Restaurants, Travel

Kelly Visits Florida, Discovers National Chain with Gluten-Free Menu

20 Comments 25 September 2003

Recently I went to sunny Naples, Florida and the Keys for about nine days. Now I understand what Jimmy’s been singing about! I thought it would be helpful to post the variety of places where I found what we call "Kelly-friendly" food and expand the dining latitudes and attitudes for the gluten-, corn- and dairy-wary. 

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Naples, FL

Early on in the trip, friends of my friends had finagled a "bachelor friend" of theirs to go to lunch with us. "Oh, it’s totally a coincidence that he is here!" Yeah, right…the same guy you told me about weeks ago who wanted to meet me. Whatever. His name was "Bub." Anyhow, the wonderful gluten-free discoveries at P.F. Chang’s mitigated any potential awkwardness.

It’s a chain restaurant, but decorated very Ming Dynasty chic. I immediately looked for the Singapore rice noodles, since that is a standard soy sauce-free dish at most Chinese places (most soy sauce has wheat in it). But when I asked the waitress some questions regarding corn starch and soy sauce, she shocked the carp out of me by offering their gluten-free menu! The entire group was shocked! Wow! Sooo, here it is for ya…

I haven’t had soy saucy Chinese food in soooo long! They use wheat-free soy sauce on these items. Notice how they even make it clear what contains corn starch too, for those of us who are sensitive to corn. Right on! Click here to find the location nearest you. Kim can’t wait to go to the one in White Plains. People in our office are now telling us how they love this place. Helloooooo! Why didn’t anyone else know about this special menu?!! hahaha oh well…now we do. And now you do!

P.S. — Our waitress, Katie, was so accommodating: When I inquired about some rice noodle soup and why it wasn’t on the gluten-free menu, she knew that the broth contained oyster sauce, which would contain regular soy sauce. I was impressed and ate with confidence.

Inside P.F. Chang's
Inside P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Bha Bha Bistro
847 Vanderbilt Beach Rd.
Naples, FL

I discovered this Persian bistro while bike shopping with my friend Jane. It was her first Persian food experience and she claimed the sandwich there was the best she had ever eaten — even pushed some leftovers on her workmates back at the bike shop. I had the soltani, which is yummy beef with tons of garlic on a skewer with rice and roasted tomatoes. Mmmmm….you can also get a variety of other gluten-free items, such as hummus or baba ghanoujh. I just enjoy them with greens or rice instead of pita. I even indulged myself with their sorbet, which was made with just sugar instead of corn syrup. The touch of rose syrup on top was quite nice.

WORLD Bakery & Cafeteria
4075 Pine Ridge Road
Naples, FL  34119
(941) 304-0333

This place was amazing in an inexpensive yet totally yummy way! It is totally Cuban. They roast whole pigs, OK?! I had the shredded beef with black beans, rice and plantains…mmm mmm mmm. I would be a regular if I lived in Naples. The whole thing, which could have fed two people, plus a bottled water only cost me about 6 bucks! If you can tolerate dairy they had amongst their bakery goods a tempting-looking flan. Of course, I was so stuffed from my meal that I had no problem resisting any of the glutinous baked goods…besides, the sweet plantains were enough for me. I hear they serve some mean Cuban coffee there, too.

Lor.e.lei Restaurant & Cabana Bar
MM 82 Bayside
Islamorada, FL
(305) 664-4656

On our first evening in the Keys, we stumbled upon the Lorelei. Very cool casual place; I even bought myself a baseball cap with their mermaid logo on it! I had some sort of fish special with a mango sauce that was really good…complete with rice and veggies. We ended up eating there twice for dinner and once for breaky. The view and feel were great: dock-ish dining with live acoustic guitar player. What more could you want from a beachy dining experience? As you know, breakfast is fairly easy to find: they had the whole egg and bacon, yada yada variety to choose from. 

Time Out BBQ
MM 81.5, Oceanside
Islamorada, FL
(305) 664-8911

I was a little uneasy when finding out that all of the award-winning BBQ dishes are tainted with corn syrup. Even the beans…argh! I felt boring ordering the blackened fish salad, but it was actually really good! They even had olive oil and lemon for me to use as a dressing.

