Our Five Faves

Best gluten-free restaurants

Posted September 15, 2014 10:23 a.m. EDT

— 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.