Fast Food Chains – Which have the best Gluten Free offerings?
It’s tough to find food that you know is safe to eat when you’re on the road. When you’ve got a hankering for fast food, your choices are even more limited. We’ve put together this list as a guide for which restaurants we’ve found to be the most friendly to people who are following a gluten free diet.
This restaurant includes options that are fast and almost-fast food options… because really, only one truly fast food restaurant that we know of to date, and frequent, Wendy’s, does a stellar job of providing gluten free options.
Wendy’s is the #1 fast food chain to publish their gluten free menu. Unique offerings such as chili and baked potatoes make it so that you can have something more exciting and filling than just a salad, which, of course, is going to be your standard default gluten-free option just about anywhere. Three cheers for a full (and also reasonably healthy) meal of a side salad, a small chili, a baked potato, and maybe a Frosty!
1a) Arby’s is owned by the same people as Wendy’s. We never went there when we weren’t concerned about eating gluten free, and we still don’t eat there now, and thus can’t personally recommend it. But since you’re looking, here’s a link to Arby’s gluten free menu - it’s nice that they publish this. But a brief scan suggests that the only full meal you can eat as is on the normal menu is a salad. You can eat their meat on its own without a bun…but is there much fun in that? Per usual, you can also have many condiments and beverages. Woohoo? Not really.
Almost everything at Chipotle is gluten free! The only way you can’t have your food is in a soft flour tortilla. You can have soft corn tortillas, crispy corn taco shells, burrito bowls, and some of the heartiest salads around. At our favorite and most frequented locations (Cranston RI and Providence RI), we have watched them carefully change gloves as soon as they hear that we are concerned that our order be gluten free. They do it with a smile, and have obviously been well trained on food allergy issues. They even listen with patience when we are feeling whiny and tell them how they are one of very very few places that really understands, and how we appreciate their efforts so much. Hooray! We love you, Chipotle!
Our favorite is the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad, without the wonton strips. It’s one of few Asian style things we can get at a chain restaurant that we know doesn’t use soy sauce brewed with wheat. (huge exception = PF Chang’s, to be discussed in a later post!)
At our location (North Attleboro, MA), we’ve never experienced a cross-contamination issue. They do say it is something they can’t guarantee will never happen, though… so proceed with an appropriate amount of caution.
That’s pretty much it, folks… at least for places that we frequent and can highly recommend.
Places we can’t recommend at all:
1. Taco Bell
Taco Bell used to be one of our favorites. After a late night band practice, they are often the only ones open. We had SUCH HIGH HOPES for the Cantina Bowl. We even read on their very own list of allergens that the Cantina Bowl is pretty much their only option that does not have gluten (see here). HOWEVER… one day we actually tried it. And we were sick. Yup, felt like getting glutened as far as we could tell. So we consulted the internet a bit more, dug a little deeper, and found this. We were not the only ones to get sick from the Cantina Bowl. And apparently, according to glutenaway.blogspot.com, when they talked to a customer service representative, they confirmed that there IS gluten in there. WHAT THE HECK, TACO BELL? You have lost our trust FOREVER and we will never believe your allergen list again. This makes us sadder than you can really ever know.
McDonald’s is ubiquitous. So it would be nice to know that there are some things you can safely eat there, right? But McDonald’s doesn’t publish a list of allergens on their website anywhere that we can find, and doesn’t note allergens in their list of ingredients. So you can deduce what might have gluten and what might not, and pray for no cross-contamination – but do you really want to play that game with your intestines and your poor, poor villi? We don’t.