Austin City Guide 2013 – Eat Like a Local: Gluten-Free Dinner
Welcome to Austin, TX first and foremost! Austin is such a great music city as you well know (We are host to SXSW, Austin City Limits Festival & Fun Fun Fun Fest), but our culinary scene has taken off in the last few years with much to offer diners with inquisitive taste buds and for those just looking for some down home cooking! In this guide I will be covering:
- Dinner – Downtown Austin (includes food trailers)
Other parts of Austin’s dining scene have been covered by Jessica Meyer of ATX Gluten-Free, Rebecca Saltsman of Salt’s Kitchen and Jen Mansfield of Inspired Eats – Please find the links below. I’ve also written another post covering the following Austin’s neighborhoods serving up gluten-free eats:
- Hyde Park
- North Austin
Austin’s culinary culture is as diversified as it’s residents and visitors. With food choices ranging from BBQ to 4-Star dining, all served up by several culinary luminaries within Austin’s city limits, there really isn’t anything you can’t get here in Austin. In the last two years with the prevalence and increasing need to gluten-free options, Austin chef’s and restaurants have answered the call with more and more restaurants hoping on the gluten-free bandwagon!
Dinner in Austin gives you so many choices. You can eat at one of the many great restaurants downtown or grab-n-go from the likes of Whole Foods, Snap Kitchen, and any one of the food trucks serving up dinner time eats. Here are my favorite gluten-free dinner spots in Downtown Austin:
- 2nd Bar + Kitchen/Congress: Famed Chef David Bull opened 2nd Bar + Kitchen, Congress and Bar Congress two years ago just before SXSW and they’re rolling full steam ahead. What do I love about dinner at 2nd Bar + Kitchen? There are already so many gluten-free options on the menu, but if you¬â„¢re hankering for a dish on the menu that¬â„¢s not gluten-free, let your server know and they will check to see if and how they can make it gluten-free for you! Chef David Bull is an award-winning chef here in Austin and is always on the forefront of the latest in food trends and works with local farms to bring sustainable practices to his menu and restaurants (Also check out Bar Congress & Congress).
- 24 Diner: Chef Andrew Curren (of recent Top Chef fame and a nomination from Food + Wine for Best New Chef Southwest) and staff have the beat on gluten-free dining! The staff here can help steer you in the right direction on their gluten-free menu even if you¬â„¢re a pro at eating gluten-free! Chef Andrew Curren also just opened up Easy Tiger which is working on gluten-free and vegan options which will be coming to a dining table soon so stay tuned!
- Beets Cafe: ¬Å“A cafÃƒÂ© as unique as Austin. Celebrating the bounty of the earth, come in and experience the vitality of Living Foods. The Chefs of Beets CafÃƒÂ© are passionate, creating uncommonly good food, alive with flavor and nutrition, prepared with love¬Â ¬ Offerings include raw, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free
- Cafe Josie: Chef Charles Mays has been a fixture on the culinary scene in Austin for over 15+ years, working with several local non-profit charities and events, including the Green Corn Project. However, Cafe Jose is under new management with Cody Taylor and Brandon Fuller at the helm with a “focus on using locally sourced ingredients to create innovative and playful dishes in a warm and relaxing atmosphere” The menu at Cafe Jose offers up many gluten-free options. Be sure to let your server know your gluten-free and they’ll let you know what options are available to you on the daily menu.
- Casa De Luz: Always vegan, organic and gluten-free friendly, Casa De Luz caters to the health conscious. With a new menu every day, Casa De Luz practices Macrobiotics and is the founding idea behind Casa de Luz. Not only can you dine here for dinner, they also serve up lunch and dinner Monday thru Saturday. You can also shop at their store located in the dining hall and sign up for classes ranging from craniosacral therapy, massage, meditation to other spa services. When I am feeling stressed I always make a pit stop at Casa De Luz to recharge and refresh my body and mind.
