The gluten-free diet has become increasingly trendy over the last couple of years. For those of us with celiac disease, however, eating gluten-free isn’t about following the latest fad; it is a way of life. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2013, I was certain my foodie days were over. I quickly discovered, however, that Springfield has a lot of safe, gluten-free dining options.
Finding safe gluten-free eateries often comes with a lot of trial and error. Fortunately for you, I’ve done all the work and compiled a list of my favorite go-to gluten-free restaurants in Springfield.
As a tea aficionado, I am often disappointed by the lack of tea options when I dine out. At Tea Bar & Bites Bakery and Café, however, I am more than satisfied when I look at their wide selection of loose leaf teas. My all-time favorite is the Provence Rooibos tea, a red tea with hints of lavender, black currants and rose hips. This paired with their Curry Chicken Salad served on a bed of greens is one of my favorite weekend lunches. The staff at this cozy café are familiar with celiac disease, and though their prep area is small, they take great care to ensure that gluten-free dishes are prepared on clean surfaces and with fresh gloves.
Curry Chicken Salad on a Bed of Greens
Curry Chicken Salad on a Bed of Greens
Brunch is one of my absolute favorite weekend pastimes. Finding a nice, gluten-free brunch spot, however, can be challenging. The Aviary is Springfield’s only creperie and offers all of the delicious brunch essentials in a lovely, French rustic chic environment. Most of their crepes can be ordered gluten-free, and their batter is made fresh daily. On top of that, you can start (and end) your brunch with their mimosa board - a bowl of freshly sliced oranges, a bottle of bubbly, flutes and a juicer!
Venetian Garden crepe
Eating at food trucks is often out of the question for people with special dietary needs because of the limited prep area and menu options. The Wheelhouse, however, brings delicious fusion dishes with high-quality ingredients to Springfield and not only offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options but they are also always willing to clean their prep area and use fresh utensils. They use fresh, flavorful ingredients to create made-from-scratch, mouthwatering street fare inspired by Thai and Mexican traditions, and they never disappoint. Also, because they toast and grind their own spices and make their own sauces and salsas, they are knowledgeable about what goes into their food. My all-time favorite dish is their Pineapple Fried Rice with chicken, and I am also always on the lookout on their Facebook page for their delectable surprise weekly specials.
Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken
The extra planning that goes into arranging a romantic, gluten-free date night can often be overwhelming. At Gilardi’s Ristorante, I never have to feel overwhelmed because I know I am in good hands. Located in the Historic Walnut Street district, it can’t get any more romantic than a private dining setting in a beautiful Victorian home. There are only 12 tables inside the restaurant which makes for a very intimate dining experience – perfect for dates and special occasions. The owner, James Martin, prides this lavish farm-to-table restaurant on their commitment to sourcing fresh, local ingredients and crafting authentic Italian cuisine. They, in fact, have their very own vegetable garden outside the restaurant! I always start with the Polpette al Vino Bianca de Crema, a meatball appetizer with a luscious white wine and rosemary cream sauce served on a bed of Terrell Creek Farm goat cheese and polenta, and follow with one of my all-time favorite entrées – their Penne Alla Vodka with shrimp. But honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything from Gilardi’s Ristorante.
Polpette al Vino Bianca de Crema
Penne Alla Vodka
When I first dined at Café Cusco, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of their menu is gluten-free, with their select few non-gluten free dishes clearly marked as “NGF.” This Peruvian-inspired café is in the lively Historic C-Street area of Springfield and offers exotic fare and unique cocktails. My favorite entrée is their classic Peruvian Arroz Con Pollo, a flavorful chicken and rice dish with a medley of vegetables sauteed in white wine and garlic and topped with fresh cilantro. More adventurous diners may want to start with the Anticuchos Pobre – a zesty, marinated beef heart kebab appetizer. The owners, Claire and Joseph Gidman, are knowledgeable about celiac disease and the necessary safe preparation methods, making dining at Café Cusco a stress-free experience.
Arroz Con Pollo
If you are like me, you wish every day was Taco Tuesday. Thankfully, there’s Springfield Gourmet Taco Company to go to when I need my fix of tacos, guacamole, queso and margs. What is better than tacos in 7-inch shells filled to the brim with unique combinations of toppings? My usual go-to is the Ultimate Perfection Taco with shrimp - a medley of green chili, queso, sharp aged cheddar and their signature cilantro sour cream, but lately, I’ve been all about the Mediterranean with seared rare ahi tuna, hummus, feta, baby spinach and a light balsamic glaze. Gluten-free diners can get their tacos on a blue corn hard shell or opt for a stuffed avocado instead, and their freshly made guacamoles and queso paired with sangaritas are to die for!
Ultimate Perfection Taco with Shrimp
Vietnamese cuisine is known for an abundant use of exotic herbs and spices to create complex, zesty dishes, and Bambu Vietnamese Cuisine does a fantastic job of bringing those authentic flavors to Springfield, Missouri. A lot of Vietnamese food is naturally gluten-free, making for a wonderfully extensive menu for gluten-free diners to choose from. They have six versions of my personal favorite dish, their classic Pho – a rice noodle soup with chicken or beef served in a flavorful herbal broth simmered for 12 hours and named “Best Hangover Remedy” by "417 Magazine." This paired with their Fresh Summer Spring Rolls makes for a refreshingly hearty meal with unique flavors you won’t be able to get enough of.
Fresh Spring Rolls
Just because you’re gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to be flavor-free, and with all the great GF options Springfield has to offer, you don’t ever have to feel like you’re missing out on the good stuff. Of course, when you dine out, be sure to let your server know about your dietary restrictions so they can make sure you have a great experience just like I do when I visit these amazing eateries. If you’re a gluten-free diner like me, share your favorite GF places to dine in Springfield in the comments!