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Dining Out Gluten Free at Roppongi Restaurant La Jolla June 10, 2011

Posted by Melonie Gallegos in Dining Out.
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Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar, La Jolla in the Village
New Asian Cuisine
Gluten free menu: yes
Gluten friendly staff: yes


I was here last evening with a big group and it was a great experience. Roppongi has an indoor and outdoor dining area offering a modern intimate setting. The sushi is creative and full of texture and flavor. A favorite was a slice of cucumber stacked with ahi in a sweet sauce. This isn’t a little sushi restaurant they have a full menu ranging from lamb, fish to chicken in fresh, interesting combinations.

There is a full gluten free menu of which I tasted the BBQ mini lamb chops with white rice tapas (amazing), a green salad, and the macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi. All of these items were served dairy free as well. The texture, taste, and presentation of each dish was superb. I will be back for a nice dinner with my significant other soon. The front patio fire pit is a nice place for happy hour and the drinks are not only pretty (what you’d expect of La Jolla) and delish.

Unfortunately the gluten free menu is not online but you can browse the general offerings here. Many of the gluten free items are variations from the main menu. I hope you can try it out some time. And when you do, plan on taking an after dinner walk down to seal beach it’s just steps away.


The Best Bar Food Can Be Got at Ruth’s Chris May 5, 2011

Posted by Melonie Gallegos in Dining Out.
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Living downtown San Diego I’m fortunate to have so many good dining choices. Rarely do these include bars because the menu and service just doesn’t live up to the high maintenance needs of my gluten and lactose free diet. Most bar food is fried, breaded or full of cheese dressings so pubs are out of the question unless I’m drinking my dinner. Ruth’s Chris is absolutely the exception. My significant other and I had a busy week, working most evenings, and needed a spot that would allow us to fuel up and quietly co-work. We tried the Ruths Chris bar on the harbor. It was lovely. They just redesigned the booths with velvety fabric and we are big booth fans. We like to sit together and I’m always cold so need to cuddle up in restaurants.

Here are a few things that made it exceptional:

  • The server/bartender took genuine interest in learning about gluten food allergies.
  • Had gluten free soy sauce behind the counter.
  • Flexible in customizing the menu allowing me to order simple items not listed as an official entrée. Or revising entrées where possible.
  • Most of their food is prepared fresh, it doesn’t come out of an unmarked bag in the back of their freezer, or premade in batch. This allows for customization. And is the sign of a quality restaurant.
Being treated with respect and care is a big deal for someone with special dietary needs. There are recent occurrences of chefs or restaurant workers who are annoyed with people’s food allergies and act carelessly. Restaurants with an educated staff who respect people’s food choices health related or otherwise earn big points with me. I’ll be a loyal patron for life. If you ever go to Ruth’s Chris in San Diego say hi to James at the bar or tweet him ahead and they’ll have a gluten free menu ready for you. And try his martini, it’s to die for!

Dining Out Gluten Free: Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and more March 3, 2011

Posted by Melonie Gallegos in Dining Out.
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Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza
American Cuisine
Gluten Free Menu: yes

Sammy’s offers a generous gluten free menu with many options to customize your own gluten free pizza crust with mozzarella, goat cheese and even a lactose free variation of vegan mozzarella.

The GF crust is thin and crisp which some people prefer anyways. Both times I’ve tried it I enjoyed the close to normal flavor and texture of pizza. I did find it was overly crisp, even burnt in some spots on the edge. Like when you leave a frozen pizza in the toaster oven too long.

I tried the Hawaiin with Canadian bacon and pineapple, red sauce, and the fresh tomato, olive, garlic sauce GF pizzas. I prefer the red because it’s a little more saucier adding moisture to the crisp crust. I can’t name a favorite between the two pies I’m craving them both right now!

The vegan cheese was delicious with a creamy texture. I’d highly recommend substituting it in the chopped chicken salad. Which is on my top best salads ever list. I’ll warn you, double and triple check your cheese and special order. They served the real cheese up mistakenly even after ordering off the GF menu, “the talk” and confirming with the server dropping off my plate. I guess I have higher expectations from restaurants with GF menus. But they were nice about it.

Sammy’s is good for the family, casual dates and dinner before a movie. You will love how easy it is to order and what’s more they offer gluten free beer!
You might even find me there alone some time with a beer and my laptop.

Dining Out Gluten Free: Denny’s (Yes! Denny’s) February 18, 2011

Posted by Melonie Gallegos in Dining Out.
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Denny’s, San Diego Harbor with National locations
Gluten free menu: no menu, yes allergens list
Gluten friendly staff: yes


I was pleasantly surprised to find an allergens information list for Denny’s menu items when I stopped in for breakfast. Despite the fact that much of the menu is essentially prepackaged frozen food, they get mad props for giving their staff the resources they need to know what ingredients are in each dish. An often overlooked requirement for chef’s and servers.

The way Denny’s managed my gluten free and lactose free needs was five star. And, I let the manager know. As a rule, I try to provide as much good feedback to restaurants about their allergy request service as I do constructive. It’s a nice experience when a restaurant educates their staff and they are attentive to ensuring your meal will not get you sick. When this is a smooth experience your conversation doesn’t end up revolving around ‘the talk’ which ultimately becomes the conversation over your meal with the people your dining with. Are you tired of talking about your food allergies over the table? I am. I am desperate for normalcy.

One piece of education I want everyone to leave with is that a nutrition fact sheet is not the same as an allergens information list. Every restaurant as of 2011 is required to make nutrition facts available to you, whether within the menu itself or another document. I’ve seen it both ways. I’ve also been offered this nutrition facts by many servers in place of a gluten free menu or allergens information. There are no allergy facts in a nutrition fact sheet – it’s purpose is to count calories, fat etc.. We’ve got to take our health in our own hands and be advocates for education where restaurants are falling short.









And BTW, my go-to gluten free, lactose free breakfast item is…the potato and egg Sizzlin’ Skillet. Potatoes are gluten free but stay away from the hash browns they are not. It comes to the table literally sizzling. I was so excited the first time I had the skillet I burnt a hole in the roof of my mouth with the firs bite!


Free Gluten Free Pizza this Saturday at Pizza Fusion January 28, 2011

Posted by Melonie Gallegos in Dining Out.
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San Diego gluten free friends if you’re still wondering what to do with your weekend here’s the 411 on a great party for a GREAT restaurant here in Hillcrest. Join me at Pizza Fusion to celebrate their two year anniversary where they’ll be serving complimentary Sangria, pizza and of course appreciative giveaways. And, you don’t have reason enough to begin drinking at noon stop by for the live music (I hear it will be Santana-ish) and to chat it up on the tweet wall with emcee @DowntownRob.

Congratulations Barry and to all of you wonderful people who serve up the best organic pizza in SD. And, even more for providing us with gluten free, vegan and dairy free options that are not sub par but wonderful.

Here’s more info.

Directions, RSVP and learn more

Sat Jan 29 ’11, 12-3pm

Tip: Try the GF vegan brownies