Smart eats – Decaturish’s gluten-free guide

Posted by April 22, 2014
The storefront of Good Karma Coffee House in Avondale Estates advertises its gluten-free baked goods. Photo by: Dena Mellick

The storefront of Good Karma Coffee House in Avondale Estates advertises its gluten-free baked goods. Photo by: Dena Mellick

By Dena Mellick


Gluten-free dining is on the rise, and a number of restaurants in the Decatur area are making it easier on patrons who follow a gluten-free diet.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and it’s what gives wheat bread its structure and chewiness. But for those with celiac or gluten intolerance, the protein can cause serious health problems. And now more people are eschewing gluten to manage a variety of other health concerns, from depression to autoimmune disorders, or to follow a particular diet, like the currently popular Paleo diet. Market research firm NDP Group reported that as of January 2014, nearly one third of U.S. adults reported wanting to cut down or eliminate gluten from their diet – the highest percentage since the company started tracking gluten-free eating habits in 2009.

An NDP restaurant analyst suggested the growing percentage is “too large for restaurant operators to ignore,” and many restaurants in Decatur, Kirkwood, Avondale Estates, and the Emory area have heard the gluten-free food call.

Sharonda Frazier says she was inspired to start a dedicated gluten and allergy-free coffee shop because of her own gluten intolerance and after learning her daughter had problems consuming dairy. Frazier opened the gluten-free Good Karma Coffee House in Avondale Estates in June 2012. All of the coffee shop’s baked goods are free of gluten, dairy, nuts and soy, and many are also egg-free and vegan.

Frazier says it took some trial and error to create recipes that don’t include wheat flour, dairy, or eggs. “The first thing I got was the waffle and then the next thing was the muffin.”

Frazier says eventually some customers asked for the gluten-free baked goods to also be vegan, which led to more experimentation. Frazier estimates about half of her customers are concerned about allergies, while the other half just want a good cup of coffee.

Chai Pani, an Indian street food restaurant, has become a popular spot in Decatur since it opened in the old Watershed location in March 2013. It clearly marks gluten-free and vegan items on its menu.

Chai Pani’s Charlotte Fahy says a lot of the restaurant’s dishes are naturally gluten-free simply as a result of following classic Indian recipes that utilize chickpea flour, rice, and lentils. Fahy says the requests for vegan and gluten-free items used to be fairly equal, but in the past year, the gluten-free inquiries have started to outweigh those for vegan dishes. She said, “I have seen a rise in people who are extra sensitive [to gluten]…they have celiac and can’t share a fryer for sure.” Fahy says there are preparation challenges in offering gluten-free items, but the restaurant spends time training the staff about what cross-contamination is and whether a specific dish can be made gluten-free.

Preventing cross-contamination is key. For those who are highly sensitive to gluten or suffer from celiac, being exposed to gluten can cause serious health problems, so asking detailed questions of a restaurant is vital.

“It is important that people understand that most restaurants, especially smaller, locally-owned establishments, may not have a strong understanding of gluten-free or what foods contain gluten or not,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist David Orozco of Decatur-based T+D Wellness. “On the other hand, it can be very difficult for any restaurant to offer completely gluten-free food. Chain restaurants also have difficulties controlling gluten, partly because ingredients in recipes may not be the same from one location to the next.”

The Celiac Disease Foundation suggests looking at restaurant menus online and calling a restaurant ahead during non-peak hours. The Foundation also offers important gluten-free dining questions to ask in order to sleuth out hidden gluten sources or potential problems in preparation methods.

Orozco says he tells people “to choose foods that naturally don’t have gluten, such as corn, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and potato products” in addition to salads or fruits. And Orozco says don’t forget to inquire about potential gluten sources in your alcohol. “Keep in mind, beer is not gluten-free, and many mixed drinks can contain gluten, so again it’s best to stick with naturally gluten-free drinks like wine.”

