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Gluten Free Seattle–IFBC

by Karen on September 14th, 2013

  

Our constant companion, Mt Rainier, hope you get to see it!

 Welcome to our fair city!

While this post is for my fellow food bloggers in town for the International Food Bloggers Conference at the W Hotel in Downtown Seattle, most anyone visiting Seattle looking for gluten free dining options will find it helpful.

The post includes restaurants where we have successfully dined without being “glutened”. They either have gluten free identified on their menus and/or they know how to prepare your food (most can handle other food sensitivities as well).  You must, of course, ask questions as always to be sure the restaurant is right for you. 

My big pet peeve now are restaurants catering to the GF crowd who aren’t celiac friendly — it definately pays to ask questions no matter where you eat.  This list helps you narrow the search a bit.

I will start with Downtown for those who want something close by but as a transplant myself who has lived in Florida, North Dakota, Southern California, Texas, and now Seattle for over half my life– I encourage you to share a taxi  with a friend and visit some of these area neighborhoods.  It is well worth the extra expenditure and time to explore our unique neighborhoods so you have the full Seattle experience while you visit.  Seattle is one of the most unique cities in the United States not only in its’ topography but also in its’ commerce and food/wine scene.  We are proud to show it off!

Downtown Seattle Gluten Free Dining

One of my favorite downtown restaurants is Wild Ginger. It is always busy but it’s big so you shouldn’t have trouble getting a table most nights.  The pains they take to provide a gluten free meal are incredible.  They are located 2 blocks from the W Hotel and provide consistent quality.  Here is a previous post with detailed GF entrees.

If you are shopping downtown, stop in for lunch at the Nordstrom Cafe at 5th and Pine on the same floor as the skybridge.  They have great salads and quick table turnover.  Be sure to mention your needs so they can be careful in preparation and help you choose the best gluten free option.

If you are a steak lover both The Capital Grille and the Metropolitan Grill (a Seattle classic) make adjustments for gluten free meals.  We have eaten at both easily but make it the Met since it is unique to Seattle, you might run into a few local sports figures as this is a favorite spot for many.  El Gaucho is another favorite steak house but for most— a special occasion place with table side service that is unmatched.

Adjacent to the Seattle Art Museum is the restaurant Taste which might be a good spot for happy hour.  Again just 2 blocks from the W.   During happy hour they feature a charcuterie plate (featuring Salumi below), a burger, or gazpacho salad that should all be available gluten free.

In the Pike Place Market area the Steelhead Diner and Etta’s offer a variety of gluten free options, Steelhead has good dinner options.  But Etta’s has a fun Crabby Hour, brunch, lunch and dinner with many options.  Owned by Tom Douglas (a celebrity chef contributor to my book Cooking Gluten Free!) Etta’s has been making gluten free accomodations for people for at least the past thirteen years and is well-versed.  I seem biased I know, but look at their menus and you will see what I mean.  Aqua is another seafood spot further down on the Seattle waterfront and is owned by El Gaucho— more casual but still spendy.

For wine lovers, be sure to stop in at RN74, 3 blocks from the W, featuring an extensive wines by the glass menu at this Michael Mina hip and relatively new spot in Seattle.  Taylor Shellfish oysters are available in the bar for those not able to make it to the Melrose Market on Capitol Hill (see below). And at RN74 those oysters will taste extra delish with the perfectly paired wine!

And finally in the downtown category,  if you find yourself in Pioneer Square stop in at Salumi’s Artisan Cured Meats for a selection of cured meats, cheese, and olives.  Owned by NY Chef Mario Batali’s father and providing some of the best cured meats around.  They are also now offered in the Metropolitan Market grocery stores all over Seattle.  Be sure to ask the GF questions because I have not done so in quite some time.  Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain made certain to include Salumi’s in their visits to Seattle.

Capitol Hill Neighborhood –Seattle Gluten Free Dining

Capitol Hill is the neighborhood closest to the city with the most urban feel to it.  Many young people start out with apartments or condos here (as did I).  Wonderful old buildings with huge apartments overlooking the city now probably out of reach due to high rents.  Even still, the neighborhood is gritty in parts and always awake. There are many new restaurants to explore and if you drive around Capitol Hill you will see some gorgeous grand old homes–more to the north end of the hill where Monsoon is located.

