Our Five Faves

Best gluten-free restaurants

Posted September 15, 2014

— Due to the growth of the gluten-free market, one would be remiss not to note the attention given to developing gluten-free options or gluten-free establishments. The Triangle is no exception, and given our passion for all things food, most chefs and restaurants have given at least some thought to the quandary of what offerings to have available for gluten-free diners.

The situation can be complicated by a number of issues. Cross-contamination in a non-gluten-free facility is one of the biggest hurdles; along with ultra-rare assurances of adequate staff training. Not only that, but some who are gluten-free may also have cross-reactivity to other allergens, such as dairy.

Although most restaurants in the Triangle are now thankfully aware of the need, fewer are adequately equipped to meet those needs. There are also a number of gluten-free pizza establishments and bakeries available now, which can be considered later. While there are many to note, below is a list of restaurants, bakeries, or establishments who are responsive to inquiries. They have also demonstrated an understanding of the challenges and risen to the occasion.

Primal Food and SpiritsPrimal is the Triangle’s first dedicated gluten-free restaurant run by Chef Tim Lyons of Blu Seafood and inspired by long-time friends who were gluten-affected. As such, a wave of Celiac, gluten-sensitive, and gluten-affected individuals have enjoyed dining out as an entire family without feelings of isolation or stigma attached since their opening. For some, this experience may have been their first time eating out since a life-changing diagnosis.

Expect prices to be slightly higher than average with a full meal costing between $25-50, and treat this as the nice evening out one would expect of a fine dining experience. They have also started serving Sunday brunch.

Bang Bang Bahn MiThis is the Triangle’s only completely gluten-free food truck. It is run by Andrew Gaddis and many of those who work on the truck are themselves gluten-free. As such they have garnered rave reviews and created a loyal following. The mobile food establishment has Vietnamese style food, such as the quintessential Bahn Mi, rice noodle variety dishes and other periodic specials as noted. They also do vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Mediterranean Deli, Bakery and CateringMediterranean Deli is one of the only establishments in the Triangle with a Gluten Intolerance Group certification for their facility. This is for their gluten-free pita bakery housed on a lower floor with a separate ventilation system.

The bakery uses organic flours from Lindley Mills in Graham, NC, to produce pitas that are gluten-free, vegan, and kosher for the establishment, as well as for retail sales in stores. The restaurant also serves quite a number of gluten-free deli items, vegetarian dishes and desserts for eating in or takeout.

Dos PerrosAgain, this is an eatery that has made an effort to eliminate gluten as much as possible or demonstrated a thorough understanding of the challenges. Dos Perros is a Mexican restaurant in Durham run by general manager Raul Gonzalez and Chef Charlie Deal, also of Jujube.

Dishes of note include the Cochinita Pibil and shrimp tacos. It is authentic Taqueria food with an upscale atmosphere. Almost all dishes are gluten-free and instead of using bread or flour in their mole, they used ground tortillas.

Café Love: For vegans and vegetarians who are also gluten-free, this one is a winner. Starting out as Triangle Raw Foods, Chef Matthew and company delivered to local establishments such as Whole Foods, and eventually opened Café Love in April 2014. They have takeout service.

They use only organic, gluten-free, and soy-free ingredients to create unique dishes. Ingredients are fabricated for service at what is considered the peak of a food’s enzyme and nutritive profile. Cashews and other sprouted nuts and seeds are soaked to remove tannins, phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors. For September they are doing small plates as one option, tapas style. They also make LOVE bars, which are their trademark snack bars.

Also worthy of mention: Bella Monica Restaurant of Raleigh has many gluten-free options, entrees, and procedures. Village Grill and Paparazzi, both of Lafayette Village in Raleigh, have a number of tasty gluten-free options for most entrees. Fiction Kitchen of Raleigh has local vegan and gluten-free options. PF Changs of Brier Creek and Southpoint have strict cross-contamination policies. Qdoba and Chiopotle restaurant chains, Nanataco of Durham and Chamas Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse of Brightleaf Square in Durham are all allergen or gluten-friendly as well.


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  • busyb97 Sep 16, 2014

    I recently read an article that warned folks eating gluten free who have nut allergies to be careful. Many gluten free products are starting to contain a legume product called lupine or lupin. It can trigger a nut allergy reaction in some folks and they dont even realize it is in the product (not labeled as nuts). http://www.emaxhealth.com/12410/gluten-free-food-alert-people-peanut-allergies-celiac-disease-warning

    And I too would love to find restaurant list of places that do not use beef or pork or at least keep separated in the cook area. My son has the alpha gal meat allergy (tick bite) and some places can be tricky. He can have a turkey burger or grilled cheese, but if they use one big grill, cross contamination after that other big juicy beef burger is cooked might send him to the hospital. It certainly makes us eat at home more or pack food....good for the budget!

  • Kreader7 Sep 16, 2014

    View quoted thread

    An endoscopy/colonoscopy is not the only way to know you have a problem with gluten. There are two labs in the US that can do detailed testing of the blood to look for gluten sensitive, such as Cyrex labs.

  • Kat Sieber Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    Not true Fireman1963. I do not have Celiac but I am gluten sensitive. If I have gluten I get stomach/intestional gas so bad I can't stand it. I can tell almost immediately if I ate gluten. I am not lacking vitamins or fiber. There are many flours high in fiber. GF Oats, coconut, almond, teff and many more are high in fiber. I eat gf pancakes made with a mixture of the above. I also add PB and bananas. I have doing GF for about 2 years now and feel so much better since doing so. Fruits, vegetables and meat are naturally gf. You have to watch for additives in meat especially, but if you do your own cooking you don't have to worry quite as much. Actually non gf can be more unhealthy because people tend to eat more processes foods.


  • USMC Vet Sep 15, 2014

    Wish there were some really GREAT soup (just soup, or soup/salad) restaurants in town. There was a Pho shop somewhere near the campus at one time (might still be), but it's health rating was AWFUL!!!

  • ncck Sep 15, 2014

    Pei Wei is owned by PF Changs

  • janeyhoward Sep 15, 2014

    I do have one correction to suggest. Triangle Raw Foods/Cafe Love Food truck is also 100% gluten free, so Bang Bang Bahn Mi is not the only gf food truck :)

  • Fanny Chmelar Sep 15, 2014
    user avatar

    "PF Changs of Brier Creek"

    There is no PF Chang's in Brier Creek. There is one in Crabtree and they are good about gluten-free. Unsure if the reporter meant another Asian restaurant in Brier Creek (Pei Wei has a gluten-free menu, etc.), or they just got the location wrong?

  • Olenc Native Sep 15, 2014
    user avatar

    One comment about Dos Perros - there is no such thing as authentic taqueria food that costs $17 a plate. Get on Roxboro Rd north of I-85 and just keep going north. Stop at any place you see. That's authentic taqueria food.

  • Nick Mason Sep 15, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    While technically true, there are some doctors who believe that exhibiting multiple symptoms without endoscopy means that an endoscopy is unnecessary. It's not hard to measure reaction to gluten - eliminate it from diets for a period of time, and you can measure reaction. Reactions can range from the standard stomach problems, to things like rashes, memory loss, and vision problems. Some doctors, like Alessio Fasano, have made links from celiac's to other autoimmune disorders like MS. I really would advise people to read up on the subject before inserting their opinions garnered from just one source. It's not "just all in their head." People really do get sick, and the numbers of undiagnosed are probably much greater because of moronic statements like the one from "Luvlivingincary"

  • dh1964 Sep 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    That would be a different story, of course. But I'd love to see a summary like this for vegan options.