Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
Travelling across Texas, the second largest State in the United States to see many famous sights (The Alamo in San Antonio, NASA Space at Houston, listening to music in Austin, The Sixth Floor Museum covering the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, the historic Stockyards at Fort Worth and of course,the SouthFork Ranch in Dallas; where they filmed the TV Series of the same name), one can enjoy a good selection of GLUTEN FREE food. Here is my experience in the Lone Star State…
NASA JOHNSON Space Center: (Houston): Despite the historical significance of the NASA Houston Space Center, they do not provide a good selection of GLUTEN FREE options in the eateries on site in their Zero-G Diner which specialises in fried foods. The recently added noodle bar didn’t have rice noodles (only egg-ones) and I was advised that all the offered sauces “may contain…” Indeed, due to the cross-contamination issues, the pre-packaged salad was a safe option, although again, this was limited with only one of them not having “croutons” or “breaded meat” in them.
Having previously visited the NASA Kennedy Space Center, this is the “poor relation” with very limited “real” space crafts and limited attractions which were genuinely informative. The Tram tour is interesting although they need to consider the customer experience and how to manage the volume of people as three stops in nearly two hours means you only spend minutes with “experts” and a lot of time on and off the tram. Kids may like the science space and Angry Bird’s play center. I was disappointed that the Space Ice cream (on sale in the shop) is not GLUTEN FREE which suggests I’ll never be an Astronaut unless they cater for Coeliacs separately!
FREEBIRDS WORLD BURRITO: (Houston) Doing my research, I found plenty of GLUTEN FREE options at FreeBirds (a Mexican inspired chain). It’s a casual burrito based chain which looks and feels like Subway without the bread, offering Corn based Tacos as well as salad bowls with a selection of meats, fillings and sundry items (many GLUTEN FREE). The staff are well informed as to the choices to make for a Coeliac so I enjoyed my two Corn Tacos with chicken, black beans, rice, corn, non-spicy salsa (which was meant to be mild but I found it quite spicy), cheese and some dressing. Not a gourmet meal but definitely a filling meal with tortilla chips and a refillable drink (which proved very useful with the spiciness of my tacos!)
GF Corn Tacos at Freebird World Burrito
Leaving Houston, we headed up to San Antonio, home of The Alamo and enroute stopped for breakfast and a GF snack:
OAKRIDGE SMOKEHOUSE RESTAURANT: (Schulengburg) Again, from my research, they have had several excellent reviews for their BBQ meats with a German flavour and providing a good selection of GLUTEN FREE meals. Unfortunately, it was breakfast time, and too early to have lunch so we tucked into the Breakfast buffet which doesn’t feature any of the BBQ meats (which are smoked on site). Some Coeliacs would be concerned as it was a buffet with several GLUTEN products (such as Biscuits, Gravy and of course toast) next to the GF items (sausage patties, German sausages, Home Fries, Bacon and Ham, but with careful selection, I was able to enjoy a hearty breakfast.
And just next door was an intriguing looking store:
POTTER COUNTRY STORE: (Schulenburg): From the outside, it was clear that they sold Texan Pecans, a local delicacy as well as lots of other delightful snacks: many GLUTEN FREE. The staff were really friendly in offering warmed samples (which I couldn’t resist) as well as advising which products were GLUTEN FREE. Indeed, almost all of the roasted Pecans (sold cold in a multitude of bags, boxes and selection packs) were made without GLUTEN as were several of the flavoured Fudges. And of course, they had lots of gift packs which were attractively packaged. A great GLUTEN FREE Snack (and a select Souvenir of the Lone Star State).
HARD ROCK CAFE: (San Antonio): Being a tourist hub, San Antonio has several International recognizable chains which offer GLUTEN FREE options. Located on the River Walk, which runs through the heart of San Antonio with inside and outside seating, this was a quick stop upon arriving in the seventh largest city (by population) in the United States. It was a Holiday week, and at times, it felt like everyone had come out, alongside the hustle and bustle of tourists, but a relaxing River Boat ride calmed the spirit.
With my allergies, Hard Rock Cafe were happy to remove the Egg and the Avocado from the Cobb Salad and deliver it with the dressing on the side. It was a large bowl full which I struggled to finish as there was so much, but also it became a little dull after a while! But a great GF Lunch which was rather tasty (and healthy if you dont pour the whole lot of calorific dressing over the veggies!)
RIO RIO CANTINA Restaurant: (San Antonio): Along the River Walk, this attractive Mexican restaurant was one of many eateries which offered GLUTEN FREE meals and explicitly stated details on the Menu.
I don’t particularly love spicy food but the “Enchiladas Verde” were promised to be only mild. Indeed, the Rice and Black Beans were lightly spiced but the strangest thing was eating this with only a fork. I think the expected me to eat the Enchiladas with my hands but they were quite wet and after I had tried to pick them up, I managed to secure a knife and eat without spilling much on my clothes. Mexican food is popular in Texas, given the history of the State and I found this to be a good meal, sat outside watching the world go by with Sangrias and Frozen Fruit Swirl Drinks.
MONUMENT CAFE: (GeorgeTown): Located in Georgetown, the self-proclaimed “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas“, and indeed, it is a very pretty town, looking like it was the inspiration for Back to the Future with an old Town Hall (complete with Clock Tower) and surrounded on all sides by lovely ornate shops, the Monument Cafe has been featured in many online reviews. It is just a few minutes walk away from the GeorgeTown square but from the outside, the grey builds looks closed-down.
