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Readers Respond: Do You Eat at Fast Food Restaurants with Gluten-Free Options?

Responses: 14

By

Updated January 09, 2011

With the growing popularity of the gluten-free diet, many fast food restaurants have developed gluten-free menus or offer gluten-free options. Still, the risk of cross contamination remains high, and many people in the celiac and gluten intolerant community steer clear of fast food restaurants. Do you eat at fast food restaurants? If so, where? How have you made it work for you? Share your story.

Eating out favorites

Our favorites are In N Out Burger and Wood ranch Grill. At In N Out order a cheeseburger protein style with fries and tell them you have an allergy. They note it on your ticket and make and serve your food seperate. You can't do any better than that! Wood ranch has a fantastic gf menu. All sauces and dressings are gluten free plus many side dish choices. You must remind your waiter to hold the croutons. There are a lot of main course choices and most sandwiches can be ordered lettuce wrapped. They have a flourless very chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream to top off a great meal!
—d.savage

Beware Fast Food Joints

I worked in several fast food restaurants as a college student and I have to say that I would be cautious about eating in such places if you have any food sensitivities. There are a many wonderful, caring people in these restaurants who do a great job but, to be honest, many of them could care less. Even if you can watch your food being made, you don't know that the knife they are using has been properly sanitized or that the kids closing last night didn't drop chicken nuggets in the fryer designated for french fries because it was the only one they left up when they were getting ready to close. I've even had managers who were more concerned about the bottom line than safety. When I reported that a crew member had covered a chicken sandwich in jalapenos (not part of the build!) just because the customer came through five minutes before closing, I was told that if the customer didn't complain it wasn't a problem and that if we reprimanded everyone we wouldn't have any crew.
—Guest Kat

Cross contaminated oil

I don't see how Sonic or similar restaurants can say their fries are gluten free when they are fried in the same oil as onion rings, mazarella sticks, etc. I always look to see what the other menu items are. If they are breaded and fried, unless they have a seperate fryer (which they seldom do), all that breading is in the oil.
—Guest Jessica

Thank Heavens for ChikFilA & Wendy's!

I've eaten the gluten-safe items at both restaurants and had no trouble. I did eat a grilled chicken salad at a Burger King and did not take it well. It could have been isolated to that single restaurant. When traveling, I look for Wendy's or Chik. Thanks for the suggestions!
—Guest Kyuzo

Taco Bell - Not THAT Bad

Correction to the statement of Taco Bell: You can order a tostada (no red sauce - I get mine replaced with sour cream), side of refried beans (again, no red sauce) and side of rice. All GF.
—Guest Elizabeth

bunless hamburger at mcdonalds

I eat at McDonald's all the time. I order a double quarter-pounder with no bun. But I ask then to cook fresh meat and and they make it like a regular sandwich, they just put it on lettuce. And it's very good.
—mcdan1970

Qudoba!

I have found Qdoba to be great! They do Naked burritos and the gumbo made just the way you want them. Check out their clear and easy to understand allergen list! http://www.qdoba.com/Allergen.aspx
—Guest Elizabeth

Jimmy John's

I love Jimmy John's. You can get an "unwhich" there, which means any sandwich wrapped in lettuce in place of bread. Also, I think 5 Guys is great, but they are not just in the NE. They have expanded to other regions, including Chicagoland. Yay! Subway will create a salad with any sandwich fixings.
—TEarp

Burgerville

Burgerville is fast friendly and can be gluten,dairy and egg free! : ) I usually order a burgerville classic burger(no bun, or mayo) in a basket. Their fryer is just for their fries!
—Guest gf-df-ef lady

fast food for celiacs

Don't forget Five Guys in the Northeast. They will prepare a bunless burger and their fries are the only item they put in their fryers. Have eaten there several times w/o incident.
—Guest Darrelyn Kowalczyk

a gluten-free guide to fast food joints

I had the same issue too because every time I went out to eat, I always felt that I had limited choices and options. I got so fed up that I didn't even want to go out because I was sick of eating the same thing. But thankfully after doing some research, I found this guide called the "gluten-free guide to fast food restaurants." It lists all the gluten-free fast food available at most popular fast food chains like mcdonalds, burger king, panera bread, chipotle, starbucks, and others. I truly can't go anywhere to eat without checking this guide. Its very helpful so you should check it out. Here's the site: Glutenfreefastfoodguide.com
—Guest Adam Bryan

Culver's is also helpful

I have eaten at Culver's on road trips. They have an "allergy" menu as well as a button on their cash registers for "allergy". They always seem knowledgeable about gluten and I have found several items I can eat. The managers are always helpful and friendly.
—Guest Llochen

Caution Chick-fil-a

I very much appreciate this review of fast food restaurants. One caveat. I read this article because I have migraines related to gluten and other triggers. The article mentions that Chick-fil-A has the best gluten-free menu. However, I have found that all of Chick-fil-A's chicken causes migraines in me, probably due to MSG found in its seasonings and chicken broth. Other than that, the article closely matches my experience with migraines. Arby's is good. McD's not too bad. KFC and Taco Bell are bad.
—Guest GuestOkie

Pei Wei is the Way!

There is a Pei Wei Asian Food (affiliated with PF Chang's Asian Restaurant) that does a fabulous job in Woodbury, MN. Pei Wei is an upscale dine-in or take-out eatery chain. They are familiar with accommodating gluten-free diets, as well as many other allergies, which is a common occurrence for them. But don't misunderstand ... they don't take that attitude. When I place an order, usually take out, I am treated like the best friend and finest guest. They are courteous, extremely accommodating, and know my allergy and dining restrictions as well as I know them myself. I am 100% confident every time I dine with them. When I first started visiting Pei Wei, the manager brought out the ingredients list and went through each item and explained to me what items could be created gluten-free and exactly how they would do so. I've never received such service anywhere else. It is always a pleasure dining with Pei Wei.
—Guest Connie Veilleux

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