I’ve only been back from Austin, Texas for a few hours and already I miss the ease of dining as I struggle to figure out where in the world to grab take-out that will appeal to my picky daughter and my celiac self. Because basically, my mind was blown this week as I chowed down in the best city in Texas (and quite frankly, a five state radius). Here’s what happened in the first 36 hours I was there.
I went to three restaurants in a row that handed me a gluten-free menu. Three! Three gluten-free menus — in a freaking row! They know how to treat a girl who can’t hang with wheat. Also, check out that grocery store aisle above in Central Market. So much g-free business I had to walk away without buying anything so as not to buy EVERYTHING. Whole Foods, you need to take a lesson from the greatest grocery store of all time. Alternately, Central Market — please come to California. You know you want to, especially in the summers.
So here’s where I dined, and you should too if you’re looking for a good gf time in the live music capital of the world.
Mexican food is always my go-to when I’m feeling shaky about eating gluten-free, so it’s no surprise that a Tex-Mex restaurant will be celiac-friendly. But these people not only have an entire menu, they stopped me before I ordered a sauce (that I didn’t see on the gf menu, but thought, hey, why not? Yes, that’s how excited I get about chili con carne) that had hidden gluten. Was it good? Hells yes.
I’ve been in love with Central Market since the first one opened when I was a college student at UT. So I actually expected the royal treatment when I went there for lunch, because they can do no wrong. Sure enough, a laminated gluten-free menu was waiting for me. I love you, Central Market. And I always will.
My brother and sister-in-law decided on an easy fast food’ish spot near my mom’s new place, and Red Robin was it. They like the burgers, I like the really large, and detailed gluten-free menu. In a chain/fast food joint! Also, they have this crazy Statue of Liberty thing going on. Good times.
This is my brother and sister-in-law’s restaurant, so there is obviously some bias. But the fact that they had a gluten-free hot dog bun, and beer on their menu before I was even diagnosed, shows that there wasn’t any nepotism involved in the g-free options at this gourmet sausage joint. Nice one, big brother. Nice one. Also, they have Big Buck Hunter. So I temporarily took leave of my senses and let my daughter pretend to shoot a rifle. Sue me, I was high on a gf bun.
Unbelievably, I voluntarily went to an Italian restaurant. Guess what? Amazing gluten-free options. You know why? Because you’re in Austin, and apparently everything is magical in this city. They had a buckwheat pappardelle, which I did not have. But instead, the very rad waiter directed me to this Berkshire pork chop and squash goodness and a tuna tartar appetizer that made me a little less frightened to venture into Italian territory. Also, they do have gf pasta, but I decided that pork sounded pretty dang good.
I did a quick Internet search before heading to Taco Cabana. What with that whole “gluten in the beef tacos” incident at Taco Bell, I wasn’t going to trust any fast food chain. But like so many times before when I needed a taco after a night of drinking, Taco Cabana did not disappoint. Huge options that are all g-free, and delicious. Margaritas too. You’re not going to get that when you run to that other crappy border.
So basically, Austin rules. Go there, eat, and don’t get sick.