"Gluten-free" appears to be the hottest new buzz word to dominate the culinary scene. While many suffer from celiac disease, many others have health concerns that seem to improve with the elimination of gluten from their diet. (The word is out that gluten-free, or GF, is often a wise way to go!) A gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten, found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
Following a gluten-free diet can be a foreign and frustrating process, especially for those new to the scene, and diners must use patience and creativity when it comes to finding substitutes for foods they once enjoyed. Eating out can be even more of a headache, but, thankfully, the Seattle restaurant scene is doing what it can to ease the pain. The city is not only home to several venues that serve strictly gluten-free goods (think Flying Apron Bakery, a popular, always-bustling spot in Fremont), but many "mainstream" restaurants are conscious to include GF options (or substitutions) on their standard menu. We've come up with a list of restaurants, cafes and welcoming venues so delicious, you won't even notice there any ingredients are missing. Happy gluten-free eating!
Moshi Moshi Sushi
Diners at this Ballard venue find fresh fish selections at the sushi bar, tempting cocktail creations to complement the extensive list of food and a unique LED Sakura "tree" from Japan. Maki sushi rolls range from the more traditional (rainbow roll, eel avocado) to the Moshi Moshi 2.0 (jam-packed with ingredients like snow crab, scallops, mayo, cucumber, shiso, scallops and more). Choose from over 25 specialty cocktails to complement sushi selections, a wide array of Japanese and domestic beers (including Maritime Islander and Sapporo on draft) and an equally impressive sake program. The dinner menu delights omnivores and vegetarians alike, with options ranging from Yakitori Chicken to Vegetable Udon. (2069717424)
First opened in December of 2008, Thrive set out on a rather defiant mission to tear down the myth that healthy vegetarian cuisine is lacking in flavor. Thrive accomplishes this goal by creating fantastic entrees with a little bit of a southwest kick: tacos, stuffed peppers and a variety of different kinds of chili to name just a few. They also offer tons of soups, salads and, possibly their biggest draw, their full menu of all natural organic juices. They also offer up a few culinary classes for those who are looking for a little more than just takeout. Healthy eating rules the scene at this gem! ((206) 525-0300, (206) 525-0666)
This is a prime spot for enjoying delicious food and a buzzing scene in Ballard. The venue prides itself on serving "top quality sushi, an innovative Izakaya menu, premium sakes and creative cocktails." This venue serves starters like miso soup, Goma Salad, edamame and ginger kabocha squash soup. Fresh sushi rolls range from the traditional to the exotic. Specialty rolls include the "Zig Zag" (spicy snow crab, soft shell crab, avocado and cream cheese) and the "Green Sea Monster" (jalapenos, seaweed salad, green onions and chopped tomatoes). Sakes include Gekkeikan Hat Sake and Hakutusuru House Sake, and cocktails include the Momo Iced Tea (sweet tea vodka, peach vodka, iced tea) and the Shiku Sunrise (Barcardi Limon, splash of Chambord, Malibu, and Peach Schnapps). Happy hours take place Mondays through Fridays 4:30 to 6:30pm and Fridays and Saturdays 11 pm to midnight plus Saturdays and Sundays midnight to 6 pm. (206.588.2151)
Sophie and Eric Banh grew up eating street food in Saigon, and thanks to these siblings' vision and talent, Seattle diners now get to experience their sophisticated, creative takes on authentic Vietnamese fare at Bar Bar. (The restaurant's named for their dad; ba means "father" in Vietnamese.) Located in a stylish, industrial setting, the vibe is warm in this welcoming space, located on the cusp between Capitol Hill and the Central District. Expansive windows offer views on neighborhood passersby. Amongst Ba Bar's paper lanterns and vintage artwork, the recently launched breakfast menu can be enjoyed daily from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Dishes now take on a more traditional Vietnamese bent, rather than reflecting Western sensibilities. For example, diners dive into show-stopper items like Banh Xeo � a crispy crepe of shrimp and pork belly rolled up with bean sprouts, fresh herbs and nuoc cham � or Sai Gon Beef Stew, a mouthwatering combination of lemongrass, star anise and anato seed oil, complemented by a crusty baguette. A stunning congee selection proves flavorful, comforting and perfect for gray days, too. Other gems range from the Detox Banana Split with house-made granola, organic yogurt, goji berries, blueberries, spirulina, tumeric, honey and mint to the brioche French toast or sunny side up eggs, jazzed up with garlic, soy and a baguette side. ((206) 328-2030)
Hip and stylish, Andaluca is a study in rich tones and sculptural shapes. The menu features local produce prepared with a Mediterranean twist. Among the small plates and shareables, you can choose from lamb dolmas, green gazpacho with crab or vegetable meze, which includes grilled asparagus, tabbouleh and mushrooms a la Grecque. Entrees (some of them gluten-free) include Andaluca Paella with seafood or roasted quail with blood orange-saffron sauce and rosemary polenta. Every dish can be accompanied by the recommended wine or beer. The wine list has a number of good options in a variety of price ranges. Complimentary valet parking is provided. (206-382-6999)
A casual tearoom located in Seattle's historic Ballard district, Miro Tea provides an excellent foray into the world of authentic eastern tea for anyone who's looking for a nice hot brew. In addition to their tea, Miro also offers several savory dishes as well as desserts that perfectly complement their tea menu. With an excellent knowledgeable staff and a bold menu, it's no wonder Miro Tea receives rave reviews from locals and tourists alike. Gluten-free diners will be happy to learn that crepes can be made GF (for $1 extra); try ones filled with fresh spinach and goat cheese topped with Spanish Serrano ham and an over-easy fried egg or with fresh, market pears Brie, mixed greens, balsamic reduction, honey and walnuts. (206-782-6832)
Chutneys Bistro Cuisine of India
Adventurous diners need look no further than Chutney's, the local authority on spicy Indian cuisine. The popular restaurant is one of the best in the area and offers a range of dishes inspired by regions throughout the sub-continent. The culinary staff is proud to offer an organic and gluten-free menu. Among the well-seasoned options you'll find are barra kebab, tandoori chicken, vegetable pakora, and tikka masala. On top of that, there's an impressive lunch buffet that gives you free reign over a variety of taste sensations. Their curries are also outstanding, and vegetarians will find plenty of options as well. (206-634-1000, 206-284-6799)
Chaco Canyon Cafe
These vibrant cafes in the U District and also West Seattle are set in a warm Southwestern decor; their mission is "to provide delicious organic sustenance for a wide variety of needs and individual tastes." The venue is proudly certified organic--and are 90-97% organic throughout the entire year. They feature a daily raw foods menu, composed of fresh organic produce, organic nuts, seeds, spices and oils the menu changes often and with the seasons. They also offer vegan sandwiches, several daily hot vegan soups, rice and quinoa bowls and a daily selection of vegan and wheat/gluten-free baked goods. Loyal customers also return for the "living juice," wheatgrass and smoothies. (206) 522-6966)
Flying Apron bakery celebrates good health by using gluten-free, vegan ingredients; whole grain wheat-free flours and non-hydrogenated oils. Diners can use alternative methods to sweeten items with such ingredients as agave, maple syrup and stevia. The best news? There's no guilt involved when sampling the cafe's goodies that range from salads and soups to the sweet (muffins, cupcakes, cookies) and the savory (personal pesto-tapinade pizzas, lasagna, and shepherd's pie). Other popular items range from the mock rye bread and the tofu scramble and pepper peanut quinoa. Thirsty? Whet your whistle with coffee, tea, juices and kombucha. Eating healthily has never tasted this good! ((206) 442-1115)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.
Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
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