- Clark’s Oyster Bar: Larry McGuire has added another restaurant to his culinary arsenal and this one is a beauty! I love all things oysters having hailed from the San Francisco Bay (I was a regular at Swan Oyster Depot & Hog Island Oyster Co.), so needless to say I was delighted at the opening of Clark’s. Prices are a bit steep but the food is worth it and it was great to see another restaurant go into the former space of Portabla.
- Elizabeth Street Cafe: One of the newest additional on the Austin culinary scene, Elizabeth Street Cafe is offering up French Vietnamese Cuisine that will delight your gluten-free fancy.
- Fino: What can I say about Fino?? One of the best kept secrets in town for sure. It¬â„¢s just North of downtown, but it¬â„¢s a gem! There are many gluten-free options on their menu, but my favorite pictured below, is their shrimp with grits (no always on the menu but is a special so ask to hear the specials of the day). You can¬â„¢t go wrong with this dish!
- Frank: Everyone loves a good hot dog especially me & Frank most certainly serves up some delicious gluten-free lunchtime bites! Make sure to ask for the gluten-free hot dog bun! Plus a little known fact – April Peveteaux author of the soon to be released “Gluten Is My Bitch” is related to Frank’s Founder – Thank you for giving us gluten-free buns! Let’s hope April makes a stop here in Austin on her upcoming book tour!
- Garrido’s: Chef David Garrido is dedicated to offering gluten-free menu items, with 95% of the menu being gluten-free friendly!
- Hillside Farmacy: Named one of the top female chefs in the country, Chef Sonya Cote¬â„¢s new East-side eatery is the perfect touch of a classic neighborhood bistro in Paris with local fare sourced from Austin¬â„¢s local urban farms and fine food purveyors, including Delysia Chocolatier. Hillside Farmacy serves up some of the best gluten-free bread in town to create their inventive sandwiches combinations! You’ll never know it’s gluten-free I promise.
- Hopdoddy Burger Bar: It¬â„¢s no secret I am a huge fan of Hopdoddy! Having helped throw their 1st ever food blogger tasting two years ago, I was a fan from opening day! With a menu of gourmet burgers using locally sourced meats and produce, to healthy salads, the staff at Hopdoddy Burger Bar knows how to serve up a gluten-free meal! My favorite burger is the Continental Turkey Burger. It¬â„¢s so tasty you can eat it without the gluten-free bun! If your feeling dangerous try one of their Mexican Vanilla Milkshakes & go early as line goes out the door! They’ve also opened up a second site in North Austin, as well as in Dallas,TX!
*Note: Hopdoddy¬â„¢s Management has gone to extenuating lengths to develop a gluten-free bun and now uses a separate heated surface to warm buns to prevent any cross contamination. Make sure to let your server know your gluten-free. They’re very knowledgeble about their sauces and what you can & can’t have being gluten-free.
- La Condesa: I first ate here with a fabulous group of gluten-free ladies three years ago. It’s one of my favorite go-to restaurants and also a recommendation for those out-of-town diners.
- Lenoir: Already a big fan of Chef Todd Duplechan and his wife and partner in crime, Jessica, these two have created the first of it’s kind restaurant with Lenoir. A prefix three course menu sourced from local farms and food purveyors, it’s based on a CSR (Community Supported Restaurant), ensuring a returning customer base, yet allowing Todd & Jessica to focus on the food. The food and exemplary service is what keeps you coming back time and time again.
- Parkside: Chef Shawn Cirkiel is a James Beard award-winning Chef here in Austin, and one of my favorites! Having partnered with Shawn on the Gluten-Free Pizza Fest in February 2011, Chef Cirkiel is top-notch when it comes to gluten-free dining. Parkside opened for lunch last year before SXSW, so pop in to the downtown eatery and enjoy!
- Snap Kitchen: This is easy-peasy when it comes to gluten-free & Snap Kitchen is a one-stop pre-packaged shop. To me it¬â„¢s gluten-free heaven, as I can pop in grab fresh gluten-free meals that have been prepared, with dishes ranging from Quinoa Truffle Mac-N-Cheese, Vegetable Lasagna, Spaghetti and Turkey Bolognese to Turkey Meatloaf Wraps.
