Gluten Free St. Joseph, Michigan


Who are you and where are you?
GlutenNaziMom is Kim Jorgensen Gane in St. Joseph, Michigan; straight across the lake from Chicago, where its proximity (only an hour and a half by car) makes it a great destination even for global travelers who are looking for a small-town Midwest experience to contrast with the bustle and excitement of downtown Chicago.

Tell me about your relationship with gluten..
Due to six years dealing with infertility (PCOS & endometriosis), I began on a yeast free diet, and finally got pregnant.  My second trimester started & I started getting intense morning sickness.  Due to husband’s colitis, I tried eating gluten free, and didn’t throw up.  My son & I have now been gluten free ten years. It took my hubby a little longer to get on board, but he is now.

Why should gluten free travellers visit your town?
Several of the restaurants in the quaint lakeside town of St. Joseph, Michigan offer gluten free options for diners.  The Buck Burgers & Brew offers gluten free buns, sweet potato fries (although they do not have a dedicated fryer, so use judgment as to cross-contamination, which is always a risk when dining out), and MI beers, including some hard cider options.  Silver Beach Pizza, housed in the historical train station where Amtrack drops you right at their door, offers gluten free crust & even pasta, with a view of the giant play fountain and a short walk to the fresh water and beautiful white sand beaches of Lake Michigan.  The best gluten free pasta however, as well as some of the best views in town, can be found at Ryebelle’ where they also offer gluten free pizza, and will even do a gluten free crust without the toppings to serve with their hummus (it’s actually even better this way).

Tell me something fun about your town..
Weave your way through the shops & restaurants in this short three blocks, and in between you’ll find the art installation of the season with which to snap a photo.  Each summer this artistic community has featured multi-media statues of bears (the local school mascot), Carousel Horses (there’s a full size, fully functional carousel just fifty some steps down the bluff, next to the giant splash pad fountain), Pirates, and even snowmen in the winter season, when the entire bluff is lit up with a fantastic holiday display.  There’s also an ice carving festival held each February, after all the holiday shoppers, Reindog Parade participants and Santa have cleared out.  There’s plenty of fun to be had in St. Joseph for kids of all ages, but come spring, there’s even world class, Jack Nicklaus designed, Harbor Shores Golf Club in neighboring Benton Harbor, for the avid golfers of the family to enjoy.

The Buck!

Gluten free options..

Where is your favourite place to eat out in your town and why?
I’d have to say, The Buck Burgers & Brew is my favorite because its GlutenNaziKid’s favorite.  Yes, it’s a bar, but it’s a bar with a great, family-friendly atmosphere and live entertainment on Fridays & Saturdays.  It also offers a bit of nostalgia for this hometown girl, as the current owners, Ken & Dayna Kozminski, have named it as a historical nod to its “Silver Dollar” roots, which we locals always referred to as, The Buck, back in the day.  It’s clean, friendly, renovated & updated with two stories of gluten free goodness, two bars, and even an upper deck out back with a smidgen of a lake view, and plenty of cool Lake Michigan breezes.  Enjoy your visit, and tell them GlutenNaziMom sent you!

Do you live in St. Joseph or another part of the lovely state of Michigan? Where is your favourite place to eat gluten free?

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  • I live just down the road from St. Joseph in Stevensville. While I totally agree with Kim’s post, I can’t let the wonderful Grande Mere Inn go without mention! They have a variety of gluten free options, and will give you a copy of the GF Menu they’ve created from their regular offerings to help you choose. I’d go for the blackened swordfish any day 🙂

  • THANK YOU so much, Laura, for featuring my wonderful gluten free town!!! It’s GREAT, and I will be sharing away!

  • Just ate at Bucks tonight. Love their grilled bbq chicken with apple’s. Couldn’t enjoy their gf bun because it had eggs in it, so just went bun free. Also, south of St. Joseph, Capozio’s Italian Restaurant, serves gf pasta AMD pizza. Delicious authentic Italian family restaurant. Well worth the drive.

  • Amy Voils

    Mar 12th, 2013

    Great article! Traveling through there in October on our way to Traverse City, then to Grand Rapids. Should be there right about lunch time. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Wanted to provide an update to describe the delightful art installation of the season! Planes, Trains and Helicopters!! What FUN!! SO excited to be here for summer in Southwest Michigan! Gah! Only two weeks away!!!

  • Kim Jorgensen Gane

    May 29th, 2013

    If you visit St. Joseph on a weekend during the summer season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), be sure to walk up to Mimi’s Cupcake truck in the vendor lot on the corner of Broad Street & Lake Boulevard. Get there early (because its a teeny tiny little truck), and they just might have a couple of gluten free flavors to choose from among the myriad of non-GF options. A tasty & satisfying treat, especially when GlutenNaziMom doesn’t have to make them, and doesn’t have to fight the subsequent whispers calling so insistently at me from the freezer!

  • Kim Jorgensen Gane

    Jun 21st, 2013

    Another great option in Southwest Michigan in the summertime or any time of year, is found right across the bridge in the Arts District of Benton Harbor. The Ideal Place restaurant offers a great evening out for Mom & Dad, and they now serve gluten free pizza that ROCKS!! A thick, chewy crust that satisfies, and goat cheese is available for those who prefer it, or can’t tolerate cow dairy. Also, they usually have gluten free pasta available, you just have to ask. And they know how to prepare everything on their menu to perfection, so it’s always delicious. If it’s available, try the Buffalo Burger! Even without the bun (as yet, they haven’t offered GF buns), it’s juicy and flavorful with sweet caramelized onions, and you won’t mind in the least eating it with a knife & fork over a bed of greens. Mmmm…making myself hungry over here!

  • Kim Jorgensen Gane

    Jul 7th, 2013

    We very much enjoyed a visit to Players Bar & Grille, on the east side of Main St., downtown St. Joseph. What a terrific new life this place has been given from its rocky Stooge’s days!! We were warmly greeted by Robert, one of the owners, and we observed him doing the same with all the customers; it wasn’t that GlutenNaziMom was special or anything. 😀 In the kitchen, his wife offered great attention with our gluten-free needs, even to the degree of knowing not to butter the #GF toast (!) my Reuben was made with, because that would represent a cross-contamination risk. GlutenNaziKid’s #GF bun looked very good, and he ate the entire man-size burger, so I’d say that’s a vote in favor. They didn’t blink at GlutenNaziDad’s request for a lettuce-wrapped burger either. It’s fairly dark in there, but we were there early enough that it was a perfectly acceptable atmosphere to bring the family, too. We will be happy to patronize Players Bar & Grille again & again.

  • Kim Jorgensen Gane

    Jul 7th, 2013

    Jason Rosenthal, the new owner of Vitale’s in Edgewater (former location of Mammina’s), tells me HE’s gluten-free himself! We haven’t made it there just yet, but he will make any menu item “exploded” (without the bread), and he says it’s great stuff! I have to think that a #GF guy who owns a SANDWICH shop will take great care to serve his #GF customers in such a way that they don’t feel gypped by their special needs either. Give Vitale’s a try. We will be doing so at our earliest convenience.

  • Hi,
    We are visiting St. Joe for the week. Where can I find gluten free products to purchase. We love to cook at home but are at a loss without your suggestions.

    Thank you-