Who are you and where are you?
Charlotte Goldberg aka @MommyandtheCity in Chicago
Tell me about your relationship with gluten..
After 30 years of symptoms, trips to the ER, challenges with fertility, I was finally diagnosed May 2011 with Celiac after a knock down drag out fight with my primary care doctor. I am gluten free and now so is my 5 year old Celiac daughter. This means that basically my whole family is gluten free at home now. I do however refuse to let the Gluten Freeness/Celiac Disease keep us from enjoying our lives. We travel regularly and dine out cautiously.
Why should gluten free travellers visit your town?
Chicago is amazing, period. It is full of beauty, art, shopping and heart. It is a Foodies’ dream. If you are gluten free it is even more amazing. One of the largest restaurant groups in Chicago - Lettuce Entertain You – requires all their restaurants to have Gluten Free options and they are (generally) well educated on Gluten Free allergy needs. We are also home to Senza, a 100% gluten free restaurant, from one of the top Midwest chefs. My list can go on and on and on. Needless to say, I think Chicago is a Gluten Free diner’s paradise.
Tell me something fun about your town..
Where to start with FUN in Chicago. There are some obvious things I could go with, theater, the lake, sailing, Millenium Park, Lollapalooza, dining, museums and of course shopping.
So I am going to go with a lesser known but amazing event: Spring Flours Annual Gala. Spring Flours is a benefit for Cure Celiac at The University of Chicago Hospital. It happens every spring (shocking right) and there are usually 30+ restaurants and bakers there promoting their Gluten Free menus and products and it is supported by many of the top Gluten Free product manufacturers. It is one of my very favorite things about Chicago these days.
Where is your favourite place to eat out in your town and why?
Wow, to narrow it down to a favorite seems like an unfair request, I am going with a top 5 list (in NO particular order)
- 1. Prasino- Wicker Park – aside from being one of the first restaurants in Chicago that I found and trusted after my diagnosis, it is also very close to our home. It is sophisticated but approachable. They are kind and generous to us and our children, my son is apparently besties with the evening host – Reggie (who we all adore). I am proud to say that one server said the manager called me the lady with the well behaved children – not the lady with Gluten Free needs/Celiac. That’s when you know you’ve found a good spot!
- 2. Joe’s Steak and Stone Crab – Centrally located downtown Chicago it is a higher end restaurant but worth every delicious bite. They have a dedicated Gluten Free menu and was our favorite Chicago restaurant long before my diagnosis.
- 3. Mon Ami Gabi – Dedicated staff that understands Gluten Free. Delicious Gluten Free bread and finally an ability to have pate out again. Something I had desperately missed in the year and half since my diagnosis before the Lettuce Entertain Twitter handle recommended I give it a try. They have an amazing wine list and help round out my top’s list with a Lincoln Park address.
- 4. Senza – a bit unfair to put on a tops list since I’ve only gone once, but it has an amazing trifecta. 1. The entire restaurant is gluten free – so much so that the staff is not allowed to bring anything containing gluten into the restaurant for themselves. 2. The story is beautiful of a woman who loved baking so much that when her friend who had be diagnosed with Celiac couldn’t find the things she longed for, one of the partners here created it. 3. A top chef in Noah Sandoval who has made an incredible name for himself in Wicker Park with Schwa and Spring. I just wish Senza was closer to our house vs in Lakeview. But it is worth every penny of the cab ride. I went with 3 non-gluten-free-ers and it was unanimous that Senza is AMAZING.
- 5. Closing out the top 5 is Hub51. I go here on an insanely regular basis. For almost a year, I ordered the same thing (out of typical Celiac newbie fear). One day, I learned that a special salad was Gluten Free. I had already completed our lunch and was headed back to the office when the waitress shows up with a salad for me to try later and said the manager insisted that I try it. It was amazing. The Manger was so excited that I was willing to branch out from my “usual” order that he insisted I have this to try later on. That’s love!
Do you live in Chicago or have you travelled there? Where is your favourite place to eat gluten free? You can also check out these tips if it’s the Chicago Suburbs you’re headed to!