Note: this is a guest blog from Linda’s gluten-free, food-loving friend Sharman Hnatiuk.

When Linda asked if I could do a guest blog on a guide to gluten-free dining in Edmonton I was happy to oblige.  After I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2010, I was crushed by the news. In fact, when my doctor gave me the diagnosis I was convinced she must be mistaken.  I had grown up on a hearty diet of perogies, butter slathered homemade fresh buns, and gluten, gluten, gluten.

My initial response was “but I’m Ukrainian?”

My first taste of gluten-free commercially produced store-bought items horrified me. I was already a confident home cook and baker, so learned over time which items I could adapt to make at home. 

Eating out was a whole other challenge. I was just learning what gluten was, and how it was hidden in items like soya sauce, salad dressings, and BBQ sauces; how could I expect people in restaurants to know what was and wasn’t safe for me?

In restaurants, I have learned over the years to ask questions, questions, and more questions. 

One challenge is explaining to servers the seriousness of being Celiac, versus those eating gluten free because of a diet or a trend, and the importance of not ordering foods that may be contaminated with gluten. While chicken wings and potatoes might be gluten free, if they are made in a fryer that is also used to fry battered items, it is not safe. (I tried once after recently being diagnosed and paid the price with a week of illness). 

Today, I find myself eating at far more locally owned and operated restaurants with trained chefs I can have conversations with, and begin to trust.

I also love hole-in-the wall spots, so I am always on the hunt for tasty ethnic eats. What I learned is that there are many, many places in Edmonton for me to safely eat. 

Here is a hit list of some of my favourite/trustworthy gluten-free spots in Edmonton. 

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list but certainly a comprehensive guide based on my preferences and experiences. The list may get additions as I discover more gluten-free options. If you have a gluten-free dish or dining spot you love that isn’t mentioned, feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions to help other gluten free diners! 

Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Eating in Edmonton

Baked Goods

My go-to spots in Edmonton for gluten-free baked goods are:

Brunch 

Gluten-free brunch at the Vintage Fork in historic Rutherford House.

(My favourite meal of the day!)

What I order: House gravlax, complete galette

What I order: Huevos Canteenos

What I order: breakfast poutine, eggs Donovan on GF bread. 

What I order: Huevos Rancheros, ask about the special of the day

What I order: Poutine! (My faves are The Soul in a Bowl and Hog & Scallop), omelettes, extra sides of bacon and sausages

What I order: The Woodshed Burger (GF bun), Just Ducky Omelette (request GF toast), Lox BLT Benedict (request GF toast)

Lunch & Dinners

Gluten-free pork belly at the Harvest Room in the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.

What I order: Beef tartar, cod en paillote, macaron & sorbet. I’m not a chocolate fan, but if you are go for the Chocolate & fennel

What I Order: Crème brûlée (changes seasonally but always GF), buttermilk Jackson steak salad, soup of yesterday, piri piri steak sandwich (on GF bread), truffle popcorn, roasted broccoli.

What I order: GF items clearly identified on their changing seasonal menu, but I recommend the beast board ($120 for 2 people) The Fairmont Mac is proudly celebrating farmers and local sustainable food, through menu tasting all on one board. Their chefs will create a grand platter of three local meats or Ocean Wise seafood from our seasonal menu completed by chef’s choice of seasonal vegetables and sauces (which can be made entirely gluten free!) 

What I order: Shroom burger, fries (without the malt aioli), creamsicle shake.

What I order: Char Grilled Bangers & Mash, Eton Mess, Roasted Tomato and Cheddar Soup (no croutons)

What I order: I work across the street from The Marc and without fail, every time I dine there I get the lunch special, usually the fish of the day. The menu is small but a few dishes can be made GF – ask the server to clarify. 

What I order: The confit chicken legs paired with bacon cream corn puts me in a comfort food happy place. 

What I order: items on the salad bar are clearly labeled GF, eat all the GF cheese buns, and enjoy most of the meats (avoid the sausage as the last time I asked it was not GF). 

What I order: Beef tartare, tartiflette (they subbed the béchamel for an onion cream sauce), Nature’s Green Acres pig roast. The kitchen board and questionable bits change daily – ask to see if they are GF that day. 

What I order: seafood risotto, grilled piri piri prawns, piri piri chicken, bacalhau, and ask about the catch of the day – if it is sea bream or any other fresh fish– get it!

