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Gluten-Free Restaurants

Cocina De Carlos: Gluten-Free Mexican in Toledo

By January 23, 2014 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Restaurants

I recently visited Cocina De Carlos in Perrysburg, Ohio for dinner. My family was excited to try this restaurant due to the large menu we saw online and the noted GF icons next to several dishes, identifying them as gluten-free options.

It was nice to see the labels on the menu, making us feel safe about the food we were going to order.

Gluten-Free Menu Options

We arrived to the restaurant on a Saturday night at around 6 p.m. – it seemed to be quite busy which was a good sign that the food would be good.

We were seated at a booth and our server asked for our drink orders. Being the dedicated blogger that I am, I just had to try the margarita so I could give you all a proper review. I ordered my usual – raspberry margarita on the rocks, no salt. We also ordered appetizers. Being that nachos are my favorite dish basically ever, we got a platter of the Gluten-Free Nachos with Ground Beef, decently priced at $5.00. As we waited for the nachos, we were of course digging into the chips and salsa on the table. One of the things I enjoyed is that Cocina De Carlos serves their basket of tortilla chips with separate bowls of salsa so you don’t have to worry about bumping knuckles or double-dipping!

Gluten-Free Chips and Salsa

Once the nachos arrived, it was game time. They ended up tasting pretty good, but not the best I have had. We must remember though, I’m well-versed in the art of nacho eating so I have pretty high standards.

Gluten-Free Nachos with Ground Beef

After waiting what seemed like an eternity, our margaritas were delivered to the table. I wouldn’t say it was fabulous and I wouldn’t say it was bad, just so-so. Maybe if I return I’ll take it up a notch and have their Top Shelf Patron Margarita, you know, for research purposes.

When it came time to place my meal order, I was a bit overwhelmed. The menu at Cocina De Carlos is rather large with a lot of gluten-free options, making it hard to decide! I ended up getting the Pork-Jalapeno Fajitas. All of Cocina De Carlos fajitas are notes as GF when requesting the gluten-free corn tortilla and they are also served with Spanish rice, beans, and a guacamole garnish. I was expecting a sizzling plate full of fresh meat, peppers, and gluten-free tortillas. What I got was a bit different…

My pork-jalapeno fajitas had a heavy cheese/creamy sauce on them that I was not expecting from the description on the website – Gluten-Free Pork-Jalapeno Fajitas: Tender grilled pork carnitas with sliced fresh jalapeno, onions and tomatoes. I was also given flour tortillas with my meal after requesting gluten-free corn tortillas. It made me wonder if our server (who wasn’t the most pleasant person in the world) even understood what the gluten-free request meant. When I was waiting for the corn tortillas to be delivered to the table, my mom lent me one of hers so I could begin eating with the rest of the family.

Gluten-Free Pork-Jalapeno Fajitas

Since I’m not the biggest cream-sauce lover, I didn’t dig my meal very much.

My mom ordered the Gluten-Free Don Charly: Half of a ripe pineapple grilled and filled with chicken, grilled mushrooms, onions, pineapple chunks and melted cheese on top. Served with Spanish rice, beans, and a guacamole garnish. The Don Charly is noted gluten-free on the menu when ordered with gluten-free corn tortillas. I ended up eating some of this meal since I wasn’t that thrilled with my order and the portion was insanely large.

Gluten-Free Don Charly


My gluten-eating step-dad and step-brother seemed to enjoy their meals.

All in all, it was nice to visit a Mexican restaurant with noted gluten-free options on the menu, but the experience wasn’t the greatest. Our service was less than what you would expect and we had some troubles with our drink orders. While I don’t see myself returning to Cocina De Carlos in the near future, it is good to share the experience with you.

Having the option to eat at a new restaurant is always nice, not to mention several options at the restaurant itself. Hopefully our less-than favorable experience was an exception to the rule at Cocina De Carlos.

If you are interested in seeing the gluten-free options available at Cocina De Carlos, check out their online menu.

Have you ever visited Cocina De Carlos? If so, share your experience in the comments below!


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Gluten Free at Gradkowski’s

By January 12, 2014 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Restaurants

Gradkowski’s is a restaurant located on the edge of the University of Toledo campus. Owned by NFL player Bruce Gradkowski, the restaurant has a nostalgic, hometown feel mixed with an intimate dining environment.

