by Tracey Wickersham
Portage Bay Cafe brunch.
It’s brunch, and I’m in a quandary. Shall I get the fluffy Swedish pancakes, the hearty buckwheat pancakes, the vanilla custard-soaked French toast or the always satisfying seasonal hash? This is a question I rarely face—and I’m delighted to have this bounty of options, here at Portage Bay Café. You see, I have celiac disease, and have to eat gluten-free. When I first learned this a few years ago, I was just short of devastated. I like to eat — and visions of deprivation were the sugarplums dancing in my head. But thanks to Seattle’s robust food scene and restaurateurs who don’t shy away from dietary limitations, I’m happy to report that gluten-free dining in Seattle is not only easy, it’s delicious.
Portage Bay Café is my standout pick for brunch, due to the tasty and deep roster of GF choices, all accompanied by steaming mugs of locally roasted Fonte coffee. For lunch and dinner, the options are vast. In fact, I find it’s a rare Seattle restaurant that isn’t willing and able to work with me to create a memorable meal, but here are a few recommendations.
Many Italian restaurants in Seattle are among my regular choices. A gluten-free panini and heirloom tomato salad lunch on the Pink Door’s patio on a summer day is pretty hard to beat. Here’s a tip: ask about the somewhat-secret-not-on-the-menu “caramello” for dessert, if you are a fan of creamy, decadent, GF deliciousness. I’ve also enjoyed outstanding gluten free Italian meals at Tulio, Volterra and La Rustica.
Andaluca never disappoints with a special gluten free menu of Mediterranean-inspired shareable small plates and entrees. I was able to eat almost everything on the delicious locally-inspired menu at Terra Plata recently. Interested in a night of great live music and famous Wild Ginger cuisine at the downstairs venue, The Triple Door? Just ask for the gluten free menu and enjoy great Asian fusion tastes. And of course our famous fresh seafood is usually GF friendly; the folks at the various Anthony’s locations, Ray’s Boathouse and Blueacre are always happy to feed me.
If my plans include theater at ACT, the Paramount or The 5th Ave Theatre, a short skip up Pike Street to Tango is one of my favorite habits. They offer a gluten-free menu, and happy hour is a steal. I find a mojito and a few HH bites is a great pre-show meal, although I can never visit without also ordering the “cheap dates”—a bacon-wrapped medjool date that is out of this world.
More in a burger sort of mood? Blue Moon Burgers courts their gluten-free brethren with GF buns and a dedicated fryer for their tasty fries. Uneeda Burger and Lunchbox Laboratory will also serve their utterly decadent burgers on GF buns on request.
Le Panier macarons.
Wandering through the Pike Place Market is one of my favorite pleasures, and I’ve thankfully lost count of my number consumed of delectable French macaron cookies, made with almond flour, from Le Panier. Seattle is also awash in excellent small batch ice cream and gelato: Molly Moon’s, Full Tilt, Street Treats, Gelatiamo and Bottega Italiano are some of my faves.
Gluten-free snacks at CenturyLink Field.
If you’re a baseball fan you’ll find the folks at Seattle’s Safeco Field have us covered, with gluten-free beer AND gluten-free fish and chips offered from a stand on the 200 level. Going to Key Arena for a Seattle Storm game, perhaps? Gluten-free food stand near Section 125: score! Soccer or football your game? Enjoy GF beer, hotdogs, chili cheese dogs, nachos and sweets at CenturyLink Field, from the dedicated gluten-free stand on the main concourse between sections 110-112.
If you are on the sightseeing go and seeking snacks or picnic options, both Whole Foods and Seattle’s homegrown natural grocery PCC (Puget Consumers Co-op, multiple locations) carry extensive gluten-free choices.
I’m lucky, too, that in my West Seattle neighborhood, the Beer Junction offers an outstanding collection of gluten free beers and ciders, certainly one of the best I’ve ever found, to stock my own fridge (and possibly yours.)
Bon appetit! And please add your own Seattle gluten-free suggestions or questions, below.