- Sway – A modern Thai restaurant serves up gluten-free options, with the recent switch to using Tamari for in lieu of traditional soy sauce to meet the needs of gluten-free diners. Make sure to let your server know up front before you order so they can walk you through the menu selections that can be made gluten-free. My favorite menu items are the XO Mussels and the Peanut Curry. Executive Chef Rene Ortiz and Pastry Chef Laura Sawicki just received James Beard Foundation award nominations and they’re well deserved!
- Swift’s Attic: Everyone knows who reads my blog that I’ve been crushing on Swift’s Attic. With Chef Mat Clouser, Zack Northcutt and Callie Speer putting out delicious and gluten-free options as this new downtown hideout, the food, service and decor will keep you coming back for more. Also a great spot for happy hour!
- The Steeping Room: Now with two (2) locations to serve you (1) located in the Domain Shopping Center in North Austin and (2) On North Lamar , both serve up great locations to grab some down time, enjoy a gluten-free lunch and then pop into the Apple Store or one of the other boutiques at the Domain or if your at the North Lamar location you can pop back to the office quickly!
- Thai Fresh: Jam’s food reminds me of living back in San Francisco! Fresh ingredients, healthy gluten-free meals. Jam the Owner of Thai Fresh, is so incredibly knowledgeable on the gluten-free dining I never worry when eating here! Just located south of the river, pop in for a delicious lunch and enjoy a dessert made by Jam and then head next door for a Thai coffee at Thrice!
- Trace at the W Hotel: Trace is the 1st of it’s kind, local sourcing products used in the restaurant from local farmers and food purveyors. No other major hotel chain has done this and forager Valerie Broussard is dedicated to putting local flavors on the plates of Austinites and visitors alike. Check out Edible Austin’s write-up from Terrance Henry on Valerie and the work she is doing at Trace.
- Trio at the Four Seasons Hotel: Chef de Cuisine Grant MacDonald joined TRIO in December 2011 and has certainly made a name for himself as the new chef in residence at Trio. Grant been creating new dishes using local ingredients and is very gluten-free friendly.
- Whole Foods Market: You can find me eating lunch here most days. With the flagship store located at Lamar/5th Street in the heart of downtown Austin, Whole Foods Market offers a SmÃƒÂ¶rgÃƒÂ¥sbord of gluten-free options, ranging from their Indian Food Buffet items, to prepackaged foods from Amy¬â„¢s which offers a wide array of frozen gluten-free entrees. Additionally, Whole Foods has their ¬Å“RAW & Healthy Living¬Â Section, which offers several gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options. Whole Foods Market is a leading grocer when it comes to gluten-free and they¬â„¢re ever-expanding their gluten-free options. They’ve also started providing Health Starts Here grab-n-go items which some are gluten-free (make sure as always to read the ingredient lists).
- ZTejas: With rolling out a new gluten-free menu just over two years ago, this hot spot on West 6th Street is doing gluten-free the right way! With careful detail to menu development and cross contamination, you can¬â„¢t go wrong! My favorite of all the dishes on their gluten-free menu is the Wild Mushroom Enchiladas.
Food Trailers are a beast of there own when it comes to gluten-free dining. I’ve had some hits and misses along the way. As with anytime you eat out, it’s always good to ask questions about how your foods prepared and if there is any risk of cross contamination. Many of the food trucks are educated as to gluten-free dining and the issue of cross contamination, however, remember they are food trucks and are not prepared or set-up usually to serve a gluten-free menu if they’re also selling other glutenous items. But do remember to always ask.
I like to start with dessert first of course – I hope you enjoy these gluten-free friendly trailers as much as I have:
- Banana Anarchy: Only opened seasonally during the warmer months and right at the kick-off to SXSW and many of Austin’s other festivals, Banana Anarchy serves up a revolutionary dessert – Yes a frozen banana on a stick with so many topping combinations it will drive you bananas – Follow them at @BananaArchyATX on Twitter for Austin’s finest frozen bananas.
