We've just returned from a lovely trip to visit family in Pensacola, Florida, where I enjoyed great gluten free dining in several restaurants. I always like to get to the beach and also spend some time downtown when we go. Pensacola Beach was awarded the Best Florida Beach by the Peoples' Choice Awards last year!
It's encouraging to watch the downtown core improve year after year from what it was when we first visited. Old buildings have been renovated, new shops and restaurants keep opening, and now there's lots of new construction going on. The beach area has been completely rebuilt since the destruction of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Other Florida Vacations
Restaurants in Pensacola, Florida
We like to vacation in Pensacola, Florida, and enjoy dining out. The revitalized downtown core is home to several great eating spots. Others are on the beach or scattered throughout the city.
Nom Sushi Izakaya in Pensacola is one of my favourite places. My son and his wife took us here for an early Mother’s Day dinner one year while we were in town. I tend to avoid Asian restaurants if I'm not confident they can provide me with safe, gluten free food. One never knows where soy sauce may be lurking! So when I can eat Asian food comfortably, it's an extra-special treat!
This restaurant serves a variety of delicious, fresh sushi, izakaya (small plates to share), and ramen (house-made noodles and broth). The menu conveniently identifies gluten free items. Because our server had learned that I was gluten free and the four of us were sharing an appetizer, she immediately brought me my own little pot of gluten free tamari sauce and served the soy reduction for the others on the side. Charlie and I shared the Four Ten, Graffiti Bridge, and a Steelhead Roll. All were delicious!
Just down the street from Nom's is Khon's, a southeast Asian restaurant established in 2014. For an appetizer, I had Lettuce Wraps to share. Both it and my Panang Curry entree were very good. Charlie said that the Ramen Pad Thai was delicious, although it is NOT gluten free.
George Bistro + Bar
We’ve eaten at George Bistro + Bar several times, even since it was George Artisan Bakery & Bistro, and are always happy to go back. They've changed location and focus, but the ambiance, food, and service are always top notch. The servers seem to be quite knowledgeable about which dishes are gluten free and which are not. On this most recent visit, I enjoyed the quinoa kale special salad with salmon.
Saltgrass Steak House
Saltgrass Steak House is also located in Pensacola. It’s one of a chain with several restaurants in a number of western states. We went for dinner one evening with a party of six.
Drawn by the photo of meaty ribs slathered in beautiful red barbecue sauce, I asked our server if the BBQ Baby Back Ribs would be gluten free. (Barbecue without a bun is usually a safe GF choice in the South.) The server was uncertain about gluten issues, so he checked with the kitchen. After he reported that the ribs would be fine, I placed my order. When my ribs arrived without the BBQ sauce, I questioned him. He then informed me that the ribs were only gluten free WITHOUT the sauce. I would have ordered something else had I known!
Nevertheless, the ribs were tender and meaty, and I didn’t experience a gluten reaction. Everyone else at our table seemed to enjoy their meals.
Red Fish Blue Fish
We enjoy lunch at Red Fish Blue Fish out on Pensacola Beach. One of the best things about eating there is the open, waterfront view. You’re actually eating on the beach. There are several gluten free options available. On our most recent trip, I had fish with rice, asparagus, and a pineapple salsa.
Also in Pensacola Beach is the Native Cafe. Open for breakfast and lunch, Native Cafe serves lots of burgers, sandwiches, and tacos, any of which they would be happy to serve without a bun. It's been awhile since we ate there, but when we did, our server seemed to be quite aware of the needs of the gluten intolerant. I chose Beach Salad with Chicken and Raspberry Vinaigrette. Without my asking, he brought the generous portion of included shredded cheese in a bowl on the side. My salad was delicious!
Besides the restaurants in Pensacola, Florida, we have explored the areas a little further out. One day, we took a drive to nearby Fairhope, Alabama, an adorable town with excellent shopping. Thanks to our daughter-in-law’s advance research, we enjoyed lunch in Sage, a cafe with amazing Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine.
Our server at Sage was excellent. My Beef over Rice, marinated beef shawarma steak served over yellow rice, was delicious! I highly recommend Sage!
All in all, I’m thrilled to have successfully navigated eating out in and around Pensacola without a gluten reaction!
What are your favourite restaurants for gluten free food? Do you know of any totally gluten free restaurants?
I have no connection with any of the restaurants mentioned in this article and earn nothing for promoting them. We paid for our own meals. I'm simply sharing my experiences with you.