Celiac-Aware Chains in Las Vegas

While I was in Las Vegas last November, I was struck by the number of options that are now available to the gluten-intolerant. Almost every restaurant I contacted was able to accommodate me. Some, like Mon Ami Gabi (in Paris) and Border Grill (in Mandalay Bay), had dedicated gluten-free menus. Others, such as Bradley Ogden (in Caesar’s Palace) and Michael Mina (in Bellagio) were incredibly helpful and aware, and willing to make almost anything on the menu in a celiac-safe version. But those weren’t the only restaurants where I could dine safely. There were the chain restaurants, too.

One of the best things about the increasing popularity of the gluten-free diet is that it’s becoming more affordable. That’s not to say that specialty groceries have come down in price, but when a fast-food chain like Chipotle offers gluten-free options, it makes it possible for a gluten-intolerant person to get a quick meal out without paying a premium for it. The chains hit a variety of price points, but, speaking generally, they’re affordable and accessible to most people.

Here are some of the spots you’ll find on the Strip.

  • Chipotle: There’s isn’t a dedicated menu, but there’s information about eating gluten-free — and about common allergens — on the website. Several locations, including the one at Harrah’s [address] 3475 Las Vegas Blvd. South [tel] 702-836-0804 [web] www.chipotle.com
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy: There’s gluten-free pasta available and many dishes are gluten-free or require just a little modification to be safe. Located in Fashion Show Mall [address] 3200 Las Vegas Blvd South [tel] 702-220-4185 [web] www.maggianos.com
  • Outback Steakhouse: There’s a lot more than steak on this gluten-free menu, but I’m partial to the flourless brownie. Located in the Coke Bottle on the Strip [address] 3785 Las Vegas Blvd South, 4th Floor [tel] 702-220-4185 [web] www.outback.com
  • P.F. Chang’s: I wish that there were one of these in Manhattan. The restaurant has an Asian-inspired gluten-free menu with plenty of choice, and a delicious dark chocolate and raspberry cake for dessert. Located in Planet Hollywood [address] 3667 Las Vegas Boulevard South [tel] 702-836-0955 [web] www.pfchangs.com

There are other chains to consider, such as Pei Wei Asian Diner, which has a gluten-free menu but not a location on the Strip. For more ideas about where to eat in Las Vegas, visit Celiac Handbook and Gluten-Free Maps.

Memorable Moments in Las Vegas

After I return from a trip, I find that certain memories fade while others actually become brighter over time. My time in Las Vegas last November is a perfect example: I couldn’t tell you what day I visited a particular casino, because those windowless rooms were hard to distinguish from one another after a while. But that makes the memory of the day I visited the Hoover Dam stand out even more.

The Hoover Dam is 30 miles southeast of Vegas, and it’s impossible to overstate how important it is to the entire southwestern corner of the country. It’s also hard to believe how gorgeous it is: while the dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 to control the mighty Colorado River and generate hydroelectric power, its builders created a beautiful monument as well. The concrete dam and buildings have a distinct Art Deco appearance, enhanced by decoration using motifs of the region’s Native American tribes.

There’s a fascinating museum on the site, which explains everything from the complicated politics of building the dam to the engineering of the structure. (I have little understanding of engineering, but the description of the workings of the concrete arch-gravity dam — in which gravity and the design of the horizontal arch work together to carry the water load — were well-explained.) When you walk to the middle of the dam, you straddle the border between Nevada and Arizona, and depending on what time of year you visit, a single step can put you into a different time zone. There’s also a very touching memorial on the site, dedicated to the many workers who died while constructing the dam. “They died to make the desert bloom,” reads the large plaque in their honor.

Another memory that stands out from that trip is dinner at the Border Grill, which is located at Mandalay Bay. When I called them to ask if they’d be able to accommodate me, I discovered that they have a separate gluten-free menu. (This fact isn’t mentioned on the restaurant’s website; the original Border Grill restaurant in Santa Monica doesn’t have a separate gluten-free menu, though they can accommodate celiac diners, too). It turned out that I had plenty of choice. For a starter, I had the queso fundido, a deliciously gooey mix of melted manchego, panela, asadero, and Oaxacan string cheeses, served with chorizo and roasted poblano peppers. My main course was the most memorable: I had the Kobe beef tacos, which were spicy from being marinated with guajillo chiles but also sweet with the addition of pineapple salsa. Whenever I go back to Las Vegas, I know which two spots I’ll want to hit first.

Border Grill Las Vegas [address] In Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV [tel] 702-632-7403 [fax] 702-632-6945 [web] www.bordergrill.com

Border Grill Santa Monica [address] 1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA [tel] 310-451-1655 [fax] 310-394-2049 [web] www.bordergrill.com

All About Gluten-Free Edmonton, Alberta (Part 2)

Early in December, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jenifer Christenson, the executive director of external relations for the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. She has celiac disease and is incredibly well-informed about resources for gluten-intolerant people in Edmonton and the surrounding area. She’s already shared the names of some local restaurants that do a great job with gluten-free, and now she’s provided a list of where to shop in Edmonton, too.

In addition to the stores below, there are two sites that Jenifer also recommends highly. One is the website of the Canadian Celiac Association’s Edmonton Chapter. Another is www.edmonton.com, which provides information about what to do and where to stay while you’re in town.

Thanks again for all of your help, Jenifer — it’s very much appreciated!


Bosch Kitchen Center [address] 9766 – 51  Avenue, Edmonton [tel] 780-437-3134 [web] www.barbskitchen.com
This kitchen shop carries all sorts of gadgets, cookware and baking supplies. You will find most types of gluten-free flour, xanthan and guar gums, and some bread mixes.

Ed’s Gluten-Free Specialty [address] 9303 – 34 Avenue, Suite 117, Edmonton [tel] 780-465-1118 [web] www.edsglutenfree.com
The store carries only gluten-free products from all major gluten-free manufacturers with their main focus on Canadian suppliers. Many products are yeast-free, dairy-free and egg-free. Open seven days a week.

Kinnikinnick Foods [address] 10940 – 120 Street, Edmonton [tel] 780-424-2900 or 1-877-503-4466 [web] www.kinnikinnick.com
A totally gluten-free store and bakery, which carries a large variety of baked goods, baking supplies, commercial cereals and soups. They accept special orders including wedding cakes, case lots and mail orders.

Nutter’s Bulk and Natural Foods, several outlets (check www.nutters.com for details). They carry a lot of gluten-free food and flours, including Kinnikinnick, Celimix, Kaybee and Nutter’s Corn Pastas. Locations in the Greater Edmonton Area include:

  • 4720 – 51 Avenue, Leduc [tel] 780-986-1257
  • 5218 – 50 Avenue, Wetaskiwin [tel] 780-352-4555

Planet Organic Market [address] 7917 – 104 Street, Edmonton [tel] 780- 433-6807 and Planet Organic North [address] 12020 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton [tel] 780-452-4921 [web] www.planetorganic.ca
A knowledgeable, helpful staff sells natural organically grown foods, health aids, cleaning and personal care supplies. They also carry gluten-free baking mixes, flours, gums, frozen breads, snack foods, cereals, bouillon cubes, pastas and energy bars.

Sweet Tweet Sugar Free Shop [address] 4345 – 50 Street, Edmonton [tel] 780-462-2010 [web] www.sweettweet.ca
A low-carb, sugar-free shop carrying some delicious gluten-free treats. They also stock pure oats.

Photograph provided courtesy of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.