Gluten-Free Chicago?


gluten-free chicagoOh, hey. I just got back from Chicago and while I’m totally in love with the city (a cleaner, more manageable New York!), I’m afraid I have zero gluten-free dining advice for you. Well, that’s not totally true but it’s a lot true. Because I was there for for my editor gig I was hanging out at the BlogHer conference and thought I would be dependent on the convention center food all weekend. And every other time I’ve gone to a BlogHer event, they’ve had a whole freaking table of gluten-free grub. This means, instead of following my own advice of doing research, looking at great local Chicago gluten-free blogs (of which there are many), I got lazy and simply bellied up to the buffet table. That did not go well.

Yep, folks. I got gluten’d at the gluten-free table at BlogHer. Yes, I AM special! But I’m 99% sure I was not the only one. In fact I know the other celiac bloggers attending were served seitan for breakfast. Which is just wrong on so many levels. You can read about the international gluten’ing incident on either my Twitter feed, or many others. So here I’ll just say it sucked, I threw up, and then I never went back to the BlogHer buffet. So here’s what I did do!

gluten-free chicagoA traditional English pub may not be the first place you think of as gluten-free friendly, and you would be right. But when you’re wandering around with hungry bloggers and you (again) did no research, you kind of find a place close to the hotel that seems like it might work. Enter Elephant & Castle and the super yum butter chicken in that pic. There were only a few gluten-free options on the menu, but this butter chicken was really amazing. So much so a dining partner also dug in to her own butter chicken. Because, butter chicken. Hello?

gluten-free chicagoI was lucky to tag along on another delicious meal that worked out to be not only gluten-free, but totally rock-your-world amazoids. Mercadito was a super hip happening spot (and I have the ear ringing residuals to prove it), but their homemade corn tortillas and bacon guacamole (bacon. guacamole.), paired with a Dizzy Oaxacan (mezcal, grapefruit, lemon, ginger beer, bitters, cayenne) followed by carnitas de puerco put me over the edge. The delicious, delicious edge. This also was a recommendation by a native Chicagoan so that made me feel like I had at least done one meal right. Additionally, the wait staff was so totally getting the gluten-free thing. Totally.

Why yes, I did try to nab some gluten-free Chicago deep dish pizza. But again, given my limitations of being on a work trip with limited time I could only order from a local delivery joint. I thought I had hit the jackpot when a Lou Malnati’s was in my delivery zone, yet this location did not have the gf deep dish that I had so totally enjoyed on my birthday. Instead, it was this little guy.

gluten-free chicagoConsidering this was my first meal after losing 24 hours worth of nourishment, it was pretty sweet. I cannot tell you what it was like under normal circumstances, however.

So yeah, I did have some great gluten-free finds in Chicago after all in spite of myself. I am bummed I didn’t really have the time to bust away and make it to Hot Doug’s and see how I could gluten-free that joint, or the lovely people at Eshticken who have invited me multiple times to come and check out their gluten-free pizza. But it was a true work trip; which meant I couldn’t traipse around exploring the best gluten-free a city has to offer. But don’t you worry, Chicago. I will be back. I WILL BE BACK.

What are your favorite gluten-free joints in Chicago?

23 Comments

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23 responses to “Gluten-Free Chicago?

  1. Bummer! I’m sorry you got glutened. That sucks anytime, but especially at a conference. Woof!

    Thanks for linking to me…next time hit up some of those great gluten free restaurants! :)

  2. Gah! It made me mad to hear that so many of you had such a rough time at BlogHer. There are so many good places to eat in Chicago, and I hope you have the opportunity to find them. Plus, you just gave me 2 new options to try. Next time you are in town, check out:

    Chicago’s Pizza –They do GF deep dish/ stuffed/calzones/focaccia
    Berghoff — Owner has a GF teen, so the staff gets it now
    Roti — The Chipotle of Mediterranean food
    Protein Bar — All Quinoa, all the time
    Do-Rite Donuts — Donuts. GF Maple Bacon Donuts on occasion. Nuff said
    Senza — mmmm….Senza
    Cassava — Wrigleyville shop with empanadas and rolls made from Cassava flour
    The Little Goat — Haven’t been yet, heard nothing but good.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

  3. Ohh, Chicago ladies. I was so sad I could not explore your recs. Ummm, DONUTS????
    Next time, I’ll eat my way through Chicago.