What I order: Duck liver pate, devilled eggs (I am happy with these two dishes on repeat), sub for GF sides on the duck, lamb, or steak, and finish with crème caramel (or the crème brûlée when on the menu).  Pescatarians can have salmon or the albacore tuna. Vegetarians can order the carrots (but sub barley risotto for potatoes)

What I order: Doreen is currently updating the dinner menu, but assured me there will be many vegetarian, meat, and sweet GF dishes to order. 

Small/Shared Plates

The braised boar cheeks from Bodgea are delicious and gluten-free.

What I order: Patatas bravas, bacon-wrapped dates (so addictive), braised boar cheeks, black seafood paella

What I order: Sea Bream Crudo, parmigiano soup (without the breadcrumbs), citrus posset (this is hands down my favourite dessert in Edmonton)

What I order: Broek Acres Berkshire pork shoulder, grass-fed beef tartare, Meuwlys country ham

What I order: Italian fennel sausage (comes with sauerkraut & pickles) and Crème brûlée. (Chocolate brownie is also GF)

What I order: Curb your German sausage fix with a brat and marinated tomato salad.

What I order: Patatas Bravas, Bacon (without the toast), seafood paella

Asian Cuisine

There’s lots of great gluten-free roll options at Ichiban!

I’m glad I had the chance to travel extensively across Asia before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease because I ate everything in sight. Today, Asian food is one of the cuisines I crave the most, but it is the most likely to include hidden sources of gluten. Luckily I’ve found a handful of places in Edmonton that I frequent:

What I order: I stick to the traditional broth with steak, flank or brisket. Just ask for those as your toppings. Stay clear of the meatballs and processed meat in some of the soups as I can’t confirm they are gluten free. 

What I order: charcoal salted edamame, Japanese fried chicken, spicy garlic miso pork ramen (GF sweet potato noodle), the saucy mushroom GF sweet potato noodle dish. 

What I order: new style roll, new style sashimi, cherry blossom, $2 Tuesday shucked oysters. Note – miso soup is not gluten-free.

What I order: salmon sashimi, sunshine maki, negi toro. Fuji maki, maki maki. Note – miso soup is not gluten-free.

What I order: masala dosa, lamb olathiyatheu curry, or go for the buffet.

What I order: tom yum ga tee soup, pad thai, matsamun curry, gaeng-kiew-vahn (green curry).

Latin Cuisine

I love the Venezuelan gluten-free apreas and pupusas from El Fogon.

Latin food restaurants almost always have gluten-free options because of the abundance of corn in their dishes. Be sure to ask what items might go in a contaminated fryer! 

What I order: Asado Negro arepa (blackened beef and cane sugar sauce), Pernil arepa (pork), patacones. * some fillings are made with items that may be fried in a contaminated fryer. Be sure to ask which are cooked safely GF. 

What I order: Reina pepiada (chicken salad) arepa, pork and cheese arepa, mixed pupusa. Note some fillings are made with items that may be fried in a contaminated fryer. Be sure to ask which are cooked safely gluten-free. 

What I order: Queso Fundido (sub corn tortillas), al pastor and cochinita tacos!

What to order: Pupusas and tamales

What to order: conchinita pibil, al pastor, carne asada and hongos tacos.

There are loads of places in Edmonton that can accommodate gluten-free diners, so my list just represents places I dine at. Other places that offer just one or two dishes didn’t make my list as I like having more gluten-free variety when I’m eating out.

I’d like to suggest avoiding chain restaurants with gluten-free or gluten aware menus because what it is really telling you is to be aware—your dish is likely to be contaminated with gluten, or modified so much (i.e. burger with no bun or sauce) its not worth ordering. 

There are a number of places in town, some locally-owned, that claim to have gluten-free items like pizzas or pitas for example, but they are cooking these items in the same fryer or cooking source as gluten.

I think I could be called the angry celiac because places like this should label their menu items as – may contain gluten, and not gluten free. A restaurant would never throw a nut in the fryer and call the fries cooked in them nut free, but somehow restaurants think it is ok to fry gluten in the same fryer and not disclose it to diners. Nut free requests are taken seriously – gluten free requests are often not.

Be sure to ask questions each and every time you dine.

Restaurants can change their ingredients or cooking practices so be sure to always educate your server about your dietary restrictions. 

If you’re interested in following my food adventures, visit my Instagram @thispiggystale, my Twitter @thispiggsytale, and my blog www.thispiggystale.com.

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