Monsoon is a long time favorite of ours.  Though each time we go we ask questions to be sure we order the right menu items.  They also have a very nice wines by the glass menu (and they are an IFBC sponsor!)  Everytime we dine here we are blown away.  Fantastic Vietnamese food.  Next on our list to try is Monsoon’s sibling Ba Bar another IFBC sponsor.

Poppy is a restaurant that I have yet to visit but it is Jerry Traunfeld’s (who brought the Herbfarm Restaurant to national fame when he was the chef, The Herbfarm is iconic and has always taken great pains to serve those on a gluten free diet).  It is well worth an advance phone call to see if Poppy’s platter of small dishes served family style to the table are available gluten free.

For some of the freshest most amazing oysters either visit a restaurant featuring Taylor Shellfish oysters or visit their storefront in the Melrose Market up on Capitol Hill.  Within the market you will find specialty cheeses, meat, oysters, the restaurant Sitka & Spruce (I absolutely love how you can watch your food prep on their big farm table) and Homegrown a local, organic, sustainable sandwich shop with locations in various neighborhoods around town.  Homegrown has gluten free bread for their sandwiches that they bake themselves in a shared bakery with wheat flour so go at your own risk.  They use best practices in cleaning their equipment between production runs and my son (who will get sick if there is cross contamination) has had no problems.  To me that is a big stamp of approval, we are extremely picky!

Queen Anne Neighborhood–Seattle Gluten Free Dining

The Queen Anne neighborhood is another in-city area with grand old homes with spectacular views of the city.  There is a famous look-out point on Highland Drive where you might want to take your picture with the city as a backdrop (Kerry Park). Before moving to Capitol Hill I rented a small closet-sized apartment with the tiniest kitchen I have ever seen.  There are two distinct parts of Queen Anne: lower and upper.  Lower Queen Anne is more urban and very busy with the Seattle Center at its’ heart and upper Queen Anne is home to many families.

On lower Queen Anne two sister restaurants sit side by side Toulouse Petit and Peso’s Kitchen and Lounge.  Both are always very busy and offer good food at a fair price. Toulouse boasts the best happy hour in the nation and Peso’s has a great breakfast menu!  A quieter alternative with excellent, consistent food (even during Restaurant Week) is Crow –always an amazing, quality meal.  On upper Queen Anne you will find Grub which is full of families getting their evening meal and Homegrown–mentioned above. 

On the North side of Queen Anne on Nickerson Street is the Book Bindery–this place is owned by one of the original owners of F5 Networks. Michael cashed out and built this restaurant in an old book bindery. He crafts some excellent wine in the adjacent Almquist Family Vintners which is open for tastings and boasts a long list of single varietal wine. The last time I talked to him he was also developing a craft distillery on-site.  For the restaurant he hired Thomas Keller’s Chef de Partie from Per Se in NYC to run the kitchen at the Book Bindery.  We love to eat at the bar and visit with other guests.

For a special Seattle experience Canlis is fine dining at its’ best (but I am also completely at home at our final Queen Anne suggestion……)

And on the opposite end of the spectrum for breakfast is The Shanty Cafe.  This is an original hole in the wall place that we love because of its’ authenticity, good cup of coffee, and the garden omelet.  The owner began working on gluten free possibilities for my daughter before most places even began to think about gluten free–just ask which items they can make GF.  You will feel comfortable there no matter what you are wearing or how late you were out the night before!

Magnolia Neighborhood–Seattle Gluten Free Dining

A bit further west from Queen Anne is Magnolia.  The various bus tour companies bring out of town visitors here because they can circle the neighborhood and show guests:

– our vibrant fishing industry at Fisherman’s Terminal
– the Ballard Locks (a mini panama canal so to speak) where you can watch the ships traverse from the Puget Sound along the ship canal and into Lake Union (they can be accessed from both Ballard and Magnolia) We love to go across with our bikes so we can bike around Magnolia and Ballard all the way to Shilshole Beach.
Discovery Park  534 acres of wooded area, beaches, meadows (that feels a bit like the San Juan Islands) but Discovery Park is just 10 minutes from downtown.
-drive past homes with views of Elliott Bay
-visit another park with views of downtown Seattle
-and visit the quaint Magnolia village of shops and restaurants along McGraw St (which is the location of the Magnolia Farmers Market where we sell Mama Ks Gluten Free Bakery items–my next appearance there is September 28, 2013 )  though I’d put a plug in there for the curious!

