Those of you who know me know that I’ve been gluten-free (GF) and dairy-free (DF) for over five years now for health reasons (more on that here). When I first made these significant changes to my diet, I was frustrated because Milwaukee felt behind the times in terms of accommodating dietary restrictions. Granted, I was comparing it to cities like LA and San Fran where I was working at the time, and Milwaukee still often feels behind to me, but it has come a long way! To help any of you that are in the same boat, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite gluten-friendly spots in Milwaukee. With the help of my cousin Laura and friend Melissa, we’ve also narrowed it down to Celiac-safe restaurants. No go eat your hearts out (without repercussion)!
- Blue’s Egg – excellent for brunch and has a GF dedicated toaster for bread.
- Beans & Barley – also a great choice for brunch, make sure you ask which items are GF.
- Any of the Bartolotta restaurants – my favorites being Ristorante Bartolotta and Harbor House. They don’t have separate GF menus, but they are very knowledgeable about what menu items contain gluten, notify the chefs and have the manager sign off that it was made gluten-free, and put “allergy” sticks in your food so you know it was made with special care. My favorites include the house-made GF tagliatelle from Ristorante Bartolotta and the salmon (or the surf & turf) from Harbor House.
- Sanford – hands down one of the best restaurants in Milwaukee, and very accommodating to gluten-free and dairy-free peeps. Let them know of any dietary restrictions when making your reservation and the chef will prepare special dishes for you in advance! We’ve gone here for birthday celebrations and it is pretty fancy and expensive, but so worth it if you feel like splurging. It would also be great for celebrating an anniversary.
- La Merenda – can’t beat international tapas or this gem in Milwaukee. Fun for a girls’ night out or date night. They do GF well, just ask about the fryer. Sometimes the fryer is GF, but usually is not – so some dishes will just need the fried items on the side or not served at all.
- Braise – fresh and local ingredients with a changing menu where you can share plates. They are so involved in the community which is a really big plus and have started an area RSA. They also have a rooftop garden where you can host events (think engagement parties). If you’re into sweets, try the butterscotch budino and you’ll leave very happy!
- Morel – more than just mushrooms, this place totally gets it and I have never been disappointed by a meal here. Try anything with mushrooms – the menu changes daily, but they can alter most things to make them GF. Also very creative cocktails.
- Transfer Pizzeria – delicious thin crust pizzas, with good allergy awareness (they use different tools and section of oven for GF). Favorites include the bruschetta salami and any pizza with the garlic sauce. Go in for “defeat the wheat” on Mondays and Wednesdays to save on the GF upcharges and pretend you are normal for a night 🙂
- Il Mito – an Italian restaurant in Wauwatosa. They make their own GF bread and pizza crust from scratch. Super good! They also have excellent GF pasta, my favorite being the pasta bolognese.
- Stack’d – offers GF buns for their burgers and they also have a dedicated GF fryer (I live for the sweet potato fries). They also serve GF chicken tenders!
- Tess – serves GF bread before the meal (woohoo!) and I love going in the summer because they have the cutest backyard patio with twinkling lights. There’s currently a Groupon for Tess if you want to try it out!
- Centro Cafe – pasta! This is a fun spot for date night or with friends, very cozy and delicious! So many options and large portions. Favorites include the pasta pomodoro and the garlic bread (do not skip this!).
- Juniper 61 – cute place serving small plates in Tosa. They are very careful and have a variety of different foods on their menu that are marked GF (as well as DF, vegetarian, and vegan), plus a dedicated GF fryer. They can make any sandwich or burger on a GF bun and can also make pizzas on a GF crust.
- Parkside 23 – located a little further west in Brookfield, they have a lot of GF options (marked on the menu) and a good awareness of what is GF. They also grow many of their own vegetables in the garden outside and have a great wine list.
- Firefly Tosa – Super Celiac friendly, they also have a dedicated GF fryer. A favorite is the Lebanese fries – spicy and delicious.
- Wauwatiki – all of their sandwiches come on GF toast by default! Many of the menu items are deep fried, so not as healthy, but still yummy and they have fun tiki cocktails.
In addition to all of the restaurants above, these restaurants also offer gluten-friendly options for those of you that aren’t as sensitive to cross-contamination.
- Belair Cantina – they have a separate GF menu and great tacos. Go on Tuesdays & Thursdays for $2 tacos and tamales. I get the house margarita and tacos al pastor every time!
- Odd Duck – a small, shared plates restaurant with a wide selection and a good awareness of what is gluten-free.
- Pizza Man – really yummy Gourmet pizzas, including any served on a GF quinoa crust. Favorites include the artichoke a la mode and the greca.
- Wolf Peach – a wide selection of GF and DF choices clearly marked on the menu. The menu items change seasonally and they even grow many of their own vegetables. They also offer GF pizza!
- Holey Moley – offers GF and GF/vegan doughnuts daily. So good we had them at our wedding instead of cake!
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but most of my favorites! We (Laura, Melissa, and I) have left off some of the restaurants we’ve tried that have GF offerings but we didn’t like or made us sick. Tell me – what other restaurants should I try?!