I recently met with Korey Konopasek, owner and Chef of the very gluten-free friendly restaurant Epik Burger on Atlantic Between Kernan and Hodges. While I have been to Epik Burger many times I had yet to meet the mastermind behind the deliciousness. Epik Burger has been open for 4 years and this restaurant is his dream. Before becoming a restaurant owner Korey was Director of Operations for Food Service at the University of North Florida. While at UNF he came across many students with various allergies and knew when he finally opened a restaurant of his own it would need to accommodate a variety of food allergies. He also wanted a place his mom could enjoy- she is living with Celiac Disease.
While talking with Korey he shared that he wanted a place people could come on a regular basis not just on the occasion when they were wanting to splurge on a greasy burger. Epik Burger is also known for their vegan and vegetarian options. While they are not a completely gluten-free establishment, they take extraordinary steps to avoid cross contamination. There is nothing put in the fryers that have gluten in them and they have a separate toaster for the gluten-free buns. They also use separate utensils for gluten-free preparations.
We enjoyed the Vegan BBQ Burger with a side of onion rings and the Epicurean Burger with a side of their truffle fries. Their menu features a variety of flavors that go beyond just a lettuce and tomato topping. Some of the interesting burgers are: PB and Burger, Vietnamese Burger, Fruit and Cheese Burger and the Buffalo Fried Burger. Here is a link to their full menu.
Korey and his wife recently expanded their restaurant offerings and opened Empire City Gastropub nearby.
Make sure to not only check out Epik Burger but stop by Empire City Gastropub. They have gluten-free items at Empire City- things like Bi Bim Bap- a tasty korean dish, burgers, shrimp fried rice, salads, and so much more. See their menu here.
Have you been to either? What is your favorite?