Oh, hey. I just got back from Chicago and while I’m totally in love with the city (a cleaner, more manageable New York!), I’m afraid I have zero gluten-free dining advice for you. Well, that’s not totally true but it’s a lot true. Because I was there for for my editor gig I was hanging out at the BlogHer conference and thought I would be dependent on the convention center food all weekend. And every other time I’ve gone to a BlogHer event, they’ve had a whole freaking table of gluten-free grub. This means, instead of following my own advice of doing research, looking at great local Chicago gluten-free blogs (of which there are many), I got lazy and simply bellied up to the buffet table. That did not go well.
Yep, folks. I got gluten’d at the gluten-free table at BlogHer. Yes, I AM special! But I’m 99% sure I was not the only one. In fact I know the other celiac bloggers attending were served seitan for breakfast. Which is just wrong on so many levels. You can read about the international gluten’ing incident on either my Twitter feed, or many others. So here I’ll just say it sucked, I threw up, and then I never went back to the BlogHer buffet. So here’s what I did do!
A traditional English pub may not be the first place you think of as gluten-free friendly, and you would be right. But when you’re wandering around with hungry bloggers and you (again) did no research, you kind of find a place close to the hotel that seems like it might work. Enter Elephant & Castle and the super yum butter chicken in that pic. There were only a few gluten-free options on the menu, but this butter chicken was really amazing. So much so a dining partner also dug in to her own butter chicken. Because, butter chicken. Hello?
I was lucky to tag along on another delicious meal that worked out to be not only gluten-free, but totally rock-your-world amazoids. Mercadito was a super hip happening spot (and I have the ear ringing residuals to prove it), but their homemade corn tortillas and bacon guacamole (bacon. guacamole.), paired with a Dizzy Oaxacan (mezcal, grapefruit, lemon, ginger beer, bitters, cayenne) followed by carnitas de puerco put me over the edge. The delicious, delicious edge. This also was a recommendation by a native Chicagoan so that made me feel like I had at least done one meal right. Additionally, the wait staff was so totally getting the gluten-free thing. Totally.
Why yes, I did try to nab some gluten-free Chicago deep dish pizza. But again, given my limitations of being on a work trip with limited time I could only order from a local delivery joint. I thought I had hit the jackpot when a Lou Malnati’s was in my delivery zone, yet this location did not have the gf deep dish that I had so totally enjoyed on my birthday. Instead, it was this little guy.
So yeah, I did have some great gluten-free finds in Chicago after all in spite of myself. I am bummed I didn’t really have the time to bust away and make it to Hot Doug’s and see how I could gluten-free that joint, or the lovely people at Eshticken who have invited me multiple times to come and check out their gluten-free pizza. But it was a true work trip; which meant I couldn’t traipse around exploring the best gluten-free a city has to offer. But don’t you worry, Chicago. I will be back. I WILL BE BACK.
What are your favorite gluten-free joints in Chicago?