Gradkowski’s dishes are made-from-scratch using ingredients sourced through local food purveyors and growers. The items offered are unique and ever-changing with the seasons. If you take a look at the menu, you won’t see a separate gluten-free only menu because a majority of the dishes can be prepared gluten free upon request.

I have visited Gradkowski’s on several different occasions. They have various meals to choose from to suit almost every mood, from gluten-free pizza to a New York strip steak! The drink menu is also very unique, making it the perfect place to stop during a night out with friends.

On my most recent visit to the restaurant, I was with my mother (also gluten free) celebrating a personal achievement. We arrived at the restaurant at around 5:30 p.m. on a Friday evening, just before the crowd started to filter in. We were both extremely hungry so we ordered somewhat of a shmorgishborg of food to split between the two of us.

Gluten Free at Gradkowski's

First off, my mom ordered the Bleu & Ginger Picked Walnut salad – Bleu cheese with ginger-pickled walnuts and sliced anjou pears. Served atop frisee lettuce tossed in a white balsamic & maple syrup vinaigrette. For me not being the most salad-loving person in the world, this was pretty darn tasty. My mom especially loved it. I prefer Gradkowski’s apple cider vinaigrette dressing instead, which comes on their Bleau Apple Bibb salad. I raved about the dressing so much during a past visit to the restaurant that the server gave me an extra serving of the apple cider vinaigrette in a to-go container! (P.S. the staff is super nice at the restaurant!)

Next up on our celebratory meal menu was the gluten-free Smoked Margarita pizza – smoked buffalo mozzarella, sweet basil, plum tomato sauce. I failed to snap a pic before I dug into it, so I apologize for the half-eaten pie shot below. The gluten-free pizza at Gradkowski’s is delicious and not overpriced like other places. They don’t even upcharge for the gluten-free crust – it’s pretty much awesome. Oftentimes we order the Ultimate Pepperoni pizza, enjoying what my mom calls “The best gluten-free pizza in Toledo” for only $8.90 (compared to the usual $15 charge for anything that combines the words gluten-free and pizza)!

Gradkowski's Gluten-Free Pizza a

After we enjoyed our appetizer of pizza (weird, I know – but we were REALLY hungry), we were ready for the real treat of the evening.

We ordered the Pat LaFrieda Dry Aged New York Strip Steak. The menu description states Master butcher Pat LaFrieda’s dry aged 40-day bone-in New York strip steak, grilled to preference. Served with sautéed brussel sprouts & butternut squash, finished with a bacon vinaigrette and truffled boursin mac’n cheese. As you probably guessed, we didn’t get the mac’n cheese with the meal, but replaced it with DELICIOUS gluten-free garlic mashed potatoes.

Gluten-Free Steak Gradkowski's

Gradkowski's Brussel Sprouts and Squash

Gluten-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes

To make a long story short, the steak was off the chain. The plate pictured above looks pretty intimidating, but my mom and I split it, enjoying every last bite. (Literally, I don’t think there was any meat left on the bone.)

This meal was only one of the delicious experiences I’ve had at Gradkowski’s. One of the things I love most about this restaurant is that I do not go and always get the same things. There are so many options to choose from that each visit brings a new dining experience, which is sometimes hard to come by in the gluten-free world.

If you are in Toledo and looking for a restaurant to have a great gluten-free meal at, Gradkowski’s is the place to go!


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Gluten-Free in Cleveland: Luxe Kitchen & Lounge

By January 5, 2014 Gluten-Free Restaurants

My best friend lives in Cleveland so I’ve been continuously exploring the gluten-free options available when we decide to eat out during one of my weekend visits. Up until recently, my favorite restaurant in the area was Johnny Mango’s in Ohio City, due to their delicious nachos and excellent margaritas. But, from now on, Luxe Kitchen & Lounge will be considered the winner in my gluten-free book whenever I’m looking for dinner and drinks during one of our girls’ weekends.

Gluten free in Cleveland

My bestie, Alana and I visited Luxe for the first time as part of our New Year’s Eve celebration. We planned to have dinner and drinks before the ball dropped without entirely knowing what our options would be.