Here are the restaurants Decaturish has found to have gluten-free offerings. Help contribute to this local gluten-free restaurant guide by sharing your favorite places to enjoy gluten-free dining in Decatur, Kirkwood, Avondale Estates and the Emory area.

**Disclaimer** Decaturish has done its best to gather the most accurate gluten-free restaurant information, but we encourage our GF readers to ask each restaurant about its gluten-free options and preparations to ensure their personal GF needs can be met. This list will be updated as needed. 


Café Lily


Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-close, Sat 5:30pm-close, Sun 11am-close

GF Features:Gluten-free items marked on menu

Chai Pani

Cuisine:Indian Street Food

Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-10pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items marked on menu

The uttapam (a pizza-like crepe made from rice and lentil batter) is the most popular GF item on the menu and is made on a grill that can be cleaned to avoid cross-contamination. Chai Pani says it only has one fryer which shares wheat items, so those who are especially gluten sensitive should talk to their server about preparations.



Hours:Mon-Sun 11am-10pm

GF Features: Gluten-free menu available

Chipotle says customers trying to avoid gluten can eat most items on the menu except for its large and small flour tortillas. However, it says there is a possibility of cross-contamination at restaurants since its workers handle wheat tortillas.

Farm Burger


Hours:Sun-Thurs 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

In addition to gluten-free hamburger buns, Farm Burger says items that are GF include the boiled peanuts, deviled eggs, market salad, superfood salad, and bibb wedge. Chili and collard greens are also included, but fries are not on the GF list because they are made in the same fryer as the onion rings. And a note for the vegetarian folks out there – the veggie quinoa burger is not GF.

Figo Pasta


Hours:Mon-Thurs 11:30am-9pm, Fri 11:30am-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-9pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items marked on menu

Figo’s gluten-free fusilli can be paired with any of its sauces to satisfy your GF carb fix. Figo also has gluten-free salads and even a GF meatball option.

The Iberian Pig


Hours:Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-9pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

Kimball House

Cuisine:American, French

Hours: Sun-Thurs 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

Leon’s Full Service


Hours:Mon 5pm-1am, Tues-Thurs 11:30am-1am, Fri-Sat 11:30am-2am, Sun 11:30am-1am (kitchen closes one hour prior)

GF Features: Gluten-free menu available

The pub frites and accompanying sauces are hailed by gluten-free and non-gluten-free customers alike.

Mellow Mushroom


Hours:Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm

GF Features: Gluten-free menu available

In addition to having gluten-free and vegan pizza crusts to order, Mellow Mushroom also provides an online “special diets wizard” in which you can select allergens you would like to avoid and see what menu items fit your criteria.

No. 246

Cuisine: Italian

Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11am-2pm

Brunch: Sat-Sun 11am-3pm

Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-9pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

A gluten-free spaghetti can be requested to go with any of the sauces, and many of the entrees can be altered to be GF.

Raging Burrito & Taco

Cuisine: Mexican

Hours:Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-late

GF Features: Gluten-free menu available

Raging Burrito provides a helpful menu of items that do contain gluten and has convenient substitutions to make your favorite dish gluten-free. The addictive guacamole goes great with the gluten-free corn tortilla chips.

Saba Restaurant and Bar (Oakhurst Village)


Hours:Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm

GF Features:Gluten-free menu available

Saba’s gluten-free menu includes a variety of vegan and dairy-free options as well.

Souper Jenny

Cuisine:Soup & Salad

Hours:Mon 11am-5pm, Tues-Thurs 11am-6pm, Fri-Sat 11am-5pm (call or check website to confirm seasonal, holiday, and take-out only hours)

GF Features:Gluten-free items marked on menu

The daily soup offerings at Souper Jenny change, so check the website for the current gluten-free options. Additionally, there are prepared quarts of gluten-free and vegan soups available to go.

Southern Sweets Bakery

Cuisine:Cafe & Bakery

Hours:Mon-Fri 7:30am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm

GF Features: Gluten-free items marked on menu

The bakery menu at Southern Sweets has a small section of gluten-free desserts, but call ahead to confirm availability.

