Brandy Morgan

Gluten-free Houston Family Dining Guide #nimatested

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and a visit to Houston will reaffirm that. It is the fourth largest city in terms of population in the United States, the city limits span a total of 599.6 miles in landmass, and it has consistently been ranked as one of America’s top locations to enjoy international foods. Overall, Houston is a very kid friendly city, and offers a variety of choices for those dining as a family.

The next time you visit Houston with your kids, make sure to try these #nimatested dining establishments.

  bellagreen restaurant

Bellagreen

(River Oaks)

Location: 2305 W Alabama St, Houston, Texas 77098

This Texas-based multi-restaurant dining establishment specializes in cost effective organic food while reducing their ecological footprint. Every location is housed in a building that is rated 3 or more green stars in order to produce your food with water conservation, sustainable food practices, and chemical and pollution reduction in mind. Although standing in line and ordering at the counter is a must here, you will still find the environment welcoming as every spot is uniquely designed with a contemporary slant, and the high-end patron in mind.

pasta

#nimatested Dish: Gluten Free Spaghetti and Meatballs

Result: No Gluten Found

pizza

#nimatested Dish: Gluten Free Pepperoni Pizza

Result: Gluten Found

Notes: Order the Pasta. All pasta served is gluten free, alleviating any chance of a mix-up with a gluten-containing counterpart. The pizza, on the other hand, was marked as gluten free crust but did test positive for cross-contamination. Just like many places that serve gluten free and traditional gluten-filled crusts, there seemed to be a cross contamination issue when we visited.

  fresh cafe

Fresh Café 

(Museum District – located inside the Children’s Museum of Houston)

Location: 1500 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004

This is one of the largest children’s museums in the country with 90,000 square feet of play area available. Once your children are inside, it will surely be several hours later before you can convince them to leave. Far from your standard basic café, this facility features cheerful pops of color amongst the white and black-checkered floor. Loud kids? Don’t worry. The volume on the background music is kept on high to drown out the squeals and giggles of the hoards of overly energetic young patrons attempting to dine here.

#nimatested Dish: Blue Bell Strawberry Ice Cream

Result: No Gluten Found

 

Notes: Admittedly, we didn’t just walk up and order without taking a few precautions first. I requested that they wash the ice cream scooper in the back beforehand, then looked up which flavors were gluten free directly from the manufacturer website. Lastly, we opted for a flavor that was in one of the tubs that was newest in the case to ensure it was touched less by any potential cross-contaminated scoopers.

 

Common Bond Café & Bakery

(Montrose)

Location: 1706 Westheimer Road; Houston, TX 77098

 

This is your quintessential local café serving coffee, sweet treats, and light fare. They carry a number of macrons that are naturally gluten free, and a small selection of mini flourless cakes.  As this is a shared environment with bread and other gluten containing ingredients, we were glad to see the separate display case for the macaron section, and even happier to find out that they tested no gluten found.

#nimatested Dish: Birthday Cake & Strawberry Bergamot Macarons

Result: No Gluten Found

hugos

Hugo’s Restaurant

(Montrose)

Location: 1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

For authentic Mexican fare in an upscale dining environment, head to this Montrose eatery. Housed in a home built in 1925 by renowned architect Joseph Finger, the sauces are complex and evoke the flavors of traditional Mexico. The dining room is spacious and can accommodate large groups, complimentary valet is offered in an area where parking isn’t always easy to come by, and your younger diners will be happy since a kid menu is available.

#nimatested Dish: Kids Cheese Quesadillas with Spanish Rice and Black Beans.

Result: 1st test – Gluten Found, 2nd test – No Gluten Found

 

Notes: Order the vegetarian black beans only. The Manager here was familiar with the Nima sensor and the gluten testing process. So, when my first test result came back with gluten found, she immediately removed the plate and identified that the black beans were probably the culprits. They remade the dish and when she returned after speaking with the chef, the Manager explained that the non-vegetarian black beans are cooked using lard and contain gluten-contaminated ingredients. When we retested the dish featuring the vegetarian black beans the result came out no gluten found.  

  red-fish-grill

Redfish Seafood Grill

(Northwest Houston near Cypresswood & Willowbrook Mall)

Location: 19550 TX-249, Houston, TX 77070

 

In typical suburban Houston fashion, the location of this restaurant happens to be directly off a busy highway next to a Lowe’s and a Jack in the Box. Quickly step inside, and let the fishing village vibe kick in to make it more palatable for eating some seafood. Grab a seat at the sushi bar or settle into a table next to the gigantic aquarium. The menu blends Asian-inspired cuisine with Southern favorites to give you lots of choices between sushi, shrimp and grits, or something in between.

#nimatested Dish: Grilled Vegetables with a Side of White Rice.

Result: No Gluten Found

gaidos

Gaido’s

(Galveston Island)

Location: 3828 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77550

If you happen to be heading out to Galveston Island, you absolutely have to dine at this historic Coastal Classic restaurant. Operating since 1911, this restaurant serves time-tested family seafood specialties in an upscale environment. Situated directly across the sea, keep an eye out for the giant crab on the front. Take advantage of the complimentary and spacious parking lot around the corner. Don’t miss sitting at the bar where you can watch the kitchen hand prepare the fish and shrimp via mirrors hung overhead.

green salad

#nimatested Dish: Green Salad with a Side of Bacon Bits and Honey Vinaigrette.

Result: No Gluten Found

Shrimp N Stuff

(Galveston Island)

Location:3901 Avenue O Galveston, TX 77550 

This is your stop for all things shrimp. Since 1976, the casual eatery has been known as the place that the island locals dine. Featuring a laid-back beach shack vibe this is an order at the counter and pick your grub up a window kind of establishment. There is not much in the way of air-conditioned seating here, so this place makes a great post-beach pit stop when everyone is dressed right to linger outdoors in the extreme Houston area heat.

#nimatested Dish: Grilled Shrimp Tacos on Corn Tortillas.

Result: 1st test – Gluten Found, 2nd test – No Gluten Found

Notes: Check that your corn tortillas are not fried. When I ordered at the counter, I made sure to identify the need for gluten free grilled shrimp tacos due to a medical necessity. Our first plate visibly contained fried corn tortillas that ultimately didn’t pass the Nima Gluten Test.  I promptly took it back to the counter, and once I explained the dish needed to be gluten free, they remade the dish without hesitation. The second dish featured non-fried soft corn tortillas that then passed the Nima Gluten Sensor Test with no gluten found.


Brandy Morgan is a former software engineer turned mom who is a culture seeker, food lover, thrill finder, and travel buff. When her oldest son was diagnosed with a chronic allergic/immune condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, her well-traveled family had to learn to adapt their escapades to be gluten-free for his safety. Through travel, Brandy strives to show her children that “different” can be beautiful, and aims to inspire others living gluten-free to take that leap to explore. Brandy writes from Texas, when not accompanying the family on one of their worldwide adventures. You can read more on her blog Kid Allergy Travel.

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