoothies and shakes. We also indulged in fresh fruit shakes at Robertis Here, a landmark exotic fruit and local vegetable stand located en route to the Everglades Royal Palm Visitor Center.  It’s a fun place to breathe in the tangy aroma of freshly squeezed citrus, taste freshly made sun-ripened tomato salsa, or listen to a live weekend band.


Biscayne National Park and Beyond to the Keys

After spending time on and around the water of the Everglades, it was time to get in the water at Biscayne National Park. Ninety-five percent of the park’s 172,000 acres are underwater, so getting wet is the best  way to learn about the park’s four diverse, yet fragile marine ecosystems of mangrove shorelines, shallow bay, undeveloped islands, and living coral reefs. At Dante Fascell Visitor Center, guests can join a ranger-led program, rent a canoe or kayak, or hop aboard one of the park concessioner’s snorkeling, SCUBA, or glass bottom boat tours. Despite the day’s windy conditions, we chose one of the two daily 3-hour snorkeling tours. Onboard, we crossed 10 miles of Biscayne Bay to reach Boca Chita Key, the park’s most popular island with its signature decorative lighthouse, and then traversed an additional three miles of ocean to reach the reefs. Once in the water with mask, snorkel, fins, and a snorkeling vest, the ocean’s swells and wind-driven waves turned our much-anticipated easy-going drift across the water’s surface into gut-churning, salt-water-swallowing snorkeling adventure. Still, the underwater dance of colorful fish and reef was a mesmerizing sight.

The hefty breeze also played havoc with our plans for a snorkeling tour at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. So we discarded that idea and instead spent a leisurely morning driving south to Key West on the 106.5-mile Florida Keys Scenic Highway. Along the way we stopped at Robbie’s Marina on Lower Matecumbe Key (Mile Marker 77.5), where the major attraction is buying a bucket of raw fish to feed to the large school of long silvery tarpon that congregate off the pier. Warning: Release the feeder fish or otherwise risk the tarpon leaping out of the water and latching onto your hand!

Once in Key West we took the obligatory photos at Mile Marker 0 and the buoy-like monument signifying the southernmost point in the continental U.S. Then, we sought out lunch at Help Yourself, a funky little place that serves organic, made from scratch food, and states that almost everything on the menu can be made gluten free and vegan.  By late afternoon we were on the beach at Bahia Honda State Park, one of the top 10 beaches in the U.S. (Mile Marker 37), and then made it to famous Seven Mile Bridge (Mile Marker 47), one of the world’ longest bridges, just in time to watch the warm spring sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico. For dinner we selected Barracuda Grill in Marathon (Mile Marker 49.5) because their menu looked gluten free friendly due to its selection of grilled fish and chops. As with all of our other dining experiences while on vacation, the staff was pleasant and willing to help me pick items, and make adjustments, to keep me safe and healthy in south Florida.

There was one activity on this family spring break trip, however, from which I did not escape safely. You see, I’d made a deal my teenage sons that if they indulged my desire to bike, hike, and canoe in south Florida, I’d indulge them with a day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. WARNING: It’s a lot of fun!


Helpful Information

Everglades National Park: www.nps.gov/ever; Biscayne National Park: www.nps.gov/bisc

Best Western, www.bestwesternflorida.com/hotels/best-western-gateway-to-the-keys.

Homestead Restaurants: http://business.intuit.com/boorah-restaurants/best-of/24814/FL/Homestead.html?start=0

Fruit & Spice Park and Robert is Here: www.RedlandTrail.com

Help Yourself: http://www.helpyourselffoods.com/

Barracuda Grill: http://www.barracudagrillmarathonfl.com

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Way of the Celiac Traveler Changes Domains!

www.CeliacTravelGuide.com


As a Mother's Day gift, my son has volunteered to help me upgrade and update this blog. Way of the Celiac Traveler is now being hosted at www.CeliacTravelGuide.com and will be evolving over the next few weeks!

These changes will slowly but steadily transform the blog into the gluten-free travel resource I have long aspired to create and share. Keep your eyes peeled!

