Gluten-free options in restaurants have proliferated in the past couple of years, and it's no longer difficult to find a decent, safe gluten-free meal when you're dining out. In fact, multiple chain restaurants offer gluten-free menus.
However, it can be tricky to find a local restaurant that serves gluten-free food when you're traveling, especially if you prefer to avoid the big chains (or if you want to enjoy some local color and flavor). In addition, you may just be looking to broaden your horizons and try something new locally.
That's where gluten-free restaurant directories come in. These listings many of which you can access from your phone can help you narrow down your gluten-free options and zero in on a great new restaurant.
Triumph Dining's Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide. This print book has been my constant companion on the road for several years, and it's paid for itself many times over. I still think it's the most comprehensive listing of gluten-free restaurants around, and the folks at Triumph Dining take great care to verify the information in it. It does have one drawback: it's not available in electronic form. But it's so useful, I don't mind carting the book around.
The Gluten Intolerance Group's Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program. GFRAP, as it's known, teaches restaurants how to serve safe gluten-free meals, and then promotes them on its website. Once you venture beyond major metropolitan areas (such as New York City), the listings contain mainly chain restaurants with gluten-free menus. However, the restaurants included in the program do provide reliably gluten-free meals.
The Gluten-Free Registry. This crowd-sourced directory includes restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, bakeries and other businesses that cater to people looking for gluten-free food. It includes multiple restaurant listings and reviews, including both chain restaurants with GF menus and a significant number of local restaurants with gluten-free options. The Gluten-Free Registry also features Android and iPhone apps. Just one caveat: this is crowd-sourced information, so your mileage may vary. Definitely verify the gluten-free status of your meal with restaurant staff members before digging in.
Gluten-Free Travel Site, another crowd-sourced website, includes user-submitted gluten-free dining and travel reviews of restaurants, hotels and grocery stores. It has thousands of reviews, including many from outside the United States, and is searchable by geographic location, worldwide. You can narrow down your search by zip code or town and have the results displayed on a Google map, from which you can click through to the reviews. Again, this website relies on users, so verify everything. But its worldwide focus (I quickly found several restaurant listings for Paris, not a particularly gluten-free-friendly place), definitely will come in useful when traveling.
Allergy Eats. This site, run by a man whose children have severe food allergies, isn't purely gluten-free; it deals with all allergies, which might make it suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance who have additional food allergies or intolerances. You can search by address and by allergy ("gluten" is included as an allergen). Again, this is a crowd-sourced listing, and it's important to emphasize that not every restaurant included on the lists can prepare a gluten-free meal. In fact, it's not always clear which ones have gluten-free options and which ones do not. The user reviews should help you narrow down your options, but you should probably call the restaurant prior to visiting, as well.
Urban Spoon. Urban Spoon offers restaurant listings for more than 70 major metropolitan areas, and is branching out into Canada and the United Kingdom. To use the site, you choose a metro area, and then scroll down and click "Gluten-Free Friendly" in the left-hand menu (along with any other criteria or feature you wish, such as a particular type of cuisine). The directory will highlight possible restaurants that meet your search parameters. Some will note that they have gluten-free menus, or will have reviews from gluten-free dining patrons. However, it's up to you to research them further, either online or by calling them, to see if they really can produce a safe gluten-free meal.