Whenever Jessica Meyer eats a meal contaminated with gluten, it takes her about three weeks to recover. But she doesn’t let celiac disease stop her from enjoying the good food offered at many area restaurants — especially because Austin is a very gluten-free friendly city.
If she isn’t working out at Pure Austin Fitness on West Fifth Street or exploring the Barton Creek Greenbelt with her fiance and their three dogs, all dachshund mixes, she’s devoted to helping others determined to cut gluten out of their diets, either because they want to or because, like Meyer, their health depends on it. She keeps up a blog at atxglutenfree.com, and she’s also expanding Locate Special Diet, a website and iPhone and Android app that list restaurants, grocery stores and bars in more than 40 U.S. cities with gluten-free, vegetarian and organic options. Austin’s listings, she said, are particularly hefty.
"With the flagship Whole Foods here, people are more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies," she said. "So many restaurants already offer vegan and vegetarian options that it wasn’t a far jump for them to offer gluten-free options too. And they don’t just slap the name ‘gluten-free’ on their menu. They learn about what it is and how they can prevent cross-contamination."
Meyer, who earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nutrition science, has her own list of top places to go for a gluten-free meal in Austin, tailored to include all price ranges and cuisines, and she shares some of it here.Snap Kitchen, which prepares fresh meals for takeout or delivery, has tons of gluten-free choices that are marked on the packaging. Now with three locations including one that opened recently on Bee Cave Road, the health-food spot has banana oat pancakes that she loves.Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse, on South First Street, is perfect for breakfast. Meyer orders an almond milk latte and El Tipico, a plate with two eggs, red or black beans and a homemade potato hash cake, along with warm corn tortillas.For happy hour, she likes to hit Fonda San Miguel. Although the North Loop Boulevard Mexican restaurant doesn’t have a gluten-free menu, many of its items are naturally without gluten, such as the tortillas in the tostada dinner.She’ll go to 24 Diner for a late-night meal, although the comfort food joint has a gluten-free menu for any time of day. She appreciates that 24 Diner takes special attention to keep gluten-free meals away from the other meals being prepared to avoid cross-contamination, which happens when the same utensils and prep space are used indiscriminately in the kitchen.Italian food is also not out of her reach. For a romantic date, she’ll try Asti Trattoria in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Gusto Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar, on Burnet Road, is also a safe bet because it makes gluten-free pizza.Uchiko, a sushi spot on North Lamar Boulevard, and Sway, a new Thai restaurant on South First Street, don’t have gluten-free menus, but both are willing to accommodate. Enjoying the best of Austin’s food scene, even for someone with a gluten allergy or celiac disease, is many times a matter of not being afraid to ask the wait staff or the chef thorough questions, Meyer said.