Tag Archives: restaurants

Pulpo: all you can eat and drink brunch

Last weekend I had an utterly delightful brunch at Pulpo in Cleveland Park. It was delightful for three major reasons:

  1. They have gluten free eggs benedict.
  2. Our waitress knew what was up.
  3. All you can eat. All you can drink.

After getting a mimosa in hand (you can choose unlimited bloody mary’s, mimosas, champagne, and I think mixed drinks or beer as well), I informed the waitress that I can’t have gluten. She didn’t even blink an eye – just assuredly said, “No problem,” and helped me choose a few dishes. It was so extraordinary to have a waitress who was confident in her ability to navigate the menu and answer any questions I had.

Pulpo is a Spanish tapas restaurant, so all of the plates are shareable. I started with patatas bravas with garlic aioli. Perfectly spiced, greasy in a good way, and there was a surprise red sauce in the bottom. Couldn’t stop eating this.

Then I ordered smoked salmon benedict. Really unique in that it’s served on a pile of soft rice, which was almost at a thick risotto-like consistency. Then the egg yolk and hollandaise mix with it and makes it really rich.

To round out the meal we ordered some grilled podran peppers. These were also served at Churchkey when I was there last, so I’m declaring them the new “it” pepper.

I left with a full belly and it was worth way more than the $25 for this brunch. The laid back atmosphere, stellar service, and gluten free-friendly food will definitely bring me back here often!

3407 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC


Best grits in DC

Going out to breakfast or brunch can be a challenge for celiacs. French toast, pancakes, English muffins – gluten seems to be the star of the show in most dishes. Nine times out of 10 I end up eating an omelette or some kind of eggs, which is mostly okay with me. Except for the fact that they usually come with hash browns or home fries, and I’m always skeptical of how they are made (they could be fried, put on a griddle next to the toast, come from a mix that has them coated in flour, etc.)

So when a restaurant has grits on the menu, they are always my go-to substitute. They’re creamy, cheesy, buttery, and good ole’ Southern cookin’.

These are my top three restaurants for grits that I’ve found in DC yet.

1. Ted’s Bulletin

Seriously amazing cheese grits. They’re like a finer, condensed macaroni and cheese.This isn’t the most colorful plate in the world, but so delicious.

2. Vinoteca

Nice and cheesy, just how I like ’em. These come with big pieces of cheddar on top. Try them with the smoked salmon omelette.

3. Art and Soul

I only had a taste of my friend’s grits here as a part of their shrimp and grits dish at dinner, but they serve them as a side dish at brunch as well. If Art Smith can’t make a good pot of grits, then I don’t know who can.

Any places I’m missing for good grits? Or anything else you substitute for toast while eating breakfast out? 

Ardeo Bardeo brunch

Brunch in DC is a sacred event. Without fail, every Saturday and Sunday between 11 and 4, everyone and their mom is at brunch. Restaurants cater to the brunch crowd with unlimited mimosas, multiple course and all-you-can-eat deals.

I’ve had some great brunches in DC. But I’m declaring right here and now that Ardeo Bardeo in Cleveland Park is the best brunch in the city. It just is. Don’t even try to argue.


  1. Two courses and unlimited mimosas for $25 – most places in DC are $15 entrees without unlimited mimosas, or they’re $25-$30 for unlimited mimosas, but they only give you one (usually kind of crummy) entree. Ardeo Bardeo gives you two delicious courses, plus they keep the champagne flowing!
  2. They are knowledgeable and friendly about making their dishes gluten free – I have had the nicest servers at Ardeo Bardeo, and they are always really accommodating. They check with the kitchen if they have questions, and know exactly what to do if you tell them you need your meal to be gluten free.
  3. I don’t have to eat eggs – About 90% of the time when I got to brunch I end up getting an omelette. While that’s all well and good, Ardeo Bardeo has a ton of other gluten free options. From salads and soups to salmon and risotto.

For my first course I always get this salad because it’s freakin’ amazing. Spinach salad with braised fennel and mushrooms with truffle vinaigrette.

Second course:

I’ve gotten the Scottish salmon a few times because it’s also just perfect. Crispy skin, perfectly cooked, with brussel sprouts, fennel puree, golden raisins, and lemon yogurt.

And last time I switched it up and got the rock shrimp and grits with arugula, lemon, and lobster emulsion. Yeah, lobster emulsion…that just happened.

I don’t know why more people don’t know about this brunch spot. People line up for an hour outside of Open City, but there are always tables open here.

