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Say Goodbye to Gluten in Fort Myers' Restaurants



More and more restaurants in the Fort Myers area have become more and more accustomed to accommodating diners with special dietary restrictions and choices. Gluten free (GF) has become one of the fastest growing categories and local restaurants and cafés have been jumping on the culinary trend.

The Veranda is one of the oldest, most prestigious dining establishments in downtown Fort Myers and one of the few in the neighborhood to produce an entire gluten free menu. Enjoy choice meats, veggies and traditional dishes prepared sans the flour and wheat, while served in a romantic setting. 

While chefs at most higher end restaurants are able to adapt dishes for GF patrons, there are some places that specialize in it. The cafe at Ada's Fresh Market has a large selection of gluten free options with a variety of spices and ingredients, all served in a casual, market atmosphere.

While not all restaurants have a separate GF menu, most have options that fit the bill. Whether you have an allergy, an intolerance or a dietary preference, you’ll see by this 10best list that gluten free diners are not limited to salads and cheese trays while eating out in Fort Myers. 


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First Watch
Photo courtesy of First Watch


If you want healthful breakfast that is served all day, then First Watch is the place for you. This is one place where you can order off a gluten free menu along with cholesterol free eggs and egg whites as substitutes in any dish, and not face additional charges. You'll find lots of turkey on the menu as well as turkey bacon and sausage. Other healthful options include power bowls, yogurt and lots of fruit. This Florida based restaurant also serves great lunch options such as large salads and savory soups. There are three locations in the Fort Myers area.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: First Watch has a gluten free menu with tasty breakfast and lunch options that will power you through the entire day.

Gina's expert tip: You can get breakfast all day!

Read more about First Watch →


Pizza Fusion
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


You might not think about pizza being a healthful dining choice, but the pies found here are cuts above the rest. This pizza restaurant is committed to serving organic and sustainable vegetables and other products. Even better, the gluten free pizza crust has good flavor and a pleasing texture. The salads are satisfying and creative while the wraps are wholesome and the chicken wings free range. Vegetarians will love the meatless antipasto, while meat lovers will enjoy the traditional GF version. The local owners serve local beer and have put together a nice wine selection if you're looking for 'those kind of antioxidants. And whey you are done dining, the gluten free brownies are a delectable way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: Good gluten free pizza isn't easy to come by but you'll find that and more here. The crust is tasty and the toppings are quality.

Gina's expert tip: Ask for the local brews on tap

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Roy's Bonita Springs
Photo courtesy of Roy's Restaurant


Roy's serves food inspired by the Pacific Rim, with unique flavors and magnificent presentation. The small plates range from a variety of cold sushi rolls to the butterfish lettuce wraps with cool cucumber and a "sizzling vinaigrette." Roy's does an amazing job with fish, both local and Pacific, but if you are a vegetarian or a carnivore, you'll also find a good list of "hot" tapas to get your taste buds going. And the full menu is loaded with healthful dishes that aim to please the GF crowd. There is plenty of space in the bar for a few small bites and a couple of cold cocktails to get your evening off to a good start.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: Roy's has an extensive gluten free menu, full of fresh fish and other dishes with a Pacific Rim theme.

Gina's expert tip: Get $6 bar bites and cocktails during "Aloha Hour"

Read more about Roy's Bonita Springs →


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BLANC
Photo courtesy of Blanc


A small restaurant with a big city feel, BLANC has a cool atmosphere, great service and superb food. Known for it's Robata Grill, the high heat is perfect for searing meat, cooking vegetables and keeping dishes gluten free. The French proprietor is extremely picky about the ingredients served here and with only 22 seats to fill, he almost has to be. The fish is brought in daily and he makes morning trips to the market to search out the freshest seasonal produce. A recurring special is the house cured trio of salmon; if it's offered when you are there don't pass it up. The dish, like many here, is a work of art.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: A chic, gourmet restaurant hidden in a shopping plaza, the Robata grill used here makes gluten free an easy choice.

Gina's expert tip: Make a reservation, the space is small

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6
Bonita Springs
La Fontanella
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


With linen tablecloths, an international wine list and professional service, the food in this Italian restaurant is all made to order and the kitchen accommodates all dietary types--all you have to do is ask. Even if a protein is breaded before cooked, the chef's here will make adjustments to make sure you stay on track. They also offer gluten free pasta for most all of the dishes. Nothing here is over sauced, over seasoned or over cheesy; the ingredients speak for themselves. The owners are a friendly duo who pay attention to detail and go above and beyond to make their customers happy and at home.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: A locally owned Italian restaurant that not only serves gluten free pasta but is willing to make other classic dishes in GF style.

