TAG | chicago
Before we begin, let’s make peace with this simple fact: I recognize that it’s a sin to go to a steakhouse and order pizza. Wildfire is one of my go-to gluten-free restaurants in downtown Chicago. I have a regular order there: spinach & artichoke fondue, black peppercorn filet cooked medium, cheddar double stuffed potato and a bottle or two of Redbridge. When I’m really feeling like treating myself, I’ll also devour the flourless chocolate cake. No, I don’t finish it all. Wildfire’s portions provide the gift that keeps giving for at least one or two lovely office lunch reheats.
Alas, I’m already straying from the point. On my last visit to Wildfire in downtown Chicago, the thermometer read 96 degrees. I simply can’t be expected to order a meal of that size and still be able to breathe, walk and perform the other simple functions demanded of a human in this heat. I eyeballed the salads briefly and even spied the seafood offerings momentarily before my eyes settled on this miracle of the Wildfire pizza offerings:
Chicken sausage, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, jalapeno jack cheese
Making my decision even easier was the realization that Wildfire swapped out the Redbridge gluten-free beer option for Bard’s Tale beer. I’m not a Redbridge hater and it can be really refreshing in summer heat, but when I’m sentimentally craving craft beer flavor, Bard’s is one of the only commercially-available gluten-free beers that fits the bill.
Everybody knows I can talk beer all day, but please, let’s get back to the point once more. Whoever came up with this pizza is a hero. The spicy chicken sausage balances beautifully with the caramelized onions. The green and red peppers taste nearly pickled, which is perfect because their sweetness helps to cool the fire of the jalapeno jack cheese. The smoky, baked crust is perfectly crisped from the wood-burning oven and the sauce is mild and plays a perfect supporting role. With so many huge flavors, what more does the sauce have to do? There are huge chunks of garlic and tomato floating in the sauce while loads of interesting spice flavors and aromas emanate from the chicken sausage. This is an incredibly well-balanced meal, but put it all on a pizza and your palette needs days to recover.
I ate half of the pizza and brought the other half to the office for lunch the following day. It microwaved well and is filling enough for two meals. The only thing missing was a cold beer to wash it down with.
Rounding out my Wildfire meal this time around were the complementary gluten-free bread roll as an appetizer, an obligatory cheddar double stuffed potato (half with the meal, half reheated the following day), and two bottles of Bard’s. My one and only complaint was that the beer was provided with a super-chilled glass. I prefer beer closer to room temperature both for flavor and because it reduces the amount of air taken in while drinking, but with the nearly-unbearable heat of late spring Chicago lurking menacingly just outside those double-doors, I’m not going to get too upset.
Even as a go-to restaurant that I’ve been to more times than I can count, Wildfire’s gluten-free menu continues to surprise and thrill me. I’ll definitely be getting after this pizza on subsequent trips to Wildfire. What’s your favorite gluten-free Wildfire meal?
Baseball. The very word conjures up memories of glories on the field, family moments in the living room watching the games, standing under the Wrigley Field sign for the obligatory tourist picture. For me personally, there are innumerable memories that I still carry with me. I’ll never forget Harry Caray phonetically spelling player names backwards. I’ll never forget going to Wrigley Field as a young man and catching a baseball thrown by Damon Berryhill (look him up, kids). And most recently, I’ll never forget my first gluten-free meal at Wrigley Field.
I knew that Wrigley offered Redbridge gluten-free beer at select beer stands throughout the stadium. I also knew you might find some sort of pumpkin seed and dried fruit mixture if you looked really hard. What I didn’t realize was the incredible offerings you can find nestled in the right field corner of the stadium at the Sheffield Grill.
I found myself wandering into Sheffield Grill for two reasons. I knew they had gluten free beer and I knew it was air-conditioned. When I walked in and ordered a Redbridge, the lovely young lady behind the register inquired whether I was aware that they also had gluten-free hot dog and hamburgers. I was not.
