With the influx of alternative eating (gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc.) over the years, all kinds of ethnic-based restaurants and American dining services have been gradually adapting their menus to cater to their clientele’s demand. The palette of gluten-free options for fast food and dine-in establishments is now more colorful than ever. A few weeks ago, I was privileged enough to enjoy a gluten-free sampling at I Dream of Falafel, located in downtown Chicago. Now, before you feel like this review is irrelevant to you (because you don’t live in Chicago), keep in mind that a lot of Mediterranean food has overlapping gluten-free entrees, appetizers and sides, which you can most likely order and indulge in at your local Mediterranean joint.
I Dream of Falafel has a laundry list of great gluten-free items just waiting to be feasted on by grub-craving Celiacs. At a joint like this, a gluten-free lifestyle hardly seems limiting as tender chicken, beef, kefta (lamb), fresh falafel, authentic hummus, natural salads, golden-seasoned rice, and a savory selection of sauces are all up for grabs to stuff your stomach to satisfaction. They also have a unique take on falafel with their sweet potato falafel as one of their specialties. If you’ve eaten top-shelf falafel, you know it’s not too oily and its got a great crispy-to-substantial ratio, which their traditional falafel does. However, their sweet potato version takes on a slightly different texture as it’s more cakey, less gritty and dashed with a little bit of cinnamon, making it a memorable Mediterranean take on gluten-free falafel.
An assortment of excellent baba ghanoujeh, chickpea-creamy red pepper and/or traditional hummus served alongside your choice of protein and the piquant richness of a tomato-and-cucumber Jerusalem or fattoush salad should make any food-lover’s mouth water. To boot, they have five loaded-with-taste, gluten-free sauces to deliciously decorate your gluten-free spread. Each sauce adds its own personality, whether its their spicy tomato sauce packing a zesty punch, or their verdant raita sauce evoking a more mild, yet bold and herb-savory lushness. Their vegetables have that coveted crispiness, their ingredients taste natural and unprocessed, and both are made fresh each morning making sure nothing is reused from the day before.
The genuinely nice service I received from Hassan and his staff, plus the succulent food I enjoyed from I Dream of Falafel could both easily deserve their own letter to write home about. As witnessed at this locally respected restaurant, gluten-free food does not have to mean bland and unoriginal menu options. You’ll soon find out, that once you start diversifying your taste buds, you’ll have more Celiac-friendly meals, which will also be the case because more dining serves within the food industry are rising to the challenge to have a menu abundant with gluten-free choices.
Check out the I Dream of Falafel website today.
(Photos By Kiersten)