This is a continuation of our Top 10 Tips for Gluten Free Restaurant Dining page. Here are 10 More Tips to keep you heading in the right direction. These tips are cribbed from the introduction to our Essential Gluten Free Restaurant Guide, 4th Edition:

  • Educate Yourself. When it comes to gluten-free dining, you are your own first line of defense. Be vigilant about collecting information on different cuisines, restaurant dishes, ingredients, and common cooking techniques. This way you can more easily avoid dangerous territory while not missing out on perfectly safe dining options.
  • Check How Educated Your Restaurant Is. When I hear, “oh, you’re gluten free,” I say something along the lines of, “I’m so glad you’ve heard about it. What a relief!” —and then ask follow-up questions, such as whether anything breaded is prepared on the same surface as what I ordered. Does the waiter immediately grasp the underlying reasons for your concern? Does it sound like the kitchen has safe, standard operating procedures in effect?
  • Time Your Visit. Restaurants have obvious peak hours (lunch and dinner) during which their resources are strained to accommodate all their customers. If you make your first visit during non-peak hours, the restaurant staff will be better able and more likely to help you.
  • Choose a Celiac-Friendly Cuisine. Some cuisines are better choices for celiacs than others. Rice-based Asian cuisines, for example, often have dozens of options for the gluten-free diet, while the local pizzeria won’t and, regardless, present a very high risk of cross-contamination.
  • Choose a Restaurant Invested in Quality Service. Some restaurant business models create a better environment for Celiacs than do others. Restaurants that focus on high-quality food, service, and fresh ingredients will be far more likely to offer you special treatment than restaurants geared toward speed, low prices, and pre-prepared items.
  • When Possible, Choose Owner-Operated Restaurants. Small, owner-operated restaurants are more likely to be Celiac-friendly than bigger chains and franchises (with some obvious exceptions). Owner-operated restaurants usually make the food on site. On the other hand, some bigger chains have ingredients that are partially prepared off-site, making modification more difficult. The staff at a big chain are also less likely to know the composition of the dishes they serve.
  • Be Considerate. It’s important to show appreciation to the restaurant staff when they go the extra mile to accommodate you. They see a lot of demanding and disgruntled customers in the course of an evening. Your smiling face and kind words will make you stand out; it will be remembered and rewarded!
  • Help Yourself By Helping Them. Encourage an environment where helping you and providing for your needs meets the needs of the restaurant. After becoming a steady customer, tipping well, and being pleasant, you can take your relationship to the next level. You can for example offer to refer your friends or host a dinner at the restaurant. The restaurant will see that accommodating the needs of Celiacs helps their business thrive.
  • Give Positive Feedback. Mention responsive staff to the management. Because restaurant managers usually hear complaints from customers, your compliments will be a breath of fresh air. This will help you stand out in a good way with both the management and your helpful server, cementing your long-term relationship with them.
  • Bring Gluten-Free Friends. Ask the restaurant manager if she would like more gluten-free customers. If she says yes, tell the manager you will recommend the restaurant to the Celiac community. One way you can do this is by e-mailing Triumph Dining at reviews @ triumphdining dot com and we will look into adding your restaurant to the next addition of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide. Remember: when you visit regularly, you are a valuable customer, but when you start sending your friends, you become an extremely valuable customer!