More Austin restaurants offering gluten-free burgers, sandwiches, bread, pizza

If you didn’t know, you do now that I eat a gluten-free diet, having a sensitivity to wheat. When I took it out of my diet about 6 or 7 years ago, the difference was pretty amazing. I felt well for the first time.

I don’t eat much grain of any type nowadays (non-GMO corn chips and quinoa — a seed, not a grain —being exceptions), and I eat at home more, but every once in a while I enjoy going out for a burger or dinner with a slice of bread, as long as I can get it gluten-free.

(And no, if you’re curious, I don’t cheat. It’s not like counting calories and cheating. Eating wheat makes me feel a bit sick for several days. It affects my digestive tract within hours, and seems to impair my brain too. I’ve learned that the hard way. I prefer well.)

It used to be difficult to find gluten-free dining out in Austin, but in the last year, more restaurants seem to be realizing it’s not just a passing fad. (Have you not heard of the book Wheat Belly? The cardiologist author says it’s likely that half of Americans are adversely affected from eating the optimized-for-agribusiness wheat grown today.)

I hated that when I asked about gluten-free food after seeing a menu that didn’t mention it, a waitperson brought out a piece of paper listing maybe 6 things, including salads that were always gluten-free anyway. Or said we don’t have a gluten-free menu.

Wow, way to make me feel handicapped and unwelcome.

Anyway.

I’ve posted in the past about how Hopdoddy Burger Bar on South Congress (now also on Anderson Lane) offers burgers on three different buns, and one of the choices is gluten-free (and baked in-house daily).

I think Hopdoddy may have been the first major burger joint in Austin to do so. The beef is hormone- and antibiotic free. It’s a popular, trendy, a-bit-pricey eatery that often has a line out the front door, but the line moves fast and the food is very good. Craft beer and shakes and fries give it a real “burger joint” focus.

I’d like to add that you can now get gluten-free burgers at Wholly Cow Burgers on South Lamar (also at Congress and 7th). They offer a “paleo burger” that uses portobello mushroom caps for buns as well as hamburgers/cheeseburgers using Udi’s GF buns. Other offerings with GF bread include Philly cheese steak and reuben sandwiches. The beef is locally raised and grass-fed.

Yesterday I learned that the Galaxy Cafe (3 locations: Slaughter and Brodie, The Triangle, and West Lynn) offers gluten-free bread and buns for its sandwiches and burgers. Galaxy also offers wraps made with rice-flour tortillas and gluten-free pasta, not to mention a flourless chocolate torte for dessert! All the meat, chicken, and eggs are natural, free-range, and hormone- and antibiotic free. This is my favorite place to eat out close to home.

I want to mention as well that Blue Dahlia Bistro (on East 11th, also now in Westlake) offers gluten-free bread with its delicious entrees (and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert as well). Blue Dahlia is one of my favorite places to dine: fabulous food, a casual European vibe, moderate prices, good wine list. They use local and organic ingredients as much as possible. The bread is delicious and comes from Wild Wood Bakehouse, located on Guadalupe north of UT. I haven’t been there yet, but since everything is gluten-free, it’s now on my must-check-it-out list!

When I first went gluten-free, pizza was something I craved and had to go without. I don’t have that craving any more, but I do want to note that if you’re getting a hankering for gluten-free pizza, more and more pizza places are offering it with a GF crust. (Note: They usually charge more for GF crust.) I found some reviews on Yelp.

Now for one wish: I wish that Central Market would offer more gluten-free soups at their soup bar. I’m glad they’ve picked up on labeling the major allergens their soups contain (wheat, dairy, soy, tree nuts, and so on).

It’s just that quite often, nearly all of them contain wheat — even the ones that wouldn’t  have wheat in them if you made them at home, like chicken tortilla soup. Wake up, Central Market!

Best gluten-free burger in Austin at Hopdoddy’s!

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this, but my body does not digest wheat well at all. I learned this five or six years ago, and after going without it for a couple of months while on a strict diet to clear excess candida, I noticed a very unfamiliar feeling — I felt, well, well, and I had hardly any fatigue, digestive issues, or feeling like my mood and energy level were on a roller coaster ride. For the first time in, like, forever.

I changed my diet drastically, although it took time for me to really accept that if I ate that piece of pizza, I’d feel bad and “pay for it” later for a few days. I did learn, though. Over time, I learned that I can handle maybe a quarter teaspoon of wheat (such as dusted on blackened fish) without problems.

So being an all-American girl raised in Texas, I missed eating burgers. Not that they were ever a mainstay of my diet, but when you can’t have wheat, you find out what you miss. (Burgers and pizza.)

A couple of times I craved one so badly, I went out and ate one, gluten bun and all, and paid the price for satisfying my craving, which was several days of digestive upset and not feeling too well.

Then I’d make them at home with ground bison patty and toasted Ezekiel bread made from sprouted grains, which my body tolerates. (Toasting it is the only way to make it palatable, in my opinion.) It was good, but I still missed being able to just go out to a burger joint and eat a burger.

Well, today was bliss. I ate lunch with my daughter at Hopdoddy’s, a fairly new and very popular Austin restaurant on South Congress that offers a variety of burgers on a variety of buns — including gluten-free. I’d read reviews about how good their burgers were and that they offered gluten-free buns. I looked forward to tasting for myself.

This is what I had:

That, my friends, is a gluten-free bun, and it was light and kind of crispy on the outside. Toasted! And it actually had some flavor, too.

The Buffalo Bill burger (using bison from Thunderheart Bison, South Texas) came with blue cheese, apple-smoked bacon, “Frank’s hot sauce,” and “sassy sauce.”

All I can say is that it was delicious, and it feels so great to know I won’t feel ill. I’m not a big meat or burger eater, but it’s great to know I can indulge occasionally.

I’ll be back!

~~~

Postscript, 11/17/13: For a down-home, less expensive alternative to Hopdoddy’s, I’d also like to give kudos to Wholly Cow (downtown and South Lamar) for making grass-fed burgers (request Udi’s gluten-free buns) and for their awesome Fit Cross Paleo Burger, served with portabello mushroom caps in place of buns! Both made with local, grass-fed beef.