No more ‘I’ll just have a salad’—take your friends to these
Going out to eat as a celiac is such an ordeal that often I just don’t bother.
It always begins with having to mention to your friends that you have celiac disease, and can’t eat wheat, and therefore cannot eat at most restaurants. There are only so many times you can make your group of friends go for Thai food or all-you-can-eat sushi before you develop a guilt complex. So you say, “It’s OK, I’m sure they have salads,” which is even worse because you end up at a restaurant with nothing to eat but lettuce.
Then there’s the waiter who judges you openly and harshly for asking if something is gluten-free. You get the classic, “Are you actually a celiac or is this just a diet?” Why would I want to eat glorified cardboard as a pizza crust if I could have the real thing? Why would I want to deprive myself of delicious, gluteny things? I don’t eat overpriced pasta for fun—I eat it because if I don’t, my insides will torment me.
But there is hope. I’ve found some restaurants that offer great gluten-free options, and more importantly, indicate on the menu what those items are. It’s been liberating.
The cheapest gluten-free option in the city is your student-run Café Alt, located on campus in the basement of Simard. They offer gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches for under five dollars and serve gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Just make sure to have a backup plan for a place to actually eat, because they’re usually packed.
If you’re craving a big, juicy burger, but you’re usually trumped by the whole bun thing, try out The Works, with several locations in Ottawa. Not only do they have surprisingly great gluten-free buns, but they specify on the menu which toppings are not gluten-free. They also identify which of their appetizers are gluten-free. Delicious and helpful.
Olive and Chili
The name of the restaurant is deceiving, as it should more appropriately be called “the best place on Earth.” Located in the heart of the ByWard Market, everything is gluten-free. Everything. You don’t even have to ask. It’s a miracle. Breakfasts, sandwiches, quiche, chicken pot pie—you’re all set. I haven’t had a scone or a Danish in years, and I almost cried when I took a bite out of the most wonderfully textured scone—all you celiacs will understand.
The Green Door
For all you celiac vegetarians/vegans, I applaud you. That is dedication. The Green Door is a buffet vegetarian restaurant on Main Street, across from Saint Paul University. They offer plenty of gluten-free options for vegans and vegetarians, and they make it clear on the information chart. It is hands down the most delicious gluten-free and meat-free food you will ever eat. My personal favourite is the mashed potatoes with kale (don’t bash it until you try it).
Gluten-free pizza was a lost cause for me, until I ate at ZaZaZa’s. Their gluten-free crust is full of flavour and has a great consistency. Most notably, it doesn’t taste or look like cardboard. Located in the Glebe, it will cost you a pretty penny for a pizza (and they charge extra for GF crust), but it’s great for a treat.