The GFCF Seattle Experience Part II: GFCF in Seattle
Posted Aug 18 2009 10:39pm
In Part I of this series I talked about some of the sights my kids and I enjoyed during our recent trip to Seattle. In this post I am going to talk about how we did this trip GFCF. I especially want to call your attention to my review of Romios, where my kids had their first experience of eating in a pizzeria!
First and foremost, though. Seattle is a great GFCF town, with dedicated bakeries (at least GF-dedicated) and restaurants which offer GFCF options and are allergen-sensitive. Unfortunately, with our busy schedule, we did not get an opportunity to try these (other then Romios). At the end of this post I will present a listing of some GFCF-friendly restaurants and bakeries, as well as links to where you can find reviews and more information.
With most long trips, we make a conscious effort to bring food with us and not give in to the temptation of stopping at fast food joints or C-stores to buy things. For our 8-hour drive to Seattle, we made a loaf of GFCFYF bread to slice for sandwiches. We also made some GFCF Chex mix (subject of a future post) and packed a couple of boxes of Envirokidz cereal bars. Add some water bottles and some fruit, and we were ready to hit the road!
The Emerald Grill
Once we arrived in Seattle, we ate dinner at the Emerald Grill, a restaurant in the Holiday Inn adjacent to the Holiday Inn Express. We actually ate there twice on our trip, mainly because of the convenience of eating somewhere close after a long day. The restaurant staff was very accommodating, and it was easy enough to get a bunless hamburger and fries, or grilled chicken and veggies, for a reasonable price. The food quality was fair, but it worked well for the kids.
Breakfast at the Express
As I had mentioned during my series on travelling to Asheville, NC, hotel continental breakfasts have come a long way from the gluten and carb-laden fare offered 20 - 30 years ago. Now, most hotels offer hot breakfasts including GFCF meats and eggs, as well as fruit. Still, I would advise packing some portable breakfast fare, as you never know what will be offered.
The Holiday Inn Express where we stayed has a nice continental breakfast lineup. Usually there was a hot meat available (with one exception, where they only offered sausage and gravy) and they always had plenty of hard-boiled eggs on hand. The hot eggs were either scrambled (good) or cheese omelet (not good). The biggest disappointment was a lack of fruit - only bananas to be had.
Fortunately, to supplement the hotel selections, we came prepared with my kids newest breakfast food - grits. We packed a box of instant grits packets from home and it worked out great; just add hot water, a little salt and pepper, and eat! For them, a perfect breakfast.
I should pause a moment and talk about the grits. We bought the Quaker Instant grits, and, while the packaging suggests they are GFCF, there is some controversy within the GF community as to whether this is the case. Quaker has told people who have called them that they cannot guarantee they are gluten free (they are CF), yet they say this is because they cannot guarantee there will be no cross-contamination during transport. Many refuse to buy Quaker products because of this, and others claim they have a reaction when they eat them. Still, there are many celiacs who have eaten them and suffered no ill effects. For my part, I have not seen any adverse behaviors in my kids when they have eaten them, This includes Helena, who is the most sensitive of my kids.
Eating on the Go
Long days with lots to do inevitably means eating on the go. We packed the Envirokidz cereal bars for a quick snack, as well as water bottles. But we also stopped for lunch each day, which I want to talk about in a bit of detail.
Woodland Park Zoo goes to great lengths to offer quality meals for its guests, both at the main food pavilion and at the Pacific Blue Chowder House, which is where we ate. Admittedly, we had typical kids fare - hot dogs and fries - but everything is cooked to order, and it was easy to get a bunless hot dog and waffle fries. The main food court, the Rainforest pavilion, also has a wide variety of menu options prepared to order. You will pay more, as you typically do in a place like this, but it is a nice option. The zoo also allows you to pack in food as well.
While we did not eat there, the Pacific Science Center has a cafe, but it's more like C-store fare, snacks, food you microwave, etc. You're probably better off going off site to find lunch, then returning for the afternoon.
On Sunday, we wanted to avoid buying food at Safeco Field (ballpark food is notoriously expensive). Down at the waterfront there are plenty of places to eat seafood, some of which may offer GFCF fare. Problem is, my kids HATE seafood. So we settled on an old favorite with them - Red Robin.
We have a Red Robin in Missoula, and it is my kids favorite place to eat. As a chain, Red Robin is sensitive to allergies, and in this location, they gave us two separate allergen-free menus, one for milk and one for gluten. It was a simple matter of marrying the two - hamburger with lettuce for a bun, and unlimited french fries (make sure the Red Robin seasoning is not used - it has gluten), and salads with grilled meat and GFCF dressing. It wasn't a local taste of Seattle, but it was a good taste, and one that lasted us through the ballgame.
Before our trip, I had decided that I would take the kids out one night for pizza. But where? There are a number of pizza places in Seattle that offer GFCF pizzas. Ultimately, we settled on Romios.
Romios is located in the Greenwood section of Seattle, about 5 miles up Denny Way from our hotel. While Romios is a chain with locations in California, Washington, and Oregon, the menus do vary from location to location. This particular Romios serves normal pizza and Italian fare, but everything on the menu can also be made GFCF, using locally made GFCF bread and pizza dough, GFCF cheese from Follow Your Heart and a dedicated oven.
The kids and I settled on a pepperoni, sausage, and black olive pizza with a side order of breadsticks. My kids, to put it lightly, were in heaven.
I've seen a review of Romios talking about the gf pizzas being like cardboard with sauce on it. Granted, this isn't a classic hand tossed pizza crust, but it was crispy outside, soft inside, and had a great taste. The soy cheese from Follow Your Heart was really good, too. It was very filling - the next time we go there, we'll skip the breadsticks only because it's too much food with the pizza.
You do pay a price - about $5 more than a comparable non-GF pizza, and $2 extra for the GFCF breadsticks, but you can't put a price on the joy your kids have getting a treat for the first time, and one they cannot enjoy in Missoula.
As I mentioned at the beginning Seattle is full of places that cater to the GF and GFCF lifestyles. Here is a listing of a few:
Da Vinci's Cafe & Bakery - Like Romio's, Da Vinci's is located in the Greenwood section of Seattle. It exclusively deals in gluten free items, and in fact, is the GF bread supplier for Romios! Our intention was to grab some things to take home on our way out of town. Sadly, when we got there, they in the process of reapinting and the place was close. Oh well...just another reason to return to Seattle! Sea has been there - you can read her review here.
Cinnamon Works - Cinnamon Works is located near the Pike Street Market and offers a wide selection of GF and GFCF items. One review I read said that the biggest disappointment is that "they are sold out of half the items when I go there." Another purports them to have the best vegan pastries in Seattle.
Flying Apron Bakery - Flying Apron is yet another dedicated GFCF and vegan bakery in Seattle! In addition to a large variety of pastries and treats, they also feature a completely GFCF/vegan lunch menu.
Cafe Flora - Cafe Flora is a vegetarian cafe which provides many menu items that are or can be made GFCF and vegan.
There are many, many others - too numerous to mention here. But you can Google search Seattle Gluten Free and it will give you a list of restaurants and reviews. Or check out sites like Urban Spoon and Yelp where you can find reviews as well.
And then there is Shauna, the Gluten Free Girl herself. What better place to get restaurant recommendations than from a respected local? Search for "restaurant" on her blog to get some wonderful posts about her dining experiences in the Seattle area.
The Last Word
I hope you have enjoyed this two part series on Seattle, and I hope you will consider a visit there. And I hope that some of this information will help you plan your trip there.
I have one more post to share that is related to this trip - hopefully by the end of this week!