DON'T LET YOUR DIET DETER DATE NIGHT! THE OPTIONS FOR GLUTEN-FREE DINING IN ORLANDO ABOUND.
Sometimes it can be hard for any of us to decide on a restaurant for date night. And it’s even more challenging if one or both partners have a wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that requires a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For those who can safely consume it, you can thank gluten for the glorious elasticity and chew found in yummy products like bread and pizza dough. But, for those who can’t tolerate it, gluten can cause bloating, fatigue, damage to intestines and many more unpleasant symptoms that one certainly does not want to experience on date night (or any time for that matter)!
We’ve rounded up Orlando area restaurants with tasty, gluten-free menu selections so you can enjoy every bite on your next date night!
Locations in Lake Mary, SODO, Waterford Lake & Winter Garden
This fast-casual eatery affords you endless options of gluten-free deliciousness. Bowls can be customized with a number of bases, proteins, veggies and assorted sauces. Base options go beyond standard rice with selections such as kale slaw, sweet potato noodles, spinach salad and more. In addition to gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan-friendly and no processed sugar choices, Fresh Kitchen commits to using antibiotic-free meats.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
Locations at I-Drive, Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista, Millenia Mall & Oviedo
Cheers ─ with BJ’s Berry Burst Cider, Wyder’s Pear Cider or gluten-free beer ─ to a large, delish selection of classic American cuisine. BJ’s features a separate gluten-sensitive menu so you can savor items like the barbeque chicken chopped salad, double bone-in pork chop, great white pizza with mushrooms and the chocolate chip pizookie.
Multiple Orlando locations
This seafood chain is a solid link for gluten-free diners. Enjoy a great, fresh selection of alcoholic beverages (yippee for gluten-free beer and cocktails), appetizers, entrees and brunch options. The gluten-free menu even features “perfect pairings,” such as Mahi + shrimp and filet + lobster tail. But do save room for dessert… a flourless brownie topped with raspberry sauce, vanilla ice cream and macadamia nuts.
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Located at I-Drive & Waterford Lake
This modern casual dining chain claims that each dish is created with handcrafted wine in mind; oh, and it also has an impressive gluten-free menu. We’re talking eight full pages of cocktails, apps, entrees, desserts and other bites. Dig into luscious pasta dishes featuring Barilla gluten-free penne, parmesan-crusted chicken and the flourless chocolate torte topped with vanilla whipped cream and fresh berries. Plus, if your babysitter bails out last minute, Cooper’s also has gluten-free choices on their kids' menu, like GF mac n’ cheese, parmesan chicken and filet medallions.
Ethos Vegan Kitchen
Located at 601-B S. New York Ave., Winter Park
This full-service vegan restaurant and bar features hearty, home-style fare and a weekend brunch for health-conscious diners. All items are made without meat, dairy, eggs or any other animal derivatives or byproducts. The menu clearly labels selections with diet-related abbreviations, such as GF = gluten-free, SF = soy-free and ** = new/seasonal. Feast on crispy green beans and a coconut curry wrap at this vibrant loft-like space.
Located in SODO
Hungry? Well, wear your comfy pants to this restaurant, which specializes in gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan dishes. Order the Combusto Pasta, vegan mac n’ cheese tossed with spinach, artichoke and sautéed mushrooms, and then topped with a housemade crumble. Or, for weekend brunch, feast on a gluten-free Belgian Waffle. You can order this with a seasonally fresh topping and pure maple syrup, or kick it up a notch with chicken, ‘shrooms and sriracha syrup.
Located at 6000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando
Head to City Walk and enjoy a variety of gluten-free apps, salads, entrees and even desserts. The Volcano Nachos – tortilla chips layered with chili, cheese, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole, sour cream and jalapeños – are sure to hit the spot after wandering City Walk. And don’t miss out on the iconic Cheeseburger in Paradise, the award-winning signature burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and paradise island sauce on a gluten-free bun.
Located in East Orlando, I-Drive, Sanford and Winter Park
As this funky pizza place says… mellow is a state of mind, a culture, a way of being. Sounds good, right? You can stay mellow, sans food allergen concerns, when ordering a gluten-free vegan crust made from ancient grains. Munch on the Kosmic Karma, a 12-inch pie topped with red sauce, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, feta, fresh tomatoes and pesto. Wash it all down with one of their signature Liquid Karma Cocktails.
P.F. Changs China Bistro
Multiple Orlando area locations
Ask for a gluten-free menu to enjoy your favorite Asian dishes, like Mongolian Beef made with wheat-free soy-glazed flank steak and Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps made with crispy rice sticks and iceberg. So good! Top off your meal with the chocolate soufflé. Plus, you can feast on similar fare at Pei Wei Asian Diner, the fast-casual chain owned by P.F. Chang's.
Locations in Altamonte Springs and Sand Lake
Seasonally-inspired menus include options to satisfy gluten-sensitive, lactose/dairy intolerant and vegetarian palates. Flatbreads can be prepared with a replacement crust; other entrees items can be altered too. For example, order the Blackened Mahi-mahi tacos with lettuce cups shells and without mole sauce or try the Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon.
Located in Lake Buena Vista
Attention Latin lovers… you’ll love Sofita’s beef picadilla. It’s a generous heaping of ground beef, plantains and black beans atop of fluffy white rice. However, since the empanadas are made with corn-flour dough, you must also try either the Venezuelan empanada, a slightly sweet pocket filled with beef, chicken or cheese; or the Colombian empanada, stuffed with beef, chicken or spiced potatoes.
Located by on Universal Blvd. and in Dr. Phillips
Two words: waffle tacos! Yup, you could consider some of their other gluten-free breakfast and lunch entrees but why would you when they offer gluten-free waffle tacos?! If you’re craving something savory, try the Mulberry Street plate, a crispy waffle stuffed with sausage, peppers, onions, scrambled eggs and cheese. Prefer something sweet? Well, the Sunday Funday is loaded with strawberries, bananas, custard, Nutella and whipped cream.
The Wine Barn
Located at 959 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
Even gluten-sensitive peeps can have a happy belly with happy hour at The Wine Barn. Cheers to an amazing wine selection and delicate “local plates” comprised of 100% all-natural goodness. Although your bill will have a slight upcharge, just ask about made-to-order alternatives, including gluten-free wood oven pizzas.
Located in UCF area, Windermere & Winter Park
All grilled cheeses and burgers can be made-to-order with a bread substitute. So go ahead… sink your teeth into the Truffle Melt (Havarti, truffle oil, arugula, fresh ground pepper) or Angry Burger (chipotle cheddar, charred jalapenos, sweet tea caramelized onions, sriracha). Toasted has designated fryers, cooktops and utensils for gluten-free orders and lists all diet details in its allergy guide.
Located in Mills 50 district
This Japanese pub quickly became a date night go-to thanks to unique seafood nibbles and more, including gluten-free items. Serving upscale small plates, you’ll enjoy sharable bites with your love, plus cocktails, wine, beer or sake. FYI, this hotspot doesn’t take reservations so it’s best to walk-in early to snag a seat.
Did we miss any favorites? Leave a comment below to let us know!