The gluten-free lifestyle is an increasingly popular trend for Americans. But is it really just a “trend”? Among the bandwagoners looking to lose weight on a new diet, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten-sensitivity diagnoses are serious reasons to avoid noshing on gluten—the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 100 worldwide are affected by celiac disease, with many likely undiagnosed. Those with celiac disease must adhere to a gluten-free diet to minimize intestinal damage, while others with non-celiac gluten sensitivity choose to avoid gluten-containing foods to eliminate symptoms of brain fog, fatigue, headaches, abdominal pain and digestive issues. According the National Foundation for Celiac Disease, as many as 18 million Americans may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Restaurants have begun to respond by offering gluten-free menu options, indicated by the increasingly common “GF” notation, and occasionally even providing a separate gluten-free menu by request. Spokane’s culinary scene includes a number of cafés and restaurants that cater to the gluten-free crowd, and a few take their operations a step further with 100-percent gluten-free eats. For those seeking the “GF” dishes, these eateries should top your list of faves.
Method Juice Café
Method is a health-conscious pit stop for a quick meal, with two locations—one downtown and another in north Spokane. Grab a fresh-pressed juice from the cooler or order a smoothie, acaí or pitaya power bowl, a salad, or a rice-and-quinoa-based hearty bowl with plenty of customization options. Method Juice Café’s menu is 100-percent gluten free and organic, as well as plant-based with the exception of ghee, and soy-free with the exception of its gluten-free soy sauce, tamari.
Gluten-free omelets and waffles, sandwiches and burgers, and pizzas and pastas are served inside this quaint café in north Spokane. Come in for a bacon, cheddar, onion and tomato grilled cheese, and leave with a basket full of homemade scones, breads, lemon bars and sugar cookies. No need to worry about cross-contamination inside this 100-percent gluten-free kitchen, and vegan and dairy-free options are available too. While you’re waiting for a to-go order, browse the artisanal goods or nibble a cinnamon bun.
521 E. Holland Ave.
Sun.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Hailing from Arizona, this fast-casual, healthy concept is a go-to for fresh-pressed juices, acaí cups, and salad- or grain-based bowls packed with nutritious produce and sustainably sourced meats. The menu is 100-percent gluten-free, preservative-free and organic when possible. A board inside the café displays the local farms that are Grabbagreen partners. This healthful fast-food concept sprouted in 2013 by two moms, and has since expanded to more than 20 nationwide, franchised locations, and continues to grow.
The single-packaged no-bake and breakfast cookies by Boots Bakery are found in coffee shops around the city, giving gluten-free coffee-shop goers a tasty treat to accompany their cup of Joe. But many more healthy dishes and sweet treats are found inside the Boots storefront on Main Avenue. The completely vegan, mostly gluten-free eatery dishes up plates of single-, double- or triple-orders from a selection inside its deli case. Each option indicates its dietary inclusions (even dairy and soy). The dishes vary by day, but often include green beans, tofu scramble, multi-grain patties and power greens, among others. No meal is complete without a pick from the pastry case, and stop by weekend mornings for pumpkin waffles. Boots is also known for its well-crafted cocktails, made with an extensive list of spirits and fresh-squeezed juices.
Nestled downtown next to Auntie’s Bookstore, Santé is European-inspired, using French techniques, preparing food that’s strictly grown in the Pacific Northwest for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Foodies are recommended to make reservations, as the dishes that come out of this kitchen are prepared in collaboration with nationally acclaimed chef Jeremy Hansen and Chef de Cuisine Tyler Shales. Everything they make is gluten-free, aside from the bread from Common Crumb Bakery.
When the chef of a restaurant is gluten-intolerant, you can bet on a varied gluten-free selection—done right. Wild Sage American Bistro’s chef Charlie Connor and his staff have gone through extensive training in gluten-free cooking and handling to prepare its regionally sourced Northwest cuisine. Inside the architecturally classic bistro that floods with natural light, order such dishes as the Five Spice Duck Breast, Coconut Curry Pasta, or the Morel Chicken Fettuccine, and finish the meal with a slice of Sweet Potato Cheesecake or Callebaut Chocolate Hazelnut Tart.
Twigs opened its first location at Spokane’s River Park Square in 2001, and since expanded to five additional locations in Washington, and single locations in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Texas. The American-casual cuisine and relaxing environment are fit for a date night, a casual lunch and anything in between. An extensive gluten-free menu includes items like the Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread, Roasted Garlic Gorgonzola Burger, Crab Mac and Cheese, Truffle Penne and Crème Brûlée.
Kimberly M. Gunning and her husband are recent Spokane transplants, brought here on military orders, and are excitedly exploring all the region has to offer. She’s a foodie and wine-lover, avid reader, adventure traveler and long-distance runner, and has worked as an associate editor and freelancer for a variety of publications.