Tio Pablo – Totally gluten free Mexican food in Richmond, VA!

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Its humble entrance

Tio Pablo’s Mexican restaurant might not look like much outside and it’s an area of downtown Richmond being rehabbed, but an all gluten free restaurant warrants a try anyways! While some folks have said it’s not the best neighborhood at night, I have not felt unsafe during our several visits during the day. It’s conveniently located just off I-95, within 2 blocks of  the train station (Main Street Station) and the city’s farmer’s market.

The interior of the restaurant is small, but has nice theming.

       Chips brightened

 

The joy of an all gluten free restaurant means the chips are safe!

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Queso dip, chips, side of potatoes, and side of rice.

 

The queso cheese dip is not to be missed!

 

 

 

 

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Carne Asada taco

I must say the carne asada taco looks simple, but the flavor is fantastic! They use all corn tortillas and since it’s all gluten free, there are no cross contamination concerns. These corn tortillas blow all others out of the water in terms of taste and texture, too!

The menu has a wide variety of proteins from chicken to carne asada to shrimp and more. There are vegetarian options like sauteed cactus or sauteed vegetables. You can choose to get them in tacos, tostados, or gorditos.
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They also have some other entrees, like this Quesadilla Grande, which uses a thicker and larger corn tortilla and is filled with meat, cheese, and veggies. So yummy! There are sides like rice, beans, or roasted potatoes that are quite good. Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday 10am until 3pm also!

Dessert includes gluten free Cheesecake of the Day (habanero pictured–unique but delicious) and gluten free Tres Leches Cake. They also have flan, but I haven’t tried it yet.

In addition to being entirely gluten free, nothing contained peanuts, and the tortillas are vegetarian, so no lard, making multiple safe pork-free options.

I was not compensated in any way for my review, I just couldn’t wait to share such a great place with you! Knock on wood, they don’t make any major changes, because this place is fabulous!  You can view their full menu and find their phone number and address on their website at http://www.tiopablotacos.com.

The Wooden Monkey: Gluten free in Halifax, Nova Scotia

As I said in my other post, recently we made a trip north to Canada–more specifically to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Now, Halifax may not be a gluten free paradise like some cities or Disney World, but it can hold it’s own for a small city/big town! It’s also beautiful, here’s a view of the waterfront from a boat:
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There were a few places on the water with safe options for lunch and dinner, but having done my research before I came, I saw there was a gluten free bakery (that I’ll cover in another post) and a celiac-friendly (not just gluten free, celiac-friendly!) restaurant called The Wooden Monkey.

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The Wooden Monkey has two locations–one in Halifax a few blocks uphill from the waterfront boardwalk area and one across the water at the ferry landing in Dartmouth, near Evan’s Fresh Seafood. The one in Dartmouth was closed on Mondays when we wanted to visit, so we went to the one up the hill in Halifax.

They are focused on local and healthy, they don’t even have a deep fryer, but they do have safe fries that are baked and delicious! They have lots of vegan and vegetarian options in addition to gluten free and their menu has entrees with nuts, soy, and dairy marked on the menu.

For their starters, they have lots of gluten free options, we opted to order the nachos and a side of their version of fries, called “Roasties.” It was a large order, flavorful, and plentiful. Truth be told, this with an order of their fries would have been enough food to skip an entree and then have dessert.
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The entree menu is entirely gluten free but largely seafood based, as many menus are in this fishing town, but as I don’t love fish, I opted for the braised beef with mashed potatoes. It had good flavor though a little strong on the onion flavor, but it was too heavy for me to finish after the hearty appetizer. They also had gluten free pizza and buns which sounded great, but they had sorghum (which I also can’t tolerate). The full menu can be viewed on their website.
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Dessert holds two gluten free options–tofu pie and local, organic dairy ice cream. While the Tofu pie comes highly recommended, I avoid most forms of soy and the crust is made from nuts, so I simple had the ice cream which was good.

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I’d recommend the Wooden Monkey to anyone visiting Halifax or Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but especially anyone with food allergies or dietary restrictions, as they know their ingredients and mark the top 8 allergens, too!

(I was not compensated in any way for this post, just trying to share what I know to help others with food allergies enjoy their trip more!)

Gluten free fish and chips in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada)

Evan’s Fresh Seafoods and Restaurants in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Recently we took a short trip to get away from the heat of Virginia and ended up in Halifax, Nova Scotia (that’s in Canada, above Maine).  I’ll be posting the gluten free places we found to eat.

While there, every time gluten free came up, it seemed one name was mentioned consistently: Evan’s Fresh Seafoods and Restaurants. They are located a short 10 minute ferry ride over the water from Halifax to the town of Dartmouth.  They are located right on the water.  So we took the ferry over and immediately saw them at Alderney Landing.

