By now we know about the perils of gluten, and many of us can recite a compendium of gluten-related ailments. Restaurants were slow on the uptake; for a long time a gluten-averse person could safely choose either a simple hunk of meat and steamed veggies or a pile of salad. Apparently dining establishments were waiting to see if “gluten-free” was merely a blip on the trend meter or an important new dietary dictate.
At last, awareness set in, and restaurants got hip to the gluten-free factor, expanding menus to accommodate restricted eaters, making sure that the new offerings were delicious for everyone. For those suffering from celiac disease to those who are pestered by mild gluten sensitivity, an Edinan may enjoy a range of gluten-free meal options that are both worry-free and yummy-full. If you’re sick of hearing yourself say “Hold the bun,” then it’s time to rejoice, because those days are over—you can order a gajillion different menu items with confidence. Check out these non-gluten consumable comestibles to start.
COCONUT CURRIED CHICKEN
This establishment is Edina’s indisputable ringleader, bellwether and pioneer when it comes to fine yet healthy dining. The Good Earth makes the latest trends approachable, while still serving us just what we’re in the mood to eat. This is no small feat: The joint is always packed, so get there early. What’s more, the Good Earth just unveiled 50 new gluten-sensitive entrées. Old faves like the chicken curry have been updated: Chicken breast, bok choy, sweet red and green peppers, purple onion and fresh basil, wok-seared with coconut milk and Indian curry, served with sweet mango chutney and jasmine rice. Even if you’re not gluten-sensitive, it stands to reason that these items are made with extra care and attention. At the Good Earth, it shows. $12.95. 3460 Galleria; 952.925.1001.
BUILD YOUR OWN BURGER
Take matters into your own capable hands and create a veritable burger masterpiece at Tavern on France. Start with a mouth-watering Angus patty and then begin accessorizing. Topping options include the traditional– tomato, red onion, leaf lettuce and cheddar cheese –and the stuff that shows you’re a serious burger connoisseur like fried egg, bacon and banana peppers. Throw it all on a Bittersweet Bakery gluten-free bun and you’re ready to indulge with the best of ’em. $12. 6740 France Ave. S.; 952.358.6100.
We never imagined we’d hear the words “gluten-free” and “tequila bar” in one sentence, but the Cocina del Barrio makes it seem perfectly natural. Anything gluten-free on the cocina’s menu is marked with a discreet red asterisk, and there many little red stars sprinkled throughout the enticing repertoire. Take the garlic, ancho and chipotle chile marinated shrimp: The pink fatties are quickly grilled and served on a mountain of the poster child of wonder-grains, quinoa. Avocado, snappy cucumber and a robust chile de arbol salsa make perfect counterparts of creamy, crunchy, cool and spicy. Enough said? ¡Buen provecho! $20. 5036 France Ave. S; 952.920.1860.
This pizza pie and mozzarella bar makes the most beautiful, creamy, soft and fresh mozzarella in-house every day, and believe it or not, it is blessedly gluten-free. The Mozza Tasting makes an elegant light lunch or a dreamy first course to share. You’ll sample the clean, pure-tasting fiore di latte (milk flower) and our favorite, a decadent, cream-filled burrata. The rollatini is a thrilling hand-rolled cheese filled with things we love: prosciutto one evening, sundried tomato another. The Italian bufala, made with earthy buffalo milk, bears a pungent smokiness, and the fresh ricotta is as fluffy as a cloud and just as heavenly. All the milky loveliness gets a drizzle of lush, unfiltered olive oil and comes with a sweet mixed-fruit relish. Ignore the bread; believe us, you won’t miss it one bit. Small tasting for two to three people, $17. 3910 W. 50th St.; 952.288.2882.
SWEET ITALIAN PIZZA
People say it can’t be done, and in most cases, they’re right. But Pizzeria Lola defies popular wisdom by turning out an excellent gluten-free crust that supports, not detracts, from high-quality toppings, just as a pizza crust should. What’s the secret? Who cares! Since it’s one of the few “safe” and delicious pizza crusts we know, enjoy a classic pie in all its glory, like the nicely loaded, fairly traditional Sweet Italian. A base layer of thick ’n’ tomato-y house red sauce makes a deeply flavorful backdrop for a scattering of house-made fennel sausage, fresh mozzarella, provolone cheese, sliced red onion and zippy peppadews, a small, sweet-hot pepper. The crust demands special notice lest it pass by unremarked: It’s crispy on the edges, chewy in all the right places, and beautifully blistered from the heat of the formidable wood-burning oven. Next time, branch out with the kimchi-laden Lady Zaza or try the Forager, sporting three kinds of mushrooms. $15; $4 extra for gluten-free crust. And you can even enjoy beer with your pizza at Pizzeria Lola: they serve Mission Pale Ale, which is gluten-free. 5557 Xerxes Ave. S.; 612.424.8338.
ROADSIDE SMOKY PLATE
Although “gluten-free” might sound like a prescription at times, there is nothing medicinal about the gluten-free options at Rice Paper. The roadside smoky plate re-creates one of the owner’s vivid childhood memories from Vietnam. We enjoyed custard-like tofu cubes drenched in a sweet-hot “roadside” sauce, featuring ginger, mint, lemongrass and cilantro. A red and green cabbage salad adds crunch and a welcome clean simplicity. If you add extra soy sauce, make sure it’s gluten-free: the regular stuff can be loaded with gluten. Smoky plate, $11. 3948 W. 50th St.; 952.288.2888.
MIXED VEGETABLE GRILL
The gluten-sensitive may well be tired of vegetables, but Crave’s mixed grill overcomes the ho-hum world of greens, and vegetarians and health nuts need not be excluded from the world of flame-cooked fare. This veritable cornucopia will make anyone forget about the very existence of gluten. Thick slices of grilled Portobello mushrooms are beefy, replete with charred edges for a bit of crunch, served along with broccolini and roasted tomato. This delicious mélange is accompanied by a healthy bed of toasted cous cous. $16.95. 3520; W. 70th St.; 952.697.6000.