Go! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ardeo Bardeo
Cleveland Park
3311 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008

Gramercy Tavern: peanut butter semifreddo

Gramercy Tavern. Sure it’s the sixth highest rated restaurant in the Zagat ratings – but do they have chops when it comes to gluten free dishes?


Any restaurant who’s chef if nominated for  a James Beard award had better be able to whip up some pretty tasty dishes. But the real winner here was dessert. Yes, I’m going out of narrative order here just so I can bring you the dessert first. After *suffering through* six other courses, I was presented with the best dessert ever. Period.

Nancy Olsen, I bow down to your pastry goddessness and I kiss the ground you walk on.

Peanut butter semifreddo, sandwiched between two chocolate macaroons (like a thin chewy brownie), a giant glob of thick caramel sauce, all on top of a pool of fudge and these amazing roasted peanuts.

It was everything a dessert should be – a total mixture of textures, sweet but not too sweet, a bit of saltiness, fun to play with, doesn’t melt. It was perfection.

I ate some other things too… like:

Squash salad with pumpkin seeds

Warm broccoli soup (Actually one of my favorite dishes. I loved the vibrant color and the intense broccoli flavor).

Shrimp and white beans with brussel sprout leaves. (best cooked shrimp I’ve ever had. I kept going “how did they DO this?”)

I also got a second dessert compliments of the chef (probably because I made a loud “mmm” noise when the waiter told me that one of my options was butterscotch and pumpkin pudding). It had that same caramel sauce that was on the semifreddo – and I would take a bath in it if I could.

So, there ya have it. If you have some cash to blow I highly recommend going for dinner. Or do the smart thing and just go for dessert and order three semifreddos with a side of the caramel sauce. Like a boss.

One last note: I loved Gramercy Tavern because it wasn’t stuffy or formal, even though it’s one of the best restaurants in the city. It feels really homey, warm, and inviting. The waitstaff was great and really went out of their way to make the meal spectacular (and gluten free, of course).

Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
New York, NY

Dear Buca di Beppo…

Your gluten free menu is worthless and your decor is trashy.

Have a nice day,


I know, harsh. But I reallllly dislike Buca di Beppo. Their ridiculously large portions, their inauthentic dished, their poor quality ingredients, the silly knick-knacks on the walls – just bad. But I could overlook all of that if they didn’t have the worst gluten free menu I’ve ever seen.

First I should say that I respect any restaurant that actually has a gluten free menu and staff who are knowledgeable enough to accommodate gluten free diners. Buca di Beppo is a bit of an outlier though, since their food is all served family style. So, you basically have to force your entire table to eat gluten free, or you can pay up the wazoo for your own meal (which I ended up doing). My friends wanted to go to Buca so I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, but usually I have the mentality of “I can find something to eat anywhere”. This time that was not the case.

Here it is, folks:

Problems with this menu:

  1. The disclaimer at the top is good to have (and I’m sure required by their legal team), but it also says that I’m supposed to speak to a manager? Awkward.
  2. There are no prices on the menu. Since it’s not coming with pasta I thought it might cost less, but who would know? I also wasn’t sure if the dishes were still in the family size or if they were single serving since it was a special menu. It just says “salmon” – how many pieces of salmon? Does it come with something? Who knows?
  3. The only vegetarian things on the menu are three salads, green beans, broccoli, and mashed potatoes. Vegan options = house salad and green beans. That sure sounds like it’d make a satisfying meal!
  4. It seems like they could so easily offer gluten free pasta. Maybe I’m overlooking something, but it seems like if you dedicate a pot for just gluten free pasta and do a bit more quality control on cross contamination of the sauces, it would be really simple.
  5. No desserts.

I should so be a gluten free restaurant consultant. I’d whip this place right into shape.

So what did I end up getting?

This lousy piece of plain salmon (appears larger than it was. It was probably a 4oz portion, for $10)

And a salad.

Everyone else at the table gorged on bread, garlic bread, calamari, baked ziti, fettuccine alfredo… It was not a great time to be a Celiac.

Needless to say, Buca di Beppo is now on my “will not return” list. While it’s promising that they have such a large chain implementing a gluten free menu, it’s not at all a pleasant dining experience. for gluten free guests.

DC gets cool – Lincoln and Dirty Dancing

I think I may have finally found a bit of New York City in DC.  Lincoln is a new restaurant right by my work that was actually COOL.  As in well-made cocktails, quirky waitstaff, awesome decor, and delicious simple food – cool.  It reminded me of the many places in NYC that I had come to love and take for granted – where everything on the menu is great, made with fresh ingredients, and not stuck in 1992.  No offense or anything, DC.

