One of the biggest challenges I faced when eliminating gluten from my life was trying to find something I could quickly grab when I was out and about. Often, my day runs back to back and I’m not great of preparing and planning my day around food. So, I really struggled with making sure I had safe snacks with me consistently or ended up going to a dine in place just because I knew they would accommodate my gluten-free life! But that habit became too costly and I needed to get better about planning my meals.
But, sometimes you are in a jam and need something quick. Maybe you left your lunch at home or an out of the office meeting ran late, leaving you hungry with no time to get back to the office. What do you do? Where can you go?
When doing research on these companies, numerous other sites popped up offering information as well. I will tell you when doing research to go directly to the company as your best and most accurate information on safe choices for that restaurant. Every link I put on this site is directly from the website of the company and effective as of May 6, 2013.
Fast food disclaimer of mine: Please be aware the risk of cross contamination is high at any of these fast food joints. They are taught to do things quick because no one wants to wait for fast food. You can’t be sure they are handing your food safely or that proper precautions are being met to keep you safe. Any of these options are an eat at your own risk!
McDonald’s – I hardly ever eat here because it seems the only things safe are condiments. There is strong controversy over the french fries, its not very clear. They don’t make it very convenient to locate items with specific ingredients on their list of allergens either. It’s a gigantic list of every single food they offer with the ingredients listed. There is no chart and its extremely hard to read.
Wendy’s – This is my fast food stop whenever I’m caught unprepared or traveling. Their website has pages dedicated to the issue and they make it a point to let you know they understand and what options are available to us. My go to item is a baked potato with cheese. I could eat them every day. Wendy’s are all over the place so it makes it a perfect stop on our road trips!
Taco Bell– When I was first diagnosed, I couldn’t find anything to eat here. It seems with doing my research for this article, they improved their gluten-free selections and actually have some options. Check out Taco Bell’s offerings.
Burger King– Similar to their competitor McDonald’s, Burger King struggles to offer much for those of us eating gluten-free. Their burgers with no buns and condiments appear to be the minimal selections on their list of gluten-free menu items. As much as I’d love a packet of ketchup and a 2oz greasy burger, I think I’ll pass.
Kentucky Fried Chicken – “Yeah, can I get a tomato slice and a honey barbecue packet?” Or at least that’s what I’d order from KFC’s gluten free menu. I stopped eating KFC about 10 years ago when I watched a video of their employees horribly abusing the chickens but I’m pretty sure going gluten-free is another reason I won’t be visiting here anytime soon. Just another quick fix fast food chain offering up condiments and sides as their “gluten-free menu.”
Noodles & Company – I’ve had a mixed bag of success here. Sometimes it’s a great experience with no problems and other times I end up with regular noodles in my dish. They have done their homework and offer a great allergen and nutrition guide. I would love to see the same amount of enthusiasm go to training and educating their staff at the different locations! Be very clear when you go here and hopefully they will treat your food right.
Chipotle – Pretty much anything here is good except the flour tortillas. Check out their allergen and gluten free guide online.
Pei Wei – This chain is the little sister of PF Changs so it’s no wonder they know a thing or two about gluten-free. Their edamame needs to be requested gluten-free because they use chicken stock in making it regularly. I find this odd especially since this is a popular side dish for vegetarians and I’ve never seen it marked as being cooked in chicken. Check out their allergen and gluten free guide online.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries – I’ve heard wonderful things about them from other people but was sad by the information on their website. It isn’t very clear if they are gluten-free or not. It just says our buns contain… but nothing about the fries or meat being gluten-free. Several people told me they cook their fries separately and will make you a naked burger with no bun. If you know more than what they put on their website, or have a good experience, please post it below!
Sonic – How about a naked hotdog and a sundae? I’ve actually eaten that before here so don’t judge me…lol This is another one that’s tough to find some good options for gluten-free menu items. In desperate times, you can find something but I wouldn’t plan on actually eating here on purpose!
Carl Jr – They do have a low carb burger but gluten isn’t even listed on their allergen menu. They indicate which products contain wheat but not gluten. We don’t have them in Ohio so I can’t tell you what I’ve experienced. Have you been there? Let us know!
Del Taco – Avoid like the plague. Don’t believe me? Check out their menu which lists everything except soft drinks as containing gluten.
In N Out Burger – No allergy information listed on their website? Really? I find that extremely odd. But here is their menu of nutritional information.
El Pollo Loco – Just like anywhere else, eat here at your own risk. They don’t have a dedicated fryer but actually give a great disclaimer to say the risk of cross contamination is extremely high. They have a list of gluten/wheat free items on their site for those who are avoiding or can tolerate a small amount.
Chick-Fil-A – They have a few options for you! They specifically state it is a challenge to prevent cross contamination but they do have policies in place to reduce the risk. I wonder why the kids chicken nuggets are gluten free but the regular ones are not? How are they different? I’m going to have to check it out next time I’m over that way! Here is their list of nutrition and allergen information.