All About Joe’s

The news across the U.S. seems to be all about guys named Joe these days. Average Joes, Joe Six-Packs, and — of course — Joe the Plumber are dominating headlines, thanks to the imminent presidential election. I know I’m contributing to Joe-overload by writing this, but I wanted to share a new discovery: Not Your Average Joe’s.

A few months ago, I mentioned visiting my brother-in-law and his family in San Diego and the great gluten-free restaurants he found for me there. The family has since moved to Acton, Massachusetts, and for my first visit there, my brother-in-law went through the research process again. The city of Boston has many options for gluten-free dining, but Acton, a town roughly 21 miles west-northwest of Boston, is a quieter spot. Fortunately Not Your Average Joe’s Creative Casual Cuisine has an outpost there.

The restaurant is part of a chain that has 15 locations in Massachusetts, in towns such as Needham, Watertown, and Hyannis. There is also a location in Leesburg, Virginia (two other locations are slated to open in Virginia in the next few months). Not Your Average Joe’s has a lengthy regular menu that includes pizzas and pastas. However, for celiacs, it offers a short gluten-free menu that features salads (Cobb salad, grilled chicken salad), fish and seafood dishes (grilled salmon, rosemary-skewered scallops), meat and poultry dishes (flank steak with garlic mashed potatoes, grilled chicken breast), and a bun-free burger. The options are limited, but the food is good and the service is thoughtful. Everything on the menu is available for takeout.

The restaurant is also very much a child-friendly zone. Not Your Average Joe’s offers a separate menu for children (with a couple of gluten-free options), crayons to decorate placemats, and high chairs for the littlest diners. It was a hit with my three nieces, so we’ll be back soon.

Not Your Average Joe’s [web]; 15 locations in Massachusetts and one in Virginia, including:

Acton: [address] 305 Main Street, Acton, MA [tel] 978-635-0101

Hyannis: [address] 793 Iyannough Road, Hyannis, MA [tel] 508-778-1424

Leesburg: [address] Lansdowne Town Center, 19307 Promenade Drive, Leesburg, VA [tel] 571-333-5637

Needham: [address] 109 Chapel Street, Needham, MA [tel] 781-453-9300

Watertown: [address] 55 Main Street, Watertown, MA [tel] 617-926-9229

Roundup: Gluten-Free Dining Across America

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have been in the news lately (May is Celiac Awareness Month, after all). I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find mainstream media coverage of the subject. ABC-7 in Chicago featured a story, “More Gluten-Free Restaurants in the Chicago Area,” that is still up on the channel’s website. The long list of restaurants, bakeries, and shops includes Adobo Grill, Vinci Restaurant, Swirlz Cupcakes, and Venus. It also includes a link to the Celiac Chicago blog.

The Boston Globe ran a series of articles about gluten intolerance, including “Gluten Free Dining Out.” This list includes Elephant Walk, Rendezvous, and Rocca, and is still available online (you may need to sign up to use the Boston Globe’s website, but registration is free).

Vanessa Maltin, the Director of Programming and Communications at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the author of Beyond Rice Cakes, e-mailed me after our interview to let me know about another restaurant she found in Florida. Vanessa wrote:

I went to dinner tonight in Jupiter, Florida, at Masa’s Sagami. It was incredible. It is a hibachi-style Japanese restaurant and the chef who cooked at our table was a dream come true. I brought my own bottle of Tamari sauce and he was so careful to make my food in a clean area of the cook top and even made me a special batch of fried rice that was gluten-free. He didn’t even flinch when I asked. He simply called for the kitchen to bring him fresh ingredients to cook mine with. it was awesome and made for a fabulous night out!
(Masa’s Sagami [address] 1200 Town Center Drive, Jupiter, FL 33458 [tel] 561-799-6266 [web]

Vanessa also mentioned that the new Nationals Park in Washington D.C. has a Noah’s Pretzels with gluten-free pretzels and Redbridge, the celiac-safe beer brewed by Anheuser-Busch. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you may want to take in a game if you find yourself in D.C. this summer.

One of my favorite bloggers, Allergic Girl, was featured in New York magazine (“Ask an Allergic”) with her tips for successful allergy-free dining. Also, my friend and Frommer’s colleague Bob Fisher, who has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and green peas, wrote an article called “Travel Health & Safety: 7 Food Allergy Tips” for It ran a few months ago, but it’s still up on the site and it’s a piece everyone should read.