Gina's expert tip: Don't skip dessert

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5
Bonita Springs
Chops City Grill
Photo courtesy of Chops City Grill


You almost expect a good steakhouse to have lots of gluten free options, and this one does. With a designated GF menu, Chops has lots of options that are prepared to perfection, with service to match; not to mention an outstanding wine program. A longtime favorite, local establishment, the large bar is perfect for glass sampling or enjoying one of the more than 400 worldly bottles. Chop's is known for having great cuts of meat, locally sourced vegetables, fish and other superior ingredients. Be sure to make a reservation in the winter and spring as the main dining room fills up quickly. If it is nice weather, ask for a table on the patio.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: This steakhouse is a local favorite that is catering to the gluten free crowd with a special menu, as well as a fantastic wine list.

Gina's expert tip: Enjoy great happy hour and seasonal wine specials at the bar

Read more about Chops City Grill →


4
Downtown
Veranda


Occupying two old homes dating back to 1902, for years the Veranda has provided a charming atmosphere as well as consistently good cuisine. The well established restaurant is certainly not stuck in the past as it was one of the first downtown to offer a gluten free menu. Specializing in regional flavors and seafood, a restaurant favorite is artichoke fritters stuffed with blue crab. The personal yet professional service will enhance your dining experience whether you choose to eat indoors or out. The Veranda's lounge is a favorite with the downtown legal crowd. You'll often find live music here, the type one might expect from a sophisticated establishment. A favorite special occasion place, the Veranda is the perfect place for romance or celebrations.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: This is one of the first of the most well established restaurants in Fort Myers to create a gluten free menu full of gourmet goodness.

Gina's expert tip: The bar is full of legal eagles after work.

Read more about Veranda →


Happiness Healthy Cafe
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


If you're not careful, you might just drive right by this small cafe in an aged strip mall off of the busy US41. The bright interior is a good representation of the lively flavors you'll find in the food, much of which has an Indian touch. The family owned restaurant serves carnivores, vegans, vegetarians and gluten free diners while providing a nutritional guide with information on the calories and fat of most items. Be sure to add the homemade Rayta, a yogurt sauce with cucumber, tomato, onion, garlic and spice. You'll also find traditional curries, daily soup specials and 100% real juice smoothies, no added sugar. Open for lunch and early dinner, this café also has a convenient online ordering system making pick up easy.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: This cafe is all about healthful eating, serving a variety of freshly prepared, gluten free dishes with an Indian flare.

Gina's expert tip: Use caution when backing out of front parking spaces and into the busy street

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Ada's Natural Market
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


Ada's is a family-run health food market and cafe that has been in the Fort Myers area since the late 70's. It has changed hands a number of times and briefly shut down before coming back bigger and better than ever. The Green Leaf Cafe at the front of the store offers table service with selections that include lots of gluten free options. Choose from black bean burgers to grass feed beef dishes including a beef roulade stuffed with spinach, artichoke and goat cheese. The sandwiches made with GF bread, and salads are fresh, flavorful and plentiful. A sushi bar has recently been added and you can pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy if you're dining in.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: A health food market with a healthy café, Ada's caters to people with special diets, especially gluten free.

Gina's expert tip: Check out the healthful goodies in the market after you dine

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Chef Brooke's Natural Cafe
Photo courtesy of Gina BIrch


This funky cafe has been serving healthful foodies for for nearly ten years. Chef Brooke cooks for all causes including but not limited to gluten free. On a raw diet, paleo, vegan, vegetarian or just want a burrito with organic ingredients, you'll find it here. The Buddha Bowls have become quite popular with combos like the Caveman, loaded with protein, nuts and veggies. Chef Brooke makes eight soups a day, and has a delicious spread of sweet treats, many are grain and sugar free. And if you're looking for fresh juices including wheat grass, you wont be disappointed here. Open for breakfast and lunch, the cafe often hosts special events at night including healthful cooking classes.

Recommended for Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus because: Chef Brooke's has a large menus for gluten free diners and just about anyone else with special diets. The desserts are to die for.

Gina's expert tip: You can't be in a hurry when dining in here

Read more about Chef Brooke's Natural Cafe →


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Meet Gina Birch

Gina carries the rare title of "Native Floridian". Living in Southwest Florida for more than 20 years, she is a well known, award winning radio and TV personality. She also writes for a number...  More About Gina

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