Blue Mountain Cyber Cafe
Caribbean Village
81905 Overseas Hwy.
(305) 517-9610

This place was quaint, located behind a fabo bead shop. It was a very cute hole-in-the-wall place with the best fruit smoothies…they use frozen fruit and add all-natural apple or orange juice. It turned out sorbet-ish and had to be eaten with a spoon…very nice. We especially chuckled at the pleasant service from the Rasta guy who mumbled incomprehensibly behind the counter. I guess it is a convenient place for him to work if he gets the munchies!

To sum it all up, the biggest discovery was P.F. Changs, since a lot of people may be able to find one in their area.

Enjoy!

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Your Comments

20 Comments so far

  1. 1
     
    Amy says:

    Wow I guess I need to get over to P.F. Changs! I have one not even 3 blocks from my office downtown Chicago. I too haven’t had soy saucy Chinese food in forever!

    And thanks for the information on the other Naples places – perhaps I should take a little vacation down there.

  2. 2
     
    Barak says:

    I’ve been craving Chinese for a long time! Thanks for the tip!

  3. 3
     
    Rachel says:

    Hi! I have a sister who is a 11 years old and has celiac. And it hurts me to see my sister upset because she can’t eat what me or her friends are eating. Someday i hope to find a cure for this disease and put an end to it! If you could send me some information about celiac. Me and a friend are doing the walk this yr in philadelphia. Also if you have a list of restaurnts in South Jersey that have a celiac menu please email me! thanks so much!
    Rachel

  4. 4
     
    Celeste Collins says:

    Hi! There is a restaurant list file on the SillyYaks site with over 100 restaurant GF menus or GF availability listed – including PF Changs.

  5. 5
     
    Celeste says:

    I should clarify – it’s on the SillyYak Yahoo site:
    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/SillyYaks/

    Lots of good info in those files that Melonie has attached.

  6. 6
     
    Maddi says:

    If anyone is visiting Florida, you may want to visit Disney. We just returned from a weekend and had a fabulous dinner in Epcot. We made reservations at the restaurant in the Canada building. We told them, in advance, two in our party were on gluten-free diets. When we arrived at our table, they brought us gluten-free rolls. They could handle the rest of the meal without a problem. We had surf and turf. The next day I inquired about gluten-free friendly restaurants at the Magic Kingdom. We were told to try Liberty Tree and asked about the availability of gluten-free rolls. We were told, with some notice, and sometimes without, you should get those at any Disney restaurant. We were also told to try to make reservations a day in advance. If you do that and specify dietary restrictions, they will give you the phone number of the chef to contact to discuss your needs. We couldn’t get the reservation at Liberty Tree, so instead ate at the Steakhouse at the Contemporary Restaurant. At the beginning of our dinner, the chef came out to tell me he didn’t have any rolls available but had a flourless chocolate torte for dessert that was gluten free. That more than made up for the lack of rolls. The next morning we had breakfast at Spoodles at the Boardwalk. With no advance notice they were able to substitute gluten free rolls for the croissant in my order. I had a fabulous frittata. These were all truely Disney “Magic” moments!!

  7. 7
     
    Maddi says:

    If anyone is visiting Florida, you may want to visit Disney. We just returned from a weekend and had a fabulous dinner in Epcot. We made reservations at the restaurant in the Canada building. We told them, in advance, two in our party were on gluten-free diets. When we arrived at our table, they brought us gluten-free rolls. They could handle the rest of the meal without a problem. We had surf and turf. The next day I inquired about gluten-free friendly restaurants at the Magic Kingdom. We were told to try Liberty Tree and asked about the availability of gluten-free rolls. We were told, with some notice, and sometimes without, you should get those at any Disney restaurant. We were also told to try to make reservations a day in advance. If you do that and specify dietary restrictions, they will give you the phone number of the chef to contact to discuss your needs. We couldn’t get the reservation at Liberty Tree, so instead ate at the Steakhouse at the Contemporary Restaurant. At the beginning of our dinner, the chef came out to tell me he didn’t have any rolls available but had a flourless chocolate torte for dessert that was gluten free. That more than made up for the lack of rolls. The next morning we had breakfast at Spoodles at the Boardwalk. With no advance notice they were able to substitute gluten free rolls for the croissant in my order. I had a fabulous frittata. These were all truely Disney “Magic” moments!!

  8. 8
     
    MIchal Aharony says:

    Hello Celiac Chicks and all other readers,

    I want to encourage you all to call
    Risotteria (212- 924-6664)

    and require about the Gluten Free brunch.

    A few weeks ago they advertised a great GF Brunch menu on Sundays, but nobody made any orders (except one person, which is me…), and they had to cancel it. So, maybe if many of us celiac people will call they will re-consider it. It was a little bit expensive ($25 per person) but I am sure it was worth it!