As soon as we were sat at our cute table by the window, we knew we had made a good decision. We were able to watch the snow fall outside as we sipped on wine, enjoying the atmosphere and music. There was a special New Year’s Eve menu offered by the restaurant, in addition to the regular menu.

While there was not a designated gluten-free menu, the server notifies the chef of any restrictions and the dish is prepared to those specifications – AKA there isn’t some16-year-old line cook annoyed when their boss tells them to change their gloves. Instead, you have an educated chef preparing a delicious gluten-free entrée!

For starters, Alana and I requested a bottle of wine (there was no “by the glass” drinking for us, it was New Year’s Eve!) and Beef Carpaccio with smoked tomato bearnaise, pecorno, arugula, and lemon. It was so good! I failed to take a picture of it to share with you all, but I’m sure you’d love it, just take my word for it.

Gluten-Free New Year's Eve

After we enjoyed the atmosphere and the great people watching, we were served our main dishes. We both ordered the Pork Osso Buco – I specified how I needed it to be prepared gluten free and Alana said that hers could have as much gluten as necessary. But, as the dishes came out, they were exactly the same.

**Let this be a lesson to people who don’t believe that gluten-free food is good. You unknowingly eat gluten-free dishes all the time, you just don’t realize it.

As we picked up our utensils and began to dig in, we were instantly impressed. The pork literally fell off the bone and into the side of sweet potato and brussel sprout hash with marsala pan jus. Talk about a great way for your taste-buds to ring in the new year!

Gluten Free Pork Osso Buco

We both cleaned our plates, enjoying every last bite. We told one another how we would definitely be returning during my next visit, the question was whether it would be for dinner or Sunday brunch!

If you find yourself in the Cleveland/Ohio City area and are looking for a place to have a spectacular gluten-free meal, Luxe Kitchen & Lounge is the place. Check out their website for more information and look for future posts on my website!

Gluten Free 2014

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The Best Flavored Gluten-Free Popcorn

By October 18, 2013 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Products

There’s a new popcorn sheriff in town and she goes by the name of Rachel Michael.

Rachel Michael’s Gourmet Popcorn is the latest and greatest thing to hit the Toledo streets. My co-worker (and awesome foodie), Paula brought in a treat to work one day in the form of Buckeye popcorn…you know, the wonderful peanut butter and chocolate treat us Ohioans go crazy for whenever it’s available. So after sharing this delicious popcorn with the team, I was hooked and HAD to go check it out for myself.

I visited Rachel’s shop last Saturday. It is located on Monroe Street in Toledo, right next to our local Hobby Lobby (so I frequent the area quite often). When I walked in, I smelled the aroma of all things Holy – popcorn, melted chocolate on top of popcorn, pumpkin & caramel all up on popcorn…it was absolutely glorious. Yes, I am a popcorn lover…borderline kernel-obsessed, don’t judge me.  

Gourmet Popcorn Sampler

I already knew I loved the gourmet Buckeye flavored popcorn, so I requested a bag of it to take home (a large bag of course). Then, being the magnificent daughter that I am, I purchased a bag of pumpkin popcorn for my mother (so she keeps doing my laundry for me when I drop it off at home).

Pumpkin Popcorn

If I could have bought every flavor of the popcorn, I would have. Flavored popcorn is a great gluten-free treat because it’s safe, it can be healthy, and it’s fun. Everyone loves popcorn, even the gluten-eaters!

If you’re one of my local readers, I urge you to stop at Rachel’s shop as soon as possible. This weekend is full of Grand Opening festivities, starting Friday, October 18th with a live broadcast from 92.5 KissFM and a ribbon cutting with Toledo Mayor Mike Bell! I am going to stop by on Saturday afternoon for some fun, so maybe we can get a chance to chat!

Rachel Michael's Gourmet Popcorn

Remember, the entire weekend all of Rachel Michael’s Gourmet Popcorn is 10% off! And parents, kids get FREE popcorn balls all day long. What’s not to love about that?

Don’t forget to follow Rachel Michael’s Gourmet Popcorn on Facebook so you can stay up-to-date with the latest popcorn flavors that are being cooked up! And if any of my admirers are reading this, feel free to buy me buckets and buckets of the Buckeye popcorn!