Taqueria Del Sol


Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, Sat 12pm-3pm, Sun Closed

Dinner: Tues-Thurs 5:30pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm, Sun-Mon Closed

GF Features: Gluten-free items available upon request

Ted’s Montana Grill

Cuisine: American

Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

GF Features: Gluten-free menu available

Ted’s gluten-free menu includes ordering instructions for making many regular items GF (e.g., ordering sandwiches without a bun or salads without croutons). The menu notes that ingredients can vary by location and cross-contamination may occur during preparation.

Twain’s Brewpub & Billiards

Cuisine: American

Hours:Mon 5pm-2am, Tues-Thurs 11:30am-2am, Fri-Sat 11:30am-3am, Sun 11:30am-2am (call to confirm kitchen hours)

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

All of Twain’s salads and dressings are gluten-free, and you can request a gluten-free bun for any sandwich. It also offers a few gluten-free libations like Crispin Cider and Omission Pale Ale. Twain’s doesn’t have a dedicated gluten-free grill, but says it tries to keep the gluten-free food separate.

Victory Sandwich Bar


Hours:Mon-Sun 11am-2am

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

Customers can request gluten-free bread at Victory, but should note there is not a separate grill for gluten-free sandwiches.

Wahoo! Grill


Hours:Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 10am-3pm 5pm-10pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items marked on menu

Avondale Estates

Avondale Pizza Cafe


Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri 11am-12am, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 1pm-10pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

Avondale Pizza Cafe offers a gluten-free medium pizza. All pizzas are made in the same oven, but if you specify, they will take extra steps to avoid contact with wheat pizzas.

Good Karma Coffee House

Cuisine:Cafe & Bakery

Hours:Tues-Sun 8am-2pm

GF Features:Dedicated gluten-free, celiac/allergy-friendly cafe

All of Good Karma’s baked goods are free of gluten, dairy, nuts and soy, and many are also egg-free and vegan. The gluten-free waffles and the chai tea muffins get rave reviews.


Dulce Vegan Bakery & Cafe

Cuisine: Cafe & Bakery; Vegan

Hours: Tues-Fri 7:30am-6pm, Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 8am-2pm

GF Features: Gluten-free items marked on in-store menu

Dulce Vegan offers several gluten-free meal options, including the satisfying black bean and sweet potato cakes with avocado and mango relish. Pastry selections vary daily, but often there will be a smattering of gluten-free and sometimes soy-free cakes or cookies.

Le Petit Marché

Cuisine: French

Hours: Mon-Thurs 8am-4pm, Fri-Sun 8am-8pm

GF Features:Gluten-free items available upon request

Gluten-free bread is an option on some of breakfast sandwiches at Le Petit Marché.

The Pullman


Hours:Mon-Fri 5pm-10pm (Dinner), Sat-Sun 11:30am-3pm (Brunch) 4pm-10pm (Dinner)

GF Features: Gluten-free items marked on menu

Urban Pie

Cuisine: Pizza

Hours: Mon-Thurs 4pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun 11:30am-10pm

GF Features: Gluten-free items marked on menu

Urban Pie has a few gluten-free pizza choices, including the option to forgo the crust entirely with its spinach-based “Gluten-Free Crustless Pie.”



Cuisine: Indian

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-10:30pm, Sun 12pm-9pm

GF Features: Gluten-free items available upon request

Ink & Elm

Cuisine: American

Hours: Tavern Dining: Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm 5pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 4pm-11pm

Dining Room & Lounge: Tues-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 11am-3pm 5pm-10pm

GF Features: Gluten-free items available upon request


Cuisine: Cafe, Juice Bar

Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm

GF Features: Gluten-free items available upon request

Saba Restaurant and Bar (Emory Village)


Hours:Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm

GF Features: Gluten-free menu available

Tin Lizzy’s Cantina

Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Hours: Sun-Mon 11:30am-12am, Tues-Sat 11:30am-12:30am

GF Features: Gluten-free items marked on menu


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