I ordered a hot dog with grilled onions and the cooks countered with a pickle, potato chips and the first hot dog I’ve eaten in almost three years. Everybody behind the grill knew exactly what they were doing. The hot dog bun took a few minutes to prepare (I’m assuming it was frozen), but the cook took the time to explain to me that everything he was putting on my plate was indeed gluten-free. He even went so far as to clue me in that the gluten-free rolls they serve come from everybody’s favorite: Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery north of Chicago in Evanston. I’ll spend some time singing the praises of Rose’s in another post.
Just like that, I’m part of the crowd. I’m enjoying an ice-cold beer at the ballpark while chowing down on the quintessential ballpark cuisine and not feeling even a bit left out. I even went back for another round. I was stuffed and couldn’t finish the second hot dog (the rolls are quite filling, but taste amazing).
So I have a new tradition to enjoy at the old ballpark. I keep hearing that more and more sports venues are adding gluten-free vendors to the mix. I’ve been adding them on Gloodies.com as I come across them, but feel free to talk up your local sports venue in the comments if they support the gluten intolerant. Cheers!
I’ll take advantage of just about any opportunity to head to downtown Chicago for food. Last night, the wife and I found ourselves headed to a theater near P.F. Chang’s China Bistro at 530 N. Wabash Avenue and decided to sample their new gluten free menu.
Our server, Juanita, was very attentive and from the second I ordered a Redbridge beer was aware of my gluten intolerance. We each wanted to try a couple of things, so my wife and I both ordered from the gluten free menu.
We enjoyed one order of gluten free mongolian beef and one order of gluten free Chang’s spicy chicken. This came with a huge bowl of rice for us to share. As soon as we ordered, Juanita removed the sauces from the table and came back and mixed up some spicy gluten free soy sauce for us.
We were both blown away by the food. The mongolian beef dish was cooked perfectly with a sweet crispness around the edges. The portion was huge and the scallions that came along were also very good. The spicy chicken dish was beautiful as well. Moist chunks of chicken cooked quickly with a sweet and spicy sauce paired nicely with the white rice. Everything was flavorful and filling.
We were too full to take advantage of the flourless chocolate dome. I do, however, plan on making that a priority on my next visit. It was obvious throughout the entire meal that the staff has been well trained to be as accommodating as possible to diners with food allergies. The food, the service and the atmosphere are all top notch and I highly recommend finding out for yourself. Share your experience in the comments area and recommend a favorite dish.
I just remembered that I wanted to post this last minute list of bars in Chicago that sell gluten free beer as a St. Patty’s Day bonus. Please add any bars that I missed in the comments area. I hope to see some of you out there today. Send me a direct message on Twitter @speakinofgluten if you are out and about in Andersonville or Edgewater. Both neighborhoods are prime for holiday pub crawls. Let’s do the list…
1. Ole St. Andrew’s Inn – Edgewater – Currently serving New Grist and Green’s Quest
2. Mary’s Rec Room – Andersonville – New Grist
3. Hopleaf – Andersonville – Green’s Quest
4. Murphy’s Bleachers – Wrigleyville – New Grist
5. Mullen’s – Wrigleyville – Redbridge
6. Sheffield’s – Wrigleyville – I hear multiple gluten free beers are sold there, but cannot confirm which ones or how many.
7. Map Room – Bucktown – New Grist and Bard’s Tale
8. Quenchers Saloon – Bucktown – New Grist
9. Mulligan’s – Roscoe Village – Redbridge
Have a great St. Patrick’s Day weekend and please remember to watch out for eachother and never ever drink and drive. Let the CTA and the cabbies navigate the massive amounts of foot traffic the city will see this weekend. Cheers!
