As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a self-proclaimed foodie.
I also, unfortunately, have a gluten intolerance. I know that phrase elicits automatic eye-rolls from people, but I don’t really care because so many of the issues that plagued me for years – anemia, migraines, fatigue, breakouts, and constant stomach problems, some of which even hospitalized me – have become minimal or disappeared entirely. So think what you want, but know that it has been a long, unpleasant journey to get to this point. Ain’t no way I’m giving up pizza that easily.
But I’m betting if you’re reading this, you aren’t a skeptic, and so let me get to the good stuff . . . all the gluten-friendly carbs your workout routine can handle!
Since I don’t have full-blown Celiac’s, please note that most of these restaurants are not certified gluten-free facilities, merely gf-friendly. If you’re looking for a certified facility, try One Dish Cuisine, located in Ellicott City, an expert in all kinds of food allergies, not just gluten.
I’ve also left out any national chains from this list, because (as I’ve also mentioned before) I’m a big believer in dining locally whenever you can.
Finally, I’d like to point out that while being gluten-free sometimes sucks, and I do admit to the occasional daydream of freshly baked French bread, you can eat nearly anywhere with a gluten intolerance (my Celiac friends, I’m sorry. . . I know it’s a different story). Most places already have naturally gluten-free dishes (especially in Baltimore, where good seafood abounds), can adapt existing ones to accommodate your needs, or even offer gluten-free bread choices so that you can have your sandwich and actually eat it, too. This list does not include the many, many, restaurants who fall into these categories, nor should it be considered a comprehensive guide.
Instead, here’s the list of Baltimore-area restaurants that in my opinion, go above and beyond in making sure I leave them carboloaded.
Verde – I LOVE pizza. I think all humans love pizza. Ergo, if you do not love pizza, you are not human. This theory will be immensely helpful if Invasion of the Body Snatchers ever actually happens. In the meantime, you should get all the pizza-eating practice that you can at Verde. A chef I worked with for an event tipped me off to this place, and let me just tell you . . . I’ve tried gluten-free pizza in more restaurants than I can count, and can say with 100% certainty that this stuff is the best in town. They also have awesome burrata, (order the Bella Faccia – mozzarella topped with prosciutto), a solid cocktail menu, and if you’re feeling particularly naughty, a range of desserts including: Nutella pizza, ricotta honey pizza, flourless chocolate cake, and my personal favorite – affogato.
Aldo’s – If you want gourmet Italian, and some of the best food you can eat in Baltimore, look no further. Everything at Aldo’s is perfect, from the impressive wine list to the gluten-free pasta to the Scotch-glazed lobster risotto. Yes, you read that last sentence properly. You’re welcome.
Polenta – This tiny Hampden hideaway is entirely gluten-free, so my Celiac friends, rejoice! It features all your favorite classic Italian comfort food, like a gf lasagna, tiramisu, meatballs, and a million other things you forgot you were missing.
Miss Shirley’s – I am obsessed with brunch, and Miss Shirley’s KNOWS THEIR BRUNCH. Not only do they have some of the most creative brunch dishes in the area, they also are extremely sensitive to gluten intolerances and Celiac disease. One of the first things your server will ask is if anyone in your dining party has a food allergy . . . and then they’ll be able to tell you about their gf pancakes, gf bread, and which sauces are gluten-free (something I’ve found few restaurants actually know offhand).
Corner Pantry – Owned by a Baltimore native and a Brit (already a point in its favor, because really, what’s better than a British accent?) The Corner Pantry has a rotating weekly menu with a gluten-free baked good option. They also offer Saturday Brunch specials, often including a French Toast made out of their homemade gf brioche. See ya next Saturday!
Sofi’s Crepes – Gluten-free crepes. Savory, sweet, cheap, and really, really good. I’ll leave it at that.
Sweet 27 – Another 100% gluten-free restaurant, this is one of my favorite places in Baltimore. They have a complete gf bakery that makes every kind of sweet treat you can crave, an awesome brunch (they regularly do $5 brunch days, where everything on the menu is $5), an extensive bar, and a multi-cultural menu that will satisfy all your cravings. They also happen to be insanely inexpensive, especially considering just how good their food is. This is not your mama’s gf restaurant, and my gluten eating friends and family enjoy it just as much as I do.
Clark Burger – Burgers, poutine, and spiked shakes in between . . . Clark Burger offers gf burger buns that are actually really good. Their garlic frites are also pretty fabulous, but be prepared to share, because nobody can possibly finish a serving single-handedly.
Abbey Burger Bistro – Similar to Clark Burger, Abbey Burger Bistro offers a gf burger bun option. Here you can get super-creative with dozens of gf burger toppings, meat choices, and even a handful of gf sides.
I’m still just a few years into this gf thing, and am constantly making (happy!) new discoveries of gf friendly places. If I missed one, please let me know!
Happy chowing down, Charm City!