- Coolhaus: It’s the roaming ice cream truck that did. The 1st ice cream truck in Austin to offer up gluten-free ice cream sandwiches. Make sure you request a “gluten-free” cookie. My fav’s so have been the Chocolate Chip and Sugar Cookie. They usually have two trucks running during the warmer months so make sure to hit them up on Twitter at @CoolhausATX
- Ice Cream Social Bus: Located at the United Nations of Food trailer park, Ice Cream Social specializes in artisan ice cream made with organic milk, cream, fruit, and local ingredients. You can find Ice Cream Social Bus on Twitter at @IceCreamBusATX
- The Peached Tortilla: Eric Silverstein the man behind one of Austin’s favorite food trucks serves up a delicious gluten-free catfish taco that’s a personal favorite of mine! Other menu items are gluten-free friendly but check with the staff on items your interested in as sauces can sometimes contain gluten. I’ve been “Getting Peached” since the 1st taco was served out of this truck and highly recommend you do the same – Located at 6th street next to Star Bar!
- The Seedling Truck: I first discovered The Seedling Truck thanks to Tiffany Harlick of Trailer Food Diaries & Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla, creators behind Trailer Food Tuesday’s. With a seasonal menu that rotates, I’m always surprised at their offerings – My last stop here I had a white chocolate soup that was not at all what I thought it would be! Follow their tweets for menu offer and location updates at @SeedlingTruck
Top Chef Texas Winner and James Beard Award Winner Paul Qui has been brought on to curate SXSW’s “SouthBites” as part of this years festival. Kicking off on March 8th and running through March 16th, Austin’s famous son will hand select a series of food trucks to serve up gourmet fair during SXSW. Here is the SouthBites line-up . . . Make sure again to ask if they’re serving gluten-friendly options!
Again remember to ask about their preparation and cross contamination. Recently I’ve gotten away from eating off the trailers personally speaking unless I know they solely serve gluten-free/vegetarian foods, as I am highly sensitive to gluten, but again this is a personal choice. There are some great trailers out there serving gluten-free friendly dishes.
*Note: Three great resources for checking out the food truck scene in Austin are:
New food trailers are coming and going as this blog post is being penned. These three websites will keep you up-to-date on location and hours. Make sure to follow your favorite foods trucks on Twitter and Facebook as well as they are always tweeting where they’re going to be for lunch!
Want to find a restaurant in your city that meets your dietary requirements? Check out the website/app Locate Special Diet so you can eat safely in your city or cities your traveling in!
http://atxglutenfree.com/2013/02/gluten-free-breakfast-and-brunch-options-near-downtown-austin-texas-afba-annual-city-guide-part-1/ Gluten-Free Lunch: http://inspiredeats.net/austins-top-gluten-free-friendly-joints/ Gluten-Free Options in South Austin and Southwest Austin: http://atxglutenfree.com/2013/02/gluten-free-guide-to-south-lamar-and-78704-westlake-hills-bee-caves-lakeway-south-austin-austin-food-blogger-alliance-city-guide-part-2/ Gluten-Free East Austin Guide:
http://saltskitchen.net/2013/03/01/city-guide-to-gluten-free-picks-in-east-austin/ Gluten-Free Enfield to Brentwood Guide:
http://saltskitchen.net/2013/03/01/city-guides-gluten-free-friendly-options-from-enfield-to-brentwood/ Gluten-Free: Allendale, Hyde Park, & North Austin Neighborhoods: http://wp.me/p1Btsn-Yn Gluten-Free Option in South Congress (SoCo) and Travis Heights:
http://inspiredeats.net/austins-top-gluten-free-friendly-joints-on-south-congress-austin-food-blogger-alliance-annual-city-guide-part-2/ For additional posts on Austin featured in the Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2013 City Guide click here. Photo Credit – Paul Qui (Rebecca Fondren)