Tag Archives: top gluten free restaurants

NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens Gluten-Free Training

gluten free jacksonville nfca great kitchens gluten free training
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease I thought anything that said “gluten-free” was safe for me.  I quickly learned that just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu it does not always mean that they took steps to avoid cross contamination.

NFCA great kitchens gluten free jacksonville

A few months ago I found out about the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness GREAT Kitchens: Gluten-Free Training. GREAT Kitchens is a gluten-free training to food service professionals working in a variety of settings. This $100 training teaches skills and techniques to meet gluten-free needs and serve gluten-free meals safely and confidently.

As Jacksonville becomes more gluten-friendly I would love to see more restaurants taking steps to train their kitchen staff and servers on gluten. I would especially love to encourage local restaurants. I find that it is the chain restaurants who provide most of the training for their staff because of a need in a larger market. It is the local restaurants I find that a majority of the time have not educated their staff on food allergies.

Some of the issues I have with restaurant servers:
1. They don’t know what gluten is.
2. They think I can’t have ANY carbs.
3. They think items that have been fried in the same oil as breaded items are gluten-free.
4. They aren’t aware that sauces like soy sauce carry hidden gluten.
5. They don’t write down that I have celiac disease on the ticket so the kitchen staff has no idea that they should take extra steps to avoid cross contamination.
6. They don’t write anything down and try to memorize my order as well as the order for the 8 other people at the table.

As of March 1st, 2014 there are no restaurants in Jacksonville that are certified as a GREAT Kitchen. I would love to see this change and I would love to update our gluten-free restaurant listing with a list of GREAT Kitchen certified restaurants.

What are some of the issues you have when dining out? Do you avoid dining out altogether because it is so hard?


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Gluten-Free Moxie Kitchen+ Cocktails

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails st. johns town centerI am so excited.  I love when new restaurants come to Jacksonville, especially when they use fresh ingredients, have a great menu and are opened by great chefs (who happen to be really down to earth nice people). Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, a Chef Tom Grey creation, is now open for business.

Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is in the Town Center between Nordstrom Rack and Seasons 52.  They feature fun and funky american food with international (and a little bit of southern) influence.  Their menu is quite diverse and items range from craft cocktails, cheeses, burgers, seafood and decadent desserts. A majority of the food is made from scratch and/or sourced locally.  The vibe of the restaurant is a fusion of industrial, rustic and prohibition. gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails salt and pepper shakers

My boyfriend and I went during the soft opening and had an amazing experience.  Even with the restaurant being so new, staff were knowledgeable, friendly and attentive.  The menu makes it really hard to decide what you want to eat.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails menu

We started off with cocktails: a Lorem Ipsum (fancy margarita) for me and a B.E. for my boyfriend. Each of our drinks had their own ice cube shape: the Lorem Ipsum- a tall slender chunk of ice, the B.E. a large square ice cube.gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails craft cocktails Lorem Ipsumgluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails craft cocktails b.e.

We then moved on to two appetizers (both gluten free): we had the octopus appetizer and a plate of 2 cured meats.  Both were amazing.  The octopus appetizer came with chorizo, olive crisp, corn nuts and black garlic.  I am not a huge fan of octopus, but the way the server described that it was prepared to reduce the chewiness we had to try. Plus it was just so unique we were intrigued. The flavors of the octopus dish left me wishing I didn’t have to share.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails octopus

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails cured meats

Unfortunately, our main course was so tantalizing I immediately dug in and forgot to take a picture.  But trust me when I say the food is amazing.  My boyfriend had the Filet Mignon with the chimichuri sauce and I had the rainbow trout.  We ordered the collards and ham and the brussel sprouts as our sides. I loved these sides (I love vegetables). The brussel sprouts were actually kinda sweet.  The rainbow trout was gluten-free and dairy-free and came on top of mashed sunchoke (a vegetable similar to an artichoke).  They had to make some variations to the meal so it is very important to let your server know of your allergy.

