Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Gluten Free [Friendly] Food Trucks?

Food trucks are all the rage right now in Boston. Everywhere I look there seems to be a new food truck popping up. I see them parked on street corners everywhere – Kendall Square, Copley, Cleveland Circle, Sowa Market, etc.

Everyday during my lunch break I pass by at least a half a dozen food trucks offering all different types of cuisine – Mexican, BBQ, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, American, Korean. Everything looks, and smells delicious, but I have been very hesitant about trying anything. You all know how worrisome, scary, stressful, terrifying, anxious it can be to be put in a situation and not know what is safe to eat. Did I capture all the emotions? I for one have definitely felt all of that a few too many times.

No truck is 100% safe; the cooking space is small and cross contamination is inevitable. But there are many gluten free friendly options for those of us lucky enough not to have such a severe allergy or intolerance. With that said, it can still be quite scary ordering from a truck. Do they know what gluten is? Do they know every ingredient in their food? Are they aware of how every single item is prepared and handled? I mean, this list of questions and concerns is endless, no matter where we eat. But don’t fear, I have eaten at a few different trucks and have been just fine. I have an intolerance and can eat foods prepared and fried in the same surfaces as gluten. So, PLEASE always use caution and let the servers know you have a gluten allergy. Many of the trucks use the same fryers for everything so keep this in mind too. I was pleasantly surprised how much more knowledgeable the food truck staff is than servers at restaurants.

My favorite truck is Bon Me (check out my review here), which offers gluten free rice noodle bowls and rice bowls, and the truck is always stocked with gluten free soy sauce! 

I have also tried a salad from Clover and I’ve eaten from The Taco Truck. I really enjoyed the tacos, they were so flavorful, and it was easy to tell all the ingredients were fresh. But, it was a little too spicy for me to be #1 on my list. But I do love their commitment to sustainability; all the meets are hormone and antibiotic-free, and all the to-go packaging is biodegradable and compostable.


BBQ Smith There is gluten in the sauces and rolls. Everything else is safe. They can do any of the food without sauce so meats are safe.

Bon Me Foods
Rice noodle salad with Vietnamese vinaigrette dressing, and rice bowls are gluten free.  If you order the rice bowl, make sure you specify gluten free because they typically put a soy drizzle on it.  They have a bottle of soy drizzle made with tamari to use instead.  Of the standard fillings, only the chicken is gluten free (the tofu and pork have soy sauce in the marinades).  Some of the rotating specials including edamame,  three-alarm chicken and cilantro-peppercorn chicken are gluten free. 


Boston Speed Dog hot dogs are gluten free and you are welcome to bring your own bun.

Clover menu changes daily; sometimes there are gluten free options

Go Fish
The Caesar Salmon as a salad rather than a wrap without the onion crisps is gluten free. The Catfish Taco is on a corn tortilla and 100% gluten free. They have two fryers but use them interchangeably. 


Kickass Cupcakes Gluten free cupcakes are available on the truck. Always a good idea to tweet first to see what flavor(s) they have (and if any are left!)
 

Lefty’s Silver Cart Base menu is not gluten free. Everything is on Iggy’s bread but can offer most of the sandwich fillings on a bed of mixed greens. They also try to make weekly specials gluten free. In the past they’ve had: Watermelon Gazpacho, Corn Cakes with Roasted Corn and Tomato Salsa, Chipotle Maple Syrup, and Vegetarian Chili

Mei Mei Street Kitchen  Menu changes but kale salad, torched corn and peach tomato soup are current gluten free options. Always feel free to tweet ahead to ask!

Momo Goose
Fresh rolls and viet pho soup are the only two gluten free options currently. They hope to offer gluten free rice and salad bowls soon. 

Paris Creperie Usually have gluten free buckwheat flour for crepes  

Pennypackers all sandwiches are available as salads or lettuce wraps

Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese Fries are gluten free, but cooked on same grill as wheat/gluten.

Silk Road BBQ  Grilled meats and salads are gluten-free. All sandwiches we can make as a salad. Homemade sauces are gluten-free. The white bean chili has gluten-free cornmeal in it, and the short rib has corn starch in the gravy.

Staff Meal Taco tortillas are 100% corn. All of the fillings except the Chinese sausage are gluten free. A couple of the crispy garnishes (fried garlic, French’s onions and Fritos) contain flour. If you order food from at the truck, make sure to let the staff know that you have an intolerance and they’ll let you know all of this and prepare your food accordingly.


