It’s no secret that I’ve become a proud Texan during my tenure in Washington, DC. It’s funny what happens when you take the girl outta Texas. Even if I don’t like country music there’s one thing that’s tied to it that I absolutely love – barbeque! True story, I used to get confused when East Coast friends invited me to a barbeque and it was just burgers and hot dogs. Where was the BBQ sauce? Smoked meats?
Eating barbeque (or BBQ) out at restaurants can seem pretty simple for someone trying to avoid gluten. It’s a lot of meat, beans, potatoes, and pickles. Simple, right?
Well, there’s actually a few places that gluten can lurk proving once again that GF folks need to remain vigilant!
- Some meats are marinated or rubbed with spices before cooking. Ask what is in those before ordering – sometimes soy sauce or beer is used in a marinade, flour added to a roux, or traces of gluten in spice rubs.
- Read options for sides carefully. Beans that are beer-braised are a no-no, chilies and other sides could be thickened with flour, cornbread and rolls are a more obvious choice to avoid, as are many corn puddings or other heavier sides.
- Some safe sides I rely on are: cold salads like Texas Caviar (black eyed pea salad), cucumber salad, baked potatoes, some BBQ beans (if I’ve checked ingredients), and garden salads which aren’t traditional but I like ‘em.
- Ask about the sauce! It’s not a given for BBQ sauce to be gluten free. It depends on the vinegars and spices used (and if they’re certified or guaranteed gluten free).
- Plan to skip dessert. I’ve only seen cobblers, cakes, brownies, etc. as dessert options at barbecue restaurants. Usually I’m full from meat and veggies so it’s not an issue!
I actually went to a new BBQ spot in DC last weekend called Hill Country. I was planning on getting meat and maybe a side but was unsure of what would be “Sarah friendly” aka gluten free. When I asked about a meat option and referenced no cornbread, the butcher asked if it was gluten I was allergic to. Win #1. He then quickly narrowed down my options to 2 choices and yanked this laminated sheet of a clipboard within his reach displaying the allergy information for all of the food. Win #2 and I picked my jaw up off the floor.
He then walked me over to the separate area where the sides were and explained to a colleague that I was gluten free and to make a substitution for me with no extra questions needed. My new friend, Jamie, then noted that swap on my menu card (what the restaurant uses to track your order. You pay at the end at a register up front).
Jamie then served me up some delicious Texas Caviar and Cucumber salad. When I requested pickles and jalapenos he let me know they were safe and then sliced me up a fresh jalapeno just to be safe. Win #3, #4, #5. OH and this was all with friendly smiles and a TON of help from the staff. It made for a great experience!
Other barbeque places I love (mainly in Texas):
- Spring Creek BBQ
- County Line