When I arrived I was greeted by two of my fabulous friends and a giant bowl of Emancipation Punch!  In a vintage-looking punch bowl.  So cool.

My adorable glass.

The happy hour menu didn’t have anything gluten free on it (their french fries were hand-cut, but weren’t fried in a dedicated fryer).

So I ordered a kale salad and trout off of the dinner menu, which our drunk as a skunk eccentric waiter assured me were gluten free.

Organic kale salad with hazelnuts, dried cranberries, Parmesan, lemon vinaigrette

I have to figure out how to make this at home.

Trout with asparagus lentil salad and whipped avocado

The trout was perfectly cooked, and it was a great light and fresh dish. So I didn’t feel bad at all getting ice cream at the Capitol Yard outdoor movie later from The Orange Cow!

They had a bunch of cool flavors, like white chocolate blueberry.  But I got my classic mint chocolate chip.

And then settled in to watch Dirty Dancing on the big blow-up screen.

Gosh I love this movie.

I will definitely be back to Lincoln at some point soon for more punch and yummy food.  I also learned from Prince of Petworth that Lincoln will soon be doing Sunday Brunch!  With a punch bowl filled with mimosas. woot.

Such a fun night in DC!  I had the time of my life. (hee hee).

The best gluten free in Detroit

Whenever I go home, it’s always an adventure trying to find something to eat.  Luckily my family is amazing and always has something special for me at family gatherings, like gluten free rice krispy treats, brownies, or fresh fruits and veggies.  They’ve also managed to rework some of our old family recipes to eliminate the gluten in them: like swapping out the cream of chicken soup in Party Potatoes for a can of gluten free cream of mushroom.  Some family recipes happen to be gluten free already too – like this winner from my grandma’s cookbook for NACHO PIE!

Doesn’t that sound healthy, fresh, and light?  Well, not at all.  But I’m sure it’s dang delicious.

Now of course you’d need gf versions of all of the ingredients (usually I substitute slow cooker chili seasoning for the taco seasoning, since gf packets are hard to find).

Back to the point of this post though.  Even though Detroit is still behind the pack as far as gluten free restaurants, there are some that are emerging and some great non-gf restaurants that are very accommodating.

I’m trying to keep this list to Detroit proper, with a couple additions in outlying areas.  And also not including Buddy’s Pizza, because their gf pizza should not be promoted.

Atlas Global Bistro (Menu) $$$$

3111 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

Great reviews on this place, and their menu has a ton of fresh seafood, salads, and fancy words.  The paella and Jamaican jerk grilled shrimp sound right up my alley.

Cottage Inn Pizza  (Menu) $$

19222 Mack Ave (this location has gf pizza)
Grosse Pointe, MI 48236

Cottage Inn thin crust pizza used to be my favorite pizza ever.  We would eat it backstage at dance recitals, and some people may have even eaten half of one savagely in the car while driving.  They carry gf pizza at some of their locations – check this map to find out where.


Last time I was home I tried to go to Greengos, but they are closed on Mondays (?) 😦  Oh, Grosse Pointe.  There is basically no information on their website, but the menu in the window looked really fresh and they have some great yelp reviews.

Mudgie’s Deli (Menu)

1300 Porter St
Detroit MI 48226

For 75 cents extra you can have gluten free bread substituted on your sandwich.  Most of the ingredients are homemade, plus they have Better-Made potato chips, ice cream from Calder’s Dairy, Sander’s hot fudge, Michigan berries, and lots of other local ingredients, which I <3.  If I went there I would totally get the Sorry Charlie – Mudgie-made albacore tuna salad, Dill Havarti cheese, cucumber, tomato and mixed greens, served with a side of honey mustard dressing.

Rumi’s Passion

41120 5 Mile Rd
Plymouth, MI 48170

Even though this bakery is in Plymouth, I must include it because they have gluten free bumpy cake cupcakes.  Say WHAT?  If you don’t know what bumpy cake is, it’s a Sander’s delicacy.

There also are, like, NO recipes online for a gluten free version.  So I may have to work on that 😉

Other than that, I sometimes get the nachos at Shore’s Inn, thai food at Sy Thai, soup at the Sprout House, and omelettes and bananas and cream at the Original Pancake House.

This post is making me home sick 🙂

In conclusion, Detroit hustles harder.

Do you know of any other Detroit gluten free hot spots? Suggestions and additions are welcome.   I know it’s difficult to find information on anything gluten free in Michigan 🙂