The Cupcakory has Gluten free cupcakes available on the truck, but they don’t always have them. They use twitter and facebook to post the daily flavors and will let people know if gluten-free is also available. They offer both vegan and gluten-free options upon request for pick-up on the truck, request at least 48 hours in advance. <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}

 The Dining Car The crispy cauliflower is gluten free. The Mediterranean, Honey Truffle Goat Cheese, Grilled Chicken, and Caprese sandwiches can be offered as salads.

The Taco Truck
All of tacos except the pescado and aquacate are gluten free. All tacos are 100% corn.

I know my list is not 100% complete, there are over 20 trucks in Boston and I was not able to get responses from the ones not listed – or they do not have anything gluten free to offer and are therefore excluded from this list. If you have any tips or information to add please e-mail me at jessica.dennis2@gmail.com.

Papagayo

Just a short walk from South Station, Papagayo is relatively easy to get to, which makes it more convenient than some of the other restaurants on the waterfront. 
Papagayo has a great atmosphere. It is really fun, a great spot to go after work with coworkers or friends, or a girl’s night out. The space is pretty big, with high ceilings, brightly colored walls and Mexican themed décor. The bar is quite large and runs along almost the entire length of the restaurant. There is also an impressive display of their remarkable tequila selection. So, if you like tequila, definitely check out Papagayo; they have over 100 kinds of tequila available.
We went for a drink and ended up staying for two plus hours, and two plus drinks. I had the house margarita, which was delicious (and strong). It was served in a pretty big glass too. Some of the other specialty drinks are good but incredibly strong.

We were given complimentary chips and salsa. I asked him if they were corn or flour and his response to me was, “they are flour, are you gluten free? We can absolutely get you some corn chips.” He said all this before I could even say yes! Three minutes later, a waitress arrived with gluten free corn chips and my own bowl of salsa to avoid cross contamination! The chips were good, but the salsa was better, with a definite kick to it. They both seemed to be endless; when we finished a bowl of chips, it was replaced with a new one. This was great, but not so great [for the waistline].
The tableside guacamole was one of the best guacamoles I’ve. Ever. Had. It is a must! It is made fresh right at your table – or bar stool – and you can have it as hot – or mild – as you’d like it! 
We went with medium, Kristen likes it spicy but I don’t think I could have handled that. I was impressed with the amount of avocados they use, the portion was big, not what you usually expect. It was great having it made right in front of us, vastly entertaining and fun to watching. For an extra $1 you can get a side of carrots and celery for dipping, which was great because I was getting sick from too many tortilla chips.  
The gluten free menu is small, but hey it’s better than nothing! Although it’s small, there are many options; fajitas, ceviche, tacos, enchiladas and meat.
I wouldn’t say this place is authentic; it’s more of a Tex-Mex/American-Mexican style restaurant. I’ve only tried the guacamole and margaritas, and both were delicious and actually pretty authentic.
I had a great time here, and I will be back again for more guac and margaritas! On my next visit, I also want to try the tableside ceviche, this sounds good too!
Location: 283 Summer Street Boston, MA

Haru Sushi

I’ve been to Haru twice now. The first time I went with friends we ordered off the Haru Hour Menu. This is great if you are trying to save money and have fresh sushi. From 3-7pm, everyday they offer discounted rolls and appetizers such as Edamame ($4), Tuna Roll ($3), Tuna Avocado Caviar Roll ($5), and a few other gluten free safe rolls. 
I had the Tuna Avocado Caviar Roll and theSalmon Jalapeño Roll ($6.75) from the regular dinner menu. It was hot. I was daring and tried it and I liked it but I needed 5 glasses of water after I ate it. Of course, Erica loved it and it didn’t affect her quite as much. 
Haru also has gluten free soy sauce served in a special container marked on the top with a white Japanese character, which, I’m going out on a limb here, but would guess it means “gluten free”. 

