Gluten-Free Oklahoma: It Ain’t Easy

gluten-free oklahoma braum'sI’ve said before, I believe in my own dang book, that one can travel anywhere in the United States and still eat safely gluten-free. And while my challenging time in Oklahoma last week made me reexamine that declaration, I will stand by it. I COULD have camped out at Wal-Mart and eaten loads of gluten-free snacks. I also could have only eaten milk shakes all week. Things I considered, but rejected for health, time and good citizen reasons. Instead I ventured out into the restaurant world and, well, it didn’t always go fantastic like. But sometimes it did! Here are my OK wins and OK fails, gluten-free style. WINNERS!!!!

Braum’s gluten-free oklahomaI’ve made no secret of my love for Braum’s. In addition to launching this man’s career, Braum’s has the best black and white sundaes of all time, ever (see way above). My kids agree too, so there’s that. But what blew my ever loving mind was when I mosey’d on over to the country mart and found all of this gluten-free business. And that was only part of it! I mean, if you live in Oklahoma and need some gluten-free snacks or staples, please go to Braum’s. Just don’t forget your chocolate chip soda on the way out.

The Hideaway gluten-free stillwater oklahomaThe Hideaway’s claim to fame is not only the pizza, or the hippies who founded it and worked there over many decades (shout out for the hippie/hacky sack renaissance of ’92), but the bragging rights of having a board game invented right there in the kitchen in the ’70s. If you ever played Pente, please thank your dishwasher at Hideaway in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Also, nerd.

Personally, I’d like to thank them for the delicious gluten-free pizza using Udi’s and all of their original ingredients that I love for nostalgia’s sake, and also because they know how to do Canadian bacon right.


Random Truck Stop Yes, you’re right I should have known better than to trust my gut to a truck stop. But the alluring signs promising pulled pork and catfish and made my entire family brake for gas, cowboy boots and lunch. Whatever BBQ brisket I had was not really related to the brisket portion of the cow, and the waitress also had zero idea what was in it. I do know that it came with bread. Lemonade was good.

Hotel Breakfast I would name the hotel, but it’s been my experience that every hotel (except that amazing Embassy Suites in Austin, Texas) provide continental breakfast filled with gluten. And while the nice lady working the breakfast line did go over the ingredients in the “cheese omelette” it was so processed I was still nervous. BYOBreakfast, gluten-freers.

You win some, you lose some . . . 

El VaqueroWhen I was a teenager I used to go to Bobo’s Mexican Cantina with my girlfriends and order strawberry daiquiris. Before we got arrested we would say, “Virgin, of course,” because WE WERE HUGE DORKS. It was awesome. But now Bobo’s is El Vaquero and while I ate there safely, it’s no Bobo’s. Just sayin’.

Eskimo Joe’s IMG_9923While Eskimo Joe’s does have that handy gluten-free menu (which I MUCHO appreciate), it does not help a celiac when your meal arrives with bread plopped atop. And this is another lesson in the importance of an educated staff. I’ve always said you’re only as safe as your server, and I’d like to add food prep person to this list, along with chef (which is the obvious one). Eskimo Joe’s is a legendary college hang in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This means college kids are the wait staff, table runners, cleaning crew and a lot of the times—the cooks. I had many friends who worked at EJ’s in the ’90s, including my own big brother. They’re known for their amazing cheese fries (which are mercifully, gluten-free) and beer. Lots of beer. Not gluten-free. They are not known for professional wait staff and a 5 star dining experience. I’m not saying our waitress wasn’t friendly—she was Oklahoma friendly, which is a whole ‘nother level. I’m not saying the staff isn’t doing a great job. This biz has been running since the 1970s with a winning formula. What I am saying is that you cannot necessarily trust your allergic/diseased body to an 18 year old who just moved to the college town from Hennessey, Oklahoma. (Yes, I am getting in my old high school basketball rivalry burns with that reference.) Any kid who hasn’t grown up in a big city where they see gluten-free menus on the regular, or does not have a gluten-free family member, is not going to know that bread touching your gluten-free pork dinner is going to make you sick. They just won’t. Still, I would go back, because CHEESE FRIES. All righty then. If you’re heading to Oklahoma, good luck to you and godspeed. Eat at Braum’s as much as possible, and please note there is pizza galore that is gluten-free. Pizza and Braum’s? Not a bad way to eat your way through the Great Plains. XO, GIMB

10 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Oklahoma: It Ain’t Easy

  1. What do you do when that dinner arrives with bread on top? I’m always afraid they walk it to the back and just take it off. (About to travel to Tennessee, need to mentally prep.)

