When Andrea Tucker’s family wants to eat at a restaurant, it’s not a simple outing. It starts with researching the restaurant to ensure it has gluten-free options, followed by listing questions for servers and cooks to convey that she and her daughter have serious conditions that prevent them from eating gluten.
But when they visit at least nine eateries in Baltimore, they can dine without fear.
Tucker, the founder of the Baltimore Gluten Free website, said compared with other cities she’s visited, Baltimore has an abundance of restaurants that are dedicated gluten-free, meaning they contain no trace of the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye.
Tucker, a Cedarcroft resident, does not eat gluten due to a thyroid autoimmune disease, and her daughter has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which ingesting gluten damages the small intestine.
“Many people with celiac or gluten intolerance rarely eat out or don’t eat out,” Tucker, 48, said. “To not be able to join friends and family out, or when you do have this crushing kind of worry that you might get sick, is really significant.”
Restaurants whose menus are entirely free of gluten alleviate that concern, and Baltimore has a number of them.
“Baltimore should be bragging about this,” Tucker said.
301 W. 29th St., Baltimore; 443-681-1902; amanotaco.com
Amano Taco offers tacos, bowls and Mexican side dishes from a stall at R. House in Remington. Taco varieties — served on corn tortillas — include chicken with pickled onion, cilantro and chipotle crema; chorizo with pickled onion, cilantro and spicy arbol salsa; and spicy shrimp with sauteed corn, pickled cabbage, cilantro and lime cilantro aioli.
Because it’s located in a food hall, Amano Taco has the added bonus of close proximity to other cuisine; gluten-free eaters can order there — or at fellow gluten-free stall White Envelope — while unrestricted companions can choose from a number of other stalls.
10709 York Road, Cockeysville; 443-832-3530; divine12cafe.com
Nikita and Teresa Steals, the partners who launched Divine12 Cafe, both have gluten allergies. They wanted to add a safe dining option for people with food intolerances and allergies.
“There’s such this isolation still in the greater market, and because of that there’s food fear,” Nikita Steals said.
Divine12’s menu is entirely organic, GMO-free and peanut-free. Customers with and without dietary restrictions come for the cafe’s fried chicken, apple cider Brussels sprouts and pancakes made with brown rice flour, Steals said.
“We’re considered like the Holy Grail in this area,” she said.
El Gringo Baltimore
This food truck specializes in tacos and arepas — both corn-based vessels naturally free of gluten. Owner Steven Carey offers eight types of each, with fillings such as teriyaki Spam, chipotle shrimp, chorizo and chicken salad.
In addition to its gluten-free baked goods, Harmony Bakery in Hampden is entirely vegan. The bakery offers bagels, bread, cakes, pies and savory pastries using a blend of brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch and sorghum.
Opened in 2012, One Dish Cuisine specializes in allergy-safe dining and has built a following of locals and travelers alike. It was recently named the most allergy-friendly restaurant in America by AllergyEats, a Yelp-like crowdsourcing website and app serving the 15 million Americans with food allergies.
One Dish Cuisine in Ellicott City is perhaps the most friendly cafe in the region for diners with a range of food allergies — the eatery excludes gluten, oats, soy, eggs, fish, shellfish, sesame, peanuts and tree nuts (except coconut in limited products). The cafe is certified gluten-free to 5 parts per million by the National Celiac Association, and it serves sandwiches, pizzas, soups, baked goods and more.
529 E. Belvedere Ave, Baltimore; 443-449-7137; plant-bar.com
Serving fresh juices, smoothies and smoothie bowls, Plantbar is a wellness haven in Belvedere Square. In addition to in-house offerings, Plantbar sells cleanse packages and raw food plans to eat and drink at home. The bar is opening a second location soon in Harbor Point.
Bryson Keens’ daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 1, so the Points South Latin Kitchen owner opened a restaurant where his family and others with the condition could eat worry-free. The South American cuisine at Points South lends itself to gluten-free recipes.
“They don’t have anything to be scared of,” Keens said.
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127 W. 27th St., Baltimore; 410-464-7211; sweet27.com
Suraj Bhatt cut gluten from his diet to ease his arthritis. His Remington restaurant and bakery, Sweet 27, offers gluten-free baked goods, breakfast, tacos and entrees. Popular items include the goat curry, Bombay chicken and cupcakes, and he said most of his customers don’t have dietary restrictions.
“I think people usually come here because the food is good,” Bhatt said. “It helps all those people who have [a] gluten allergy.”
Another stall at R. House food hall, White Envelope serves arepas — Venezuelan corn pockets stuffed with fillings such as pork belly, skate fish and short rib. Chef-owner Federico Tischler offers several varieties arepa patties, made with ingredients such as beets, pork crackling and blood sausage.