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9 Things to Ask Your Waiter If You’re Gluten Free

Avoiding gluten? You don't need to avoid restaurants! Here's how to eat the best—and safest—gluten-free meal possible.

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Happy waitress taking order to a couple of people at a restaurantandresr/iStock/Getty Images Plus

What Do You Recommend That’s Gluten-Free?

If you’re not fussy, consider asking your waiter for a recommendation. The restaurant might have a few go-to gluten-free dinners they can make without substitutions. This is also a good way to tell how confident your waiter seems discussing allergens.

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the team of cooks backs in the work in the modern kitchen, the workflow of the restaurant in the kitchen.izikMd/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Does the Kitchen Follow Any Cross-Contamination Protocol?

If your gluten sensitivity is severe, it’s worth checking to see whether the kitchen follows any procedures to minimize gluten spread. Some are simple, like a cook putting on a fresh pair of gloves to prepare your dish. Others are more advanced, like having an entirely separate prep area for gluten-free foods.

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Happy couple enjoying lunch on a lovely day and ordering something to the waitress while she takes notes on a notepadandresr/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Do You Have Gluten-Free Bread?

While salads and meat entrees are safe havens for the gluten-averse, don’t think you can never eat a sandwich again. Ask whether the restaurant has gluten free bread or buns, and suddenly burgers and sandwiches are back on the menu.

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French Fries in Fry steel Basket on Street Market in GermanyBen185/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Do You Have a Dedicated Gluten-Free Fryer?

Sad news for fans of French fries and potato chips: though they might not contain gluten, they’re probably fried in oil that’s used to fry breaded foods, like chicken tenders or onion rings. That makes it unsafe for people with stronger gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease.

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Waitress working at a restaurant and serving to a young African American coupleandresr/Getty Images

Does the Sauce/Dressing/Gravy Have Gluten?

A frequent hiding place for gluten? Any sauce, dressing or gravy, which can be thickened with flour or contain sneaky gluten, like bouillon cubes. Learn more about eating out with a food allergy.

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Traditional Mexican taco plate in the Mexican Caribbean in a restaurant with beautiful settingPeter Marik/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Is This Food Item Breaded?

Naturally gluten-free ingredients like tofu, meat and potatoes are often tossed in gluten-containing ingredients, from flour to bread crumbs to seasonings like malt vinegar. P.S. Check out the polite habits waiters actually hate, too!

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Rear view. Two men choose food in a fast food restaurant. Bar snack concept .Lacheev/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Do You Have an Ingredients List?

Many restaurants, especially large chains, actually have complete nutrition facts available, including allergen charts and ingredient lists. If your waiter isn’t knowledgeable or you have multiple allergies, this can be a very convenient resource. See which foods secretly contain gluten.

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Happy waitress serving a group of people eating together at a restaurantandresr/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Can I Speak to the Chef?

Does your waiter seem uncertain about ingredients or food preparation standards? Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to someone with more expertise. Often, the chef will come out, or the floor manager can drop by to answer your questions.

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Flourless Chocolate TorteTaste of Home

Is This Menu Item Gluten-Free?

Already know exactly what you want? Make sure to ask this essential question. Even if the dish seems safe, like a delicious flourless chocolate cake, it’s best to confirm when you order so you don’t eat a hidden ingredient.

Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.
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