Some of the best times we have as a family is going out to a restaurant for a great dinner.  Now that restaurants are getting more educated about the gluten-free diet, eating out has never been easier (don’t get me wrong I’m not calling all restaurant dining easy).  However, these days you can find managers and chefs at some establishments who actually know what you’re talking about!  If you are like me, you may have questioned whether that day would ever come.

Recently, my brother went to a new restaurant in Duluth, Minnesota, called the Duluth Grill.  Judging from the giddy email he sent me, he found a place where he can feel at ease and have a great gluten-free meal.  Now he wants to spread the word.  You may have felt that way at one time or another too.  The good news is there is a way to “pay it forward” so to speak, in gluten-free dining.

There are a few sites you should check out, if you haven’t already. One is for global travel (both dining and hotels) and that is www.glutenfreeonthego.com. Two others are www.glutenfreeregistry.com and http://celiachandbook.com/index.html, which cater only to restaurants in the United States and internationally. What is great about these sites is that you can submit the information based on your dining experience. 

I went to Wildfire in Eden Prairie, Minnesota purely based on the information on the glutenfreeregistry.com site.  It had a link to the restaurant’s webpage, as well as maps, address and phone number.  Our experience was fantastic (watch for more on that in a future post).

But a third site you should see is http://www.glutenfreerestaurants.org/.  It is a website for the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP), sponsored by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) of North America.  This site is different because it helps us, the consumer, by working with restaurant owners and managers.  GIG is working to calm any fears management may have, by educating them on the diet and how they can make it work.

 To get a restaurant on the GFRAP list, the business must contact the site.  The program helps businesses new to gluten-free cooking, as well as those with already-established menus. “If they already have worked on a gluten-free menu, it expedites the process,” Madelyn Smith, GIG Program Manager told me.  So since this program strictly relies on the business owner to seek out the help from GFRAP, what can you as a customer do?  Print the brochure on the website and hand it to the manager your favorite restaurant.  Not only would they learn more but they could become a part of a growing network of restaurants known to be gluten-free friendly.

So if you make a discovery, like my brother did about the Duluth Grill’s Banana-Buckwheat Bread which he called “…the real deal…”, then “pay it forward”, get online and spread the word!  These sites need our support to keep running.  I find them invaluable and you just might too.

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