I live in Atlanta, so it was fun to look around as if I were a visitor. The good news is that it is a fairly gluten-free friendly town. The bad news is that many of the really classic tourist foods of the south, like barbecue, aren’t as widely available gluten-free. Since my partner is particularly gluten sensitive, he makes a good litmus test for whether a restaurant is truly gluten-free, or just jumping on the bandwagon. Here are some local places you can try if you’re in town:
This chain of Brazilian Steakhouses has a branch in Buckhead with valet parking. Make a reservation for lunch or dinner (you can do so on their website), because they often have to turn away walk-in customers on a busy night. Mention your gluten-free status to the hostess and waiter, and they will escort you through the salad bar to identify gluten-free items, as well as recommend which other dishes are safe. The “salad bar” is a meal unto itself, with extensive charcuterie, cheeses, mixed salads, and cold roasted vegetables. Once dinner starts, waiters will walk around with cuts of meat, slicing off rare or medium-rare pieces for you at the table as you indicate interest. Avoid the chicken legs, as they are braised in beer. If you are very gluten-sensitive, avoid the sausages also, as they are handled with the chicken. If you don’t see the filet mignon come around, ask for it. It melts like butter in your mouth. Dress is fairly casual, and you will see everything from suits to shorts on customers.
Located in Midtown as well as three locations around the north end of the Perimeter (I-285), this fondue restaurant makes a great date night or family night out when you have time to relax and linger. The four-course dinner gives you salad, a cheese fondue, a main course fondue, and a dessert fondue. We visit regularly and not only have not been glutened, but have watched their gluten-free options expand to gluten-free bread for the cheese fondue, and gluten-free brownies and pound cake for the chocolate fondue. Remember that because you share a cooking pot, everyone at the table needs to eat gluten-free for a meal. Their selection is so wide though, that it won’t be a hardship. I recommend anything that comes with andouille sausage, and a dark chocolate fondue with a shot of Grand Marnier for a hint of orange. Reservations recommended, as meals can last an hour or more.
If you find yourself in or near Atlantic Station for lunch or dinner, this is the place to eat. They have an extensive gluten-free menu (ask the hostess for it when she seats you), and is our favorite lunch spot. There is a nice outdoor seating area, if you can handle the Georgia sun. They have a dedicated fryer for their corn chips, so feel free to indulge in the tableside guacamole. Only a few dishes have any gluten, and the kitchen staff has been reliably careful when we let the waitstaff know about dietary restrictions. The menu changes seasonally, but in general features fresh, authentic dishes from different regions of Mexico.
With locations at the Sweet Auburn Market and in Decatur, it’s handy to a few different tourist destinations. They start with a corn meal patty, slice it open, and fill it with amazing things like roasted grass-fed beef, organic black beans, grilled tilapia, and fried plantains. Try their yucca and plantain chips, and ask for extra guasacaca sauce (trust me). The prices are high, but the food is good and you will leave very full. The food probably doesn’t travel well, but if you do take it to go, take lots of extra napkins with you.