Gluten-Free notes (updated 12/3/2014):
– They have a dedicated gluten-free menu
– They do not have a dedicated gluten-free fryer
– Corn nuts, popcorn bar snacks are gluten-free
– Salads, Short Ribs and BBQ Pork Steak and the burger can be done gluten-free

For dessert, my boyfriend was a devil and had the coconut meringue cake that was enormous.  DEFINITELY NOT GLUTEN-FREE 🙂

We were so lucky, Chef Tom was in the restaurant and came around to all of the tables to say hello and see how things were.  I expected him to say hi and rush off to the kitchen in a rush but he seemed so calm and stayed to chat a bit. It was very apparent that this is his dream.  It is so refreshing to know that someone as successful as he is can stay so grounded and friendly.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails chef tomAll in all the restaurant has a wonderful layout and even has the flexibility to host meetings, special events, etc.  They have outdoor seating downstairs and upstairs and two bars.  The upstairs bar has a great lounge feel while the downstairs lounge accommodates guests waiting for a table.

One of my favorite features is their water filtration system which provides still and sparkling drinking water.  I crave their sparkling water it is delicious. My other favorite feature is the upstairs artwork by my favorite artist- Dennis Campay.  gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails dennis campayThis is a great place for a date, special occasion, a holiday dinner or when friends are in from out of town.  There are a variety of prices so you could dine on a budget or splurge. 

moxie kitchen and cocktails logo

Have you been?  What was your experience like?
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails on Urbanspoon

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GlutenFreeJacksonville.com Helps Out a Local News Channel to Test EZ Gluten Test Strips

Recently Healther Crawford, a reporter for First Coast News, asked me to help identify some area chain restaurants that have gluten-free menus to test the EZ Gluten test strips’ ability to detect gluten in food. EZ Gluten test strips are created by Eliza Technologies. According to their website, these test strips are easy to use and help detect the presence of gluten in foods and beverages.


We went to three different restaurants- PF Chang’s at the Town Center, Chili’s in Jacksonville Beach and Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville Beach to test multiple meals for gluten.

I had so much fun,  it was like a progressive dinner with friends you just met.


Heather and the videographer, Ed, were so fun and I really enjoyed their company.

We ate:

  • Spicy chicken and beef and broccoli at PF Chang’s.
  • Loaded baked potato soup, spicy chicken and sausage soup, margarita chicken with rice and beans and mashed potatoes at Chili’s
  • Bards beer and gluten-free pepperoni pizza at Mellow Mushroom Jacksonville Beach.

The results: the mashed potatoes at Chili’s tested positive for gluten. To the credit of Chili’s, they do have a disclaimer on their gluten-free menu.


After our testing, we made our way to my kitchen!

Ed and Heather actually came to my house, tested food in my pantry and took a look inside my fridge.


My thoughts on the night:

1. Each test takes 20 minutes. I seriously doubt many people will have the patience to wait 20 minutes to eat their food while they are waiting on the test results to come in. Their website states 10 minutes, but each kit we used took 20 minutes from start to finish.


2. The kits are quite expensive.  You can purchase 2 for $25 or 5 for $60 off the website.

3. There may be some testing errors. This was the first time any of us have ever used the kits and we only sampled one part of the food. The kit allows for a small sample, so to test multiple parts of the food would take the use of multiple kits. For the purposes of the report it was not practical to use multiple kits to test more than one part of the food.  However, every effort was made to include as much of the food in the small testing spoon that came with the kit.

4. If you are using these test strips in a public place, you will get some interesting looks.  The kit has a few stages you have to complete that involves mixing and letting things sit for certain amounts of time.

5. There still may trace amounts of gluten that the kit doesn’t account for. It tests as low as 10ppm.

Read the Full Story Here

Have you ever used these kits before?  What are your thoughts?

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EatUp Downtown: Gluten-free

Check it out! One of my favorites (even before going gluten-free) Eat up Downtown!  This week long event August 13-26 in Downtown Jacksonville promotes restaurants downtown. Each restaurant offers a pre-fix menu ranging from $15-$35. As far as I know the gluten-friendly restaurants are:

Most restaurants take reservations, make sure to call ahead and perhaps even ask them about their gluten-free offerings. These places get extremely busy during Eat Up Downtown.

