Those who know me know that I have a lot of food allergies, being both allergic to wheat and soy and recently diagnosed as a probable celiac. I’m also allergic to bell and chili peppers, most nuts, many fruits, etc, so it is sometimes quite a challenge to go out to eat. Friends HATE asking my husband and I over to their house, so finding a way to eat out is important unless I want to give a lot of dinner parties myself or eat alone! So we have been experimenting, with mixed results, with some of the local restaurants here in the South Bay.
It occurred to me that my hard won knowledge of where to eat and be safe in the South Bay might be of help to other celiacs or others avoiding gluten for other reasons such as weight control, general health, etc. So periodically I will put information in this blog about local restaurants I’ve found that are helpful to people with allergies as well as items I’ve tried that had hidden gluten where least expected. Just look for the “Gluten Free” category or tag at the right side bar to find them all!
For my “inaugural” article, I want to write about my current favorite place to go out to eat — Marmalade Cafe. There is a Marmalade Cafe in El Segundo in the new El Segundo Plaza at the corner of Rosecrans and Sepulveda, (unfortunately, the one in Palos Verdes has gone out of business) they’re very accommodating and super delicious to me with my many food issues. Their menu has many chicken dishes that are normally served over pasta, and they will happily serve them over their delicious gluten free mashed potatoes or over rice, your choice. They also make the sauces with cornstarch instead of flour. My favorite is a chicken in an artichoke lemon sauce, but the Chicken Marsala is also delicious. Both are usually served with an arugula and red onion side salad that is so delicious and the perfect peppery compliment to the chicken dishes. When I eat there, I don’t feel deprived at all.
The other thing they do very well is that their menu fully describes the item — since I have so many allergies, it is horrible to me when restaurant chefs just decide to get creative in the kitchen and sprinkle almonds on something to make it pretty or slice bell peppers up into their salad mix for “color”. It gets really old having to send food back to the kitchen while your friends are longingly looking at their plates and trying to be polite and wait for your food to be remade!
Another local restaurant that was surprisingly full of choices to me was Il Fornaio in Manhattan Beach. They have a wonderful beet and greens salad and were also quite willing to serve items over rice or potatoes. They also carry gluten free penne if you want one of the pasta dishes. Resisting their great bread is a little harder, of course!
One restaurant I DON’T recommend is Marie Callender’s in Torrance. When I explained to them that I had to eat gluten free, the server looked confused and brought over the manager, who told me bluntly that I couldn’t eat there because they weren’t willing to change anything about the way they cooked anything! Talk about unwelcoming!
I would LOVE to hear from local folks who have found other great places to eat gluten free — do you know of any you can share?