It's a bummer to go out when you've got allergies or intolerances or, even worse, actual celiac disease. Those with the latter are in for a really bad day if they consume any wheat-derived substances, suffering from all the gastrointestinal issues you can think of (bloating, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea) along with fatigue, pain and a chronic itchy rash, but even those with simple gluten sensitivity – not full-blown celiac – can feel some of the same symptoms.
Luckily, Orlando's restaurants have wised up to the preferences and needs of their patrons, and there are plenty of spots where gluten-free eating doesn't mean staying home while your buds wheat it up. We've compiled a full day of eating and drinking GF in town (with nary a chain to be found!), along with menu suggestions and tips that'll make going out gluten-free a cinch.
Breakfast & Brunch:
Artisan's Table, 22 E. Pine St., 407-730-7499, artisanstableorlando.com
The first two meals of the day, breakfast and brunch, are notoriously carby, but it's totally possible to find decent grub sans gluten. At Artisan's Table, choose the steel-cut oatmeal ($6), topped with dried fruit, nuts and agave syrup, or the Japanese breakfast bowl ($6.50) – sticky rice topped with two eggs, scallion, bacon, togarashi (a Japanese spice mix) and sweet chili sauce. The Greek yogurt bowl ($5) is also packed with protein (i.e., super-satisfying) and boasts a healthy serving of that old GF standby, quinoa, along with fresh berries.
Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen, 2603 Edgewater Drive, 407-930-6282, outpostcollegepark.com
Gluten-free menu items are labeled right on the menu, so you won't feel like you're making a spectacle of yourself. If there's nothing on there that pleases your palate, just let your server know and the chef will come out and customize a dish just for you. The Ivanhoe Groves salad ($9) is pretty hard to beat, though, combining mango, goat cheese, oranges, candied nuts and bacon over arugula, with a melon dressing. Add chicken or shrimp for a small upcharge. All in all, there are more than 10 GF options between the lunch and dinner menus.
Tapa Toro, 8441 International Drive, 407-226-2929, tapatoro.restaurant
There are 33 menu items designated gluten-free at the new Spanish-concept restaurant by the owners of Taverna Opa at I-Drive 360. Chef de cuisine Frank Galeano and executive chef Wendy Lopez are well-versed in offering those with allergies and food preferences – whether GF, vegan or paleo – cuisine that fits their palates, including roasted rack of lamb with celeriac puree ($32), Scottish salmon with olive and roasted red pepper salsa ($26) and all three of the dramatic paellas. Smile pretty at chef Lopez and she might slice you off a sliver of the prized pata negra (a super-funky Iberico ham aged for up to six years) that's mounted on a brass display at the restaurant.
Jillycakes, 125 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 863-797-4233, jillycakesorlando.com
Cupcake Wars winner Jillian Hopke puts out two flavors of gluten-free cupcake every single day, no repeats, at her Winter Park location tucked in between Shake Shack and Trader Joe's. If you've got a crowd to sweeten up, she only needs 24 hours notice for a custom GF order. Pick from any Jillycakes flavor (they can all be made gluten-free, except Oreo and Cookie Butter), including S'mores, Florida Citrus, Boston Crème and Lemon Crunch. Bonus: If you're dairy-free, too, request the special frosting that doesn't contain lactose or milk products.
Sportstown Billiards, 2414 E. Robinson St., 407-894-6258, sportstownbilliards.com
Redlight Redlight, 2810 Corrine Drive, 407-893-9832, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com
Raglan Road, 1640 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, 407-938-0300, raglanroad.com
A couple of rules if you're living gluten-free and looking to get a buzz on: Hard ciders are almost always GF. If you're anywhere with Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, Crispin or Strongbow, you're home free, and just about every bar in Orlando has one of these. As for beer, you do have options. Sure, barley and malt are out of the question, but a few years ago, beer giant Anheuser-Busch released Redbridge, a sorghum-based beer brand, so it's pretty prevalent. You can get it at Mellow Mushroom, Raglan Road and Sportstown Billiards in the Milk District. Redlight Redlight carries New Planet, a sorghum- and rice-based gluten-free beer out of Colorado that donates a portion of proceeds toward eco-friendly causes. When in doubt, hit up Total Wine and BYOB it. Just check the label first: If it doesn't say "gluten-free" on the label, it isn't.
Late Night Dining:
Oblivion Taproom, 5101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-802-4800, obliviontaproom.com
Fill your boozy belly with GF fourthmeal snacks until 2 a.m. at Oblivion. Just let your server know that you shun gluten and the kitchen will pay special attention to cross-contamination (that is, they'll fry your wings and fries separately from other customers' battered menu options). Any of the sandwiches are fair game, too, as gluten-free bread and buns are available. An ideal pre-hangover food is the Man in Black ($15), a perfectly heavy fried egg sandwich with bacon gravy and cheddar cheese.