    • Well, in the case of Eskimo Joe’s I told the waitress that I would get very, very, very sick if I ate anything the bread touched. They redid my entire plate. At least it looked different and I did not get sick. I felt she got it and was clear with whomever was fixing stuff up. In the case of the truck stop, my husband cut off half of my dinner that had been in the general area and I ate the rest. It was not going to be the safest no matter what I did. Mostly I ate lettuce and drank my lemonade at that meal. GOOD LUCK.

      • I just pulled up this reply on my wordpress at a cafe in the valley where someone I have touched intimates with is the barista and he delivered to me, on a day when they had run out of GF bread (which also hurts my feelings), a plate with wheat toast sitting on top. The cafe is struggling, and this is a friend, so wasting food is bad for my friends.

        He wanted to cut it off from the places of touching and I need it remade b/c I’ve been sick this week. And now things are very, very, tense and this is why I’ll never find love and die alone pooping blood. (1/2 joking, 1/2 real fear. I’ve not made it past 1st dates really post diagnosis.)

      • Oh jeez. I’m going to address this in my column for Living Without. Have a similar situation (but not my romantic partner, cuz he’s my husband 😉 with a friend. I think you probably have to avoid eating at that cafe. But that’s only half of the problem, right? How does this dude not know about your situation??? Is he a dum-dum? Or have you not been totally clear? I hope it’s neither of those reasons 😉

      • The outcome was, after much tension and foot staring, we agreed he had to have the food re-made and he paid out of pocket for the order he messed up so he wouldn’t get in trouble.

        To be fair to the cafe, the other barista is also a celiac, which is how I found it in the first place. So he DEF knew better.

        To be continually afraid of dating, wellllllllllllll 🙂

        (I was sick because a few days before a guy offered to buy me a drink, I went for cider, then he accidentally handed me his beer instead. One sip is all it takes, people!!!! Haha.)

  2. I moved to Stillwater eighteen months ago. We don’t have tons of choices but here are some other options:
    -Fuzzy’s Tacos is amazing (on the strip, so it gets busy)
    -McAlister’s offers GF bread so you can go for sandwiches
    -Schlotzskys also offers GF buns
    -Chickfila has grilled nugget kids meals
    -Thai Cafe is a Stilly staple and there’s plenty of GF options on their allergen menu

    Hideaway’s crust is definitely the best but Mazzios also offers GF crust. There are some promising new chains opening in the next few months.

    • Thanks for the tips!!! I saw McAlister’s but never made it over. I cannot believe Schlotzskys has gf buns! I know they won’t be like their airy ones, but it’s still (somewhat) exciting.
      Good luck in STL!

  3. I live in Kansas – so was happy to read this post. I got glutened recently at a sports bar which was so depressing considering it was my only outing in several months. It’s the first time I’ve been clear back to the three days of flu like misery in several years. Feels like I paid to get slapped. I’m sure the fries were cooked in the same vegetable oil as all the other breaded items but I am getting healthy enough now to tolerate that in small doses. I took a couple of small spoons of a sour cream base dip – (work celebration). I suppose it might as well have been dusted with rat poison!

    We have Pizza Ranch which has always been safe for me. Their staff immediately respond to allergy type questions with high alert and focused listening. I’ve even been able to order unbreaded chicken pieces and they cook them in clean oil. I’ve read that traveling families with small children rely on Pizza Ranch to make it across the broad expanse of the midwest. Other than that – as you say – alot of milk shakes!

    About Braums – I was so excited to see their frozen gf dinners and asked nicely if they would microwave one so I could eat with a group – no. I think it’s odd they proudly carry the section of gf in their market but don’t have anything on their menu. I cook nearly every meal from scratch now so I don’t have much use for their gf options in the market.

    Another tip I’ve found helps in the rural areas – college towns are more likely to have a good supply of gf options and alterations. Especially any liberal leaning college towns with a healthy downtown of mom and pop businesses.

  4. braums grillled chicken has gluten :(. i just got the strawberry fields grilled chicken poppyseed salad and bohtt he chicken and dressing contain gluten so no lunch for me today! pays to look ahead i guess.

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