Years ago, if you were gluten-free, it was tough to find a chef who had heard of celiac disease — and even harder to find one who could prepare a safe gluten-free meal. But fortunately for the increasing number of people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity who must follow strict gluten-free diets, times have changed considerably.
Now, gluten-free dining options for travelers abound — at both independent restaurants and dozens of national and regional restaurant chains. In fact, gluten-free dining has been one of the highest growth areas of the restaurant industry, ranked number seven on the National Restaurant Association’s "What’s Hot in 2012" survey of 1,800 professional chefs (and making an appearance in the top 10 for 2010 and 2011 as well). But though it may be a trend for some, dining gluten-free is a medically necessary fact of life that’s not going away for the 1 percent of the population affected by celiac disease and the even greater 7 to 8 percent of the population with gluten sensitivity. Perhaps that’s why gluten-free diners and travelers see more and more gluten-free menus popping up at large restaurant chains.
We asked Karen Broussard, founder of GlutenFreeTravelSite, which lists the options at many of these restaurant chains on her website, to share her family’s favorite chains that offer gluten-free menus, along with her top picks from the menus, like Singapore street noodles from P.F. Chang's. With a 9-year-old son with celiac disease, as well as other discriminating family members who like to critique gluten-free offerings, Broussard shares her family’s favorite choices at 12 chains they trust to provide a safe, gluten-free meal whether dining locally or on the road.
For even more top restaurant chains offering gluten-free options to seek when dining out or on your next road trip, visit GlutenFreeTravelSite’s Gluten Free Restaurant Menus page, where you will find dozens of "gluten-free friendly" restaurant chains showcased in alphabetical order.
Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.