Gluten Free Eating in Springfield, Illinois

UPDATE: February 4, 2013: Unfortunately, Pasta House shut its doors recently and they built a strip mall at its old location instead. Bummer! 

I have lived in Springfield my whole life, so needless to say, I have tried pretty much every restaurant out there.  However, it wasn’t until about a year ago that I started eating gluten-free because of some health issues, so I am still getting my feet wet on the GF scene.  Unfortunately, I have found Springfield does not have even close to the amount of gluten-free options as bigger cities like Chicago or even Las Vegas.  I am really hoping that this changes soon, because it seems like more and more people are turning to a gluten-free diet for a variety of reasons, so restaurants are losing a big chunk of potential customers by not having GF options.  Here are my go-to gluten-free spots in the capitol city.

Pasta

Well, I had a whole section on the Pasta House and how much I loved their gluten-free pasta written here, but they recently closed in 2012. I will keep on the lookout for other g-free pasta options in the capitol city! Anyone know of any places?

Pizza

My favorite place to order gluten-free pizza is Monical’s Pizza, which is located out on Prairie Crossing by Meijer.  Their gluten-free pizzas start at $8.90 for cheese only, and are 10.5″ in size.  My favorites are cheese and pepperoni and the BBQ chicken.  My parents, who do not eat gluten-free, both tried the pizza and said it was very good.  They said it didn’t taste any different from a normal pizza to them.  I think they are about as close to normal pizza as you will find around here, and I seem to order it about twice a week so that have to be doing something right!

Another place in Springfield with gluten-free pizza is Godfather’s Pizza, with locations on Wabash Ave. and S. Dirksen Pwky.  I have only had their pizza twice, and it is pretty good, but a little below Monical’s.  Their pizza definitely has a different feel than any other gluten-free pizza I have ever had, and I am not quite sure what about it was so strange.  With that being said, the pizza is still solid, and provides another alternative for gluten-free eaters in our city.  They also have frozen gluten-free pizzas available to take home, so if you want to stock up for the winter you have that option as well.

Chains

Some of my favorite places to eat out in Springfield are the usual chain restaurants.  Some may love them and some may hate them, but I enjoy dining out at any restaurant with an extensive gluten-free menu so that I have plenty of options.  Longhorn steakhouse is one of my favorites – I love the salmon (w/o marinade) and the bacon wrapped filet.  Their gluten-free menu also lists things like the cheeseburger and tells you what you have to do to get it gluten-free, like “without the bun” in this case.  They have a large number of steaks, seafood, and delicious side-dishes on their gf menu.  Chilis and Applebees don’t have a gluten-free menu, but they do have the nutritional/allergen information on their website, so I always check that before ordering and have been happy with everything I’ve had.  Outback Steakhouse is located on Horizon Drive right off S Dirksen Parkway and they have a very large and informative gluten-free menu.  Some of the highlights of their menu are the chicken, BBQ ribs, steaks, seafood, and special salads.  They also explain what you have to do to get certain items gluten-free, like avoiding some sauce or leaving the bread off.

Fast Food/On the Run

Chipotle is my favorite place to go for a quick gluten-free meal.  Pretty much everything on the menu outside the burrito is without gluten, so there are plenty of different things to eat.  I usually go with a chicken bowl or hard shell tacos with pork or chicken.  I used to love eating at Noodles and Co. before I went gluten-free, but the only thing without gluten is the pad thai (and even the chicken has gluten), so I don’t really go there very much anymore.  I also don’t eat all that much fast food anymore because of the limited options, but if I do, I usually just pick up something from Wendys or Sonic.  I’m not 100% sure of this, but I have eaten the hard shell corn tacos from Taco Gringo a few times and not had any problems.  I will have to ask them next time to be positive their tacos don’t have any gluten-containing ingredients.

Groceries

Most of the major chains have at least a small gluten-free section, but I have found Food Fantasies on Wabash Ave. to be the best place to go for GF groceries.  I purchase my favorite Udi’s products there, like the white and whole grain bread and pizza crust.  They also have both cheddar and mozzarella Daiya vegan cheese, which I purchase frequently and have found to taste better than any other vegan cheese I’ve tried.  Daiya cheese also melts great in the oven if you are making a pizza or something else.  They have so many more options than the big chains have, so you are missing out if you aren’t shopping here.  Food Fantasies is stocked with health foods and supplements to suit any and everyone.

I really hope Springfield takes notice of the rising number of gluten-free eaters and gives us more options sooner rather than later.  I am positive there is a market for it.  And with all the tourists that come into our city from all around, many of them will be looking for quality gfree meals as well.

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