The second time I ate at Haru was last week with my dad and sister. Katie had a $20 Birthday Certificate, which anyone can sign up to receive and I highly recommend you doing it! Sign up here.
Yes, we ate everything!
As an appetizer we had the Ceviche ($12.75). It was delicious, made of citrus-marinated tuna, salmon and whitefish (you can have all three, you don’t have to choose one so don’t let the menu fool you), with grape tomatoes, red onion, avocado and green apples. I really enjoyed this, I loved the citrus flavor.
Strawberry Fin Special Roll ($16.75). Spicy yellowtail (hold the crunchy!), jalapeno peppers and mango topped with scallops, wasabi tobiko and fresh strawberries. This combination really peeked our curiosity.  Strawberries? Jalapenos? I would never have thought of mixing all these ingredients, but it was great. Extremely flavorful and fresh, it had a kick to it from the jalapenos.
My favorite roll, by far, is the Gramercy Park Roll ($18). Spicy super white tuna and jalapenos, wrapped with tuna, yellowtail and salmon and topped with lemon, cilantro and tobiko. Again this roll has a “crunchy” ingredient they left out, as tempura flakes are not gluten free. Our waitress also brought the yuzu miso sauce on the side, also not gluten free, and also not very good. We all tried the sauce and none of us liked it. But the roll was amazing. I couldn’t taste the jalapeno like the first roll, but I could taste the cilantro and loved how fresh it was. 
Sweet Potato roll ($6). Usually it is is fried in tempura, but the waitress offered to make it steamed instead. I’ve had it without tempura before and it was delicious, cooked nicely – soft and tender. This sweet potato roll was not so great, the sweet potato was undercooked and it was a bit hard.
At the end of our meal when our waitress gave us the bill she asked us if we were from Boston. After we said yes she handed each of us a Mystery Envelope. She explained that inside each envelope was a gift certificate to Haru worth anywhere from $5 to $500 and you can’t open it until the next time you come back, and the Manager must be the one to open it. Well of course we are coming back! Even if we only have $5, it would be worth it to get a roll or two from the Haru Hour menu or one of the more expensive rolls, because it would really be $5 off. She told us we could use two during one visit, as long as we had separate checks…um…OK!
The service was good, our waitress was very friendly and attentive. She was so knowledgeable about gluten I really liked that. It can be hard at Japanese or other ethnic restaurants (even American restaurants) to find serves who really know what gluten it is and are that knowledgeable about the menu they can answer every question. Now, if only we could teach the rest of American’s and people in the restaurant industry what gluten is and what it’s in, we would have a much easier dinning experience. 
Location: 55 Huntington Ave., Boston

Teatro

If you are going to the theater, or movies, or just happen to be down by Tremont and Boylston Street, and are looking for a nice meal without breaking the bank (because we all know how pricy it can be down in the Theater District), I would recommend Teatro. It is great for dates or groups. It was a little on the loud side, I think because of the high ceilings and openness, but we were a group of 6 young woman and this didn’t bother us at all; we had a blast!
We celebrated my friend Sarah’s 25th birthday at Teatro last week. It was great! They offer a great variety of food with small plates to share or as starters, risottos and entrees. What I loved about the risotto is that you could choose an appetizer portion ($10) or entrée portion ($20). This is great if you like to try different things, and I tried two risottos. I wish I had also tried some of the small plates, but a girl can only eat so much!
I absolutely loved the wild mushroom and truffle oil risotto. It had great flavor and by far the best dish I tried. It was slightly cheesy, as risottos tend to be, but not overly so.
appetizer portion
I also really enjoyed the risotto with rock shrimp, tiny tomatoes and lemon butter. The shrimp dish is actually a pasta dish but they let me sub the risotto for pasta and I was thrilled! I love when restaurants do this and don’t give you a hard time or charge extra. This dish was a little heavier with the sauce but it was still very tasty and luckily it wasn’t a cream sauce (just slightly due to the cheese in the risotto) or else it definitely would have been too much. But the great thing about this was the amount of shrimp I got, so many, I was pleasantly surprised.
entree portion
Our server was great, very friendly, as was the rest of the staff. The wine list is a bit on the pricier side, but then again this is the Theater District, so what did we expect? I was not a fan of the white sangria, it was way too sweet for me. 
Gluten Free Menu Options:
Whipped ricotta w no crostini
·         Deviled Eggs
·         Marinated olives
·         Marinated mushrooms
·         Oysters
·         Tuna tartare
·         Beets
·         Octopus
·         Sausage
·         All the dry meets and cheeses with no crostini
·         Arugula salad
·         Caesar Salad no croutons
·         Carpaccio no croutons
·         Mussels no crostini
·         Tomato and mozzarella
·         Prosciutto and Melon
·         Risottos
·         Salmon
·         Rib eye
·         Scallops
Location:  177 Tremont Street, Boston (across from the Boylston T stop)

