Celiac Disease / Gluten Free Restaurants / Uncategorized

Gluten-Free Los Angeles: The Counter

Ahh, yeah, it’s about time a burger joint loaded up on gluten-free buns in the greater Los Angeles area. I’m tired of bringing my own bun to every greasy spoon, chain, and friend’s house. Sure I’m prepared to go protein style, and I usually do, but when I see a gluten-free bun on an actual menu, well, my heart grows two sizes larger.

What made this discovery especially exciting was that I stopped by The Counter on Wilshire Boulevard with my toddler, in hopes of having a mom and me lunch date. I had zero expectations about gluten-free, I just knew that my little dude would eat a cheeseburger, and hopefully not go batshit crazy in public. (Wrong, on both counts.) Still, when I was presented with my order form that The Counter is famous for, imagine my surprise when a bun option was gluten-free. Wheeeeee!

Yes, I checked that sucker, and anxiously awaited my first restaurant burger with bun in a year.

I took a bite, and promptly ditched the bun and went protein style. Why? Well, part of it has to do with my anti-bread stance. I’m kind of tired of faking it, and just opt to skip the bread rather than find a shoddy substitute. The other part had to do with the fact that this bun was pretty dry. I’m guessing they keep a gluten-free stash and I’m the only person who came in to order it, and it was past its sell-by date.

Still, I’m grateful that a burger joint is making the gluten-free effort. It makes me feel like a norm again! If only for a moment. And how much better is it to just check gluten-free on a menu, then ask for a protein burger and have the waitress assume you have an eating disorder? LOTS.

Even though The Counter bun was not as amazing as their stackable ingredients, I will keep going back, just like Rihanna to Chris Brown. I too, know pursing gluten-free buns on burgers is not great for my health. But I have great hope that someday that dry, gluten-free bun will transform into a soft, delicious, party in my mouth.

18 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Los Angeles: The Counter

  1. Maybe you and Zooey D. should go together–the two of you could make a power packed gluten free two-some and they’d just have to break out some fresh buns.
    BUT–kudos to The Counter for at least having a gluten free option. And kudos to you for being able to find it–their menu has so many options, i sometimes need a menu for the menu.
    And in LA, if you order the bun-less option, no one thinks you’re an a 3 day pass from anorexia-ville, they just think you’re famous.

    Passover’s coming up .Can’t wait for your your recipe for Gluten-free matzoh..

  2. I so agree with you – I’m starting to really hate not-that-great substitutes and rather learning to love the foods I can actually eat without getting sick. It’s far more satisfying than constantly being disappointed. I too get excited by GF bread options though – makes me feel like a little bit less of a freak:) Mendocino Farms has a GF bread option which opens up a whole world of sandwich possibilities – definitely worth a try (ask them to toast it slightly.)

    • All right, I’m looking for it. I find that my Whole Foods is really, really, really, lacking in gf bread options. Luckily there’s a gluten-free grocery store in Burbank. But it’s a bit of a trek.

      But yes, I too get excited about gf breads. Then find myself disappointed, usually.

  3. You make it sound like you eat out quite a bit…how do you manage cross-contamination? I have almost completely stopped eating out as I am so tired of getting sick of dealing with cc and gluten in the air…

    • I do eat out a lot. Well, not as much as I used to but still probably two or three times a week. Living in a big city like Los Angeles (and before this, New York) it’s kind of a thing for both myself, my husband, and my friends. Without using the word “foodie,” because I think it sounds totally bizarre-o, I really enjoy trying new places and foods. So now that I’m a diagnosed Celiac, well, it’s not as fun.
      I ask the server questions and prepare to get gluten’d. I try to read other people’s blogs (Like Gluten Freeways in LA) and see who recommends what places as “gluten-free friendly.” But the fact is, anytime you go out to eat you’re taking a risk. No one is going to pay as much attention to your food preparation as you are. Period. Since I love dining out, I take the risk. But I have — like you — gone into a mode where I swore I would never dine out, ever again. It can be a total pain in the ass, but also an amazing experience when you find a restaurant where they really get it.

      • Ah, I got ill(headache/dizziness) when I was out doing some shopping the other day simply because there was a Panera Bread in the same center and the wind was blowing the “wrong” direction. Perhaps that sort of thing coupled with fear of being glutened is the reason behind my aversion to restaurants.

        Glad to hear that up in LA things might be a bit easier. I actually might consider checking out a place or two next time I am up that way…

  4. Too bad their veggie burger isn’t gluten-free–I might be able to eat there again…actually, a bad reaction (hives–I have an wheat allergy, not celiac) to a meal at The Counter was what finally tipped me over into going wheat/gluten-free… At least they post their allergen info on their website–which sometimes makes me just as happy as having gluten-free options, honestly.

  5. For the longest time I thought their french fries weren’t gf, not the case. It turns out their ranch isn’t gf so be wary when you go there. However they just switched to udis buns.

  6. OMG I loved this blog it just reconfirmed everything I have thought since going gluten free 1 yr ago. Bread has always been my biggest weakness n I cried 4 months about bread. I have finally excepted it after trying several kinds, but most of all my husband tries to b supportive but recently after going to red robin n finding out they had a gluten free bun was so ecstatic then when it came again like every other bun it was dry as hell n fell apart n my fingers I even added double mayo n guacamole. Anyways my husband since then tells me I’ll never b happy or satisfied so since then I wondered if I were just a picky SOB??? I don’t know anyone else gluten free n we. Don’t hv support groups here so I read a lot of blogs and get confirmation.. So from me to u thanks for sharing this story now I no I’m not picky or crazy or unable to satisfy. I refuse to force myself to pretend to like something that is dry as hell n taste like shit! I will go without first n I’m ok w that like u just don’t tell me I’m unreasonable they have no f”””””” idea what we go through. Thanks for listening n reaffirming my same thoughts!!!!

    • I hear you, Melissa. I go from just being grateful someone is offering a gluten-free option to being frustrated by how crappy gf bread can taste if it’s not straight out of the oven. You don’t want to discourage people from offering, but it’s a huge bummer when it tastes like crap. PHHPHT.

  7. Canter’s on Fairfax has gluten free bread! No upcharge! I came in to watch a friend eat and left 10lbs fatter after taking out a pastrami sandwich. Was googling “gluten free burgers WITH buns” in LA and you, of course, popped up. Maybe I’ll give The Counter another shot for dinner tonight.

  8. I’d opt for a bunless burger here, unless you’re used to/can tolerate the cardboard they pass off as “bread.” To me, overall, the quality of the food here leans more towards fast food, than regular restaurant quality.

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