Portland’s Gluten-Free Scene
Portland, as many food lovers know, is a culinary mecca. Rarely, though, do most equate gluten-free as gastronomic pleasure, but instead as tasteless, cardboard bread look-a-likes. Today’s gluten-free foods have come a long way from barely edible to almost undetectable as far as texture and flavor go and many Portland restaurants are celebrating with gluten-free entrees and menus. We even have a few 100% gluten-free establishments.
Gluten is a protein molecule found in wheat, rye, and barley and today many people are diagnosed as sensitive or allergic to these grains, or with celiac disease and need to remove these grains from their diet. For those who have been searching high and low for quality gluten-free dining or those who want to explore a new food trend, Portland tops the list when meeting food lover’s needs.
A great starting point for this culinary tour is the Corbett Fish House located in Johns Landing. This Midwest-style restaurant is famous for their healthy approach to fried food. Guilt free fish and chips? Yes. Using 100% rice bran oil, a high-tech fryer and rice flour, the Corbett Fish House prides themselves on offering the world’s greatest French fries and Portland’s best fish & chips. Offering nine varieties, I tried the Pacific Cod with the jalapeno tartar sauce – it was crunchy and delicious- who needs wheat anyway?
Next door, is the Coffee Plant. It may be less than a year old, but this 100% gluten-free coffee shop and restaurant is serving up some top-notch nosh. The clean, airy feeling of this coffee shop, is definitely inviting and comfortable. For breakfast try a piece of pumpkin bread or one of the many varieties of muffins. The lunch menu consists of mostly lighter fare; soups, salads, and pasta dishes. They also offer many dessert options- the giant chocolate cookie is a definite must.
Andina, a Peruvian tapas bar located in the Pearl is already a favorite for many Portland foodies. But did you realize they offer a gluten-free menu with many of their signature dishes? This hot spot is a great choice for happy hour or dinner. Everything from the soup of the day, a Spanish-style frittata, and one of my favorites, the avocado stuffed with crab and shrimp are appetizer options. Or start with one of the many ceviches dishes and then for an entrée the seared yellowfin tuna or the succulent double rack of lamb.
And not to be outdone, P.F. Changs also offers a gluten-free menu to customers including items like their popular chicken lettuce wraps, as well as ginger chicken with broccoli, Chang’s spicy chicken, or wild Alaskan sockeye salmon. This popular haunt always seems to have a wait, so call ahead because you want to have plenty of time for dessert- a flourless chocolate dome served with fresh berries and raspberry sauce.
Southside Portlanders, don’t panic -If you are looking for breakfast on the go or a sweet pick me up check out Pieces of Cake. Offering breakfast bars and cookies in four flavors as well as an almost endless list of cakes this bakery also offers vegan, vegan wheat free, and sugar-free cakes and desserts. Voted Best Cake in Portland by Willamette Week and Portland Monthly magazine this bakery knows how to make tasty treats without sacrificing taste. Yum!
A worthy Southside dinner spot is Grolla Restaurant and Wine Bar, located in the heart of the Alberta neighborhood. Offering a five-course chef’s tasting menu, as well entrees like lamb Osso Bucco, smoked duck breast, sweet dumpling squash and a whole lot of atmosphere this 100% gluten-free kitchen is something to seek out. And for dessert- Grolla’s decadent flourless chocolate truffle cake is, well- to die for.
Amazingly enough, this only starts the list of high quality gluten-free available in Portland, many of which have been around for years. Next time you are dying to go dining, don’t worry about the grains, choose from one of the many restaurants that are offering gluten-free. Knowing you won’t be sacrificing taste- how could you go wrong?
What & Where:
Coffee Plant (5915 SW Corbett Ave., 503-293-3280)
Corbett Fish House (5901 SW Corbett Ave, 503-246-4434)
Andina (1314 NW Glisan St, 228-9535)
P.F. Changs (1139 NW Couch St, 432-4000; pfchangs.com)
Pieces of Cake (8306 SE 17th Ave, 234-9445)
Grolla Restaurant and Wine Bar (2930 NE Killingsworth St, 493-9521)