Be it a gluten allergy, a prognosis of Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, or simply a personal dietary decision, following a gluten-free diet and eating out in Atlanta need not be mutually exclusive. This food-rich city with its ever-changing restaurant lineup is attuned not only to forward-thinking cooking techniques and ingredients, but also tends to be mindful to diners with a limited range of food options–this extends to people with food allergies, vegetarians, vegans and others adhering to dietary restrictions.
Though there are chefs that will scoff at the idea of altering their menus to accommodate specific dietary requirements, more and more local restaurants have either added on gluten-specific menu items or are willing to adapt an entree or two accordingly. This inclusive dining environment extends not just to high-end restaurants and restaurant chains, but to smaller lunch spots and even bakeries in neighborhoods all over the city.
A sensitivity to gluten, then, needn’t limit your exposure to Atlanta's restaurant scene. In fact, it can be a jumping off point for discovering new restaurants and sampling some delicious, thoughtfully prepared dishes by some of the city’s best chefs. Here, we’ve gathered a few restaurants with gluten-free options on their menus.
Asian-inspired entrees and mindful adherence to high-quality ingredients separates Chow Bing from other quick, contemporary Chinese eateries. Located at the Pencil Factory Lofts near downtown Atlanta, menu items are reasonably priced and boast such feel-good qualities as humanely raised meats, eco-friendly packaging, no MSG, sustainable seafood, organic tofu and local vegetables. Entrees are lean, healthy and primarily gluten-free. Make your own"bing" rice bowl and add your choice of protein, vegetables and sauce (ask about sauce ingredients first), or opt for a suggested bing combination. Nutrient-packed salads and appetizers (like the fiery wings with bacon) round out the menu of fresh, flavorful dishes. (404-614-6194)
Nestled along lush North Highland in Atlanta's historic Inman Park, Wisteria is a charming resto for grabbing an intimate dinner of ingredient-driven fare. Situated within a historic building, there's an abundance of rich dark woods and exposed brick--lending the space a distinct coziness. Touting new American food with a Southern twist, the spot offers an immense gluten-free menu scattered with a range of entrees, appetizers, salads and sides. A few of the highlights include the pan-seared pork belly appetizer with poached pear, dried cherries and candied walnuts; and the Georgia coastal shrimp and grits with sauteed peppers and a spicy shrimp broth. (404-525-3363)
Pick a flavor, any flavor. There's a good chance they craft it in fluffy doughnut form at Decatur's Revolution Doughnuts. Tucked off the main drag in between Oakhurst and Kirkwood, this local confectionary powerhouse makes all doughs, glazes and fillings from scratch and utilizes local dairy, fresh fruit, organic flour and natural extracts--and it shows in the flavor. Those with food allergies can find various treats suited to their diets--like the baked doughnut made with almond flour. Wash it down with an espresso drink or hot tea from the Organic Coffee & Espresso Bar. Can't get enough of Revolution? Aside from their brick-and-mortar locale, the crew also sells doughnuts at area farmers markets. ((678) 927-9920)
What are you? A fan of chicken? If you're looking at a menu at Chick-a-Biddy, the answer's most likely yes. This poultry-centered restaurant makes for an easy-going dining experience ideal for a quick lunch, brunch or mid-week dinner. Go for wings, wood-grilled chicken, fried chicken, small plates (called Itty Biddies) or the entrees (Big 'Ol Biddies). All entree options are available as gluten-free and include such dishes as the fried chicken sandwich, the fried chicken and waffles, wood-grilled tacos and a falafal wrap. Children's menu items and big leafy salads are also available. Side items, like the roasted Brussels sprouts, are especially tasty. (404) 588-1888)
Indian street food drives the menu at Chai Pani, a casual Decatur restaurant serving lunch and dinner. Menu items are meant to be shared and welcome a breadth of textures, flavors and rich spices through dishes that are hand-held, eaten with a fork, or consumable in a single bite. Several of the menu items can be made gluten-free (as indicated throughout the menu with the letter, "G") like the Bombay chili cheese fries (with spiced lamb); the mixed vegetable uttapam (an Indian crepe) with carrots, peas, onions, cilantro, ginger and chillies; and the chicken pakoras (Ashley Farms chicken fried in a curried chickpea batter). ((404) 378-4030)
Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse-Atlanta
Lodged within tony Phipps Plaza, Davio's Northern Italian steakhouse has been a popular upscale dining spot for years, and consistently puts out divine plates of thoughtfully prepared food. Notable for its flavorful pastas and steaks, the gluten-free crowd can order off of both a gluten-free lunch and dinner menu. Choose from a whopping variety of salads, appetizers and seafood options (think savory items like pan-seared scallops with pancetta and fennel), as well as steaks, sides and a bevy of gluten-free pasta mains that utilize gluten-free brown rice fusilli pasta (for instance, the carnivorous fusilli bolognese with braised veal, beef, pork and tomato sauce). (4048444810)
Burgers and gluten aren't always bedfellows, as emphasized by this local farm-fed beef burger joint. Housed within a space with rustic, industrial-chic stylings (the restaurant has locations in Decatur, Dunwoody, Buckhead and Asheville, N.C.), the burger concept sets itself apart from other fast-to-order restaurants not just by its design but by its ingredient-driven menu. While you can order from a numbered list of burger specials, you can also opt to build your own by selecting a patty choice (quinoa, chicken or beef), a regular or gluten-free bun, and then topping it with a range of typical and more unusual (think bone marrow) options. (404.816.0603)
Leon's Full Service
Making its home in a converted gas station, Decatur's neighborhood hang-out is famous for its wide-ranging (and absolutely delicious) cocktail offerings, its spacious outdoor patio, its bocce ball court, its in-house charcuterie and its hand-cut fries served in a cone with delectable dipping sauces. Though gluten-free doesn't immediately pop to mind when you think of Leon's, the restaurant recently tagged on a gluten-free menu to its lineup. The small-plate heavy menu includes offerings like goat-cheese peppadews, bacon in a glass, grilled squid salad, the pub frites (awesome French-fries) and cured meats. Main courses include everything from steak and lamb to bread-less burgers. (404-687-0500)
About Kelly Skinner
Kelly Skinner comes to Atlanta by way of sunny coastal city, Pensacola, FL. A lover of all things food, music and travel, Skinner found her perfect match in Atlanta in the food-centric hub of Decatur.
A full-time freelance writer and editor, Skinner's byline has appeared in a range of publications including Paste, The Atlantan, Jezebel, Redbook, South and Living Intown.
When she's not writing, editing and exploring Atlanta for the best places to eat, drink and play, Skinner loves doing yoga, running with her dog in Piedmont Park and scouring book stores and record shops for hidden treasures.
Read more about Kelly Skinner here.
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