Well after about six months of thinking about it and three months planning (or at least having the trip booked) we finally made it to Washington DC on a family vacation. In fact as I write– I am sitting poolside, watching the kids swim. Ahhh– vacation.
But sometimes it doesn’t seem so relaxing when you have to plan every detail– especially planning ahead at each restaurant –so you can be sure you get a gluten-free meal in a city that is completely unknown to you. That takes a lot of time.
Part of the issue is our criteria: we are very basic meat and potatoes people. We do like pasta and pizza too. But we’re also a family. Finding a different restaurant, wherever we happen to be (Georgetown, Arlington, National Mall) that’s gluten-free, kid-(and frankly budget-) friendly is tough. There are a bunch of restaurants that have $$$$ next to them, when you look them up online. Or they are very eclectic. All of these issues narrows things down quite a bit. My next few posts hopefully will help families coming to DC on vacation.
We arrived in DC before noon, got our bags and took the Metro to our hotel. But the timing was not great for lunch, so we hit the nearest McDonald’s — I know– lame. Then we eventually walked the four blocks from our hotel to the National Zoo; Part of the Smithsonian– so it’s free.
With a heat index of 111 degrees, the zoo wasn’t the best experience. Most of the animals weren’t out. I don’t know if it was because of the heat or what but we probably only saw 40% of the animals that were there. Luckily we got a break from the heat to see the Pandas inside a nice air conditioned facility.
While at the zoo, I took a peek at the snack bar. It was closed so we couldn’t check it out, but on their website– a treasure trove of information. The Panda Plaza Grille listed it’s gluten-free items (including french fries)! To look at all the food menu items, click here.
Dinner in Bethesda, MD
For dinner we headed up to Lilit Cafe in Bethesda. It came highly recommended on the Washington DC Support Group’s website which lists a ton of gluten-free friendly restaurants in the area. It was only 3 Metro stops up from our hotel and then an additional 10 minute walk. It is a small neighborhood store/restaurant that really caters to the gluten-free lifestyle.
We had a very good overall experience. We walked in, and the first thing the greeter asked us was whether we had any food allergies. We instantly told him about our gluten-free needs and he gave us a menu. The menu is plentiful: salads, sandwiches, pizza, entrees, dessert. They appear to have a nice breakfast menu as well.
Emma had her first caesar salad (with gluten-free croutons) EVER! It was her favorite part of the meal. Surprisingly since she hasn’t liked any other salad dressings until now. We also ordered a gluten-free cheese pizza and my husband and Emma both ordered the Kafta Kabob. The cheese pizza was good, but both my husband and Emma had trouble with the kabob. It was way too spicy for our “plain Jane” tastes. So the pizza ended up being the hit of the night.
We did end up buying some gluten-free muffins and pretzel sticks there though. Their “pantry”, refrigerator and freezer sections of the store were packed with gluten-free food! That was great to see. It’s always nice to have a few snacks handy for vacation. They do have gelato that is gluten free, but we were too full to eat any.
So now that we know the food is pretty spicy, we would still go there, we would just probably ask more questions about the “spice factor” and choose some of the more basic selections.
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