P.S. This post was written by Melanie's son. Happy Mother's Day! 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Gluten Free Travel Site

Here is an update about a great Gluten Free Travel Site to which I've submitted reviews, and also use when planning my trips:

GlutenFreeTravelSite is a website containing THOUSANDS of user-submitted gluten-free dining and travel REVIEWS. Unlike other “directory-style” sites or apps, GlutenFreeTravelSite is a true REVIEW site...not a single gluten-free business will appear on the site unless it is REVIEWED by someone following a GF diet. GlutenFreeTravelSite is the original — and most robust — online collection of user-submitted GF dining and travel reviews.

There are reviews of restaurants, bakeries, markets, hotels/resorts, B&Bs, cruises and more — not just within the U.S., but from all around the world. Users can search by state or country -- or narrow their search to the town/zip code level ( http://glutenfreetravelsite.com/search.php ).

Updated Site Features Include:

  • 10-Day Blog Hop in May: ( http://www.glutenfreetravelblog.typepad.com ) -- GF Blogger Karen Broussard regularly posts about all things related to GF dining and travel (new restaurants with GF menus, GF Getaways, top travel destinations). If you sign up for the Blog feed at the top of her Blog, you’ll get emails of all her future posts — including a 10-day “Blog Hop” that she'll be participating in during May, in honor of Celiac Awareness Month. It’s a great way to hear all her thoughts on GF dining and travel — and learn of other new Blogs.
  • Mobile Technology: GlutenFreeTravelSite’s MOBILE version allows anyone with a smart phone (iPhone, Android, or Blackberry) to access the features of the site while on-the-go. It’s so easy - enter the URL ( http://glutenfreetravelsite.com ) into your phone’s browser, and you’ll be automatically routed to the MOBILE version of the site. No need for downloading or paying for an “app.” The mobile version lets you search for GF-friendly businesses by entering a town/zip code, and a map will show you businesses that have been reviewed. Click on any business from the listing below the map, and it will be highlighted on the map, where you can link to the user-submitted review for detailed feedback. The Mobile version also allows you to access other site features, including a list of chain restaurants offering GF menus -- with direct links to their GF menu and restaurant locations.
  • Near2there: This handy reminder feature is incorporated into all of GlutenFreeTravelSite’s reviews. When you click on the “Remind Me” link in any review, you can download the FREE software which then alerts you on your mobile phone when you are close to any GF-friendly establishment saved to your list. No more trying to remember new businesses you want to try when visiting your favorite city — just click on the “Remind Me” button on any review, and the software will take care of the rest! For more info: http://bit.ly/iQQZl1
  • GF Colleges: GlutenFreeTravelSite encourages all GF college students to submit dining reviews of their COLLEGES — to help prospective college students who are gluten-free ( http://glutenfreetravelsite.com/glutenfreecollegereviews.php ). Please help spread the word. GlutenFreeTravelSite wants to get all colleges and universities reviewed so that students beginning the college search process will receive valuable first-hand feedback from other GF students already in attendance.
  • Featured Review contest: Each month, GlutenFreeTravelSite selects an exceptionally helpful and/or unique restaurant or travel review and showcases it as the month’s Featured Review - (http://glutenfreetravelsite.com/featured.php ). They award a set of Triumph Dining restaurant cards or a gift card to a GF-friendly restaurant to the winner.  Many Bloggers also use the site for their GF dining and travel reviews, because it allows them to have their own “page” of consolidated reviews — with a customized GFTS “badge” they put on their own Blog, linking to their personal review page on GlutenFreeTravelSite. I was the featured blogger in May 2011 for my restaurant review of Amici Miei.
  • Church News: GlutenFreeTravel site recently began accepting reviews of CHURCHES offering GF communion. Reviewers submit a “review” for a church the same way they’d submit a review for a restaurant or anything else ( http://glutenfreetravelsite.com/submit.php ).
*Thanks to Karen Broussard for providing the content for this entry.