The Capital Grille, Chestnut Hill

The Capital Grille is not just a restaurant; it is an experience. I was super excited to go here last night with Jeremy to celebrate my new job. I have been once before to the old location on Newbury Street when I turned 21, but I have not been back since. This past winter I went to Morton’s during restaurant week, which was also amazing, but I do have to say my experience last night was far superior. I loved every minute of being there, every bite of food and every sip of wine.
Restaurant Week is great. For those of you unfamiliar with it, each participating restaurant offers a 3-course meal for $33.12. There is also a lunch 3 course and 2 course menu as well. You have the choice of one appetizer or salad, one entrée and one dessert. Restaurants will offer anywhere from 2-5 options in each category. This is a great way to explore and try those top notch and ridiculously expensive restaurants we don’t dine at on a regular basis.
I was pleasantly surprised that they offered gluten free bread. Even more surprising, is that they don’t offer dinner rolls, but raisin sandwich bread. I found this a little odd but I did love the bread, it was more like having a slice of toast before my meal.
It is one of my favorite kinds, both Rudi’s and Udi’s make it and I’ve seen it at my local Trader Joe’s.
For starters, I ordered the Field Greens, Seasonal Vegetables with Shallot Champagne Vinaigrette. Loved the dressing but the salad was only lettuce and tomatoes, no other vegetables. I did like the lettuce though, a lot, and I wish I knew what kind it was so I can buy it! Jeremy had the Cesar salad, which was just ok. The lettuce was a little welted. 
We both ordered the Bone-In Kona Crusted Aged Sirloin. This was without a doubt one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. It was exceptional, expertly prepared, and cooked to perfection. It was beautifully seasoned with coffee beans and peppercorns. The coffee bean flavor really came through and gave it a nice little aftertaste. It had a nice crisp, charred texture on the outside and was unbelievably juicy on the inside, and incredibly flavorful – mouthwatering. The Shallot butter had flour in it so it was left off, but it didn’t need it, I didn’t miss it one bit. The steak was impeccable on it’s own. Not much more I can say besides that it was amazing and Capital Grille really holds up to its name. I can’t wait for restaurant week next year!
Even though it was restaurant week, the portion was big, not downscaled at all, like some other restaurants serve during restaurant week.
For our sides we shared the mashed potatoes and Grilled Vegetables. The mashed potatoes were ok, Jeremy loved them, I’m not a big mashed potato fan but I liked the smooth and creamy texture. The vegetables were tasty and nicely seasoned. 
For dessert I had the Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake. It was dense, rich and bitter sweet. It was thick like fudge and I really enjoyed it. I needed a glass of milk to go with it though! It was served with a scoop of cream, which I loved dipping the cake in and which gave it a nice balance. The thick fudge like texture might turn some people off, but as a chocolate lover, this was devine.

Jeremy had the Crème Brulee. It was also very rich, topped with fresh berries and vey nicely caramelized. It was good; it tasted like every other crème brulee I’ve ever tried, nothing outstanding.
Our waiter was great, and even remember Jeremy from the last time he was there with 11 of his friends, but who wouldn’t remember a group of 12 rowdy guys?  He was very knowledgeable about the menu, very polite and gave us just the right amount of attention, filling our wine glasses when empty but giving us plenty of time to ourselves. We never once felt rushed or neglected. This was one of the best dinning experiences I’ve had.
During the summer (July 9 – September 2) Capital Grille offers “The Generous Pour” Summer Wine Event. For $25 per person, you get to try nine remarkable wines, as many pours as you would like. This was such a great opportunity to enjoy and try different wines. I tried all 4 reds, one white and the rosé. The wines were good, nothing exceptional, but I did like trying so many different kinds and I would do this again.
I highly recommend checking out Capital Grille during restaurant week. They also have a gluten free menu. 
Location:  250 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
                    900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02115