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They are most well known for their gluten free fish and chips, so naturally that’s what we ordered.  They are celiac safe and made in gluten-free dedicated fryer.  The fish were very good, made using Schoolhouse brand bread crumbs-which don’t have sorghum (I emailed Schoolhouse, located in Nova Scotia, before I went)! Much of Evan’s menu is in fact gluten free in addition to their fish and chips, like their gluten free lobster poutine, which I wanted to have, but was too full to try!

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They also have gluten free Digby (local) clam strips (pictured below) and gluten free dessert cakes–however, beware if you don’t tolerate sorghum, the cake and the clam strips are in a different bread crumb mixture that has sorghum.

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I did ask what kind of oil they use and it’s currently canola oil (although be sure to check if that’s a concern).  After that, I didn’t ask specifically about nuts or pork (my other allergies), because I didn’t see any of either on the menu. Check their Facebook page for their hours and the most recent information.

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When the weather is great, like it was on this day in early August, there are nice picnic tables to sit at outside.  If the weather isn’t good, there is a seating area inside.

Crab Louie’s – gluten free in Richmond

If you’re looking for a fantastic gluten free place on the south side of Richmond (technically Midlothian, Virginia), be sure to check out Crab Louie’s!

Crab Louie's Midlothian 2

While unassuming in this historic building in a shopping center, this place has a HUGE gluten free menu. It’s not all seafood either! They are pretty well aware of the gluten free needs to keep it safe in the kitchen, but the servers can be a little hit or miss, so do stay vigilent.  Also, be prepared–they have several complimentary homemade sweet breads they serve, these are not gluten free!

Crab Louies salad Martha Vineyard

The Martha’s Vineyard salad comes with greens, onions, tomato, mushrooms, dried cherries (my favorite) and a maple vinaigrette that is delicious! Be sure to specify gluten free because there is usually croutons on the non-gluten free version.

Crab Louie's baked potato GF

For some reason, I don’t have a picture of the chicken dish I sometimes get (grilled chicken dijon), with a baked potato as my side.

Crab Louie's GF crabcake 2   Crab Louie's GF Crabcakes Dec. 2014

But the real charm here is the gluten free crab cakes!! And the delicious sauce that comes with them is amazing–I even use it on my baked potato too.

Crab Louie's GF bananas foster

The Bananas Foster Sundae is heavenly, BUT you do have to be careful that they make it fresh and it’s gluten free, as it is usually served with a gluten-ful rolled wafer stick stuck in it. As a celiac, I have had to ask them to re-make it, but it is so worth it!
Here is the link to their very large gluten free menu: http://crablouies.com/site/gluten-free-dinner-menu/.  As always, all opinions are my own and to the best of my current knowledge.

Walt Disney World Review: Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe GF menu cover

Set on the second floor of the Polynesian Hotel (along the monorail from Magic Kingdom) is the Kona Cafe. This was our first visit to this restaurant, but I’d read many good things about allergies here.  It’s open to the walkway and overlooks the Polynesian foyer.  To me this makes it look like a lunch sandwich style place, not fast food but not a normal sit-down dinner place either, but they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a sit down meal (non-quick service).  We dined for lunch.

Kona Cafe GF menu

They are trying out a special gluten free menu, which gave me a starting list of options. However, once I spoke to the chef and we removed the pork, peanut, and soy options…almost no options were left. Chef Amber was very kind and knowledgeable, she offered to make me a salad for the appetizer. The salad was good but be warned, their almond pieces are chopped and spread throughout the salad, which I did not enjoy but were too small and plentiful to pick out. The greens were great, the citrus vinegrette was yummy, and the pear pieces were delightful.

Kona Cafe salad too many almond pieces

The entree was to be plain chicken and white rice for the entree. She served the chicken with a delicious mango puree (not pictured unfortunately!), but I thought being served absolutely plain chicken with rice was a restaurant fail. Could they not have cooked it in the mango puree or added cheese or something? The rice was also hard and dry :-(. The mango puree was heavenly!

Kona Cafe bland chicken with mango puree

We had a reminder here that you must always be diligent for yourself, even with the best chef. I always bring a list of my allergens, since I have several, but the chef still almost missed the chorizo in the soup as pork!  She may have realized it in the kitchen, but luckily I stopped her before that.  My side was just fruit.

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For dessert, I had already discovered when the chefs came out with no real offering to suit my needs (they usually offered just fruit or sorbet), I would ask for ice cream and enjoy life cookies.  For some reason, this wasn’t usually offered, but was always available when I asked! So here I had vanilla ice cream and Enjoy Life soft baked brownie cookies!

Overall, I appreciated another safe meal but was disappointed with having no real choice and very limited flavor.  I had bigger expectations, but I would order the salad again without the almonds and perhaps return for the mango puree if it could be worked into the chicken/rice as it was cooked.