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Gluten-Free Lunch at Grumpy’s

By September 27, 2012 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Restaurants
Grumpy's pizza

You all now how amazed I was during my first visit to Grumpy’s, with all of the gluten-free bread, buns, cookies, and cheese cake…[mouth begins to water]…so of course I had to return.

Being that this downtown Toledo establishment is only open between the hours of 8am and 2pm, I am not able to stuff my face there as much as I would like. I suppose that is good for the figure though. But a girl can only hold off for so long, so this past week I scheduled an extended lunch, made my way downtown, and shared a gluten-free feast with my friend and fellow g-free’er, Elaine.

I walked in the restaurant and was greeted with, “Are you the gluten-free girl?” by Co-Owner Dustin Hostetler. Yes, Sir, that would be me!

I was seated at a table for two and waited for Elaine’s arrival. Looking at the menu literally excites me at this place. Why? Because you can basically have everything made gluten-free! Any sandwich, any burger…even the pizza! All Grumpy’s does is substitute that wheat-filled junk with some fresh gluten-free gloriousness.

This time around I decided to try the Hot Texas Chili for an appetizer because I like a little spice in my life. The chili was very tasty, and of course had that kick I was looking for. It was so good in fact that I didn’t realize I forgot to snap a picture to share with you all until the bowl was half gone. Woopsie daisies.

Being that Grumpy’s has a gluten-free pizza and I had not tried it yet, Elaine and I decided to split one. Of course to any normal human being, half of a pizza would suffice as their meal. Well, not me. I also ordered the Jennifer’s Special sandwich [because I am basically obsessed with the sandwich], and Elaine ordered a nice, healthy, low-cholesterol gluten-free grilled-cheese sandwich.

When the pizza came out it was one of those Is this really the gluten-free crust? kind of moments.

It was indeed.

We ended up eating all of the pizza except for two slices, leaving one for each of us to take home. I also ate half of my sandwich, because it is just TOO darn good to NOT eat, even if your stomach is telling you Hey, I’m full, you can stop now? I usually just reply with a Hey, I know. I’ll just run an extra mile later to make up for this whole fat-cell expansion thing.

Yes, I did just talk to not only myself, but to my stomach. Totally normal.

Elaine enjoyed her grilled-cheese, which looked really amazing. We opted for no dessert this time around since we had already done so much damage to every other portion of the menu.

As we boxed up our pizza [one slice each], and the second half of our sandwiches, I knew in my heart that not all of my leftovers would make it home. It takes hard work and dedication, but yes, I did eat my final piece of pizza in the car, on my way back to the office. That’s what good gluten-free food does to you. I can’t help it.

So what do I want you to take away from this post? 1) The urgency to visit Grumpy’s and give yourself the best gluten-free lunch ever, and 2) If you are not gluten-free, I want you to take another look at those pictures of the food and realize that we don’t live a life full of bland flavors. Time to break the myth!


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Gluten-Free Pizza in Columbus, OH

By September 15, 2012 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Restaurants
Marcella's Gluten-Free Menu

As I explained in my previous post, Gluten-Free in Columbus, OH, I fell in gluten-free love with Marcella’s Ristorante. After having an amazing dinner consisting of homemade gluten-free bread and chicken parmesan, I decided to give their pizza a go…the very next day.

I walked through the doors of the adorable restaurant again, and thankfully I don’t believe the hostess recognized me. We were seated at a cute table in the bar area, and our [very good-looking] waiter greeted us. I explained to him that I would be ordering off of the gluten-free menu and, despite the half-off drinks during happy hour, I ordered a Diet Coke with my gluten-free bread.

This time around  I opted for sans cheese on my gluten-free bread so I could dip it in oil instead. This choice also enabled me to feel just how fresh & moist the bread was. I was very impressed as I believe the BEST gluten-free restaurants are those that are local with homemade food instead of the chain restaurant gluten-free options.

I once again inhaled the bread to the point where it looked like I was in an eating contest, but I wasn’t trying to impress anyone so who cares what I looked like. Next I ordered the gluten-free sausage pizza. The crust was thin and had a very good taste. It didn’t make my mouth dry, and wasn’t doused with sauce to make it taste good. The pizza was so good that I ate the entire thing except for three tiny pieces. I was very happy with my choice to eat at the same restaurant two days in a row. I was lucky for the fact that I didn’t have the same waitrer so I don’t think they realized just how crazy I was.

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