  9. 9
     
    Aaron says:

    I’ve got to disclose some information for your health…The news is that I have doubts as to Gobo’s authenticity as a Gluten-Free restaurant. I worked there for three days and observed the kitchen with a keen eye. I noticed that soy sauce (containing wheat) and hoisin sauce (also containing wheat) may have been used in gluten-free dishes. You may want to visit the West Village and grill the management about there “gluten-free” methods. Glad to be of some help.

    Aaron

  10. 10
     
    Anna says:

    Dear Celiac Chicks,
    Your page rocks! I’ve been doing research to find a restaurant in Philly that has GF food (our friend who needs a GF diet is named Kelly!). I stumbled upon a page http://www.okceliac.com that has restaurants in Oklahoma and includes info. on national chains. According to them, Outback Steakhouse has a GF menu that includes a dessert of a scrumptious sounding GF brownie! Anyone knows of a GF restaurant in Philly, please let us know!

  11. 11
     
    Patricia says:

    P.F. Chang’s is a member of the Outback group of restaurants – the majority of the outback group of restaurants have a gluten free menu available both online and at the restaurant including Outback Steakhouse and Carrabas.

    First Watch is another Great GF Friendly Restaurant in FL – there is a GF Menu available online and the restaurant staff is very attentive concerning special dietary needs in general.

  12. 12
     
    natalka says:

    You should check out http://www.glutenfreerestaurants.org. If you don’t find a restaurant in your area….volunteer and help qualify a restaurant.

  13. 13
     
    Suzanna says:

    Thank you, Thank You Thank You for all this wonderful information on resteraunts and your up beat attitude about Celiac. I have the passion for food but not the tolerance for bad food – Thank you again!

  14. 14
     
    KElly Hodges says:

    Kelly- I met you at the bank..just wanted to show you the gluten – free stuff that I have..
    GREAT GLUTEN FREE VANILLA and CHOCOLATE SHAKES AND BARS>>>> AS WELL AS SOME MEALS TO GO>>>
    Email me at kellychodges@yahoo.com to let me know this is the right link or call me at 646 539 8681

  15. 15
     
    annie says:

    i just came across ur web site today and i love it! i live in orange county california and unfortunatly two weks ago visited new york! i so wish i saw this web site earlier! anyway, i also know that outback steak house also has a gluten free menu! do u know of anywhere else in CA? if so email me! thanx

  16. 16
     
    Karen says:

    SEA has definitely hit rock bottom. I think the restaurant (or at least the Manhattan branch) should blacklisted. I went there last night for dinner and the waiter basically told me that every entree on the menu will include soy sauce (no way of omitting) except for the curries. I was forced to eat curry, even though I did not want it, because we had already waited over half an hour for the table and another half an hour for someone to come by to take our order. Then our dishes all came out at different times, with fifteen-twenty minutes in between each person’s dish. They had the nerve to charge us 18% grautuity, which we did not paying. I will never step foot in this awful place ever again. This is the first Thai restaurant that I have been to that was unable to accommodate a gluten-free request.

  17. 17
     
    ida says:

    For travellers en route: try the Hilton Hotel at O’Hare: excellent service for celiacs in the restaurant. The chef personally takes charge of any special meals & you do not have to worry about ignorant waiters. Professional!

  18. 18
     
    celiac turk says:

    If you ever plan to visit Turkey, there is a glutenfree information site which is called “GLUTENSIZ YASAM MERKEZI”. Its mainly Turkish but at the very right upper corner you can see a glutenfree sign and under that also another sign says CELIAC TURKIYE .When you click on either of them you will go to a page which is in English.

    You can also send an email to the center’s manager. They are very helpful.

    Enjoy your trip!

  19. 19
     
    celiac turk says:

    Sorry forgat the write web address: http://www.colyak.web.tr

  20. 20
     
    Sheila Dickson says:

    Thanks to all the people who have left info re gluten free eating places
    I am preparing for a visit to Florida from the UK next week so it was reassuring to be able to note the restaurant names


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Kelly Courson

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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Kelly Courson and this is where I've shared my gluten-free finds since 2003. The world has been my gluten-free oyster for 14 years now and I love sharing what I've learned in order to help others adapt to a gluten-free diet. Have a look around and feel free to leave a comment. Connecting with people like you is what has kept me going this long! Seriously.
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