Artu

When my sister turned 23 a few weeks ago we had a big family dinner at Artu in the North End (they also have a location in Beacon Hill). We all loved it. The food was great; everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals. We went on a Sunday night and had the upstairs space all to ourselves.
I loved the ambiance here, semi modern but with the traditional Italian restaurant feel. Located on Price Street, right off of Hanover Street, it was little quieter than other restaurants right on Hanover.
Jeremy ordered the Veal Piccata was a flavorful dish of thin slices of veal, capers and mushrooms in a white wine lemon sauce. The veal was not breaded or coated in anything and was gluten free, as was the sauce.
I had the Frutti di Mare with gluten free penne. It was delicious! The penne was cooked to perfection, had great taste and texture.  The portion size was just right, not too big, and full of shrimp, calamari and little necks in a light tomato sauce.  The only down side is that they charge extra for the gluten free pasta but don’t tell you this ….until the bill comes, and it’s on there. But it was so delicious that this time I wasn’t too upset (and I wasn’t paying!)
My aunt also ordered gluten free pasta with her eggplant parmesan, which they made special for her without the breadcrumbs. The kitchen was very accommodating and I highly praise them for this.
My cousin ordered the Maple Glazed Salmon special served with mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette. It was also deliciously, slightly pink in the middle, just the way we like it! He devoured his plate

My only complaint is that after telling the waitress we had two gluten allergies and talking with her about the menu options, we ordered 2 orders of the Mussels appetizers. The broth had flour in it. I was very surprised she didn’t tell the kitchen to omit it. She also told us she “thinks” the veal was gluten free, so of course we asked someone else to confirm this. She wasn’t the greatest waitress I’ve ever had, to put it nicely.

We brought our own gluten free chocolate cake ($35) from Modern Pastry. It was delicious! No one could tell that it was gluten free, and almost everyone ate their entire piece. One of the other waitresses came up to sing happy birthday and she was a riot! She was this little older Italian lady with such a great personality, I wish she had been our server that night! We even gave her a piece of cake! Just an FYI, they do serve a $2 cutting fee per person, but since this was a special occasion – and they won’t bring a knife to the table (so I’m not sure how else you could do it) – my mom did not mind paying for this extra service. 

Modern pastry also has gluten free muffins, whoopie pies, and biscotti. What they carry in store week to week varies.

Website: http://www.artuboston.com/
Location: 6 Prince Street (North End) and 89 Charles Street (Beacon Hill)

Forum

Last week I won a gift certificate to Forum. I’m not sure how because I don’t remember signing up for their mailing list. I was excited though, because I’ve been wanting to try it ever since it opened, about 2 years ago. So I decided to take my dad. 
It was a hot and extremely muggy day and we weren’t overly hungry so we decided to share a salad and entrée and a side and call it a meal.
The Grilled Shrimp Salad ($12) is now one of my favorite dishes in Boston. It comes with four decent sized grilled shrimp on top of a coleslaw-like jicama, avocado, and mango with a chimichurri dressing. It was to die for! It had a great kick from the cilantro – in the chimichurrti – beautifully presented and not overly dressed. The table next to use, the only other occupied table outside, ordered the Steak and Tomato Salad, which also looked to die for! 
The drink list looked really interesting, but seeing I had just walked 3.5 miles with my dad all I really wanted was an ice water and iced tea.
As an entrée we ordered the Salmon, I called that one the second I looked at the menu. My dad orders salmon 99% of the time we eat out. It had a crispy skin and was served on a bed of mixed pan roasted vegetables – brussel sprouts, green beans and carrots. Very oily. It was topped with an harissa sauce; hot peppers, garic, coriander, red chili peppers, and carway. Our waiter explained this to us, we had no idea what harissa was, and it was not spicy at all. I have a very low tolerance and I didn’t find it spicy, and it was so just so so, kind of bland. The salmon was cooked almost to perfection, I like mine a little bit more on the rare side. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but was it worth $26? No. For $26 I expected a delicious, savoring, full of flavor, melts in my mouth, piece of salmon. 

We also ordered a side of fingerling potatoes. Why? I don’t know, ask my dad. These were way over salted. And cost $5, really? I thought it was going to be a substitute for the couscous the salmon dish originally comes with, but we were wrong. My dad ate them so not all was lost. 
We left feeling full but not that gross overly stuffed feeling. I hate that. Would I recommend Forum? I would recommend having a drink and the Shrimp Salad. I’m glad we had the gift  certificate because I do not think it was worth as much as they were charging, especially with Atlantic Fish right next door, who knows how to cook a piece of fish. 
On the other hand, they do have gf buckwheat pancakes on their brunch menu. If I ever feel like paying $13 for pancakes – maybe a special occasion – I would like to try these.
Location: 755 Boylston Street, Boston