While you are Downtown take a walk along the river or stop in to one of my favorite bars, Dos Gatos, for a cocktail.

Happy Dining!

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Royal Palms Village Wine and Tapas a Gluten-Free Beer and Tapas Paradise!

A few weeks ago I joined some of my favorite girlfriends at Royal Palms Village Wine and Tapas in Atlantic Beach.  We try to get together to catch up on each other’s lives and share a bottle (or two) of wine.  Every time we get together someone has just gotten married, just adopted a baby, is pregnant, just broke up with someone, just got back together with someone or just finished a successful event they had been planning.  It is so nice to have friends you can just be yourself around.  While we are all super busy, it is hard to get together on a regular basis so the time we can get together is cherished.

Royal Palms Village Wine and Tapas is a great place.  I have suggested it to numerous people looking for gluten-free in the beaches area. It looks like a little European bistro and they are known for their awesome beer and wine selection.  In addition, their chef is well versed in food allergies and safe preparation techniques.  They have a great menu which is perfect for sharing and is easily customizable depending on your needs.

Prior to ordering, I had to indulge in one of their over 8 gluten-free beer/cider options.  I had the Dogfish Head Tweason’ Ale, which is my new favorite.  I love the soft undertones of strawberry.  They have other gluten-free beers like Redbridge, New Planet and New Grist.

While I am also dairy-free I thought I would share that they have awesome cheese and meat plates for those of you who can tolerate dairy.

As my first course I had the Chorizo al Vino.  It was delicious and nicely sized.

Next I had two helpings of the Angus Churrasco Bibb Lettuce Wraps.  I loved how colorful this dish was, the carmelized onions added great flavor and decoration.  The Bibb Lettuce was so soft and fresh, these were my favorite.

A great night night was had by all.  We had such a great time, that we kept the employees there past closing time because we had to share that last great story.  I can’t wait to go back.

Royal Palm Village WIne & Tapas on Urbanspoon

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Corner Taco- Gluten-Free!

Today was a beautiful day!  I decided it was the perfect day to try out Corner Taco, a place I have heard about for quite some time.


Corner Taco is a food truck that moves around quite frequently.  However, if you follow them on Facebook they notify you of where they are going on a regular basis.

Once I had my heart set on going, I invited my friend Jennifer and my brother Neil (placing his order above).

The staff was super nice.  Once I told them I wanted to take photos and write for my blog they wanted me to know all about their creations.  Every day, before they open, they cut all of their vegetables, cook their meats and make their corn tortillas on site.

They even invited me into their awesome food truck to see their corn tortilla maker.  They said this thing can make 1,000 corn tortillas an hour.  They make close to 140 each day for their food truck and informed me the only one of its kind (outside of the ones in Mexico) is at Epcot.  These corn tortillas are legit they were tasty and not one time did they fall apart in my hand like most other corn tortillas do.  Usually I have to double up!

I ordered the Tempeh taco and the Carnitas taco.  They were so delicious, I wished I ordered another one.

I was forced to forgo my usual Diet Coke for a Cane Sugar “Mexican” Coca-Cola which was so delicious!

There is a food truck phenomenon happening in Jacksonville.  I invite you to jump on board.  I am still learning about which ones are safe for us, but in the meantime I invite you to join Jacksonville Truckies on Facebook.  They organize events and are constantly promoting food trucks in our area.  I promise as I learn about the ones that are gluten-free I will share what I find with you.  In the meantime, check out Corner Taco, you will not be disappointed…

Corner Taco on Urbanspoon


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April Smart Phone Pics


I am constantly taking photos of food on my phone, I thought i’d share a few of my favorites from this past month…   Have you tried any of these?