But inside, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Indeed, they even provide the Menu in an old-fashioned Newspaper type brochure. It’s a huge restaurant and despite the quiet outside, they were busy inside with booths as well as open seating. I opted for an Egg White Omelette filled with Spinach, Cheese and Bacon (as I have an allergy to Egg Yolks) and it was served with GF Home Fries. They did offer GF Grits but being British, they didn’t seem my thing!
DR PEPPER: Waco: A quick stop-off in Waco, at the original home of Dr Pepper, which is now a Museum, to see the story of this interesting soft drink. I was disappointed that in the Soda Fountain Cafe, they had very little to offer a Coeliac. Indeed, they have a Soda Fountain cafe which serves Dr Pepper and other Snapple drinks: all in the old fashioned way so no cans or pre-made fizzy drinks but proper syrup, adding water and then adding the bubbles. It was the first time that I have tasted the drink (in a long time) and I realized why I don’t ever buy it! It has a fruity aftertaste (with allegedly 23 flavours) as well as the Coke base and I think it is a rather confused drink but good to know it is GLUTEN FREE.
And check out their website for a $1 voucher off your admission! Not really in the same league as the Coco-Cola World in Atlanta or the Jelly Belly Factory in California but a good stop-off on the way through. And then onto Dallas…
TEXAS DE BRAZIL CHURRASCARIA Steakhouse: DALLAS: Found from a search of GF foods in Dallas, a Brazilian style restaurant although I didn’t take note that it is an eat-as-much-as-you-can buffet and was persuaded by the skewers of meat and attractive write-ups. This branch of the chain is located within a twenty-minutes drive from Downtown Dallas with parking and as you walk in, you see the huge buffet laid out in the middle of the room, topped by an outrageous flower arrangement. Waiters /Serving Staff are wandering the room with skewers of delicious looking meats, and once seated, you are presented with tweezers, to support the shavings of meat onto your plate as well as a traffic light card: RED to halt the flow of meat and GREEN to request more and more and more.
The Buffet included “four freshly made in-house salad dressings, [gourmet artisan breads and no GLUTEN FREE options not that there was a shortage of food], imported cheeses, fresh buffalo mozzarella, steamed asparagus with strawberry sauce, Brazilian hearts of palm, grilled Portobello mushrooms, Greek olives, shrimp salad, imported Italian salamis” and surprisingly the soup was Lobster Bisque which was GLUTEN FREE. I was intended to try this but of course, I filled my plate with salad and bits before getting stuck into the flow of meat.
Alongside the cold buffet were a selection of hot accompaniments (including “sautéed mushrooms, feijoada (black beans), jasmine rice and sauteed potatoes” and they presented our table with the House Specials: Garlic Mashed Potatoes (which was lovely and creamy with a real kick of Garlic) and deep fried Bananas. The later, we were told was to cleanse the palate and enable us to individually taste the different meats. A novel idea which I took to (after confirming they were both GLUTEN FREE dishes). A more European buffet than Brazilian but a good selection to keep even the fussiest of eater feed!
A grand buffet which kept flowing with the meat offerings. Whilst sometimes it was a little under-cooked for my British taste, the flavours and depth of seasonings was refreshing. I particularly liked the spicy sausages which were like a European Chorizo and the lamb with fresh herbs, which had a beautiful soft kick. The meat was melt-in-you-mouth and soon I had to stop. They do offer a selection of desserts (at an additional price) and strangely come round with a tray with “plastic” versions of the desserts to show you what they look like (and emphasis the size of them). Whilst they were very shiny, they did have a GLUTEN FREE Creme Brulee but of course, I had eaten lots and had no room for anything else.
Whilst in Dallas, I enjoyed seeing the Sixth Floor Museum and exploring the conspiracies behind JFK’s assassination before we headed out of the city, northwards to SouthFork Ranch: the home of the TV Series Dallas. Yes, the external shots were filmed at this Ranch, which is quite a small house, now with a museum, conference facility and tourist attractions, in honour of the TV show. At Sue Ellie’s Deli (which opened at 11am) after our tour, I had a drink and a bag of chips (crisps) as they offered sandwiches and snacks but nothing really that was GLUTEN FREE.
Driving onto Ford Worth, we stopped for a good lunch:
DENNYS: DALLAS /FORT WORTH: Reassured from Facebook comments, I was excited to hear that Dennys have introduced GF indicators on it’s whole Menu, rather than a separate Menu with a few choice dishes. Indeed, I quite like the “everyday” Diner for it’s selection of easy food although I found that many of the dishes came with Eggs or were made with Eggs.
The Server was helpful in confirming which dishes were GLUTEN FREE and after checking with the Chef, she was able to remove the Fried Eggs from the Skillet Dish and I requested a side of Bacon to go with my Santa Fe Skillet which was described as “Chorizo sausage, fire-roasted bell peppers and onions, mushrooms and seasoned red-skinned potatoes. Topped with Cheddar cheese.” It’s a large portion of vegetables with cheese and meat, and rather filling, served on a red-hot skillet pan. I was offered a GLUTEN FREE English Muffin but declined this side-order as I knew I wouldn’t finish this main dish. Whilst it wont win any major culinary awards, it was a filling and freshly cooked GLUTEN FREE Lunch.
And all that eating, I flew out of Dallas, and headed to NYC for a brief stop-over, before flying onto London. So across the Lone Star State, I’ve enjoyed some really interesting, rather tasty and mostly filling Meals: all GLUTEN FREE!
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Airline GLUTEN FREE Meals reviewed on my blog include Emirates (Business 2015), BA (Traveller Plus 2014), Thai Airlines (Business 2014), Dragon Air (Business 2014), Cathay Pacific (Business 2014), BA (Club World Business 2014), BA (Club World Business 2013) and BA (First 2015).
Happy Flying and Happy GLUTEN FREE Meals!
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