If you visit, be sure to go to Fisherman’s Terminal and check out our local fish market The Wild Salmon.  We buy fish there each week and it is always fresh and wonderful.  Next door is Chinook’s–we have two favorite meals there: the crab caesar salad without croutons and the salmon with sun-dried tomato butter.  Be sure to emphasize your gluten free needs.  Chinook’s is part of the Anthony’s group of restaurants started by Budd Gould in 1969.  Budd is a long time family friend through our uncle Brock, his restaurants are consistent and well-run, a longtime Seattle favorite.

A quick lunch option offering some of the best Greek food in the city is at Nikos Gyros.  Again ask questions.  I get the chicken souvlaki salad which is excellent but the best they can do is scrap the grill clean because it is a shared space that is also used to crisp the pita bread.

Mondellos is an Italian restaurant that offer Maninis Gluten Free Pasta as an option.  They use best practices but it never hurts to remind them of avoiding cross contamination when they prepare your meal.  And ask which sauces are gluten free. A number of other restaurants in town now offer Maninis pasta too.

Szmania’s is a neighborhood gathering spot that has cooked GF for us since 1997 and is also a contributor to my cookbook.  They can accomodate any special diet needs with ease. We like to sit at the counter and watch the fun in the kitchen.  A previous post on Szmania’s.

Ballard Neighborhood–Seattle Gluten Free Dining

For the gluten free I think the very best stop in Ballard is at Veraci Pizza. It is off the beaten track from all the other Ballard restaurants but it is hands down the best gluten free pizza crust available in Seattle.  They bring in a gluten free mix for the crust from somewhere in Europe and make thin crust pizza in their wood-fired ovens.  I have a role in their improved crust—it is now partially baked before they top the crust due to our suggestion.  We always do that with our homemade crust and once they tried it they never looked back.   Call first to be sure they have GF crust on hand and haven’t sold out.

Delancey is another pizza place in Ballard and again off the beaten track a bit. But the catch is you need to bring your own crust and they will top it and bake in their wood-fired pizza oven.  Our crust is amazing when they cook it!Previous post on Delancey.

Here is a quick run down on a few additional Ballard spots:

Portage Bay Cafe is a good breakfast spot, with other neighborhood locations, local, organic, sustainable.
– Walrus and The Carpenter is great for steak tartare and oysters though impossible to get a table without a very long wait unless you get there when they open.
Ray’s Cafe is a Seattle landmark with the very best bloody mary’s in town, consistent seafood, and a great deck.
 – Skillet has morphed from their food truck beginnings and has a location in Ballard now with gluten free options noted on the menu, their short rib pot roast is amazing melt in your mouth home-cookin’. You can also find them in Seattle Center and on Capitol Hill.
La Carta de Oaxaca is very good Mexican but you will need to ask questions to get the right GF entree.

 Fremont Neighborhood–Seattle Gluten Free Dining

A new Iron Chef Maria Hines restaurant is Agrodolce which is organic Sicilian cuisine.  I ate there with a large group when it first opened and found a number of gluten free items.  Blue Moon Burgers is a favorite place that my son visits a lot. He says they have a cool app for ordering out and this link about their GF items.  Fremont is a fun place to hang out, I love their vintage store that is below street level and they have a great PCC Natural Market as well.

Greenlake Neighborhood–Seattle Gluten Free Dining

No trip to Seattle would be complete without a walk around Greenlake.  And after all the indoor conference sitting I encourage you to get outdoors!  After your walk, visit the Greenlake Bar and Grill, they offer many gluten free items. My daughter worked there last summer and if there was anything they didn’t know about GF they certainly do know now!  I am impressed with their quality and value.  For fine dining around Greenlake, Nell’s is a Seattle classic.  They often host winemaker dinners and good food.  And PCC also has a store here, my old stomping grounds for teaching gluten free cooking classes.

South Lake Union Neighborhood–Seattle Gluten Free Dining

There are tons of restaurants in this hip new area at the base of Amazon corporate.  The only ones I have been to though are Blue Moon Burgers mentioned above, Lunchbox Laboratory (a place I loved more when it was a hole in the wall but still makes our kids happy) and Portage Bay Cafe (above).  This area also boasts the flagship store of REI.  A little further north on the eastside of Lake Union is I Love Sushi and we have spent a fair amount of time eating there, it’s one restaurant our college-aged kids love love love and their fish is very fresh!  Be sure to add in a visit to the new MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) on the south end of Lake Union if you want to learn more about Seattle.

  Wow–now I am hungry!  Enjoy your visit and let me know how it went!!

 

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