1. Gluten-free Creme Brulee from bb’s in San Marco
2. Tuna Tartare with sliced cucumbers instead of crustini at bbs’s
3. Amontillado Hamburger and French Fries (no bun) at Poe’s Tavern, Atlantic Beach
4. New gluten-free menu at PF Changs
5. Gluten-free goodies at World Market
6. Salad from the Sweet Tomatoes salad bar

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Gluten-Free Seasons 52

Last Night I dined at Seasons 52 at the Town Center.  I have heard a lot about it and had a $50 gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket so I had to go!  Seasons 52 changes their menu 3 times a year and they offer foods that are in season.  In addition, each of their dishes are 475 calories and they have no fryers on site.  As a fan of “clean eating” I was excited to try this place out.  I made reservations ahead of time and notified them of my gluten/dairy/shellfish allergy and when I was seated they handed me a gluten-free menu and confirmed my allergy and said they had it all under control.  The gluten-free menu was a little limited, but I liked that I could feel safe.  Here is a link to their gluten-free menu.  But beware, they are switching their menus on March 20th to the Spring Menu.

ruby red grapefruit martini seasons 52 gluten free jacksonville

Every thing I read said that the Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini was a must.  This was so true.  I loved this martini and the fact it came with a shaker meant I got a little more than just one glass.  My super helpful waiter Charlie informed me that they let the grapefruit soak in vodka then they add a citrus liquor.  I loved it as a pre-dinner cocktail!

edamame with green tea sea salt seasons 52 gluten free jacksonville

As an appetizer my boyfriend and I shared the edamame with green tea sea salt.  I have never had green tea sea salt but it was quite yummy and had a really nice green tea flavor that minimized the saltiness of the salt (if that even makes sense, ha).

Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout with parsley new potatoes seasons 52 gluten free jacksonville

For dinner I enjoyed the Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout with parsley new potatoes, roasted vegetables and broiled lemon. Let me tell you, that broiled lemon was awesome.  It was so easy to squeeze over the fish and the flavor lingered over to the carrots and asparagus on my plate.  It was delicious.  The vegetables were not too salty or over cooked, however the fish had a little blackened taste to it so the flavors of the plate just really went well together.  Everything tasted fresh and there were no overpowering sauces or spices.  The glass of Pinot Grigio I enjoyed with it was perfect.  There was nothing left on my plate!

I had a great experience and can’t wait to go back!

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

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A Night Out for a Bite at Augustine Grille

On Tuesday March 8th, I participated in the monthly Folio Weekly Bite Club  from farm to table dinner at The Augustine Grille in Ponte Vedra.  If you don’t know about the Bite Club, they meet each month at a different restaurant and the foodies of Jacksonville eat, post pictures, comment on blogs, write their own blogs and basically share what they liked most.  Chef de Cuisine Brett Smith stated that the ingredients in this farm to table event were “local somewhere” most of the items were from local farms and picked fresh and brought to the table not long after being picked. I love attending Bite Club and find it truly a treat to be able to attend.  On rare the occasion that a restaurant can accommodate a gluten-free diet I always enjoy attending. Located within Sawgrass Marriott resort, The Augustine Grille is definitely worth a try.

Beef Satay

Before we even stepped into the restaurant, we were greeted with a nice happy hour which included tuna tartare, lobster soup and a 60 day aged beef satay.  The beef satay was AMAZING!  Not sure of the marinade, but being a meat lover there was a nice saltiness to it that wasn’t over powering.  One of the farms was there to talk about their hydroponics farm techniques.  The farm Fresh Start is located in St. Augustine and they are strong supporters of purchasing local produce.

Crab Dip

Prior to the first of four courses we were given a nice tasting of crab salad.  Everyone else had theirs in what appeared to be a philo dough cup however, because I was dining gluten-free they served it in a nice asian spoon.  The crab dip was not too mayonaisey (is that a word? haha) with just a hint of lemon grass.  Next up was the pork belly, red pea, andouille and greens.  Delicious.  As a girl from the south, I love my greens, but this was different, rather than the greens being the centerpiece of the dish, the pork belly was the center piece.  All of the flavors blended really nicely together.

