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Gluten Free Restaurants in Greater Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Los Angeles. Courtesy of Channone Arif

Written by a contributor

If you come visit Los Angeles you shall be in gluten free heaven! We are very, very trendy, which is often very annoying, but in the instance of Gluten Free Diets chosen by the individuals, rather than thrust upon them by the great powers that be, I am all for it. Since the great trend hit the states, life for me as a celiac has been a breeze!

Most LA restaurants will have some gluten free options. You can google all the chain restaurants and type "gluten free menu" before you choose one. I do this as I sit down at any chain restaurant to view my options.

In-n-Out Burger has great protein style burgers that come wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun; say "protein style" and they know what you mean. Their fryers are safe too, so enjoy the french fries as well. They have a secret menu which tourists love to hear about. You can get your fries "Animal style," which is drenched in sauce, cheese, and grilled onions.

Red Robin is a burger/diner type chain restaurant. They serve a gluten free bun that is decent, and satisfies my bun craving.

LA is a treasure trove of "ethic" foods. You have to be very careful ordering at these types of places because the workers may not have knowledge of "gluten free". You'll do especially well with:

Persian/arab/mediterean restaurants. But be very careful ordering the rice as it may have noodles (wheat based).

Mexican: great type of ethnic food served here. I don't think it actually counts as ethnic because you can only find it in Soccal. You can ALMOST order anything that is not a burrito, but you have to watch for cross contamination in the deep fryer. I go for tacos, rice and beans. Make sure the tortilla is made from corn. The meat should always be safe.

Asian: sorry folks, you're going to be severely limited both in options and communication. Best to stay away unless you have someone fluent in the native tongue of the establishment (ie take a Korean speaker to Korean, etc). We have great Korean food here. (Editors note: Or, of course you can take a gluten free restaurant card!)

There are so many allergen free type restaurants that cater to gluten free and organic and vegan. Just type "gluten free" in yelp and find a list. Some of these places are seriously tasty.

The best way to keep snacks on hand so you have something to eat in a jam is by taking a stroll through one of our Celiac friendly grocery stores like Trader Joe's (best value), and Sprouts (mid-range pricing but better variety). Both these grocery stores list "gluten free" stickers on the GF foods.

You can also try Whole Foods. It's a high end grocery store. I like the hot food/salad bar because they list all the ingredients for every item served. There is seating in the store, and some stores even have a wine bar.

Last word of advice: get ready for an attitude from your waiter. Be firm. Make sure they understand you are allergic, and that it needs to be listed on the ticket as an allergy, and you'll be ok.

Of course, with fast food or ethnic food you run the risk of underpaid employees not caring one bit aboutyour allergy. Hence InnOut and Red Robin are good choices, and tacos from Mexican restaurants are pretty safe (watch out for deep fried!). Remember a high percentage of service workers all want to be musicians and actors, and obviously it is not working out for them just yet. Don't take their attitude to heart; they're just practicing for when they are "somebody important!"

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Wherever you're going, remember to take a free gluten free restaurant card with you.

I hope that this celiac travel story has helped you. You can help other celiacs travel more safely by telling me about getting gluten free food in your area - remember where you live is a destination too! Send me a report and I'll let thousands of celiacs know.

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