  4. I adore you. :) Believe me, I’m still trying to make this right for us at the conference. I fought and I will continue to fight hard for us. Because of their screw up, I couldn’t spend more time with you! And that, well – that’s just not cool

  5. Jen

    Ugh I am soooo sorry this happened. When I think of how awful I feel when I get gluten’ed and then to be in a hotel on top of it. :-(. That just sucks.

    Seitan is evil.

  6. I will be in Chicago at the end of August. Keep the conversation going in the comments, I need advice and help! :) I am from outside Chicago so I desperately want to find GF deep dish pizza! :)

  7. One more thing… Eshticken is closing on July 31st.

  8. Rachel P

    Swirlz cupcakes in Lincoln park has some kick ass cupcakes and is the very first cupcake bakery in all of Chicago.
    In the suburb of Hinsdale, there is a completely GF bakery called Sweet Ali’s.
    The GF thin crust at Gino’s East? It tasted like disappointment.

  9. Dani

    I just checked the website for Eshticken’s and it looks like they are closing tomorrow. :( Check out their blog: http://www.eshticken.com/blog/

    I’ve had some absolutely amazing deep dish pizza in Chicago but I can’t remember the name. I googled ‘deep dish gluten free pizza Chicago’ and it was the one with the best rating. It was about a twenty minute drive from downtown and it was the first one listed. :) Definitely worth tracking down.

  10. Glad that you found some great GF food after a rough start. Being glutened stinks! All the pictures look super delicious by the way – excuse me as I leave and drool ;)

  11. Oh NO! First of all, I’m sorry I missed you at BlogHer! Second, that SUCKS that you got glutened! I didn’t even notice the “gluten free” table until Saturday morning breakfast and I wasn’t at all impressed – since it was Seitan and tofu – thanks, can’t eat it.

    I was really lucky on my excursions out into the City for dinners and didn’t get glutened, so that was lucky!

  12. So wrong on so many levels. There has got to be some kind of repercussion or this crap will keep happening over and over again.

  13. emisformaker

    I had my allergies mocked at a place in Chicago – does that count? There’s supposed to be an amazing breakfast/brunch place in the north end of town called Tweet; apparently, they have GF buckwheat pancakes. We were supposed to go there this spring, but our entire visit to Chicago got cancelled last minute due to unemployment.

  14. I’m seconding Senza – I went there for dinner last year when they opened and it was A. MAZ. ING.
    I also used to work at Rose’s Bakery up in Evanston, which is a little out of the way but totally gluten-free and other-allergy-friendly too. My favorite things there are the maple walnut cupcakes and the fruit tarts. They also have a full cafe menu – gf sandwiches, bagels, wraps, etc.
    Falafill, in Lakeview at Belmont/Broadway, has delicious gf falafel and a good mezza bar, although it’s a serve yourself situation and there are gluteny things next to the gluten-free things, so you may want to be wary of cross-contamination by clueless customers.
    Tweet is indeed amazing – they have gf pancakes as well as English muffins and bread, and a lot of the menu options are naturally gluten-free. They’re cash-only and I believe they’re closed on Tuesdays. Brunch on weekends gets crowded but is totally worth the wait!

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  17. Virginia

    We are going to Chicago in September, but will probably be staying in Evanston area, so any suggestions for up (?) there would be great. Also we will have our 20 month old, so nothing fancy needed :)

  18. Chicago’s Pizza has GF thin crust, stuffed or deep dish pizzas. They make the crust themselves. I’ve only had the thin crust, but it has been great. Also, Marcello’s Father and Son has a GF thin crust pizza and a pan (deep dish) pizza.
    -Eve

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