Next up was the second course titled: “Leaves.”  This included arugula, beet, truffled goat cheese with shallot vinaigrette.  While they sound odd listed separately, the flavors really complimented each other.  The

Beets, Arugula and Truffled Goat Cheese

truffled goat cheese had a very strong flavor which worked well with the mildly flavored arugula and beets.  The arugula was crispy the dressing was just enough.  Both the first and second courses were paired with a lovely Rose, RKS Grande Cassagne Rose.  Typically when I expect to drink a Rose I expect it to be sweet, but this was nicely robust without the sweetness.  It went well with the small plate and leaves.

Course three titled “Sea” was Mayport shrimp, grit cake, greens and tasso gravy.

Shrimp and Greens

Their staff was very knowledgeable about how the grits were made and were able to inform me they are made on equipment that also processes wheat products so they removed that from my dish in addition to the gravy.  While the dish was delishious with just shrimp and lettuce, I think the grits would have complimented the seasoning a little better.  The wine pairing was nice though, the shrimp went very well with the Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc it was paired with.

Strip Loin and Brussel Sprouts

Course four was called: “Land” and included house dry-aged, prime, natural strip loin, gnocchi and brussel sprouts.  The gnocchi contained gluten, so I enjoyed just the natural strip loin and brussel sprouts.  I loved the simplicity of the brussel sprouts they were small and halved and perfectly bite sized.  The steak was tender and went so perfectly with the brussel sprouts.

The final course known as “sweet” was an assortment of 2 desserts , pot de creme and truffle.  The pot de creme tasted like creme brule without the crunchy top and much, much thicker.  Along with

Pot de Creme and White Chocolate Truffle

that they included 2 white chocolate truffle balls with a hard white chocolate covering.  This was paired with a Graham’s Tawny Port that complimented the white chocolate perfectly.

Overall, what a great dining experience.  As a girl raised in the south I loved the twist on southern dining and the reliance on fresh vegetables.  This is definitely a place I hope to visit again.  In addition to great food, the staff was courteous and the people I met while dining were genuine.  Thank you Augustine Grille for great ambiance, food and experience.

Augustine Grille on Urbanspoon

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gluten free tacolu jacksonville beachTacoLu is no stranger to the Jacksonville Beach dining scene, however, one thing is new, they have updated their menu with updated food choices as well as language that states they can accommodate a gluten-free diet.  If you have never been here you are in for a treat their website boasts ” If you’re looking for the same old, worn-out ground beef tacos with piles of mashed up beans and sour cream, then try Taco Bell; you won’t find that stuff at TacoLu.”  This is such a fun quirky place where they pose the question “Who is Lu?”

A while back I commented on the Tacolu facebook page when they asked what they should add to their new menu and of course I added “gluten-free items.”  Within minutes Don replied to me saying that they have always been able to accommodate a gluten-free diet, just ask for a manager and they can inform you.

One night before my Sunday Night Jacksonville Scene bowling league I decided to go to Tacolu with my boyfriend and was surprised to see some of our friends already at a table so we decided to join them.  Upon being greeted immediately by the wait staff I ordered their house margarita.

gluten free tacolu jacksonville beach margarita

House Margarita

At Tacolu they use freshly made juices in their margaritas and they have a variety of tequilas and margaritas to choose from but I promise, you won’t go wrong with their house margarita.

Then I began to place my order and asked for the gluten-free chips and my own side of salsa.  Prior to this visit I would always ask them to bake corn tortillas for me, however now they have delicious corn tortillas that are to die for and my gluten eating friends thought they were as good if not better than the house chips.

Gluten Free Chips and Salsa

Gluten Free Chips and Salsa

Mahi Tacos gluten free tacolu jacksonville beach margarita

Mahi Tacos

For dinner I ordered two of the Mahi Tacos.  Their ingredients are blackened fish on a freshly made corn tortilla with cabbage, fresh mango salsa and chipotle crema. all gluten-free.  There are numerous options on the menu for those of us with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.  Because everything is made in-house fresh, they can make all sorts of accommodations (within reason of course).  Many options you can just replace the flour tortilla with a corn tortilla to meet your needs.  Just make sure to ask the waiter what your options are.

While I still have no idea who Lu is, I know that I love TacoLu!

TacoLu on Urbanspoon


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