I’ve talked about Ranalli’s before in previous posts. Nice people, dedication to the gluten free community, delicious food – the list goes on and on. I have yet to dine out at this restaurant because the delivery is so fast and easy, but I will soon. I am excited to come face to face with the kindest staff of any restaurant in Chicago. Since my post about where to get pizza in Chicago, I have been starving for Ranalli’s gluten free pizza. Last night I got my wish. I ordered a bacon and pepperoni pizza on their perfectly cooked gluten free crust. I know it is a pre-made crust because it comes in a special tray, but that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that it is cooked beautifully. I’ve had gluten free pizza crusts that are thin and I’ve tried crusts that are crispy, but I’ve never had it all in the same crust.
I’ve tried to come up with a legitimate complaint about their pizza. After all, what sort of blog post wouldn’t have a bit of controversy? But the last three times I’ve ordered this pizza, I’ve been blown away. They really have their gluten free pizza-making act together over there.
Here’s what makes Ranalli’s a really special place. They informed me during my last order that they will now be offering baked gluten free pasta every night. Also, next week, they plan on ordering gluten free rolls so that those with a gluten intolerance can enjoy their fantastic sandwiches. This place keeps getting better and better. I’ll post more reviews down the road once I try out a few sandwiches. If you’re gluten intolerant, get to Ranalli’s in Andersonville and support this place for doing such a great job of taking care of us. I’ll see you there.
Ready for an understatement? Living with a gluten intolerance isn’t always easy. There, I said it. But living in a city like Chicago makes it considerably more manageable. The choices in this city range from Cuban cuisine to sushi to Thai food to Mexican. Of course, you should always check with the restaurant staff to ensure that the food you are eating isn’t contaminated by gluten, but the basic idea is this: you have choices. I know this blog post and many of the posts that come after it will be specific to the city of Chicago, but I think it’s important to share the restaurants I’ve found with others living with a similar condition.
So this is the start of a series of posts on dining out in Chicago. I’ll be focusing on different neighborhoods around the city that I’ve discovered cater to the gluten free community. Hopefully, you’ll find this series to be a good resource for dining out in Chicago. And if the restaurant happens to be a chain, maybe it can help people all over the place.
I can’t think of a better food to kick this series off with than Chicago’s most famous dish: pizza. So to start, I’m simply going to mention several restaurants in Chicago that serve a gluten free pizza and the neighborhood they are in. In the coming days, I’ll actually be reviewing each restaurant in more detail. Here we go:
Ranalli’s Pizza of Andersonville: This is my go-to delivery pizza. They also serve up baked gluten free pastas and garlic bread and have gluten free specials on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m convinced that the kindest staff in Chicago work at Ranalli’s. Check Ranalli’s out at http://www.ranallispizza.com.
Lou Malnati’s of Chicago and the suburbs: This is an interesting way to bring a Chicago institution to the gluten free community. They serve a crustless deep dish pizza using sausage as the base for the pie. It really is an experience. Check them out at http://www.loumalnatis.com. They have locations all over Chicago and the suburbs, so they’re easy to find.
Marcello’s of Lincoln Park, Logan Square and Northbrook: A huge delivery area and a fantastic pizza. This was the first gluten free pizza I ever ate. They are very dedicated to the gluten free community. You can find more information out about Marcello’s at http://www.marcellos.com.
Aurelio’s Pizza of Chicago South Side: Aurelio’s is known in the south suburbs as having the most unique and amazing crispy thin crust pizza. They also have a location on Harrison in Chicago’s South Loop. I’ve been eating Aurelio’s for almost 30 years and the gluten free version of their famous pizza is just as exciting as the original. Find their personal-sized gluten free pizza online at http://www.aureliospizza.com or http://www.aurelioschicago.com.
I’m told that Pizzeria Uno and Coalfire Pizza also serve up a gluten free pie, but I haven’t had the pleasure of trying those yet. I’ll post as soon as I do and I hope that you’ll point out any pizzas I haven’t found yet and give us a mini review in the comments area. I’ll be posting more in-depth reviews in the future, but in the meantime, check them out for yourself and let me know what you think.
It’s New Year’s Eve! Go spoil yourself by dining out gluten free in your city and I’ll see you all next year!