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Gluten Free in Toledo

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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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 at Grumpy’s

By June 6, 2012 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Restaurants

It’s pretty much common knowledge that local, home-town restaurants always beat the stuff of chains. For being a native of the Toledo, OH area since the age of 6, I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not experiencing the gloriousness of local lunch-time hot spot, Grumpy’s, until just recently.

Having heard about the restaurant from a few people here and there, then realizing they had gluten-free selections after visiting Gluten-Free Glass City, the time had come for me to schedule myself a lunch date.Being that my mom works in downtown Toledo, would appreciate the gluten-free options, AND would foot the bill, she was obviously the perfect candidate.

[[Disclaimer: If you choose to dine at Grumpy’s, which I highly recommend, they are only open Monday – Friday between the hours of 8am-2pm.]]

The first thing that rubbed me the right way about Grumpy’s was the abundant parking [if there before the lunch rush]. There is a parking lot alongside the building, making the stress and anxiety I get from having to park on the streets nonexistent. Once my mom and I arrived, we walked in and were immediately seated at a table for two. I told the server that we were gluten-free and she then explained to us that they had a selection of gluten-free bread, buns, and pizza crusts that are all homemade each morning. We were instantly ecstatic.

There were many things I was thankful for as we geared up to order our lunch – the gluten-free selections, the handmade bread, the friendly staff, my mom eventually paying for my meal…BUT the number one thing I was thankful for – the fact that I am NOT on a diet. HOLY MOLY we ended up ordering a lot of food!!!!

My mom and I started off by sharing the soup of the day [chicken & rice] as we tried to strategize the rest of our meal. Wanting to have a little taste of everything, we decided to alternate selections and share bites with one another. Being that Grumpy’s is known for their Garbage Salad, my mom decided to order the size small, telling me I would be able to try a bite. This was kind of “whatever” to me since you all know I am not a salad kind of gal. BUT, when the plate came out containing the mixed greens, grilled chicken, onions, raisins, four cheeses, and homemade poppy-seed dressing, I kinda-sorta decided I had to at least try it. After one bite I immediately alerted the media [by tweeting and instagramming] that I officially like salad now!!! The poppy-seed dressing Grumpy’s makes is to DIE for!

After being impressed by a salad [which is very rare for me], I couldn’t wait to experience the rest of the meal. For maximum gluten-free meal optimization, I ordered a hamburger [because I wanted a big yummy gluten-free bun], and my mom ordered the Jennifer’s Special sandwich. Once the plates came out, I was awestruck. There was NO way that the bun on that hamburger was gluten-free, because I had never seen a gluten-free bun that looked so light, puffy, warm, and inviting [to my taste buds]!!!! I was honestly telling my mom that I was afraid they mixed up my order with a regular person’s because the bun tasted too good to be true!

My mom’s Jennifer’s Special sandwich was just that – SPECIAL. Made with Grumpy’s Veggie gluten-free bread, it was unlike anything I have ever tasted. You could tell by looking at it that it would taste amazing…not to mention the yumminess that was between the slices of bread! We started cutting off portions of our sandwiches for one another, with countless “oh my gosh this is good” and “I can’t believe this” comments coming from our table.

After cleaning my plate, and helping my mom to clean hers, we were greeted by our server. Seeing that the words “self-control” do not exist in my vocabulary, I promptly asked what gluten-free desserts they had. We were then happily informed that the chocolate cheesecake along with the chocolate chip cookies were gluten free, so of course we ordered both.

When the cheesecake was set on the table, we were speechless. Had I not been in public, I would have unbuttoned my pants right then & there to make room for my food baby. After taking one bite the only words coming out of my mouth were “Oh my gosh, this is amazing“. I also devoured my gluten-free chocolate chip cookie as well. Part of me is not proud of this moment, but the other part of me is perfectly fine with the way I behaved, because this was honestly the best gluten-free lunch I have ever had.

I fully plan on returning to Grumpy’s to report my findings on their gluten-free pizza, as well as a variety of other sandwiches on the menu. I will do so for the sake of this blog, not for my taste buds. I am a selfless human being as you can see.

For those of you that may be in awe of the sounds and sights of these gluten-free bread products, Grumpy’s does sell by the 1/2 loaf [$5], as well as by the bun [$2]. The pizza crusts, which will be reviewed after my next visit, are sold in packs of 3 [$9]. Visit the Grumpy’s website, or call (419) 241-6728 for more information.

Now go plan your lunch date at Grumpy’s so you can give your taste buds the gluten-free ride of their life.

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Gluten-Free at PF Changs

By June 4, 2012 Gluten Free in Toledo, Gluten-Free Restaurants

PF Chang’s is without a doubt my favorite gluten free, chain restaurant. I often say if you want to impress me on a first date, take me to this fine establishment and you’ll instantly get a few [gluten free] brownie points!

My favorite thing about PF Chang’s is that the gluten free menu is rather large, so you actually feel like you have options. The gluten free options are included within the regular menu, so you don’t have to jump through hoops to get a list of gf menu items like you sometimes do at other restaurants. The gf menu consists of everything from appetizers to desserts, so there’s no sitting on the bench during this meal! Another good thing is that the items only differ slightly from regular to gluten free, so those gluten-eating individuals you may dine with are more apt to share an appetizer or entrée with you, which can also help you to not burn [as big of] a hole in your wallet.

The way that PF Chang’s distinguishes their gluten free dishes from regular dishes are the plates the food is served on. This is reassuring to us g-free’ers, as I often worry that things get mixed up in the kitchen, especially when I dine with a large party. The server also brings out a separate soy sauce mixture for gluten free diners, in a different colored dish, ensuring that there is no confusion or cross-contamination occurring at your table.

I usually like to start my PF Chang’s dining experience off with Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps. These are hands down one of my favorite gluten free appetizers. I could honestly eat the entire plate myself, and I wouldn’t be the least bit ashamed. I also enjoy getting the gluten free Singapore Street Noodles. These differ slightly from the regular Singapore Street Noodles, but I wouldn’t know the difference as I think they taste bangin’!

The list of entrees to choose from is pretty long, but the creature of habit I am usually likes to stick with Chang’s Spicy Chicken. As you know, I am a bit of a spicy gal, so this dish definitely ranks high up on my list. This entree never ceases to amaze me, as I have yet to have a compalint. They know what they’re doing at this place!

After going through the usual medley of lettuce wraps, street noodles, and Chang’s Spicy Chicken, I am a bit full by the end of the meal. But the one thing you have to remember about PF Chang’s is that they actually have gluten free dessert!!!

There are two dessert options, and both are absolutely to die for. The first is a flourless chocolate dome served with fresh berries and raspberry sauce. Word to the wise on this one – you have to share it with someone! It is very rich, and if you try to conquer it on your own, you’re going to feel like one big chunker. The other gluten free dessert is the triple chocolate mousse mini, which is just straight up wonderful. It is in one of those rather large looking shot glasses, and is the perfect amount of sweetness to end your gluten free meal.

In conclusion, if you like asian food, you’ll be on cloud nine while dining at PF Chang’s. I recommend it as the ultimate treat for your taste buds.

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